By Chris Gregory
Sept. 25, 2015
When Josh Whitty became head coach of the Hurricanes basketball team three summers ago, he wanted to make the program a championship contender year after year.
Going into the 2015-16 season, with only three returning players, Whitty has made it clear expectations haven’t dropped.
Following last year’s entertaining, yet disappointing national semi-final exit, the team is looking to regroup and fast.
“It’s the nature of the beast at a two-year college. It’s always challenging to regroup, but when you have the reputation that Coach Whitty has developed with the program, the phone rings off the hook. Kids want to come here,” said assistant coach Dale McIsaac.
Looking back is tough but you have to take what you can from losses and move forward, said Whitty.
“It’s always hard to put it into context after the season ends and you don’t accomplish what you ultimately wanted to accomplish.”
Whitty stayed in contact with his players throughout the summer and now after three weeks together, has seen a lot of progress.
Many players who come to play for the Hurricanes come with experience, something not many other schools can say. But with that comes higher expectations.
“Kids come here with experience and a little bit of a basketball pedigree. There are definitely high expectations of the kids that come here,” said Whitty.
Players who come with experience make it a little easier, since they know what it’s like to play at a high level, but he still needs that to come together as a team and that can take time, Whitty said.
“Three weeks ago, none of these guys knew each other. So we’re excited to get on the road. There’s a lot to find out about each other, on and off the court.”
From his time spent with the team so far, this year’s roster will be deeper, more athletic and better defensively. Offensively, it’s a step back but that’s something that can be tackled over the course of the season, he said.
“Experience can’t be valued enough at this level. We’re younger than we were last year, but we certainly have a lot of guys that can play at a high level. This team I think has the potential to be every bit as good if not better.”
For Dale McIsaac, this upcoming season will be his second as assistant coach.
Last year was a learning experience for him, but it gave him a better understanding of the league and the teams.
“We learned a ton. I learned a ton in particular because it was my first tour through the ACAA.”
McIsaac spent time with the Canadian Interuniversity Sport, working mostly with big men, so he brings skills to help develop the players and help them peak.
“We want them to be student athletes who excel at a high level, both as students and as athletes, but when they pull that Holland College jersey over their head, there’s certainly some high expectations.”
The coaches and players are important to the success, but it’s the support from the athletic program and from the school administration that makes everything go, MacIsaac said.
“It’s important to them that they have good student athletes in the program and it’s important for Holland College that we put a good foot forward.”