Men’s basketball keeps sliding, losing seven in a row

Amidst team struggles, Singh moves into second in all-time scoring for Gaels

Sukhpreet Singh is second all-time in Queen's scoring history.
Sukhpreet Singh is second all-time in Queen's scoring history.
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Last week head coach Stephan Barrie told The Journal that all was fine within the Gaels’ locker room, even amidst their five-game losing skid.

“[We’ve] been here before,” he said.

And they had. In the 2014-15 season, the Gaels suffered the same streak of five in a row.  The losses were, as guard Sukhpreet Singh said after their loss to McMaster two Saturdays ago, something they were “familiar with.”

The Gaels entered Friday night against the Nipissing Lakers not only hoping to resurrect their season, but also the direction their program is headed.

A promising opening few minutes put the home team in front early, holding a narrow 14-12 lead. But in what has become commonplace for the Gaels, they lost their grip on the quarter — and fast.

The Lakers closed the first on a 12-2 run, and the lead that the Gaels had would be their only one of the game.

“The first quarter came back and cost us,” Barrie said. “And if you look at the stat sheet, it was the swing quarter.”

The subsequent quarters were neck-and-neck with the Lakers taking two and the home side one, but the Gaels simply couldn’t get a hold on the game, losing 93-84.

“We didn’t have the energy coming out of the blocks,” Barrie said. “I give Nipissing credit because when we made comeback plays, they responded with a shot made or foul drawn.”

Along with the inconsistent play from the Gaels, they struggled considerably in bench points. The Lakers’ bench outscored the Gaels 47-12. So far this year, Queen’s has been known to get to the free-throw line often, shooting 67 per cent. On Friday, the team reached the line only eight times while shooting an uninspiring 37.5 per cent.

The Gaels’ wandering performance continued on Saturday, dropping their seventh-straight in a bout versus the Laurentian Voyageurs.

A quick 13-6 run by the Voyageurs set the pace for much of the game: they were quick, fast and hungry, and the Gaels were none of the above.  The visitors thumped the Gaels on their home court 85-64.

What has become more and more clear after each loss for Queen’s is their inability to thread a collective, full forty-minute effort. On Friday, they boasted winnable numbers apart from their lack of bench help. And on Saturday it was much of the same except for their woeful field goal and three-point percentages — 38 and 17 respectively (their lowest on the season).

Barrie mentioned the team’s struggles could be boiled down to a glaring absence of urgency, and unearthing it starts with the players.

“They have to find it. It’s not the coaches job in a sense to motivate the players … the coaches job primarily is to prepare them, develop them, come up with strategies and game plans,” said the sixth-year coach, who’s undergoing his longest losing streak since arriving at Queen’s in 2011.

“They have to look in the mirror right now and address their own individual motivation.”

The Gaels’ 1-7 record in the month of January is worrisome and reasonably discouraging, but part of it comes from a much tougher schedule, Barrie said.

“We are playing much better teams in the second half [of the season], and they are making us pay. In the first half, teams weren’t making us pay.”

Lost in the seven game losing streak has been the play of Sukhpreet Singh. The veteran guard has been one of the greatest scorers in Queen’s history, and the stats show this. With a layup against Nipissing, Singh moved into second on the men’s basketball all-time scoring list, just 47 points shy of the record.

Singh knows it’s been a long time coming. 

"I would’ve never imagined or thought that would be an accomplishment for me coming out of high school but the coaching staff and teammates over the years have done an unbelievable job putting me in positions to succeed so it’s their accomplishment as much as it is mine,” he said.

“In regards to chasing first, that’s pretty cool to think about too, but the only thing this team and I are chasing right now are wins."

For Barrie, the team needs to now prove to the rest of the league what made Queen’s 6-1 back in November.

“People look at the record,” Barrie said, “and think we’re maybe better than we are. The reality is, right now, we got to prove that we’re a better team.”

The Gaels are in Toronto next weekend taking on U of T and Ryerson.

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