Gaels fight pain

Men’s basketball beats Rams, can only dress eight in loss to Blues

Gaels’ forward Jon Ogden (00) tries to get open against Ryerson’s Igor Bakovic Friday.
Image supplied by: Supplied by Christine Péloquin/Ryerson Athletics
Gaels’ forward Jon Ogden (00) tries to get open against Ryerson’s Igor Bakovic Friday.

To say the men’s basketball team’s most recent road trip was a challenging one would be an understatement. Not only were they playing away from home against the ninth-ranked team in the country, but they were doing so with only eight players dressed due to injuries.

On Friday night, the team took on the 4-8 Ryerson Rams and came away with a 77-69 win, thanks in large part to the play of the trio of Mitch Leger, Jon Ogden and Simon Mitchell, who earned the Gaels 53 points. The Gaels kept a comfortable lead throughout the game, leading at the half by 22 points and never allowing the Rams to get any closer than eight points. Nine players dressed for the Gaels, but centre Patrick Beswick played only seven minutes due to lingering effects from a concussion he suffered in practice.

The team visited the 9-3 University of Toronto Varsity Blues, ranked ninth nationally, on Saturday night, looking for a victory that would have put them in a tie with Toronto for third place in the OUA East. Despite excellent individual performances, including a season-high 29 points from guard Simon Mitchell, the dominance the team demonstrated the previous night eluded them. The men lost 83-76 to the Blues and turned the ball over five more times than their opponents.

Assistant coach Duncan Cowan said his team had a hard time stopping Toronto defensively, particularly because only eight players were healthy enough to dress. Guard Baris Ondul is still out with a groin injury, and Beswick didn’t dress due to effects from his concussion.

“Tim Boyle and Nick Didonato are two of our best defenders, but they’re at a point where they’re so tired and worn out,” Cowan said. “Playing a team like Toronto, you need to be at full strength.”

Cowan said he hasn’t lost faith in the team’s ability to succeed in the playoffs, despite the number of injuries they’re dealing with. “Both Simon and Mitch are probably playing the best basketball of their season right now and getting better every week,” he said. “We’ll be in a great position come playoff time if people get healthy.”

As for the health of key players like Leger and Mitchell, who both played 37 minutes in Saturday’s loss, Cowan said he isn’t worried.

“We’ve had one of those years, but Mitch and Simon are mature enough and physically strong enough to keep going for the rest of the season no problem.”

The Gaels’ schedule doesn’t ease up as they face the top-ranked Carleton Ravens Friday night at Bartlett Gym. The Ravens are undefeated, with a 14-0 record. Cowan said he doesn’t expect to see any of the injured players back in the lineup for the game, but he said the team will focus on ensuring their healthy players don’t get hurt in practice, as Beswick was a few weeks ago.

Ondul said it’s tough to not be able to play.

“It’s really frustrating at times,” he said. “You see that you can help your team out, and they need you, but you can’t do it.” —With files from Andrew Bucholtz

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