Western’s men’s basketball season is still more than four months away, but head coach Tony Dominguez and his players are keeping busy.
The spring and summer months are a time to bring in recruits, work on grades, bulk up in the weight room and get on the court, Dominguez said.
This summer is especially important after last year’s disappointing performance. The team finished with a 16-15 overall record in the 2015-2016 season and went 9-11 in their conference, finishing fifth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular season.
The problem of lineup inconsistencies held the team back— some of which were caused by various injuries, Dominguez said.
“We let a lot of things distract us,” Dominguez said. “We just never really got a rotation. I like having a seven – or eight-man rotation and everyone knowing their role. Last year we never really got to role definition.”
It’s clear Dominguez expects more in the upcoming season.
“This summer is highly important; we need to be extremely hungry to be champions and I think we addressed that in recruiting,” Dominguez said.
Headlining Western’s recruiting class is freshman Daulton Hommes from Lynden Christian High School.
Hommes hurt his knee twice while at Lynden Christian, forcing him to sit out for two seasons. In that same time however, he grew from being a 6-foot-tall point guard to an imposing 6-foot 7-inch player who, Dominguez said, can hurt opposing teams from anywhere on the floor.
“He’s now a 6-foot 7-inch versatile player that can play inside, play outside, has good ball skills, he shoots the three,” Dominguez said. “He’s very athletic.”
Another promising recruit is freshman Trevor Jasinsky of Camas, Washington. Jasinsky is a 6-foot 7-inch player who Dominguez said will make an immediate impact on both ends of the floor.
Staying with the trend of adding size, Dominguez and his staff have recruited sophomore 7-footer Logan Schilder from Whatcom Community College.
With so much depth at the post, Dominguez hopes to free up playmakers, like senior Jeffrey Parker, to put points up on the board.
“He’ll have a little more freedom and we won’t put so much pressure on him to do a lot of different things,” Dominguez said. “He can just concentrate on scoring and rebounding. I think he’s close to becoming our all time-leading scorer. He’s a tremendous asset on the offensive end.”
Redshirt Trey Drechsel, sophomore, who put up an impressive 11.9 on average last year, will also be able to define his role more clearly going into next season.
“My role last year was a lot different than it will be this next year because last year I kind of came in and had to find myself amongst six seniors so I couldn’t be as much of the playmaker,” Drechsel said. “My role will be a lot bigger next year.”
Drechsel often had to play multiple positions on the floor last year, but with the size of this year’s recruiting class and the addition of Taylor Stafford at point guard, Drechsel and Parker are expected to be the go-to offensive options.
Stafford is a talented 6-foot 1-inch transfer from the University of Evansville, Indiana.
Drechsel called Stafford a “stud point guard” while Coach Dominguez raved about his leadership abilities.
“Unless things shake out a little differently, he’ll be our starting point guard,” Dominguez said.
Stafford, who will be a senior during the 2016-2017 season, was a junior college All-American who averaged 26 points per game, Dominguez said.
Stafford was named Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2013-2014.
With Ricardo Maxwell, Kyle Impero and Harris Javier graduated, there will be pressure on players like Stafford and Drechsel to lead an inexperienced backcourt.
Dominguez hopes this young recruiting class, paired with talented seniors like Parker and Stafford, will rejuvenate the program.
“They need to be hungry to be the best and not be satisfied with just being a solid team. We want to be the national champion again,” Dominguez said.
With a young team working alongside a talented veteran squad, the Vikings continue to prepare for another successful season.