A LOOK BACK AT FALL 2010…
While we do coach our players to live “presently” and focus on the moment, there are also times when reflection on the past is beneficial. As our team pauses briefly, at what could be deemed our midseason, we offer the following recap of our journey thus far.
This season began, in what now seems like another lifetime, with a two-game visit by Coach John Calipari and his young, quick team from Kentucky.
Without question, the mini-series that took place four months ago was a valuable learning experience for our program, especially our younger players. On our home court, our guys witnessed what it takes to compete at a level of excellence in D1 basketball. We remain pleased with the exposure that our program received, which will likely provide dividends in future recruiting and partnerships.
Our next significant test, as we prepared our guys for the OUA interlock schedule, took place at the annual House Laughton tournament in Carleton.
Beyond the three games against strong CIS teams, the trip taught our guys very necessary and valuable lessons about how to succeed as a varsity athlete away from their home gym. Life on the road in the OUA is neither easy nor glamorous, as the work has to be done in sometimes adverse conditions and inhospitable confines – players need to simply learn that by doing.
While our opening game victory over Victoria was a step in the right direction, we still were not playing our desired level of basketball. That certainly showed in our next two games versus Carleton and McGill. That said, losing to two good teams, we learned lessons that would help us later in the season.
Prior to facing York and Laurentian on the road, we made it very clear that we wanted this team and season to be special – a feeling that would require a strong start and a dominant interlock record prior to the Christmas break.
Opening against York, putting together an almost unconscious 43 point performance, Isaac Kuon showed the entire CIS what he is capable of producing on any given night. Neither team was pleased with its defensive effort but a road win is simply that – a win.
We woke up from the short lived York victory to face a long travel day north to Sudbury. Playing at Laurentian is always a challenge due to their program plus their passionate fans – another tremendous learning opportunity for us as we educated our guys about winning away from home. Best described as a game of runs, we used strong shooting and a better defensive game to hold on for a second victory of the young season.
Facing Ryerson on the second night of our first home weekend, our team had to prepare for another battle versus a strong Eastern opponent. The Ryerson game proved a point that our coaching staff had been making all season – beyond a consistent team effort, individual players would need to step forward and lead our group. Scoring 10 points late in the fourth quarter, the Ryerson game proved to be one of Monty Hardware’s opportunities to lead.
After our first home weekend, we prepared for a visit by Ottawa and Carleton as a 4-0 team. Our fans that witnessed the contest against Ottawa were treated to an absolutely thrilling game. Once again, our team was reminded that they can never take a night off versus a team in the CIS. The Ottawa game provided the opportunity for Andre Smyth to use his veteran leadership and carry our team to its fifth win. Andre matched Ottawa’s hot shooting with four late game three pointers of his own – enough to give us a three point margin at the buzzer.
Coming in to the game, both teams knew that one would move on to 6-0 while the other would suffer its first loss of the season. Our fans received full value for their admission to the latest instalment in our ongoing Saturday evening series with Carleton. Tied at 37 at the half, it came down to the final 20 minutes of play. Utilizing their depth, Carleton eventually pulled away for the victory, handing us our first loss.
Queen’s held us to a one point lead in a very low scoring first half, which set the stage for Lien Phillip to lead our team in the second half. Helped by another strong scoring night by Isaac, Lien secured our first win of our Kingston weekend with an 18 rebound performance.
As we prepared for our final interlock game versus RMC, we reminded our guys of the desire to make this season special. After an inconsistent start, we managed to share plenty of minutes and finish with a victory over RMC – a special win because it tied our best ever interlock record of 7-1.
In the New Year, we welcome some additions to our line-up. We will not automatically be stronger, as we will have to put in the necessary work to improve our team.
Hang on tight. If we play to our potential, this promises to be an exciting ride!