Ryan Harnett is shown in this undated photo.
— Star file photo
Ryan Harnett will be home in Corner Brook all summer, but free time will be hard to come by.
On top of playing a bit of baseball and soccer throughout the warmer months, the six-foot guard for the Dalhousie University Tigers men’s basketball team has been given a training regimen to follow during his time off.
“It’s a lot more intense,” he said, comparing it to what he’s used to doing in the gym. “It should keep me pretty occupied.”
The commitment to fitness is worth making for Harnett, whose rookie season of varsity basketball ended back in February. The youthful Tigers put up a record of 6-14 in the Atlantic University Sport campaign, finishing in seventh place in the eight-team setup and missing the playoffs.
It would be hard to blame Harnett for the team’s lack of success, since he rarely played. He suited up for six games, averaging just under six minutes per contest. He expected he would be used sparingly and checked his ego at the door.
“That’s mainly what this year is for,” he said. “Getting better, getting used to the higher level and getting ready for next year and future years.
“I’m definitely glad I went,” he added. “It was just a good experience overall.”
Harnett said his coaches, including head coach Richard Plato, liked what they saw of the 18-year-old’s improvement throughout the season, but are anticipating more fine-tuning of his game throughout the summer.
“I need to improve on every aspect of the game, really,” he said. “Shooting, strength and controlling the game as a point guard.”
It’s a far cry from his time with the Titans of Corner Brook Regional High School, where he was one of a handful of star players counted on to power the team to victory. Now, when the game is on the line, he’s on the bench.
Even though he understands his current role, a change that sudden is never an easy adjustment.
“Even though it was hard to accept, it’s what I signed up for,” he said. “But we had a great, close group that made the transition pretty easy.”
Harnett did get his chances to shine, however, especially during the Dalhousie Rod Shovelling Invitational exhibition tournament immediately after Christmas break.
He scored five points in seven minutes of action during an 80-77 loss to the University of Prince Edward Island. He was rewarded with his biggest minutes of the season the following game, when he was on the floor for 19 during an 85-69 loss against Acadia, though his only points came from the charity stripe, where he went two-for-two.
The best game he had in regular season play was his final action of the year, when he played 12 minutes and recorded four points in a 99-55 defeat at the hands of Acadia.
“I played a lot better when I had confidence towards the end of the year,” he said.
The core group of the Tigers is young, with only two leaving the roster due to graduation. Harnett’s not sure if everybody will be back next season, but he expects a battle for playing time with other guys eager to get on the floor.
“I think I was one of the most improved throughout the season,” he said. “Hopefully I can bump myself up a bit.”
Off the court, his first year of university, where he’s studying business management, was a tough one. He admits he struggled to juggle sports, school and his social life. He plans to live in a house next fall, away from the residence and so many distractions.
“It was hard for me as one fo the youngest guys up there,” he said. “There was a big learning curve.
“It was all right,” he added. “It was tough, but it was a good year.”