New faces and new leaders

The basket. The Cougars natural enemy./Haley Klassen

The basket. The Cougars natural enemy./Haley Klassen

The Sylvestre-led Cougars are looking to claw their way to the top

The Regina Cougars men’s basketball team is about to get back into action, which means it’s time for a preview of their upcoming season. I was able to talk to third-year Cougars forward Travis Sylvestre about the upcoming season, and what our boys are looking to accomplish.

            First off, I asked Travis the big question of what it’s like to deal with so much roster upheaval, with the Cougars adding five new players to their active roster.

            “For us, we’re young. It’s another young team, a lot of news guys and we’re trying to build chemistry here. We’ve had a tough preseason, traveling four weekends in a row, traveling across Canada and into the US, and that builds chemistry,” Sylvestre explained.

            Beyond the team aspect of things, I asked Travis to talk about the upcoming goals that he has for this season, and what exactly he has done this past summer to accomplish these goals.

            “Individually, I’ve hit the weights a lot this season; I’m a lot stronger and heavy this season.” Travis said. “I’ve found a lot of success in practice, so far taking the ball down low, instead of in the past where I’ll take the ball out to the perimeter.”

            Beyond the scope of becoming a stronger or faster player, Travis most notably stressed the importance of being a team leader this season, since he’s one of the most tenured players on the team right now.

“This is my third year with the team, and with the way things have worked out, I’m one of the guys who’s been on the Cougars longest. This is a year where I’m a leader for the other guys.”

Moving on to what the rotation will look like for this season, Sylvestre couldn’t give me an exact answer on what coach Steve Burrows will be doing with his roster, but gave me a couple players who got some minutes in their previous preseason games in Winnipeg. Look for forwards Zach Mihalicz, Will Tallman, Michael Hudson and, of course, Travis to get big minutes. As for the guards, new guys Jonathan Tull and Alex Igual to split time with incumbent players Matthew Augustine and Brandon Tull.

Speaking of new guys, Travis talked about some of the new guys, and what exactly they brought to the team. He talked in length about Alex Igual of Spain, and Jonathan Tull formerly of Acadia University.

“Alex [Igual] has been a really nice surprise, I wasn’t sure of what to expect. He handles the ball well, a smart passer. He can score the ball well, but he plays the point guard position well. Jonathan Tull, athletic tall, fast point guard, he’s our best slasher. He’s played some division one basketball, and he’s got some good experience.”

As for team expectations, this isn’t just any season for the Cougars. They want to make a statement, and Travis talked adamantly about this.

“We want to be as successful as we can be. The CIS league is competitive, so any team can beat any team. As a goal for the team, we’d love to make playoffs. So personally and as a team, we’d love to get over that hump, and show Canada West that the Cougars are a team to beat.”

They have had their struggles in the recent past, but this team finally has a clean slate, and they’re ready to prove themselves to the basketball world in Western Canada.

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