Despite a strong season for the men’s basketball team, it wasn’t quite enough for a finals run
McMaster’s men’s basketball team saw their season come to an end on March 23 following an 88-75 loss to the eventual champion Brock Badgers in the semi-final round of the Ontario University Athletics championship. Despite the somewhat underwhelming finish, it was a really strong season for the team from start to finish, with several notable achievements along the way.
The team finished the season with a record of 11 wins and five losses, good for the second seed in the OUA West. They started the season red hot winning five of their first six games leading into the winter break, but just couldn’t maintain that high standard in the second half, accumulating six wins and four losses, in part due to stronger competition.
One of the most “under-the-radar” accomplishments of the team this season was their Feb. 19 win against the Badgers, splitting the two-game series. This was the Badgers’ only loss, preventing them from a perfect 15-win record.
Although they weren’t able to bring home the championship trophy, the team still managed to finish the year with some serious hardware. Ares Culley-Bremner was named to the league’s all-rookie team, Mike Demagus made the second team all-star and team superstar Jordan Henry impressively earned his way onto the first team all-star.
As hungry as the team was for a provincial title, it’s hard to be upset over the promising results they earned this season. With no graduating players this season, the team has an opportunity to build on the success they’ve already had and just keep on pushing forward into next year.
If you’ve been following the men’s basketball team this year, you’ll know they’ve been on a hot streak so far with a winning percentage of .750. This can in large part be attributed to Jordan Henry’s monstrous season so far.
Henry’s second-year leap resembles that of Luka Dončić’s, the latter going from All-Rookie player in the National Basketball Association and the former going from All-Rookie in the country, to doing it all and scoring at will on the court in their sophomore seasons. Henry is averaging 21.7 points per game, achieving the fourth-most PPG in the province. Even more astonishing is that Henry is only 0.2 points away from being third for PPG in the OUA. Usually, veteran players hold the top spots for PPG in the OUA. Henry is one of two players in the top five in PPG that is in their second year or below.
He may play for U sports in Canada at the moment, but Henry also has loose ties to the NBA. He played on the same team as RJ Barrett during the 2017 U19 Fédération internationale de basket World Cup, where Canada took home the gold medal.
Henry also ranks first among the Marauders in points, assists, steals and minutes played, while also ranking in the top five for the maroon and grey in rebounds, three-point percentage, free throw percentage and field goal percentage with players who have attempted over 10 field goals.
The Marauders have nearly matched their win total from the previous season — and it’s not even halfway through the year yet. Mcmaster currently has nine wins and three losses while last year they had a sub .500 win percentage with 12 wins and 14 losses by the end of the season.
Perhaps what is most remarkable is Henry has accounted for nearly 25 per cent of the maroon and grey’s points so far, having scored 260 points out of the team’s total of 1038. After making not only the OUA first-team All-Rookie but also the U sports first-team All-Rookie last year, it would surprise no one if our star guard made the overall U sports first team this year.
However, RJ Barrett’s former teammate is definitely not the only thing this team has going for it. Head coach Patrick Tatham and his staff have assembled a team that is not only performing at the moment, but will also blow the competition away for years to come. Looking at the roster, it’s hard not to notice that eight out of the 17 players on the team are in their second year and four are in their first year, leaving years of greatness ahead for the team.
This could be the year the Marauders finally take home the W.P. McGee trophy. First introduced in 1963, the trophy is awarded to the top ball team across Canada’s ten provinces and three territories. However, even though it’s been around for nearly 60 years, McMaster has never been able to bring it home, even though they’ve come second five times. Our last appearance in the final game of the season was in 1998.
Will this year be the first time in school history we take the W.P. McGee trophy? Who knows. But it’s definitely possible. Catch the team at their next game against the Western University Mustangs on Jan. 18, right at home in Burridge.