The Royals begin their 2018-19 PACWEST basketball season on Friday, and after a succesful season last year, both the men's and women's teams will look to take new-look lineups in the same direction.
The Royals women's basketball team had an incredible regular season in 2017-18. They lost just four times all season, winning 14 out of their 18 PACWEST regular season games, and 9 of 10 to close out the season. Their defence in particular was stellar, as they were the only PACWEST team to allow less than 1000 points, holding opponents to an average of just 55.4 points per game while scoring 67.8 points per game themselves. They recieved a bye into the semi-finals with their first-place finish, but ran into the Camosun Chargers, who had the Royals number last season. The Chargers took two of three from Douglas in regular season play, and prevailed in the semi-final with a 71-63 victory. Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Royals remained determined, and took down the VIU Mariners 77-67.
Last year's Royals team featured a strong core of fifth-year players. Second-team all-stars Sarah Jorgenson and Nanaya Miki were among the graduating players, alongside Amber Beasley, Ellen Fallis and Simran Bir - all excellent players that made huge contributions to the perennial success of the Royals during their time at Douglas. The team this year is made up almost entirely of rookies, with just one returning player - the 2017-18 PACWEST Player of the Year, Rachel Beauchamp. In her final year for Douglas, her veteran leadership will be invaluable.
With just one returning player from last year's team, the team will be composed mainly of new recruits, some of whom were profiled in our recruits preview earlier this year.
The men's team were by no means favourites heading into the 2017-18 PACWEST Championships. They had a good regular season, going 11-7 and placing third in the PACWEST standings. But all eyes were on the VIU Mariners, who had an unbelievable 17-1 regular season. That one loss? It came on the 26th of Jaunary, when the Mariners visited the Douglas College Royals, and lost by 19 points. It was the only game of the regular season in which the Mariners failed to put up at least 80 points - in fact, the Royals held them to 59.
It was fitting, then, that the Mariners would run into the Royals in the PACWEST championship final. Despite being the only team to beat VIU all season, Douglas entered the matchup as heavy underdogs. But the game played out very similarly to their January meeting as the Royals again held the Mariners to 59 points, put up 76 of their own, and won the PACWEST gold medal. At nationals, they battled hard and made it all the way to the final before running into the Seneca Sting, who beat the Royals 86-73 to claim their first ever national men's basketball title, but it was truly an impressive and resilient season from the Royals.
The Royals are without the services of Grant Campbell this season, who graduated not only as a PACWEST champion, but as the conference's all-time leading scorer. Campbell was an incredible player for the Royals and his shoes will be difficult to fill. Other key departures include Kameron Johnson, Noah DeRappard-Yuswack, and Reese Morris - the three Royals named to all-star teams last season. The three all-stars, along with Campbell, were good for a combined 55.7 points per game in 2017-18, so their departures will be noticeable.
There will be several fresh faces on the court for Douglas this year, but a few players remain from last year's provincial champions. Josiah Mastandrea put up 8.8 ppg and shot 38.8% from beyond the arc as a rookie, and will be an invaluable 3-point scoring option in his sophomore year. New Westminster native Sylvester Appiah will look to make a big impact on the team in his final season at Douglas, while Ben Rabel will look to step out from the shadow of last season's forward core, as the only remaining front-court player from the 2017-18 team.
After losing so many of their big scorers, the Royals will look to new recruits to have an impact. All Native athlete Kobe McKnight certainly brings the name of a certain legendary shooter, but he can back it up and will be a great option from three. New transfers include point guard Nigel Kuma-Mintah, a Vancouver native transferring from Cape Breton University, and EJ Christie, a seven-footer from Simon Fraser University.
The Royals start their season at Langara on Friday before the home opener on Saturday, where they will host the CBC Bearcats at 6 PM women's) and 8 PM (men's).