Next weekend, the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) will be abuzz with basketball teams from across the country, as the Queen’s Gaels host the annual Tindall Invitational Tournament. This will be the first time the event has taken place since 2019, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel the 2020 and 2021 editions. In 2022, five different schools will make the trip to Kingston, with teams coming from as far away as New Brunswick and Alberta to take part in the competition.
On the men’s side, Queen’s will host schools from three different athletic conferences: the UNB (University of New Brunswick) Reds, the Concordia Stingers, and the Waterloo Warriors. For Gaels head coach Stephan Barrie, next weekend’s tournament is an opportunity for the team to work out some on-court changes ahead of the regular season, in the comfort of their home campus.
“It’s very important for a number of reasons,” Barrie said. “From a basketball standpoint, we’re going through that transition period with new individuals and new roles for returning players. To get three games at home [is] going to help.” Barrie added that the tournament also allows the Gaels to show the community exactly what the school has to offer. “We want to showcase the program and our facilities and get people from both the Queen’s student community and the local Kingston community out to games… That’s just a really big piece for us.”
The Gaels men’s team opens the tournament on Friday, October 21 at 6 p.m. against the UNB Reds. They then take on Waterloo on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., before closing things out on Sunday with a 4 p.m. tilt against the Concordia Stingers.
According to Coach Barrie, the three opponents were selected to emulate the various teams Queen’s will face once the OUA regular season gets under way in a few weeks. “Anyone who’s in the OUA, you’re going to play the top [teams] in the country [within] your conference. So, what you have to do [in the pre-season] is replicate some things you’re going to see in your conference… Concordia is going to have some tremendous athletes on their team. And we’ve seen UNB play; they have a couple of really dynamic athletic players who will test us in a way that some OUA players will. And then you have some teams that are more system-based, and they execute really well… and I see Waterloo as one of those teams.”
Barrie went on, “We’re going to get challenged in a bunch of ways in these three games… You have to step up, no matter who you’re playing. We’re going to play the top three or four teams in the country in the OUA, so we… treat every game as if we’re playing Ottawa or Carleton.”
The men’s team enters the 2022-23 season following its most successful year in program history: the team advanced to the U Sports Final 8 tournament, where they finished fourth in 2021-22. While the team hopes to replicate some of those successes this season, Coach Barrie said the group is focused solely on what’s ahead of them.
”We can’t approach this year trying to protect what happened last year,” he emphasized. ”This is a new year, and we have goals and standards that we want to live by every day… Let’s take this year for what it is, let’s get better. The league is going to be different.”
However, Barrie noted that the team will try to embody the same mindset it adopted last year. “We didn’t worry about things we couldn’t control last year, with COVID and all kinds of stuff… We just tried to get better within our own practices every day… We’re going to take that same philosophy [and] aggressively try to get better every day. We will end up where we end up, [but] we’re not going to worry about things that are out of our control.”
Coach Barrie hopes the community will come out next weekend to cheer on the Gaels, especially as several Kingston natives feature prominently in this year’s lineup, including brothers Cole and Luka Syllas. “[The fans] can be right there and see how well the program is doing, and be proud of the basketball we’ve established both here at Queen’s [and also] in Kingston. We have three Kingston players that played [local] high school basketball on our team… So there’s a Kingston element that we also want to showcase.”
Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Queen’s will host the University of Alberta Pandas, the Waterloo Warriors, and the Bishop’s Gaiters. The women’s program enters this season following an impressive bronze medal victory at the 2022 USports National Championships, which were played here in Kingston this past spring. The squad will open the tournament with a 4 p.m. tipoff against the Alberta Pandas on Friday. Queen’s then faces Bishop’s on Saturday at 2 p.m., before wrapping things up with a game against Waterloo Sunday at 12 noon.
The two Gaels teams will certainly capture most of the attention next weekend, but each day the tournament features a full slate of four games inside the Queen’s ARC. The action officially gets under way Friday afternoon with the Bishop’s and Waterloo women’s teams facing off. On Friday at 8 p.m., the Waterloo men’s squad takes on Concordia.
Saturday will see Waterloo face Alberta on the women’s side at 12 noon, while UNB goes up against Concordia in men’s play at 6 p.m. The final day of play features a women’s game between Alberta and Bishop’s at 10 a.m., while Waterloo plays UNB in a men’s contest at 2 p.m.
The Tindall Invitational Tournament is named in honour of Frank Tindall, one of the most distinguished figures in Queen’s athletic history. Tindall, a longtime head coach of the Queen’s Gaels football team, was a prominent supporter of athletics and recreation at the university. The entire tournament is free to attend and open to the public. More information can be found on the men’s basketball and women’s basketball pages of the Queen’s Gaels website.