Every one of the Badgers’ first three games this season has been decided by four points or less. Unfortunately for head coach Willy Manigat’s team, they have found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard in their last two games.
After defeating the Rams by three on opening night, Brock dropped a close one to McMaster by a score of 74-72, giving the Marauders an edge in the QEW rivalry. Godsman Kwakwah had an efficient 18 points off 8-14 shooting, but foul trouble from each of the Badgers’ starting bigs — Daniel Cayer and Mitch Saunders — hurt the Badgers down the stretch. Additionally Kascius Small-Martin left the game early in the second half with what appeared to be a quad or knee injury and did not return.
Though the Badgers were short handed late in the game, Manigat is not prepared to make excuses for his team’s performance.
“Anytime you lose one of your starters — and essentially we almost lost three starters [against Mac], in terms of fouls or whatever Kascius had going on — we’ve got to have that ‘next man up’ mentality,” said Manigat. “I don’t think it’s the fouls that lost us the game, I think that people have to step up and be ready when their number is called upon.”
The Badgers would travel to Toronto to take on the Varsity Blues in what was U of T’s home opener and fell short once again, this time losing 70-66. Kwakwah once again added 18 points, while Tyler Brown posted 21 and nine rebounds, but the team shot just 36.4 per cent from the field and 20.8 per cent from deep.
In both Badger losses, the script has been fairly similar: heading into the fourth quarter, Brock led McMaster by nine and Toronto by 11 but were outscored by their opponents by 11 and 15 in the final frame. It’s unfortunate, given all the work the Badgers have done in the first three quarters, but they ultimately have not been able to close out games come the fourth.
One of the brightest spots of the Badgers young season so far has been the play of rookie guard Aaron Golbourne. The Scarborough native has quickly found a role as the Badgers’ sixth man, having played over 30 minutes in each of his past two games. As a rookie, Golbourne primarily guards the opposing team’s best perimeter player, often times former All-Stars in their third or fourth years. These tough assignments not only show his ability as a defender, but Manigat’s trust in him as well.
“I just think that if Aaron listens and continues to accept challenges — I think there’s something in that kid, I don’t know what it is yet but we push him everyday, he’s probably the kid that I’m the hardest on and you see that there’s a fight in him, he doesn’t back down. If he continues to do that he’ll be just fine,” said Manigat.
The Badgers return home this weekend to take on the 1-1 Guelph Gryphons Friday night and the 1-2 Algoma Thunderbirds on Saturday. Both games begin at 8:00 p.m. in the Bob Davis Gym.