Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wesmen aim to restore pride

Men's hoop squad has only seven wins last two seasons

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THE University of Winnipeg men's basketball team is ready to turn the corner.

With just one win two years ago and six last season, it's been tough to be a Wesmen over the past two seasons.

Now with nine returning players, four new faces and head coach Mike Raimbault heading into his second season at the team's helm, the Wesmen will open the 2011-12 Canada West season this weekend, hosting the Lethbridge Pronghorns and hoping to restore the team's pride.

In Wednesday's Canada West pre-season coaches poll, the Wesmen were ranked ninth, followed by coach Kirby Schepp's Manitoba Bisons at No. 10.

"This team is ready to turn the corner," said point guard Craig Sharpe, one of four fifth-year players along with guards Nolan Gooding and James Horaska and forward Joshua Stolar. "We had a pretty good pre-season. The guys overall this year are more hungry to win and we've got a pretty deep bench as well. I think we might turn the corner and head for the playoffs."

The Wesmen lost guard Nick Lother to graduation but saw the return of Horaska, an Oak Park graduate, and forward Eric Zimmerman, a graduate of Sturgeon Heights, who both returned after sitting out last season.

Sharpe is one of four players who came into the season vying for the starting point guard job but that number has dropped to two due to injuries. Gooding is expected to miss this season due to a knee injury while newcomer Andrew Cunningham will be out for a couple of weeks with a foot injury.

Sharpe has been sharing the duties so far with Dominique Brown, a Toronto native who has joined the Wesmen this season. Also new to the Wesmen is forward Mark McNee from Richmond Hills, Ont., and guard Travis Krahn from Winkler while returning local players Brayden Duff and Pawel Gacon will be impact players.

"We're a pretty fast team, we have some great guys that can leap and rebound the ball pretty well," Sharpe said.

"It's about team pride. We're working on coming together as a team, making our program look pretty good. We are back on the map and ready to compete with any team that comes in our house or wherever we go."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Basketball courting fans this weekend

Canada West conference season openers

At the University of Winnipeg Duckworth Centre

Winnipeg Wesmen vs. Lethbridge Pronghorns

Friday and Saturday: women's game at 6 p.m., men's game at 8 p.m.

At the University of Manitoba Investors Group Athletic Centre

Manitoba Bisons vs. Alberta Golden Bears

Friday and Saturday: women's game at 6 p.m., men's game at 8 p.m.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 4, 2011 C4

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