It’s not unusual to see Canadian university varsity sports teams travel across the country or into the States to play exhibition games prior to the beginning of their season, but, it’s not every day that teams travel across the ocean to participate in their exhibition games. But that’s exactly what Brock Badgers men’s basketball team did to end their summer.
On August 28, the Badgers travelled to Sweden to play the country’s top club teams; Eskilstuna Basket, Jarfalla, Norrort and back-to-back Swedish champions Sodertalje Kings. The team left Canada for the seven day trip, winning three of the four games while in Sweden.
“The trip added great value and strengthened our experience as a team,” said head coach Charles Kissi. “We got to play on an international stage with different styles of play and different calibre players.”
In their opening game versus Jarfalla, the Badgers won 81-48 as they were led by Nolan Mackenzie, a junior, who scored 14-points. New recruit Elijah Green added 10-points himself. Brock continued to stay hot in their next two games. They beat Norrort 90-79 and Eskilstuna 110-63.
In their final game versus Sweden’s top team, Sodertalje Kings, the Badgers got a taste of their own medicine as they lost by 10. The men continued to show positive signs in the final game despite the loss.
“The trip was great in terms of setting standards, embedding culture, bonding the guys and really getting to know each other. We are much further ahead than we have ever been,” said Kissi, who is entering his third season as the Badgers men’s basketball coach.
Since taking over the program, Kissi has slowly begun putting the right pieces together. Dani Elgadi and Johneil Simpson are back-to-back Rookie of the Years in OUA Basketball. Nolan Mackenzie continues to improve at the point guard position, which has been a particular concern for the Badgers. Big man Matt Marshall continues to be a spark in the middle and three-point shooter Ryan Bennett will be a great new asset.
Kissi has built a strong core over his first two seasons. During this past summer, the coach spent his time finding the right depth and bench players to play behind his key stars. In Kissi’s first two seasons the team finished at the bottom of their division, but this upcoming season could change that for the Badgers as they look primed to get back to the playoffs.
“The biggest growth and maturity came in the summer months, our athletes dedicated themselves to development. They made a real commitment to improving both mentally and physically,” said Kissi.
The Badger coach also travelled to Kansas and South Korea this summer as he continues to improve his own basketball experience and knowledge.
For the team, exhibition play will continue later this month when they, along with the women’s team, tip-off against Niagara College in the Bob Davis Gymnasium. Then the men will also travel to Manitoba to play Brandon University, Manitoba University and Macewan University. To finish off exhibition the team will play five different opponents at home; three of five being outside of Ontario – finished off by a trip to New York to face off against Daemen College.