Men’s basketball Hawks still struggling

Men’s basketball lose weekend games, fall to 6-7 on the year

Photo by Jessica Dik/Lead Photographer
Photo by Jessica Dik/Lead Photographer

With consecutive losses against division rivals last week, the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s basketball team sit with a 6-7 record on the season and are tied for second in the Ontario University Athletics West division, just behind the division-leading Windsor Lancers who are 7-6 on the year.

The Hawks suffered a 90-78 loss to the Lancers last Wednesday and head coach Peter Campbell attributes a big part of the loss to his team’s lack of effort from the start, where the Hawks were outscored 26-13 in the opening frame.

“When you’re playing a team as good as that you can’t afford to take a quarter off,” he said.

Laurier’s offensive inefficiencies are evident in their losses — the Hawks have shot under 36 per cent from the field in six of their seven losses this season. An inefficient offence becomes even more problematic because of the team’s weak rebounding.

If rebounding is solid, even when the Hawks’ offence is struggling they can still generate offensive rebounds to get second and third chances to score and extend possessions. But rebounding hasn’t been great. The Hawks are last in the OUA in rebounding margin, sitting at -9. On average, the Hawks are out-rebounded by their opponents by nine rebounds per game. Campbell said that he knew the Hawks would be in for a test given Windsor’s abilities.

“We missed open shots, they out competed us on the boards, which we knew they would do, so we knew we had to get a body on a body all the time and we didn’t stay with that, we weren’t focused on that enough as individuals,” Campbell explained.

In order to spawn more offence, Laurier often turns to a full-court press defence in an attempt to force their opponents to make turnovers, which generates points off their defence. The Hawks have an advantage with the combination of length and agility of their frontcourt players and how this fits in with their full-court press defensively.

Vlad Matovic, Matt Chesson and Simon Polan-Couillard all average a half a steal per game by using their agility to stay with small, quick players in the press and using their length to disrupt passing lanes, the Hawks have found success.

But the problem with this style of play, according to Campbell, is it is very energy-consuming and opposing teams will eventually get used to it.

“You can’t run it forever,” Campbell said. “There’s a scenario where you can play it for a period of time.”

“We tried a little bit of different stuff there, we ran a different press for a little bit.”

One of the Hawks’ youngest players has found a role contributing in this high-intensity defensive style. First-year guard Sydney Davis was active defensively when the Hawks made a run to try and cut the deficit versus the Lancers. Davis saw 23 minutes of floor time over the team’s two games this past week and spoke about his duties in the full-court press.

“I feel I contributed well because I came in ready to play. I bring energy, I’m supposed to deny the wing and take away the middle, make it difficult,” Davis said. “That’s my main job.”

Davis said he is still adjusting to the next level of play, but is happy with the amount of coaching Campbell has given him, which helped his adjustment period.

The Hawks are back in action on February 5 when they travel to Toronto to take on the 10-1 and No. 1 nationally-ranked Ryerson Rams.

Tip-off is at 8 p.m. at Mattamy Athletic Centre.

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