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Thomson hoping to restore Morrison-era success with official title as head coach

Ryan Thomson, who was officially named head coach on Tuesday, finished the season with a 2-12 coaching record after taking over the job in December.
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Ryan Thomson
New head coach Ryan Thomson (second from right) directs traffic for the Lakehead Thunderwolves on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 at the Thunderdome, while assistants Evan Woodland, Matt Erdman and Jamie Searle look on. (Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY -- The Lakehead Thunderwolves are bringing back Ryan Thomson for the 2018-19 men’s basketball season.

The decision comes more than five months after he replaced Manny Furtado as the OUA team's interim head coach.

“I'm thrilled,” Thomson said in a phone interview. “I really like that I have the chance to build a team and get all the pieces together.”

The former Thunderwolves forward took over an 0-10 team in December and led them to wins over Guelph and Laurier, but ultimately they finished dead last in the OUA West with a 2-22 record.

Despite the rough year, Warden feels Thomson is equipped to rebuild the program.

“Obviously he took over in a tough situation and I honestly think he did really well. And I know that his athletes feel that,” Warden said in an interview in March. “So far I’m very pleased with Ryan’s work and the way he’s managed our program under difficult times.”

In 2009, Thomson was recruited from Oakville by former head coach, and current Boston Celtics assistant Scott Morrison.

“A lot of it had to with Scott,” Thomson said on why he came to Lakehead after high school.

“The way he recruited me gave me a lot of confidence, and I knew I’d be a part of something special.”

Under Morrison, Thomson’s role as a stretch forward with a lethal three-point shot propelled the team to new heights.

He was an integral part of the team’s 2011 Wilson Cup title, and the trip to the national final in 2013. However, during that 2013 playoff run, Thomson tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a second-round win against McMaster.

That game would be his last with the Wolves, but not an end to his basketball career, as he quickly re-routed his career into coaching.

After spending two seasons as an assistant at Lakehead, Thomson got the opportunity to work alongside Morrison as an assistant and player developer for the Maine Red Claws, a G-league affiliate of the Celtics.

“Scott having the confidence to basically bring me along was huge. That’s an opportunity I wouldn’t have gotten had I been not trying to get into coaching right away.”

From Maine, Thomson spent two summers working with Canada Basketball, and was hired as an assistant coach for the Saint John Riptide of Canada’s National Basketball League in 2017.

At just 27, Thomson has racked up a lot of experience in a short time. He hopes he can use it to establish a culture similar to the one that made him come to Lakehead as a teenager.

“(Scott’s) focus on player development was important,” Thomson said. “Being hyper-organized and deliberate as a coach… that’s the biggest thing I took away from working with him.”

Thomson will also be backed by a team of assistants that were involved both as players and coaches during this decade’s more successful years.

“It really made it easier for me to come back,” Thomson said. “There’s a certain level of comfort there, but they’re also very bright when it comes to basketball.”

Moving forward, Thomson is excited to work with players over the summer, and build a competitive roster for next season.

“I’m looking forward to a full training camp, and getting those habits and principles really well understood.”




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