The men’s basketball team showed no sign of holiday lethargy last night, beating the Royal Military College Paladins 73-33 in their first game of the New Year. Strong presences in the paint from forward Scott Stinson and guard Ryan Hairsine helped the Gaels post 59 rebounds, and forward Mitch Leger led the team in rebounding and scoring with 11 rebounds and 16 points.
During the first half Queen’s scored 11 of their 14 total three-pointers and took a 43-15 lead into the halftime break. Stinson said the score wasn’t the team’s main focus.
“Regardless of the score, we were just trying to improve,” he said.
Queen’s wasn’t idle over the break. The team went to Santa Barbara, California for the Tom Byron Classic Dec. 29 and 30, finishing with a record of 3-6. Besides the obvious escape from the cold, Stinson said the trip was beneficial because it was an opportunity to fine tune several aspects of the team’s play, such as defence and rebounding. The Gaels’ training over the break went beyond the California trip, with a one-week training camp preceding the return to classes. Stinson said the training helped redevelop skills that diminished over the break.
“I just tried to get a lot of the rust off and it’s not totally off,” he said. “I was working on the little things that you lose over time.”
Head coach Rob Smart said last night’s game against the winless Paladins was an opportunity to expand the experience of the younger players.
“It’s a chance for the rookies to play,” he said. “But more than anything some of the guys who are playing 10 to 15 minutes a game get to play 20 to 25 minutes a game and then they get a better feel.”
The Gaels are at home again this weekend to host both the York Lions and Laurentian Voyageurs. Smart said his team’s approach to beating high-scoring teams like the York Lions is a defensive one.
“I don’t think we can outscore teams,” he said. “We have to defend them.”
Guard Baris Ondul led the way defensively Wednesday with a loud and energetic performance. He said vocalizing on defence is something the team has focused on.
“There’s no bad blood,” he said. “It’s just part of the game.”
Wednesday’s win brings the Gaels’ record to just below .500 with four wins and five losses. Ondul said bringing the team above the .500 mark is going to be this weekend’s main focus.
“We’ve just got to get the Ws,” he said. “The priority is winning the game. I don’t care how pretty it is.”
The Gaels will face York tonight at 8 p.m. and Laurentian tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Both games will be in Bartlett Gym.
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