NPH CIS Team Previews: Nipissing Lakers
The Lakers were dealt a bad hand in being assigned to the OUA North, but still they progressed. Now comes the hard part: winning.
Head coach: Chris Cheng
Record in 2014: 0-19 (Fourth in OUA North division)
Playoffs: No playoffs
Points scored per game: 57.8
Points allowed per game: 86.8
Key players: Marcus Lewis, Marcos Clennon
Key losses: Eric Bowman, Christian Casimier, Filip Music, Malik Phillips
Were the Nipissing Lakers dealt a bad hand in their first year of existence? Maybe not, but that they were assigned to the newly formed OUA North division, with both the Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens, means that they’ll have to earn every good thing that comes their way. “We’re such a young program,” Nipissing head coach Chris Cheng says, «and we’re playing in…the best division in the country.”
It may not be fair, but it doesn’t have to be: North Bay is plenty North, after all. “We are here not just to compete but to win,” Cheng says.
Key games: VS Laurentian, Jan. 16; at Laurentian, Feb. 13
VS Algoma Thunderbirds, November 27
The Nipissing Lakers were a rookie team in every sense of the word last season, joining the OUA only a year after the birth of the program. Head coach Chris Cheng tells NPH that, “Last year was a great learning experience for everyone involved.” Where it wasn’t so great is on the standings, the Lakers finishing with an 0-19 record. “We’re looking to make the case that it’s not going to happen again,” Cheng says. “We’re a year wiser. We’re a year stronger, mentally and physically.”
Cheng says the season did bring positives. “As young as we were, credit to my student-athletes,” he says. “They stuck together. They didn’t want to transfer.” Among the group, he highlights the key leadership role that Marcus Lewis will play while also hoping for improvement from Marcos Clennon, an all-rookie a year ago.
But the goal is simple this season. Cheng says that, “We still have to prove that we belong in this league.” Win a few games, and he’ll be able to say ‘Mission accomplished.’
I’ll let my colleague Ray Bala take it away from here: