This years’ edition of the Badgers men’s basketball team has really epitomized the team win. Especially in such a top-heavy league like the OUA, where most nights you’re worried about your opponent’s top dog — the Kadre Gray’s, the Ali Sow’s, the Jayden Frederick’s — the Badgers don’t have that one guy who can single-handedly beat you night in and night out.
Sometimes it hurts them; look no further than the loss against McMaster (where the Badgers scored just 10 points in the fourth quarter), but for the most part the Badgers have done well with their win-by-committee roster.
Some nights the Badgers will have that one guy step up and carry them to a win — Daniel Cayer did so this past Friday against Guelph, putting up a monster 23-point, 16-rebound, five-steal performance on 11-15 shooting to snap a two-game losing streak.
Saturday night’s 92-56 walloping of the Algoma Thunderbirds saw Tyler Brown score an extremely efficient 24 points on 9-11 shooting night in just 25 minutes of action. Godsman Kwakwah added 17 points to go along with six rebounds and three blocks, Kascius Small-Martin tacked on 14, Noah LaPierre added 12 and so on. Granted the Thunderbirds are not the strongest of opponents by any means, but nevertheless the shared offensive load was evident.
The Badgers had a go-to guy for the past several years in Johneil Simpson, but with Simpson having graduated in the spring the Badgers had to adapt and share the ball more in order to make up the 20-plus points they lost.
“We have to play more as a team,” said third-year wing Kascius Small-Martin. “We don’t have a relentless shooter like Johneil so we have to play as a team, drive and kick and when we’re open take the shots.”
In each of the Badgers last four games, at least four players have scored in double figures; the four leading scorers for the Badgers include Brown (16.8), Kwakwah (14.4), Small-Martin (11.6) and Cayer (11.4); not a huge discrepancy between the four.
“I think it just shows the versatility on our team, anyone on any given night can come out and play, it’s just a matter of who wants it,” said Small-Martin. “I feel that if we do it all together it shows how we played [this weekend].”
The two wins brings the Badgers up to 3-2 on the young season and currently sit third in the OUA Central. They have a big pair of games coming up this weekend against divisional rival Lakehead, who sit right above Brock at 5-1.
The Thunderwolves are led by 6’4 guard Isaiah Traylor, who is fifth in the league in scoring with 22.6 a game, including back-to-back 29-point nights earlier this year. In comparison, their second-highest scorer sits at 11.6 per game, so if the Badgers can contain Traylor, they should be in good shape. It’s a big ‘if’, though, as Traylor has been on a tear to start the season. Rookie guard Aaron Golbourne will likely be tasked with guarding Traylor.
The Badgers and Thunderwolves face off this Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. at the Bob Davis Gym.