Basketball Wolves start pre-season with win
On Thursday he showed why the Lakehead Thunderwolves were only too willing to wait for him to recover.
Tan, making his pre-season debut in the Zanatta Invitational, scored 14 points, helping the Wolves to a convincing 79-54 win over the first-year Algoma University Thunderbirds, playing their first CIS contest after making the jump from the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association.
It was a great confidence boost, the Vaughn, Ont. native said.
“It feels great, being out there for the first time, playing my first college game and playing after my ACL injury. I just wanted to play my style of game and just help the team out any way possible,” Tan said.
“I think I did a pretty good job. I just wanted to get a lot of paint touches, finish around the rim and do well in transition.”
Though Tan technically qualifies as a rookie, he spent most of last season training with the Thunderwolves while rehabilitating his injured knee.
But with seven key players gone from last year’s national finalist team, the Wolves are going to have to make plenty of adjustments this year.
Learning how to win all over again is important, which is why it was key to start the season off on a winning note.
Although they trailed the Thunderbirds 4-0 in the early stages of the Thunderdome contest, they rolled out to a 20-8 lead after the opening quarter and took a 39-22 lead into the half.
“We had to set the pace early, especially with the young guys coming in. We have a lot of them. With the veterans, and me, kind of returning, and having that experience from last year, I think it will help us not just in the beginning, but throughout the year,” Tan said.
“There’s a lot of good things we did today, but there’s a lot of improvements we can make too, especially with Algoma playing (just) their first game in the league.”
The Wolves were led by returning guard Dwayne Harvey, who paced the attack with 17 points.
It was a chance for coach Scott Morrison – who leaves the team next week for a sabbatical in Maine coaching in the Boston Celtics system – to see exactly what he’s leaving behind for interim coach Matt Erdman to work with.
There was good and bad he said.
The good came in the form of rookie Igor Lebov, who scored eight quick points in the fourth quarter. Seven-foot centre Brent Wallace also showed flashes of brilliance, collecting six points and five boards, while second-year guard Alex Robichaud put up seven points.
Still, Morrison said there is work to be done.
“I definitely didn’t like our execution in terms of our game plan. At this time of the season the game plan is pretty simple. It’s mainly just regurgitating stuff that we’ve been working on for two months now,” Morrison said.
“It’s just basic stuff in our system and I thought we did a bit of a bad job.”
Morrison said he didn’t want his players getting overconfident with the result, saying a lot of their hoops were due to inexperience on the Algoma side.
“They aren’t the strongest team at this time of year and I don’t the score is reflective of how we played. We didn’t play all that well. Maybe we got a little fool’s gold, made some lucky shots.”
Beyond the arc: Lakehead will take on Laurentian at 8 p.m. on Friday, while Algoma plays Brandon in the 3 p.m. contest ... A.J. Barber led the way for the Thunderbirds with 12 points. Jimmy Bilenga had nine ... No Algoma player had more than four rebounds. Harvey led Lakehead with nine ... Wallace blocked a pair of shots.