Men’s basketball struggles at home

Two losses to divisional rivals send the Gaels back to the drawing board

Queen’s guard Ryan Hairsine drives against Drazen Glisic (33) and Patrick Sewell of the Varsity Blues Saturday.
Image by: Christine Blais
Queen’s guard Ryan Hairsine drives against Drazen Glisic (33) and Patrick Sewell of the Varsity Blues Saturday.

The men’s basketball team fought hard but couldn’t overcome the 9-6 Ryerson Rams or the 11-5 University of Toronto Varsity Blues in two divisional matchups this weekend, losing 78-60 against Ryerson Friday and 68-63 to the Varsity Blues Saturday. The losses left head coach Rob Smart searching for answers.

“We played okay; we didn’t play horrible,” Smart said after Saturday’s loss. “I don’t know; [the weekend] obviously didn’t go that well.”

The Rams and Varsity Blues managed to hold Queen’s scoring leader Baris Ondul to a weekend total of 13 points on one-of-seven shooting against Ryerson and three-for-13 shooting against Toronto. Other players stepped up, though, with Dan Bannister putting up 16 points against the Rams, Nick DiDonato scoring 10 points against Ryerson and 11 against Toronto and Scott Stinson pulling in 13 rebounds against the Varsity Blues while pitching in six points of his own.

Smart said the team has already locked up a playoff spot, but they’ll have to improve to move past the first round.

“We lose every game from now on and we’ll still make the playoffs,” he said. “But if we don’t start playing better than we are, we’re not going very far.”

Smart said the Gaels need to improve their fundamentals and reduce their errors.

“We’ve just got to make fewer mistakes,” he said. “We’re making way too many mistakes.” Smart said the close game against the Varsity Blues bodes well for Queen’s, though.

“There’s a good chance we’ll play Toronto in the playoffs,” he said. “Can we beat them? Probably.”

In the game against Toronto, the Gaels went into the halftime break with a three-point lead. By the start of the fourth quarter, that lead had turned into a seven-point deficit, but with less than two minutes remaining the Gaels managed to tie the score. A series of poor offensive decisions and a foul with 17 seconds remaining allowed the Varsity Blues to escape with the victory, though.

Stinson said it was a mental lapse on the Gaels’ part that handed Toronto the victory.

“When it was all tied up we had really good momentum, but maybe we got too excited,” he said. “I felt perhaps right at the end of the game we just kind of let up defensively and gave up a few easy rebounds.”

Stinson said the performance against Toronto was another example of Queen’s not being able to close out tough games.

“We competed pretty hard down the stretch but still needed to show a little more composure and mental toughness to finish off those close games,” he said. “There’ve been a lot of tight ones this year and we can’t make that many mistakes right now. We don’t have much margin for error right now.”

As the team heads into its final stretch and prepares for playoffs, Stinson said they’ll have to improve their mental focus.

“We just have to have a little more composure, and execute when the time comes,” he said. “We’re in the game all game, then at the very end we almost threw the game on our own, so having more composure down the stretch is key for us.”

The Gaels will go on the road this weekend to face the

2-15 Laurentian Voyageurs Friday and the 4-13 York Lions Saturday.

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