Men’s basketball slips below 0.500
Sitting a game under .500 this season at 4-5, the Wilfrid Laurier men’s basketball team lost their first two games of 2016, extending their losing streak to four.
The Hawks dropped their first match 91-67 to the No. 3 Brock Badgers during Wednesday night’s Winter Carnival game in front of a rocking home crowd and fell to the No. 6 McMaster Marauders 105-81 on Saturday.
Both losses came to nationally-ranked opponents, but after Laurier started the season 4-1 and picked up an impressive early season win against the Western Mustangs, the Hawks could have been better.
The Hawks were run off their home floor twice in one week and lost by over 20 points in both games, which doesn’t set a positive tone to start the 2016 portion of the season.
“Disappointing last week, but we are in the middle of things,” said head coach Peter Campbell of his team’s performance.
The Hawks were without Luke Allin in both games this past week and his absence has seen to hurt the team’s efficiency on offence.
In both losses, the Hawks shot less than 36 per cent from the field and were 11-for-46 on three-point attempts over both games.
The second-year forward is the team’s second leading scorer with 13.3 points per game and was shooting over 51 per cent from the field and from behind the arc this season.
Campbell said without Allin, opposing defences can focus more on Hawks’ leading scorer, fifth-year Will Coulthard, but is optimistic this will open up chances for other players on the team to step up.
So far, Coulthard appeared to have felt that extra defensive pressure and has struggled to adjust to it, shooting 25 per cent (7-of-28) from the field and just under seven per cent (1-of-15) from three-point range over both losses.
Other players who have seen an increased role in Allin’s absence are Simon Polan-Couillard and Vlad Matovic.
Both have played well and each took a turn starting in place of Allin in the starting line. Both players provided a strong effort defensively and on the boards. Polan-Couillard collected seven rebounds and a block in his start against the Marauders and Matovic chipped in with three rebounds and a block in his start versus the Badgers.
With Laurier’s offence sputtering at 36.8 per cent on the year and bottom-four in the Ontario University Athletics conference it will be interesting to see what adjustments coach Campbell and his staff make to get them back on track.
Campbell said when the team’s offence is in a dry spell, he encourages them to focus mainly on their tempo.
“Through tempo and running a specific set to get a good shot for a specific player,” he explained.
A key stretch is coming up for the Hawks, with four of their next six opponents currently sitting with worse records than Laurier.
It will be interesting to see if the Hawks can get back on track on the road with five of those next six games away from home.
“One game at a time regardless of home or away,” said Campbell.
The Hawks are back in action on Friday when they visit the Nipissing Lakers in North Bay, with their next home game coming up against their division rivals, the Windsor Lancers, on January 27.