A story that began with two individuals having the same goal could have a conclusion this upcoming March. Charles Kissi, head coach of the Brock Men’s Basketball team, was hired while the program was at rock bottom. Kissi’s first recruit over the first five seasons of his career also happened to be his biggest: Dani Elgadi.
The two took to the court this past week, in what could be the final time Kissi and Elgadi enjoy a Brock home opener together as coach and player. While Kissi will be around for years to come, Elgadi is in his fifth and final year at Brock.
“His rookie year was my rookie year,” said Elgadi. “He’s done a good job inflicting a championship mentality into me over the years.”
That championship mentality is what the end goal is for the pair. In their first season together, Brock won four games and finished at the bottom of the OUA west division. In year two, Elgadi missed seven games and the program only improved by three wins. Year three saw an OUA quarter-final exit, while last season the team captured an OUA bronze medal.
Coming into the 2017-18 season, the coach and player have their eye set on the national tournament and maybe a banner.
“We know where we are trying to go,” said Kissi. “We started with the end goal in mind, while starting back at the bottom of the hill.”
“Last year we were put in the position where our decision to get to the national tournament was made for us,” said Elgadi.
The forward made it clear that this season they wouldn’t leave that decision in the hands of a committee.
The Badgers began their season last Wednesday versus the Western Mustangs, and Elgadi did what he’s done his entire career, getting a double-double. The Waterloo natives 14-points and 10-rebounds led the Badgers to an easy 83-58 win. Cassidy Ryan had 22-points playing alongside Elgadi and Kascius Small-Martin came off the bench to score 11.
Elgadi got a taste of his final home opener as a Badger, something he said really sunk in at the start of the game.
“I’m not too much of a sentimental guy but in the moment I looked at Johneil [Simpson] and said, ‘this is incredible’,” said Elgadi. “Since day one, the turnaround of the program has been incredible with the school spirit.”
Kissi and Elgadi have spoken highly of each other since the moment the two met. Elgadi calls Kissi one of the coolest guys he’s ever met. Kissi calls Elgadi the best at his position in the country.
“He’s been the cornerstone of our program,” said Kissi. “He still has ways to go in terms of being aggressive and making reads, but that’s what university basketball is all about.”
The 6’7 forward currently sits seventh all-time in Badger scoring and third all-time in rebounds.
“I’m in my prime. I feel great,” said Elgadi. “I’m focusing to get better individually, but I won’t forget my leadership role and I have to take a mentorship role for the guys who play under me.”
Elgadi knows this season is about the whole program taking the next step. He knows he won’t be able to pass on his talent and skill, but hopes his leadership of a winning mentality and team culture can be passed on for years to come.
On Saturday, in another home game, the Badgers captured an 80-70 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks. Elgadi was in foul trouble for most of the game, but still finished with 15-points and fell just shy of another double-double with nine rebounds. Tyler Brown had seven points in the first quarter on route to a total of 17, Simpson added 14 and Ryan finished with 13 points.
The Badgers will now travel for four games on the road, including a November 8 battle against the Ryerson Rams. After the road trip, the team will end their 2017 portion of the schedule with five home games.
Off to a 2-0 start, Kissi and Elgadi aren’t looking too far ahead. Kissi echoed his sentiment of focusing on the next game and not thinking to far ahead.
When asked how it would feel if Elgadi’s final year ended with the two celebrating a national banner, Kissi and Elgadi recited the same thing: “Ask me that if we get to the national finals.”