Through three games of the regular season there’s one obvious fact we have learned about Brock men’s basketball, they’re going to win a lot of games.
The Badgers have opened the season with three consecutive victories. However, the way they’re winning isn’t how most people would have expected. They held their breath right to the buzzer against Toronto, as they won by three points; their one point win versus McMaster could have easily been a one point loss; and their recent 11 point win versus Guelph wasn’t the cleanest of victories.
Brock now is one of four remaining OUA teams yet to lose a game: Ryerson is 4-0, Brock sits at 3-0 and Carleton and Ottawa are both 1-0. All of Ryerson’s wins have come convincingly as they’re averaging a win differential of 29.5 points and both Carleton and Ottawa’s wins versus Algoma were cake walks. Yet, Brock has struggled to run away with any game.
“We have to get more focused and not be disengaged on the defensive end,” said Charles Kissi about the team’s inability to put opponents away. “We fall asleep sometimes when we can’t fall asleep.”
The Badgers, a defensive team, tend to lose focus on the defensive end after making a big play on offense. Allowing the other team to comeback the other way for an easy basket. Against Toronto the Badgers biggest lead came at the 1:32 mark in the third quarter when they led by 17, but 30 fourth quarter points allowed the Varsity Blues back in the game. In the game versus McMaster, Brock had a chance to put the Marauders away early up 11-4, but that lead didn’t last long.
This past Saturday against Guelph it was the same story. The Badgers went down 5-0 early but closed the first quarter on a 20-8 run to hold a seven point advantage. However, they’d go into halftime with a three point lead. Then with 5:50 left in the fourth, Brock took an 18 point lead as they looked to be running away with the game but Guelph continued to hang around. Brock would eventually hold on for an 86-75 win.
“Now that we’ve learned how to win, we have to learn to put people away,” said Kissi.
Dani Elgadi led the way for the Badgers against the Gryphons with 23 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks – he also moved into sixth place in Brock’s all-time career rebound list as he grabbed his 1,009th career rebound. Johneil Simpson had three three’s in the game to go with his 15 points, Cassidy Ryan came off the bench to score 14, while Ryan Bennett and former Guelph Gryphon Trevor Thompson added 11 each.
“It didn’t really hit me until the game actually started at tip-off,” said Thompson about playing his former team. “It’s definitely weird because I’m still good friends with a lot of those guys.”
Thompson sat out last season, but in his three seasons with Guelph from 2012-2015 he scored 487 points and had 251 rebounds.
The Badgers attention will now turn back to McMaster, as a second win against the Marauders on Saturday could put Brock in clear contention of the OUA central division four games into the season. Their 72-71 win over the Marauders wasn’t a convincing victory and Kissi acknowledged somethings need to change.
“We have to do a better job being very specific in our language,” the coach said. “I think that will help us clean up some of our issues, but we’ll be ready for Mac.”
But it won’t just be the game against McMaster that Brock will need to clean up some issues on communication and defense. A week after the Marauders the Badgers will face number one and number five ranked Carleton and Ottawa.
“All three teams are really respectable in their own right,” said fourth year forward Dani Elgadi. “We do a great job scouting each team so if we follow the game plan we should do well.”
“We admire all those teams, but its respect not fear. It’s war for us,” Elgadi added.
Brock is a highly talented team and they certainly no longer fear any team in all of U Sports. The next three games are all very important, and as Kissi has been mentioning all season: it’s one game at a time for the Badgers.
Brock will play McMaster on November 26 at 3:00 p.m. in Bob David Gymnasium.