Marcus Dawkins sees a difference as he looks around at his veteran Holland College Hurricanes teammates.
The squad was pleased, but not satisfied, to win the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) men’s basketball banner. They know business is about to pick up as the team prepares for its sixth straight trip to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship.
“They’re in the zone now. They’re hungry,” Dawkins said.
This is his first year at Holland College, but he can sense the sacrifices the veterans have made and what it’ll take to get into Saturday’s championship game in Laval, Que., and bring home the gold medal that has alluded the college.
“It’s like we’ve been there with them,” Dawkins said. “I feel how bad they want it. They’re my family, so I want it as much as they do.”
The six-foot-five, 207-pound combo guard from Reading, Pa., said he is feeding off their energy and is proud to represent the college for all it has provided him and his teammates this season.
“Wearing that Holland name on our chest means a lot,” he said. “We have to honour, it and I think me and my squad is ready. We’re ready to rock ’n’ roll.”
The Hurricanes leave by bus on Tuesday, practice and go to the banquet on Wednesday. Then it’s game day.
Holland College went 20-1 during regular season play before beating Mount Saint Vincent in the semifinal and Crandall in the championship game.
The Hurricanes know the level of play is about to get turned up another level at nationals.
“Of course, we’re all competitors here, so we all want it,” said Jace Colley, a six-foot-seven forward from Halifax. “Even though we had such a great season, we’re disappointed we're not undefeated. We’re always holding ourselves to a higher standard.”
While the Hurricanes have been close to finishing first in the country in the past, they haven’t been able to finish the job.
“I think that’s in the back of everybody’s mind, even for me, (who is in) my first year,” Colley said. “We all still want to bring that gold medal back here.”
Chase Bowden is the rare player who has five years of experience as a Hurricane. Roosevelt (Chicken) Whyley and Chidi Majok are two of the team’s other veterans. Dawkins recognized the Hurricanes constantly reload, which means there isn't a big hangover from year to year.
“Every season sort of has its own story,” head coach Josh Whitty said. “We don't really worry about what we did in the past.”
CCAA Men’s Basketball Championship
Where – Laval, Que. Host by Collège Montmorency, which won last year’s championship in Charlottetown.
When – Tuesday to Saturday.
Who – The top eight teams in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association.
Schedule (all times Atlantic)
2:30 p.m. – Seneca Sting (1) vs. Lakeland Rustlers (4).
4:30 p.m. – Holland College Hurricanes (2) vs. Dynamiques de Brebeuf (3).
7:30 p.m. – Nomades de Montmorency (1) vs. Humber Hawks (4)
9:30 p.m. – SAIT Trojans (2) vs. Douglas Royals (3)
2:30 p.m. – Bronze quarter-final with losers of Thursday’s first two games.
4:30 p.m. – Bronze quarter-final with losers of Thursday’s last two games.
7:30 p.m. – Semifinal with winners of Thursday’s first two games.
9:30 p.m. – Semifinal with winners of Thursday’s last two games.
11 a.m. – Bronze semifinal (winner of Friday’s 4:30 p.m. game vs. loser of Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game)
1 p.m. – Bronze semifinal (winner of Friday’s 2:30 p.m. game vs. loser of Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game)
3 p.m. – Placement game (loser of Friday’s first two games)
Bronze medal game
7 p.m. – Winner from Saturday’s first two games.
Gold medal game
9 p.m. – Winner of Friday’s last two games.