M. Umair Farooq Khan
Out of nine hopefuls, one emerged as head coach of the Humber men’s basketball team.
And the team didn’t have to look far for its choice. Indeed, the eyes of Ray Chateau, director of Athletics at Humber, just needed to move down the bench a tad to Samson Downey.
The former student of Humber College who attended from 2001 to 2005 and graduated with a double diploma in business management that crosses over to business marketing, was selected in May by Chateau.
Downey replaces Patrick Au, who left after last season for personal reasons.
Chateau said he sees Downey as the best match for the position.
“He’s a very bright coach in terms of reading the game and making adjustments,” he said. “He understands the players and relates well to them because he’s been a part of our system for the last few years.”
Downey played five seasons as a Hawk, helping the team net the 2005 Provincial Championship
The teams he played on — coached by Humber Varsity Hall of Famers Mike Katz and Darrell Glenn — recorded a 74-14 (.813) OCAA record and he retired with the third highest career free throw percentage in program history.
He returned to Humber in 2014 as an assistant coach under Shawn Collins and held that bench spot until being promoted to head coach.
Downey said moving one seat over as head coach is definitely different, but he’s still the same guy and demands a lot.
“The guys who’ve been here for two or three of four years know I expect a lot and so I think it’ll be a seamless transition for me,” he said.
Downey said he wants to ensure that not only are the players outstanding on the court but also off the court.
“My main focus coming in was focusing more on student athlete. My main goal is to have these guys graduate with a diploma or a degree and as well as be successful on the basketball court and the combination of both makes for a great student athlete experience,” he said.
Downey said they did something a little different in this year’s pre-season and he’s confident the team will perform well because of that.
“We have Shane Dennie who played with me when I played here. He’s our skill development coach so we have him working with us twice a week and regular practice twice or thrice a week,” he said.
Downey added that’s necessary to do because he considers every team a threat and every game is pretty much tough.
“There is not just one team that’s the team to beat. You could lose on any given night but the players should just work hard,” he said.
The returning players already know Downey is demanding but the new players are also ecstatic to be working with him preparing for their first game of the season against Fanshawe Falcons in London on Oct. 19.
Humber guard DeQuon Cascart, team co-captain, said he’s fond of Downey as they have a healthy and respectful relationship.
“I think he’s a great coach and human being. He wants us to be great on and off the court,” he said.
“He understands us and we understand him,” Cascart said.