By: Nouran Abdellatif

Young with a lot of promise and the drive to win is how head coach Trevor Costello describes the men on the Algonquin Thunder basketball team.

After last year’s disappointing finish, the men are looking to improve in several areas. Many of the new players are bigger, so the men are taking advantage by getting the ball on the inside toward the taller players, Costello said. Assistant coach Jim Langis said they are also working on rebounding and defending the basket.

“Another area, and again any coach you ask will say the same thing, is our mental strength,” said Langis. “Being able to handle adversity during games and not to get rattled and to be able to adjust and adapt to situations as they occur. That’s an annual thing.”

The outlook for the team, Langis added, is good. The exhibition games against Quebec teams have been mostly successful and they have good depth in every position.

Another thing the men are looking for this year is a bigger turnout from the student body, said Brandon Young, a third-year guard.

“It’s nice to have our families [at the games], but we’d like to have more students there.”

With all the new blood, Costello is looking for the veterans to show good leadership skills, especially from team captain and point guard Mo Haggar who is in his fifth and final year with the Thunder.

Haggar says it’s up to veteran players to help the rookies adapt and make the transition into college basketball as smooth as possible.

First-year players are also under pressure to step up their game, but according to shooting guard Amir Majidi, it’s a good kind of pressure.

“Whenever you’re in a situation where you’re expected to improve and you’re needed for your team, it’s always something that picks you up,” said Majidi.

With the men’s eyes on provincials, it would appear that they are competing with the women. However, Costello says there is no need for them to compare themselves.

“There’s no animosity, it’s a big family,” said Costello. “[When] Thunder wins, it’s good.

“We’re good enough to be in the running,” he said. “We just have to make provincials and then go from there.”

The team will face Durham College during the home opener Nov. 2.