Top 5 things to look forward to in the new year in McMaster Athletics
1. Nordic Skiing
Possibly one of the more interesting stories of the year is the addition of the Nordic Skiing Program to McMaster Athletics’ arsenal of contenders for the Ontario University Athletics championship. This will be the 37th program brought to competition by McMaster and nordic skiing will have a new provincial championship introduced in February 2020. With the introduction of this program, McMaster Athletics is looking to the future and the expansion of its trophy case. It was a bold move to introduce a new sport while the David Braley Athletic centre is undergoing expansion, but McMaster Athletics has shown that they are not letting any physical barriers in facilities, or lack of snow this year, to stop them from progressing.
The Men’s Volleyball team is coming off a busy winter break. They faced top-notch competition from several teams in the United States including Ohio State University, Long Beach State University and Lewis State University. Even though they lost to their American competitors, squaring off against fierce competition will help them improve their game as they enter 2020. On the Northern side of things, McMaster took down National Championship contender Trinity Western University two days in a row. These two wins against a Canadian powerhouse is great news for the Marauders and casts the rest of the season in a bright light.
The Women’s volleyball squad is looking for another shot at a playoffs run. After falling short in the 2018-2019 season and missing the playoffs, the Marauders are looking for redemption. Currently ranked fourth in the Western division of the OUA, the race to make playoffs will come down to the wire as three teams have already clinched their berths, leaving only one spot available. On a positive note to start the second half of the season was the two blow out wins the Marauders pulled off against the Lakehead University Thunderwolves. This is a great start to January as the Women’s team gears up to play the Ryerson University Rams, who are ranked first in the OUA east, and the Brock University Badgers, ranked third in the OUA west, later this month.
The Women’s team is looking to defend their National Championship as they gear up for a tough second half of the season. They just lost to the fifth overall team in the nation according to U sports, in the Ryerson University Rams, the Marauders look to take down other strong contender in the Western University Mustangs and Windsor University Lancers. These games will test the Marauders during this cold January streak.
The Rams have a sharpshooting starting lineup, and they averaged 46.5 per cent from the field in the matchup against the Marauders. The Rams’ recruiting program has led to a decade of success, where exceptional shooting has consistently remained one of the team’s strengths. That being said, the main issues for McMaster was that they were outrebounded 51 to 30 and had five more turnovers than the Rams. Cleaning up these two areas could lead to far fewer issues in the future.
U Sports ranks the McMaster Men’s Basketball team eighth overall in the country. Currently sitting in playoff contention with a record of nine wins and three losses, they look to stay strong and head to the playoffs again this year. That being said, they have a hard January in front of them, where they will be playing many top schools including the Windsor University Lancers, Western University Mustangs, Queens University Gaels and the Ryerson University Rams, with one easier matchup against Ontario Tech. Queens, Windsor, Western and Ryerson are top teams in the OUA who are looking for something to prove. In order to get by these opponents, the Marauders will have to stay consistent throughout every quarter, something they were not able to do in the last matchup against Ryerson. While the Marauders are staying strong with low turnover rates combined with a high number of takeaways, they need to clean up shot selection to make sure they stay on the high scoring streaks they are known for.
In case you haven’t noticed, David Braley Athletic Centre is under expansion! The renovations mark just one of many additions to accommodate for the ever-growing student body of McMaster. DBAC’s expansion is set to create more exercise space and athletic opportunities in order to allow a greater number of students to use the facilities. If you have travelled into the depths of DBAC and the Ivor Wynne Center, then you are familiar with the out-of-date, overrun and sometimes run-down squash, basketball and Pop-up Pulse. The construction, which started this year, meant to create a happier, healthier and more active campus.
The athletic year is only halfway through, and surely you remember the Yates Cup stunner, but there are so many tournaments left in the year for you to enjoy! The OUA is a vast and expansive association covering more sports than you can probably name, which means there is no shortage of exciting championships to come in 2020. Some of my favourites that you should keep an eye out for include the Critelli and Wilson Cup, both taking place on Feb. 29. The Critelli Cup, the women’s basketball championship, is looking like it will be another exciting year with many top programs performing at a high level. The path to the Wilson Cup, which is awarded to the OUA men’s basketball championship winner, is looking like it could be exciting. With several underdog contenders putting up a fight in the regular season, the cup is up for grabs to whoever wants it most. Get ready for the madness of Cup season — who knows who will be the Cinderella story this year.