Men’s basketball beat nationally-ranked team for first time since 2015

Gaels beat Ottawa, drop game against Carleton

Gaels centre Mike Shoveller (6) drives through paint.

A win over the UOttawa Gee-Gees on Saturday night marked the men’s basketball program’s first win over a nationally-ranked side since 2012. While this would’ve caused celebration for most, there was a different feeling for Queen’s after the game.

When head coach Steph Barrie walked into a locker room after his team’s convincing 84-66 win, the room was neither somber nor ecstatic. Rather, it exuded a kind of business-like feel.

“[T]here wasn’t a celebration going on,” Barrie said of the home side’s locker room feelings after the Gaels’ victory over the Gee-Gees, their first over the team since 2008. “There wasn’t much said from [the players] … they weren’t sitting there thinking they were great.”

“[Our players] did what they knew they were capable of doing,” Barrie continued. “We’re not feeling any different having won [against] Ottawa than we would if we won against a team that didn’t have that record.”

Despite a 97-68 loss to the top-ranked Carleton Ravens a night prior, Queen’s approached their matchup versus Gee-Gees with a fresh head of steam.

It’s been a message Barrie has preached to his players since the early days of training camp — “stay in the moment, [in] what’s directly in front of you and in what you can control.”

If Saturday’s game was any indication, the Gaels controlled what they could control — and they did it rather well. 

After being down 40-35 at the half, Queen’s pulled away early in the third quarter and left little wiggle room for the Gee-Gees to mount a comeback. The Gaels opened with a 17-2 run, in effect securing their comfortable 84-66 win.

Messages about untapped potential have become all-too-familiar for the Gaels roster. It’s been discussed among the team to a point where it's become a part of the program’s fabric rather than a week-by-week talking point.

“I mean that message — it’s almost redundant,” the seventh-year head coach said of keeping his players hungry and grounded. “You have a certain culture that promotes that [competitiveness] to a point that it’s not something that all of a sudden you’re talking about out of the blue.”

Barrie said the win over the Gee-Gees shouldn’t come as a surprise. “[I]t shouldn’t be a big deal,” he noted. “When you start getting comfortable — that’s the worst thing you can do in this league.”

The coach cited next week’s game against Ryerson — who sits a spot below Queen’s in the OUA East — as the team’s current focus.

“We’re working on details and keeping our [mind] with the Ryerson game that’s staring us in the face, and that’s all we’re talking about,” Barrie said. He added that in preparation for their coming game, the team is working on improving their movement off-the-ball and coverage on ball screens.

“Those are micro-moments in the game that [if] they don’t go well, we pay the price. And when we do them well — for the most part — we are at least working off of our terms … if teams score it may not be the way they want to [but] the way we’re forcing them to,” he said.

Not only does Barrie want his team to move in the flow of the game, but he said they should play with pace. He wants his players to be fluid on the court and aggressive in finding avenues to make space and get involved.

“At times we just watch too much,” he explained.  “If you want to spectate just buy a seat to the game and go watch it in the crowd, but when you’re on the court, you can’t just stand and watch. There’s a lot of things players can do — but watching is not one of them.”

The Gaels are on the road this upcoming weekend in Toronto, where they’ll hope to keep their strong play going against the Ryerson Rams and the U of T Varsity Blues.

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