Former hoops standout Dave Joyce now coaching X-Men alongside a legend

Chris Quigley
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Dave Joyce, second from left, is shown on the sidelines with coach Steve Konchalski, second from right, during a St. Francis Xavier University X-Men basketball game this season.

CORNER BROOK  Dave Joyce always felt he’d learned from the best.

Whether it was his father, the late Bern Joyce, teaching him the basics of basketball, or coaches like Frank Foo, Ed Buckle and Steve Cave, who guided him through his junior high and high school days on the court, Joyce soaked it all in.

Now he stands on the sidelines, adjacent one of the greatest varsity basketball minds in Canadian history — Steve Konchalski.

One of the standouts on a dominant Herdman Collegiate Huskies squad in the early-2000s, Joyce went on to play three years with the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men, winning an Atlantic University Sport crown in his rookie season.

“It definitely helped prepare me, playing with such talented players,” he said of his days with the Huskies. “Not only to become a better player, but to get the exposure to be recognized by a university.”

Though he rarely saw the floor during that championship run in his freshman campaign, he averaged around 15 minutes a game in his second year and became a starting guard in his third and final season with the team. The X-Men were eliminated by the eventual champions in the semifinals both of those years.

He opted not to play during his fourth year, so he could concentrate on his finishing his business degree, which eventually helped lead to a job with the university in fund development for athletics, a position he’s been in for just over a year now.

With that opportunity came another, as Joyce’s old coach Konchalski offered him an assistant coaching position with the team he used to play for.

Joyce had done a little coaching here in Corner Brook, with a Grade 7 G.C. Rowe team in 2005 and a Grade 7 Presentation Junior High squad in 2011. He also coached youth teams in Antigonish, N.S. while attending school.

“I always had an interest in coaching,” said the 26-year-old city native.

Working with Konchalski — the winningest coach in Canadian Interuniversity Sport history who is now in his 39th season leading the X-Men — offers him the chance to learn from who he calls “the most knowledgeable coach in Canada.”

“Just hearing his perspective on things,” Joyce said. “I think it’s preparing me well if I do want to pursue coaching as a career option.”

Perhaps what Joyce admires most about Konchalski is his modern philosophy on the game, despite being an old-school coach.

“He relies on athleticism, getting up and down the floor quickly and playing in transition,” he said. “And he’s an excellent recruiter — he recruits all across the country and internationally.”

Joyce’s responsibilities lie mainly as somewhat of a buffer between the players and Konchalski.

“I think it’s a good buffer,” he said. “Especially with Coach being in his 39th year at the university.”

He said he also provides feedback, like any coach would, for whatever he does see in any particular game. Being behind the bench, instead of on it, lends a completely altered view of the sport.

“When you’re a player, you think you know everything, but when you’re a coach you realize there’s a lot more thought put into decisions than you actually think,” he said. “It’s interesting seeing it from the coaching perspective.”

The team experienced a large roster turnover in the off-season, with seven new faces brought into the program this year. They’re tied for second place in the AUS standings with a 5-3 record and 12 points. It’s not somewhere Joyce necessarily expected the team to be in a rebuilding year.

“The young players are really progressing,” he said. “I think we’re viewed as a very dangerous team when March comes because we’re continuing to improve at such a fast rate.”

Joyce enjoyed a 10-day break at home, spending time with his family, over the holidays. He returned to help run team practices at the university on Dec. 30.

He was anxious to get back to helping the current players with their games, but says he doesn’t really miss being out on the floor himself.

“I played a lot of years,” he said. “It’s kind of nice every evening when I don’t have to do all the running at practice.”

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport, St. Francis Xavier University

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Antigonish, Canada

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