U SPORTS MBB: McGill Enters the Thorne Era

Vancouver, BC- The U SPORTS basketball coaching carousel continues to spin, but for the first time in a decade, it’s stopped at McGill University. 

The Montreal school announced  Ryan Thorne as the head coach of their men’s basketball program, replacing David DeAveiro, who was at the helm for more than a decade.  DeAveiro left for Ryerson University last month after stepping down from the McGill role. 

McGill head coach Ryan Thorne
Thorne with the women’s team (APShutter.com)

While Thorne will be a new face behind the men’s bench, he is familiar to the McGill and U SPORTS basketball community, after coaching the McGill Martlets (women) for 17 years. Thorne’s tenure with the Martlets makes the duration of Devario’s men’s reign look like nothing out of the ordinary. Throughout Thorne’s near two decades with the women’s team, he led them to a single U SPORTS National Championship in 2017, as well as seven RSEQ titles. He has experience winning at the school, an advantageous position to be in heading into his new role. 

“It has taken me considerable time to think about this change,” Thorne said to McGill Athletics. “It was actually a very tough decision for me because I love the women’s program and the staff that I worked with, but I believe this is the right move.”

Although he is vacating the role he undertook in 2006, there are other aspects to Thorne’s McGill and community contributions. The Barbados born coach serves as a basketball instructor in McGill’s department of kinesiology and physical education and has served on the board of directors for the West Island Black Community Associations, where he has used his platform to help various sectors of the community. 

Coach Thorne addresses his team before big game against Laval. (Remi Lu / McGill Tribune)
(Thorne addresses the women’s team before a game. Circa. 2013/ McGill Tribune)

In any normal year, it would be difficult to adjust to a new program and new players, but with the Novel Coronavirus enthralling the world, it makes it significantly more difficult. At the time of writing, the RSEQ is the only conference set to play in the fall, although most of the member universities have announced that classes will be online. The 2021 U SPORTS championship has not been cancelled, dissimilar to fall sports championships such as the Vanier Cup, however, there’s little hope that a season will not start until January.  

“We’re still waiting for government guidelines, but the coaches across Canada have proposed a 16-game schedule beginning in January,” Thorne said.

The McGill athletics program seems to have made a good decision staying close to home with their most recent hire, as being in a familiar environment will ease the transition of Thorne into his new role.

Free-Throws: An Instant Addition

(McGill Athletics)

The McGill men’s basketball program did not wait a day before announcing their first commitments under their new head coach. Mere hours after Thorne was named to the position, the school announced Alex Root as the program’s second recruit of the offseason. The 6”5’ shooting guard has spent his high school career t Ridley College in Welland, ON.

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