The Badgers men’s basketball program honoured their two seniors last week in front of a sold out Bob Davis Gym as a part of their annual Seniors Night ahead of their game against York.
Tyler Brown and Mitch Saunders played their final regular season home game as Badgers on Wednesday as the Badgers beat the York Lions 94-81 after falling to the Lions earlier in the year.
The pair were honoured before the game and were presented with a framed jersey by former Badgers head coach Charles Kissi, who is now coaching with the Raptors 905 of the NBA G-League. Kissi — who coached both players for three seasons, including the 2017-18 team that made it to nationals — presented Saunders with his No. 22 jersey and Brown with his signature No. 25. Afterwards current head coach Willy Manigat spoke to the crowd and thanked them for their support all season long.
Additionally, team manager William Gatchalian was honoured as well, with Manigat praising the man who has ran the team operations behind the scenes for years.
Saunders joined the Badgers ahead of the 2015-16 season, playing in 83 career games over his five seasons with the program. Saunders, a 6’7 big from Oakville, will graduate with a degree in Sport Management at the end of the year.
Brown also joined the program ahead of the ’15-’16 season and has been the teams’ starting point guard for all five seasons. Standing 6’0 tall, the Hamilton native has played in 104 games as a Badger (he will finish his career at 108 come seasons’ end) and has started in 97 of them. Brown is currently averaging a career-best 15.8 points per game to go along with 5.6 assists, good for third in the OUA. He also scored a career-high 30 earlier this year against Nipissing.
Brown made the OUA All-Rookie team back in 2016 and has led the Badgers to a 75-29 record over his five seasons running the show. Brown sent the Badgers to the OUA semifinals last season with a buzzer-beating floater over Western and was recently drafted by the Niagara River Lions of the CEBL last summer.
Both Brown and Saunders had to navigate two coaching changes during their time at Brock and have had three head coaches in the past three years (including the River Lions, Brown has had four in the past three).
“These guys committed to a program five years ago and expected to be coached by a specific coach for those five years,” said Badgers head coach Willy Manigat. “Not only have they had to go through a coaching change, they’re going to their third coach in three years. Like I said earlier, that speaks volume to their character and who they are as individuals, the fact that they show up to the office everyday and try their best to just do what the program needs them to do and to play our style and our game.”
The Badgers fell to York three weeks earlier in what was their worst loss of the season. The Lions, who were 1-11 at the time, are not much better now at 2-16 and find themselves in the division cellar.
While Brown scored just four points in the first half, he came alive in the second, scoring 22 in the half en route to a game-high 26. Godsman Kwakwah added 25 and 11 rebounds while Saunders added five points and seven rebounds off the bench.
“I think Tyler has just realized that with me as his coach, he has a coach who cares about his players and wants them to just overachieve and succeed,” said Manigat. “I spend a lot of time with these guys, I’m on them a lot and I think Tyler, being around me, realizes that. He’s just bought in. He spends a lot more time with me now watching film, talking to me on and off the floor and I think people are seeing that during the game. We have a lot more conversations now than we did at the beginning of the year and I think it’s just a credit to him to actually trusting that we’re doing things a certain way.”
The Badgers were in for a much tougher opponent on Saturday, as the No. 9 Ryerson Rams handed them an 87-55 loss, moving the Badgers to fourth in the division with a 10-8 record.
The Badgers have four more games left in the regular season, all of which are on the road. The first two will be against the 5-13 Waterloo Warriors on Friday and the 9-10 Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday.