RDC Kings basketball head coach Clayton Pottinger was able to take some time off over the Christmas break, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t trying to make his team better.
In fact the first-year head coach will go into the second half of the Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League schedule with two players released and possibly five new faces on the roster.
Pottinger let Kek Biel and RJ Wells go at Christmas for a number of reasons.
“On and off the court I didn’t feel they were getting what we needed from guys who were supposed to be our leaders,” Pottinger explained. “We want to establish a culture here and it just wasn’t working out.”
Pottinger had a long talk with the two prior to the break and felt it was best to cut ties.
“We didn’t want them having to pay to come back (from Ontario) and then get released, plus it gave us a chance to know where we stood.”
Pottinger expects to have three new players in camp for sure with the addition of forwards Corrie Thomas, Sarain Soonias and guard Jamal Price.
The six-foot-seven Thomas is originally from Toronto, but has been living in Saskatchewan, while the six-foot-six Soonias, a former member of the University of Regina and Medicine Hat Rattlers, has been helping the Kings’ coaching staff.
Both give the Kings needed depth up front and experience.
“Corrie gives us added internal defence who can also step out and hit the jumper,” said Pottinger. “He’s 24 and hasn’t played since high school, but was been working out with a friend of mine in Saskatchewan in preparation for this. Sarain gives us size and a leader. He’s been working with the coaching staff and he’s the most prepared to step in and make an impact.”
Price also comes form Toronto and will give point guard Lloyd Strictland needed help.
“It’s 95 per cent sure Jamal will be here and is someone we were interested in at the beginning of the season,” said Pottinger. “He was looking at going to the States, but it didn’t work out so he indicated he was interested in coming here. He’ll give us depth and will certainly be able to spell Lloyd when he needs a break.”
The other two players — Giovani Rogers and Jerome Ketinger — are from Detroit and are “about 75 per cent” sure they’ll be here for the second half of the season, which opens Saturday at home against NAIT.
Rogers played a year of pro ball in Mexico while Ketinger played two years ago with Grande Prairie.
“They got their student visas which is a big step for them, so we may see them this week,” added Pottinger, who also has talked with six-foot-eight Shane Reece, who played the last two seasons with NAIT, averaging over 14 points per game and seven rebounds.
“He’s interested in finishing his schooling and we have the courses he needs, so he’s a possibility this year or next,” Pottinger added.
l While the Kings were shuffling the deck the Queens added one player in guard Katrina Georgelos from Australia.
“She’s a little older (24) and has been playing club ball there,” explained Queens head coach Dawn Smyth. “In Australia you can’t play at the university level, so she got a degree and wants to come over and go to school and play basketball.”
Georgelos adds depth and experience to the guard position.
Queens also lost Paola Viveros and possibly will be without Jessica Foley.
The Queens tip off against NAIT at 6 p.m. with the men to follow.
l The volleyball Queens have a familiar face back for the second half of the season with Jaclyn Neufeld returning.
Neufeld was one of the top power hitters in the league last season and will be used on the right side this season.
“She’s in the nursing program and wasn’t sure she had time to play this year, but she missed it and decided to come back and she’s a good fit,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton, who’ll move Sidney Ponto to the left side along with Makenzie Quinn and Brooke Sutter.
“Sidney is more comfortable on the left side and is looking good in practice,” said Walton. “It gives us three players on that side who we feel comfortable with.”
The Queens worked on some of those switches during their tour of Japan prior to Christmas.
They played two matches at Hokusho University in Ebetsu, a suburb of Sapporo.
They beat Tokai University of Sapporo 25-14, 17-25, 25-16, 23-25, 15-10 and lost 12-25, 26-24, 10-25, 16-25 to Hokusho.
“But it went well for us,” said Walton. “We went to Tokyo first then to Hokusho, which worked out. It was a short trip and we did and saw a lot. In terms of volleyball I liked the way it went. We were able to get a lot of work done and were able to prepare for the second half of the season.”
The volleyball squads don’t return to action until Jan. 13-14 in Lethbridge.
l The hockey Queens return to action Thursday when they host Grant MacEwan at 7 p.m. at the Arena. The teams meet again Friday in Edmonton.