Simon Farine has been with the Dal Tigers men's basketball team for a year, but he has yet to play a game during the regular season.
The 6'2" point guard is raring to go — one of seven rookies named to the active roster. Expectations are high for the squad this season, and no one's reaching higher than the players themselves.
"We'll definitely do better this year than last year. I'll be disappointed if we aren't in the top three and I think we should be competing for an AUS Championship," says Mr. Farine, who transferred to Dalhousie last year from Wisconsin-Green Bay and spent his first season as a red shirt for the Tigers.
"It was the hardest year of my life, not being able to play, but it went by fast, faster than I expected because of the friends I made."
The Toronto native is joined by three other first-year players from Ontario: Yannick Walcott is a 6'4" wing player who grew up playing basketball with Mr. Farine; Robert Nortmann is an athletic 6'6" forward; and Jason Wang is a 6'7" forward who suited up for the Tigers for the first time last weekend when they visited Carleton University in Ottawa for exhibition play.
A native of Ottawa, Mr. Wang was pleased to have the opportunity to play at home. "It was cool, it was the first time playing university ball in front of my parents."
Despite his towering height, he is surprisingly mobile and comfortable on the perimeter, which will make him difficult to defend. "If I can go outside and take care of the basketball then I am more versatile and that's always an advantage," he says.
The final three rookies are Josh Beattie from Bedford, N.S., Charlie Campbell from Vancouver, B.C. and Jeppe Knudsen from Copenhagen, Denmark. All three are perimeter players from very different places, but who were motivated to come to Dalhousie to work with Tigers coach John Campbell.
"(Coach Campbell) was the deciding factor," says Mr. Campbell. "I like his no-nonsense attitude. He's straightforward."
"And, I like the attitude of the Maritimes. I like being far away from home, too. It's a different experience, an adventure."
Mr. Knudsen, who spent the last three seasons playing for the Danish First Division, also had adventure on his mind when he decided to come to Dalhousie.
"It allows me to travel, still play basketball and get an education," he says.
The experience he gained over the last few years should allow him to make an immediate contribution to the team, he says. "Playing against older, stronger, bigger guys helps build your confidence," he explains.
Coach John Campbell believes this could be a special season for his team and knows this group of rookies will have to perform to make that happen.
"I'm excited about the quality student-athletes we're bringing in and I believe they will play a major role in our success this season and for years to come," he remarks.
The men's basketball team plays its first home game Thursday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. against the St. FX X-Men.
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