Progress on the court

Men’s basketball matches last year’s record, but refines game

Men’s basketball fell short in the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. They lost 86-76 to Ryerson last weekend.
Men’s basketball fell short in the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. They lost 86-76 to Ryerson last weekend.

Don’t let this year’s record fool you: the Gaels improved significantly from last season.

Even though the season for Queen’s men’s basketball ended with practically identical results to last year — 10 wins and a first round playoff exit — the young squad showed promise against stellar competition.

The Gaels’ season ended last Wednesday in Toronto with an 86-76 playoff loss to the Ryerson Rams. The week prior, Queen’s dropped a regular season decision to the Rams by 10 points as well.

These results were impressive, considering Ryerson has been ranked no lower than eighth in the country all season.

The unfortunate part for Queen’s is that even though they improved, so did most of the OUA East, which already boasts three CIS superpowers: Ryerson, the Carleton Ravens and the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

The Laurentian Voyageurs and York Lions both posted better records than last year, giving the Gaels one of the most grueling schedules in the nation.

Head coach Steph Barrie realized the East was going to provide a challenge and was happy with the Gaels’ performance in the country’s toughest division.

“You have to look at it in a big picture kind of way,” Barrie said. “We played in a conference where six teams got better, including ourselves. We would not have maintained getting 10 wins if we did not improve.”

Queen’s bench boss believes the final two games of the season against Ryerson spoke to his squad’s character.

“I think we’ve had this type of personality all year,” Barrie said. “We were a team that never quit, never gave up, and never quit playing games.

“That’s a really important foundation piece to have.”

Fourth-year forward Nikola Misljencevic echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“Ryerson is a tough team — we knew that we had to bring our best efforts to each game,” said the graduating Gael. “We have always had a never-quit mindset, which will help this program develop in the future.

“It’s a shame that your success in this league is measured [and] determined by wins and losses,” he added. “Not only did we improve as a team, but each individual became a stronger overall basketball player.”

With almost the entire team returning next year — Misljencevic and fifth-year forward Mackenzie Simpson are the exceptions — it’s clear the Gaels have nowhere to go but up.

With a nucleus of second-year players and the return of star guard Greg Faulkner for his fifth year, they’ll look to contend for at least the next two seasons.

Second-year guard Roshane Roberts led his team with 20 points in the playoff loss to Ryerson. He’ll be at the helm of the Gaels’ future success, as he plans on competing with the best of the CIS for years to come.

“I’m looking forward to the development of my game and my teammates’ game,” Roberts said. “I hope we can make some strides next year and become a top-10 team in the CIS, and I also hope we can get to a championship game next season.”

With the promise that many of these young Gaels have shown on the floor, don’t be surprised to see men’s basketball in the CIS Top 10 in the next couple years.

“We’re still young and have a lot to improve,” Roberts said.

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