This isn’t the same Lakehead team as in years past, but it’s fine.
Head coach: Manny Furtado
Record in 2014: 11-8 (Second in OUA Central division)
Playoffs: OUA quarterfinals
Points scored per game: 72.9
Points allowed per game: 72.6
Key players: Bacarius Dinkins, Henry Tan, Nick Burke
Key losses: Dwayne Harvey, Anthony McIntosh
The OUA realignment has coincided with a return to normalcy and mere goodness after years of excellence for the Lakehead Thunderwolves.
That’s okay—in a division like the OUA Central with just one near untouchable in McMaster, every game is important. “With the new structure, conference games become that much more important,” Lakehead head coach Manny Furtado says. “There is more pressure to win.” The Thunderwolves managed well at home in their C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse a season ago, where they finished 7-2. In 2015-16, Lakehead will need to rely on its homecourt advantage if it wants to start the season well: its first six games are in Thunder Bay.
Key games: VS Guelph Gryphons, Nov. 6 and 7
at Brock Badgers, Nov. 27 and 28
Not so long ago, the Lakehead Thunderwolves were loaded. This isn’t to say that this current edition of the team isn’t, though it isn’t. It’s to say that this Lakehead team is not quite loaded, but different—which, fine. “Physical, up tempo, grinding out style” are the words new head coach Manny Furtado uses to describe his team and the style he wants it to play.
Furtado knows what he has with this team: on the court, the Thunderwolves will rely on defense and rebounding. “We can’t afford to get into a shootout with teams,” the head coach says, “because we don’t have the offensive firework to do so.”
While this Lakehead team is not the one that took the OUA West by storm and won one Wilson Cup and went to another final, and captured two OUA bronzes and a CIS silver from 2010 to 2013, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. “If we give our best every opportunity we get in everything we do then we’ll be successful,” Furtado tells NPH. “Not just on the court but more importantly off the court.”
Who’s to say that in time the Thunderwolves can’t make the jump from very good to excellent in time?