Langara Falcons: New Season, Same Goals…Win a National Championship

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Regular-season record: 20-1

Provincial tournament: Gold medallists

National tournament: Bronze medallists

Key returning players:

  • Brody Greig (4th year)
  • Jitt Lohcham (4th year)
  • Elliot Mason (4th year)
  • Glen Ruby (4rd year)
  • Garrett Ling-Lee (4th year)
  • Daniel Hobden (4th year)
  • Matt Madewan (4th year)
  • Martin Appiah (2nd year)
  • Manpreet Parmar (2nd year)

Transfers:

  • Max Neumann (1st year –University of Alberta red shirt in ’12-’13)
  • Daniel Kim (2nd year – Douglas College)

Key losses:

  • Jesse Jeffers (Trinity Western University)
  • Randjodh Hare
  • Devin McMurtry (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Jeff Chu (University of Northern British Columbia)

Rookies:

  • Jamie Madewan (R.C. Palmer Secondary)
  • Jesse Mushiana (Winston Churchill Secondary)
  • Devante Williams (Northview Heights – Toronto)
  • Nick Jhauj (Red shirt – Enver Creek Secondary)

 

There’s been an emerging theme so far in the PacWest; forget the past, and this is a whole new season.

No such words of wisdom are more true for the Langara Falcons – who look to put their nearly-flawless season in the rearview as they gear up for another run at the provincial and national titles.

In 2012-13, the Falcons lost just one regular season matchup – a 102-100 loss to CBC that ended with Bearcats guard Kevin Ford banking in a three with just 1.8 seconds left in regulation. Before that CBC game, Langara began the season with 12-straight wins, and rattled off another 11 victories thereafter – a streak that stretched from January 25 to March 14, included a PacWest provincial title, as well as an opening-round win at nationals.

But then the wheels fell off an almost-perfect crafted vehicle, as PEI’s Holland College upset the surging Falcons in the national semifinals. Not quite ready to throw away everything they had worked towards, Langara battled back the next day, beating Red Deer and Sheridan to claim bronze.

Brody Greig is expected to lead the way once against for the Lanagara Falcons | Courtesy: Brian Jones

Brody Greig is expected to lead the way once against for the Lanagara Falcons | Courtesy: Brian Jones

A tough consolation to swallow, but if the reigning kings of the PacWest need any sort of motivation, what more could they ask for?

“It was horrendously frustrating,” said head coach Paul Eberhardt. “I think it says a lot about this team, because we just lost a crushing game, but then had to play the next morning. Most teams would have just mailed it in, but we gutted out a one-point win over Red Deer, and then played the number-two seed Sheridan in overtime and gutted out another win. And I was really proud of the guys after.”

“The fact that we were able to come back and get the bronze mattered to this team. Some groups it wouldn’t, but to this team it did. So I think that made a lot of the guys hungry this year to come back and make up for it.”

One key piece that contributed to Langara’s dominance last year was their depth. A portion of which has been lost, as three players from last year’s squad have made the jump to the CIS – Jesse Jeffers has returned to Trinity Western University, while Devin McMurtry and Jeff Chu have headed north to Prince George to suit up for the University of Northern British Columbia.

Filling those voids will be nearly impossible, as all three players were such an integral part of Langara’s success. But Eberhardt feels that he’s added complimentary pieces that should keep the Vancouver school either near, or at, the top of the league.

“I think Jesse Mushiana is going to do well for us,” said Eberhardt. “Picking up Jamie [Madewan] is going to help a lot. And there’s not going to be a lot of pressure on him like there was in high school – where he was ‘the guy.’ And then I think Max [Neumann] will surprise a lot of people. He’s so athletic.”

But more importantly, Eberhardt has kept his core intact – returning floor general Brody Greig, big man Jitt Lohcham, and the sharpshooting Elliot Mason.

Many have already penned Langara into the number-one spot in the always entertaining and ever-subjective preseason rankings, but it’s an assumption that Eberhradt doesn’t agree with.

“Everyone is saying ‘Oh you’re preseason number one” but I’m saying ‘Why?’ We’re not the defending national champs – VIU is. They should be the preseason number-one team in the league,” said Eberhardt. “They lost some big pieces, but they’ve got some pieces back as well. And how badly do they want to beat us? They’re clearly going to be gunning for us, and they’re clearly the biggest challenge.”

Just like last year, everyone wants to knock Langara off the pedestal they’ve been placed on. Each team in the PacWest wants to be the one to dethrone them, whether it’s just for one night during the regular season to obtain a quick high like CBC did in January, or in the playoffs – like VIU was almost able to do at the provincial championships.

“Quest is a huge challenge too,” he added. “They’re hosting nationals and they’re really dialed in. Their guards are very strong.

“The league will be stronger this year.”

But despite a season that ended with an unintended result, confidence still runs high throughout the Falcon’s camp.

“I think our confidence level, especially with returning so many guys, I think it’s fine. The one thing that we’ve talked about, that’s been a really important theme for us, is that we can’t rest on our laurels and be happy with what we did last year,” said Eberhardt.

“This program hasn’t won in a long time, and those guys hadn’t won either. And now they’ve won and they know what it feels like. It’s a new season and you can’t expect that everything’s going to be the same.”

“Last year is over, and we need to find a new identity for this year.”

That identity has yet to be derived.

The team’s veterans will likely guide the tempo and forge a nucleus similar to last season – a sprinting fast break, dominance in the low-post, and a defensive intensity only exceeded by their Nanaimo rivals.

But it’s the one facet of potential success that Eberhardt doesn’t have much control over that will ultimately decide if and how Langara plans to dismember its opponents – their on-court chemistry.

“Last year’s chemistry was amazing, and we’re really going to have to work on that this year. But I’m giving these older guys a lot more leeway as leaders. I want them to take charge because they know what it’s like to win and I want them to own it a bit more,” said Eberhardt.

So naturally you’d assume that Eberhardt has toned down his boisterous approach on the sidelines.

Not a chance.

“I’d like to say that I’m a bit more laid back and that I’m not yelling as much, but sadly that hasn’t been the case,” he laughed. “I’m already getting technicals and it’s the preseason.”

The approach may be altered slightly compared to last season, but the projected results remain the same.

“Our goals are the same as last year: win a PacWest championship and win a national championship,” said Eberhardt.

The way that Langara has adapted to their personnel losses and grown collectively after the heartbreaking upset at nationals – it looks as though those goals are still well within reach.

 

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