Friday, November 14, 2008

Campus Corner: Basketball bonus coverage

We were pretty pressed for space in this week's Journal, so I had to cut this piece on the men's basketball team's opening weekend games down substantially for the paper. I figured I'd post it here in its entirety for anyone interested in more details on the team and their opening games. For more Gaels' hoops coverage, check out my profile of Mitch Leger in today's paper: I'll have another posts on the team up here shortly. Here's the full story:

Basketball opens with a bang
By Andrew Bucholtz
Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team’s started the season with a bang Friday. They earned a 72-67 victory against the Waterloo Warriors, a team that was 6-16 last season but had defeated the Gaels 92-62 in the preseason.

Point guard Baris Ondul poured in 19 points against Waterloo and added six assists and three rebounds.

Ondul said the team was out for revenge after their ignominious loss to the Warriors in the pre-season.
“We were motivated for redemption,” he said.

Ondul said the Gaels were spurred on by the large numbers of fans in attendance.
“I liked the turnout from the crowd,” he said. “That’s good; we’re hoping for that every single game from now on.”

Forward Mitch Leger scored a game-high 26 points Friday and added 10 rebounds.
Waterloo head coach Tom Kieswetter said the play of Leger, who missed the pre-season match thanks to injury, was the main disparity between the two games.

“Mitch didn’t play; that’s the denominator right there,” he said. “He was the difference tonight; we couldn’t get him stopped. He was hitting shots and played great, and that’s why they won.”

After the game, Leger said the Gaels were humiliated by their previous loss to Waterloo, which he missed thanks to an injury, and were looking to make sure it didn’t happen again.

“You lose by 30, it’s really embarrassing,” he said. “We knew they’d come in thinking they could beat us by 30 again, so we just played hard and grinded it out.”

Leger said he was pleased with the team’s defensive play, as they were able to hold Waterloo to 67 points.

“They had 67, last time they scored 92,” he said. “To hold a team like that under 70 is pretty good.”

Leger said there was still room for improvement, though.

“It’s just little letdowns,” he said. “The coach is always talking about dead plays, where we fall asleep. We’ve practiced for two months, we can’t really afford to do that any more, and we know better.”

Head coach Rob Smart said after the game the difference between the two clashes with Waterloo was the Gaels’ defensive intensity.

“We defended,” he said. “They can really score, but we defended and they’ve scored against everybody but Carleton and us tonight. Every other game they’ve played, they’ve scored a bunch.”

Smart said he was pleased with the team’s performance.

“I don’t think we could have played a whole bunch better tonight,” he said.

The Gaels finished strong, outscoring Waterloo 17-13 in the final quarter where they went to a three-guard lineup that featured their smaller players. Smart said 6’7’’ rookie Bernard Burgessen’s rebounding performance enabled him to go to a quicker lineup. Burgessen finished the night with six rebounds, behind only Leger for the team lead.

“Bernard rebounded so well he let us go small,” Smart said. “It’s nice to go small if you can get rebounds. On the defensive end, he was just a vacuum. He got every one, he went up the ladder and took it down.”

Smart said he wasn’t pleased with the team’s 67 per cent success rate on free-throw attempts, but he doesn’t see an easy cure.

“It’s one of those things that the more you talk about it the worse it gets, usually.”

Smart said he was pleased Queen’s was able to knock off the Warriors, who he said are much stronger than last year’s record shows.

“They’re a good team,” he said. “Of the teams I’ve seen in the country, I think they’re a top ten team. They’ve beaten a lot of teams.”

Smart said there’s still a lot of work to do, though.

“I always expect a whole bunch,” he said. “The win tonight isn’t very big if we lose tomorrow.”

Those words came true, and the Gaels suffered a 97-84 loss on Saturday to the lightly-regarded Laurier Golden Hawks, who were 8-14 last year. Leger, who again scored 26 points and added 10 rebounds, said the loss nullified the euphoria from the win over Waterloo.

“By the end of the weekend we felt pretty bad,” he said.

Leger said the defensive effort, which was a strength on Friday, was absent Saturday.

“The performance we had Saturday was just a complete defensive meltdown by the entire team, and I was one of the major problems with that too,” he said. “It was a lot of fundamental defensive breakdowns, things that we just kind of took for granted, defensive things we didn’t feel like doing hard in that game.”

Leger said the loss will fire the Gaels up for their upcoming road games against the Guelph Gryphons and the Brock Badgers, though.

“It’s pretty disappointing, but it gives us some motivation for practice this week and going into this weekend.”

1 comment:

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