Golden Hawks suffer back to back defeats in Toronto

Photo by Tanzeel Sayani

On a two game road-trip to Toronto, the Wilfrid Laurier men’s basketball team faced off against the University of Toronto on Friday night and Ryerson University on Saturday night.

The Golden Hawks returned home having lost both games, but head coach Justin Serresse sounded more like a coach on a mission than one guiding a team on a three-game losing streak.

“We’re a team that never gives up. I don’t like when people give up on themselves. I’m a competitor so I don’t want my team to ever, ever, ever quit. That’s how we were able to keep [both games] close.”

This determination was displayed by the rapid turnaround in performance between the game against U of T and the game against Ryerson.

When describing the mistakes that cost them the game against U of T, Coach Serresse said, “definitely our turnovers. We struggled at times, but it’s not like it was through the whole game. We had quarters with 2 or 3 turnovers, then quarters with 7 or 8.”

“It’s about limiting the turnovers, then defensively following the game plan, sometimes we’re not in sync, all of us together.”

Alternately, against Ryerson, the Golden Hawks stood toe-to-toe with last year’s OUA champions and didn’t bat an eye, heading into the half down by only three points.

Unfortunately, the performance petered out in the third quarter, but the toughness and effort required for victory was evident during the entire match.

“We actually made a run against [a zone defense] we don’t see often. We were executing really well in the second quarter. There were quarters we [won] tonight.”

With the second youngest roster in the OUA and a second-year head coach at the helm, Laurier is experiencing growing pains, but on a team brimming with talent and potential, these pains seem fixable rather than fatal.

The season is long, the Golden Hawks still have more than half of their schedule left to play and as the young team meshes and their experience grows, the victories will only occur more frequently.

Going forward, coach Serresse described his points of emphasis as follows: “Turnovers and rebounding are the two things that we want to take care of every night, [they are] something we can control. Sometimes shooting comes and goes. Those are the two things we want to emphasize.”

Coach Serresse proceeded to explain what it will take to win during the second stretch of the season: “We’re a young team … we can’t get down. If you don’t love the grind, then you don’t deserve to be a winner. We’re going to [have] some games like that. It’s just eliminating those young mistakes, from players to coaches.”

“I made a lot of mistakes last night [in the game against U of T]. I wasn’t happy with my coaching. There’s a few things we need to clean up. We can’t be bothered and we can’t be sad. We just have to keep working,” Serresse said.

Looking forward to the game against Waterloo, the Golden Hawks will try to snap their three game skid and enter the winter break on a positive note. Furthermore, a month off from basketball might be just the restorative therapy this young team needs.

“We have a lot of young guys and the university lifestyle is brand new for them. The first semester is always the most challenging, so I think it’s going to be good for us to get stronger, to get healthy … then readjust.”

The season is long, the Golden Hawks still have more than half of their schedule left to play and as the young team meshes and their experience grows, the victories will only occur more frequently.

And so, although the trip to Toronto was not productive if measured in wins and losses, the lessons learned and the experience gained will serve this team well. The Golden Hawk’s season isn’t over, not by a long shot.

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