Ryan Harnett poses next to the Christmas tree in the front lobby of The Western Star office on Monday night. ‚ÄĒ Star photo by Chris Quigley
CORNER BROOK Ryan Harnett is soaking it all up from the sidelines, realizing full well you have to pay your dues before it‚Äôs your time to shine.
Harnett, who will turn 18 on Boxing Day while spending the holidays at home, is trying to find his way in the Atlantic University Sport as a rookie with the Dalhousie Tigers varsity men‚Äôs basketball team.
The former Corner Brook Titans star who wowed hoops fans across the province during his high school career has seen limited action with the Tigers in the first half of the season. It‚Äôs something he knew coming into a program that features a number of talented returnees leading the charge on the hardwood this season.
A multi-sport athlete with a reputation for a strong work ethic, Harnett knows he has to keep working hard and remain patient with his development. He just has to do everything he can to be ready to eat up minutes for the Tigers when the coaching staff taps him on the shoulder.
‚ÄúI feel like I‚Äôm getting better every day. It‚Äôs still an adjustment, but I‚Äôm looking forward to improving after the break to see if I can get my minutes up,‚ÄĚ said Harnett, who arrived home Dec. 16 and will be home until Dec. 28.
He has seen limited floor time as a freshman but, said the Corner Brook High graduate, that‚Äôs the case for the handful of teammates who are also trying to find their way in their rookie campaign. Besides, it was no different at the various stages of his high school basketball career where roles change depending on who is on the roster from season to season.
‚ÄúYou know that other people are in line ahead of you so you have to wait your turn and work hard for when it‚Äôs your turn,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said.
The Tigers have had a rough start to the 2013-14 AUS season with a 1-6 record and seventh spot overall in the eight-team setup. The Memorial University of Newfoundland Sea-Hawks ‚ÄĒ featuring Harnett‚Äôs old teammate Daniel Foo of Corner Brook ‚ÄĒ sit in the cellar with six-straight losses to start the season.
The record may not be close to what they had hoped for, but Harnett said the team has played some good basketball in the first half and just came up short in a lot of close games that could have went either way.
He believes the team has all the key ingredients in place to turn things around in the second half, but there‚Äôs not a lot of time to waste with the Tigers one-third through its regular schedule and a big tournament scheduled for Jan. 2 in Halifax.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt have time to fool around with any games. We have to take every game serious,‚ÄĚ he said.
Of course, Harnett knows that can only mean an extra effort will have to be made over the next few months.
‚ÄúI need to live in the gym and I live in the weight room too,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said.
He‚Äôs going to be throwing the ball around while he‚Äôs home, but that‚Äôs a given for those who know him.
‚ÄúJust try to play as much basketball I‚Äącan, and spend time with my family and friends,‚ÄĚ he said of his plan for the holidays.
As long as he finds himself becoming a better player, it‚Äôs a safe bet he will continue to soak up the experience. He will be ready to roll when he gets the tap on the shoulder from the coach.