A long way from Amsterdam

A long way from Amsterdam
A.J. Geugjes is in his third season with the Cape Breton University Capers men's basketball team, and it was a former Caper that played a key role in getting him to relocate overseas from his home in Amsterdam.

Geugjes's former coach in the Netherlands, Bas Van Willigen, played for the Capers and got in touch with former Capers head coach Jim Charters to give Geugjes a look.

Charters was in Amsterdam for a recruiting trip and after a few practices, he asked Geugjes to join the Capers program. The rest is history.

"It was a big change for me," said the 22-year-old. "My old coach called me up on a Wednesday and he said Jim Charters was coming this Friday for tryouts, so I had two days to decide if I was going to come.

"I did three or four practices and (Charters) offered me to come here. I had to think about it, because it was such short notice. But after a week, I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I had to take it."

The move was worth it for the towering 6-8 forward. He was named to the Atlantic University Sport rookie team in 2011-12 and the AUS second all-star team in 2012-13.

There was little in the way of culture shock for Geugjes when he made the move to Cape Breton. He had lived in San Francisco for a year, so he was already acclimatized to life in North America.

Now a veteran on a young Capers squad, he sees his role as changed from last year.

"I definitely have a different role this year because with (AUS MVP) Jimmy Dorsey gone now, a lot of people have to step up," he said. "I'm in my third year now, so it's more of an older role. It's a different team from last year, for sure."

Capers head coach Matt Skinn said Geugjes isn't a vocal leader in the dressing room, but leads by example. He's tied for third on the team in scoring with 9.8 points per game and is among the league leaders with 7.5 rebounds per game.

"His basketball IQ is so high and you know what you're going to get from him," he said. "He's going to be in the right spot, he's going to do the right things, and he's going to stick to the scouting report. He's going to do all of those things.
"Off the court, he's an awesome person and the guys really like him. He brings of lot of positive vibes to the team, I think."

The Capers basketball teams hit the court on Friday against the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers to wrap up the opening term. The women play at 6 p.m. followed by the men at 8 p.m. at Sullivan Field House.

"You always want to finish and do things the right way, especially at home," said Skinn. "I think we've established ourselves as a certain team in the league at home and this being a tough place to play. Hopefully, we can keep that going this weekend."