On December 2, 2017, the nationally ranked Brock Badgers men’s basketball team (number 2) had a three-point lead on the number 1 team in the country, Carleton Ravens, with just over a minute to go in their final regular season game before winter break. What took place during that final minute of regulation took the two teams to overtime, where the Ravens eventually prevailed 80-75, handing the Badgers just their second loss of the season. Despite the loss, Brock had proved they were not only capable of competing with the best of the best — they were the best of the best.
The Badgers, led by then fifth-year head coach Charles Kissi, went on to win 12 straight games beginning in January. They entered the OUA playoffs with home-court advantage, taking down Laurier in their first playoff game, but falling to Ryerson in an OUA semi-final matchup. The Badgers went on to gain a wild-card bid in the 2018 U Sports national tournament, losing their opening game to Calgary and finishing the season with wins against New Brunswick and Acadia.
The most successful year for Brock men’s basketball in a decade had a surprising ending in the summer when Kissi accepted the role of assistant coach with the Raptors 905 (G league affiliate for the Toronto Raptors).
Now, almost a year later — after an interim coaching stint for Madhav Trivedi (which included an 18-9 season record and a season-ending loss to the Ravens in the OUA semi-final) — the Badgers will welcome a new face to the program. Their new coach is one who was on the other side of that overtime game between number 1 and number 2 at the Meridian Centre in December of 2017 and the lopsided loss just a few months ago.
Willy Manigat was announced as the new men’s basketball coach on June 26. He comes to Brock after spending the past four seasons with the Carleton Ravens men’s team.
“Brock has always been a university that has had success. They’re the only OUA team that’s won a national championship during the run that Carleton has been on. They’re considered a top program in the OUA. To be able to join a program that has had success in the past is a great opportunity and one that I look forward to,” said Manigat.
Though Manigat is taking over a program that has been one of the most successful in the OUA during the past few years, there is still room for improvement.
“We want to set a culture where — year in and year out — we are competing at the provincial level — and hopefully compete at the national level for a national title. I think the only way to do that is by bringing in an attitude of being the hardest working team and that we’re going to do things the right way.”
Although this change means Brock will be on its third coach in as many years, Manigat was only going to leave Carleton for just the right opportunity to create something great. “I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to be a head coach. When I got into coaching there were only a few programs that I knew I would feel comfortable leaving my situation at Carleton for — and Brock was one of those teams.”
Though there will be new faces in Bob Davis Gym this fall, Manigat is confident that what fans will see is a team that makes them proud to be supporters of the program.
“A team that takes pride in the product that we deliver on the floor day in and day out. What we’re going to preach as a coaching staff is that it’s not just about game days, it’s about being consistent and providing your best effort even on your worst days. We should be a team that the Niagara region and Brock University should be proud of watching and wanting to support what we’re doing.”
The Badgers open their regular season schedule against the Ryerson Rams at home on October 26.