– Kyle Morrison, staff

The Golden Hawks men’s basketball team will hope to have a repeat of last season, albeit with a better finish in the end.

After a strong season that saw them finish third in the OUA west, followed by a good showing in last year’s OUA playoffs, making it to the Wilson Cup semi-finals against Carleton, the Hawks enter this season ranked tenth overall in the country.

Expectations are certainly high. However, the pieces are in place and veteran coach Peter Campbell feels they definitely have a shot.

“We’re a long way away from being the team we want to be in March and April, but I think we can be a championship-caliber team,” Campbell said. “The ability is there, we just need to put it all together.”

And there’s no denying that the ability is there. The team is led by fifth-years Matthew Buckley and Kale Harrison.

Harrison has been a star not only on the Laurier hardwood, but on the national stage, recently returning from a trip with Team Canada’s national team at the Pan-Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was also named a second-team All-Canadian last year, while being a first-team All-Ontarian.

The tandem of Harrison and Buckley provides great presence under the basket, with Buckley’s 8.8 rebounds per game in 2010-11 and from the field, while Harrison’s 21.2 points scored per game should provide offense.

But they aren’t the only options that Laurier sends out onto the floor every game. Joining them is third-year guard, Max Allin and second-year forward Patrick Donnelly – both of whom won rookie of the year honours in their first seasons.

Point guard William Coulthard will try to continue that trend as the first year rounds at the starting five that will open the season.

Coach Campbell is confident that not only will this lineup give them the best opportunity to win now, but going forward.

“We’ve got Max Allin in third year and Pat Donelly who was a rookie of the year and a first-year point guard starting. And if he’s not ready, we’ve got other guys that can come in and play that role,” Campbell said. “We’re in a position to have a great nucleus. Next year will not be a rebuilding year.”

But right now it’s time to think about the present, not the future. Laurier is going to be in tough against the Ryerson Rams. The Golden Hawks coach said the team has not changed the gameplan drastically and most guys are comfortable with it.

The main area of concern for Campbell and his team is Ryerson’s athleticism.

“We’re not as athletic. We’re more about physicality and size, so that’s something we’re going to have to deal with.”

And less than twenty-four hours later, the team will be back on the court again to face the University of Toronto. It’s not an ideal start to the season for the Hawks, but if you want to be a championship team, these are the early challenges that need to be overcome.