Photo By: ActionVance from Unsplash

The Badgers’ men’s basketball team picked up yet another pair of wins this past week, sweeping the Guelph Gryphons in a home-and-home series to close out 2021 at a perfect 7-0.

Wednesday’s game saw an 86-76 Badger win behind 19 points from TJ Lall and Godsman Kwakwah off of 8-12 and 7-11 shooting, respectively. Both wings have led the way for Brock offensively this season, and both are doing so extremely efficiently. Lall is shooting 52/44/74 from the floor, while Kwakwah is sitting at 51/45/78 shooting splits. Oh, there was also this poster from Lall midway through the second quarter:

Kascius Small-Martin added 12 and five, Emmanuel Owootoah added 11 off the bench, while Isaiah Bujdoso racked up a season-high eight assists on the night. Small-Martin has been a steady presence for the Badgers all season long, calming things down when need be and is often the most vocal player on the court.

“I’ve been trying to lead by example for all the younger guys and pave the way for them in the coming years,” said Small-Martin. “I think Dan [Cayer], Gods [Kwakwah], Jesse [Barnes], we all do a good job of doing that.”

Speaking of Barnes, the big man played in his first game of the season last week after missing the first three weeks of the season due to an upper-body injury. Barnes will split time with Asare Otchere and Jordan Tchuente as yet another mobile, athletic big who can protect the rim with the best of them. Head coach Willy Manigat says his role will be the same as everyone else’s: contribute when their number is called, however often that may be.

“[His role] is the same as everybody else’s — play well in the minutes that they get and provide a spark in any way, shape, or form,” said Manigat. “Again, we’re just trying to add our depth and get everybody healthy so we can have our full team and see what we have.”

Guelph did not shoot particularly well on Wednesday, with the exception of Malcolm Glanville who finished with a game-high 30 off 10-20 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. Glanville had 18 in the second half and single-handedly kept the game relevant for the Gryphons.

“Well that’s where we should probably start,” said Manigat, speaking of the adjustments they looked to implement ahead of Saturday’s rematch. “Try to get the ball out of his hands if he’s going to be that aggressive. It’s not like we didn’t know he was going to be that aggressive, he’s the leading scorer for their team for a reason, but we just got to execute the game plan better and we’ll have another opportunity on Saturday to put forth a better performance.”

And perform better they did, as Glanville was held to a measly six points on Saturday, part of the reason why Brock was able to blow out the Gryphons by 38 points. Their 106-68 win was the second time in three outings the Badgers cracked the century mark, thanks to the six Badger players who scored in double figures. Lall led the way with 21, while Bujdoso, Cayer, Owootoah, Tchuente, and Daniel Caldwell all scored between 10 and 14 points.

One of the pitfalls of this year’s reduced OUA schedule is that the Badgers’ annual trip to Ottawa to take on perennial powerhouses Ottawa and Carleton didn’t make the cut. That was always a great barometer to see how teams matched up against the country’s best. 

Despite the Badgers’ perfect start to the season, one of the recurring themes so far echoed by Manigat has been a tendency to get complacent once Brock is up by 20-25 points. It’s a sentiment shared by Small-Martin, who knows there is still room for improvement in the second half of the season.

“I think there’s a lot we can improve on and it starts on defence,” said Small-Martin. “For us to go far, we have to lock down on defence and know all the rotations and just focus on defence — offence, clearly, has not been a problem for us. I think one of our problems is we start slow in the third quarter and we need to do a better job of playing till the buzzer rings because the game’s never done until the buzzer sounds.”

The Badgers now break for the winter break and will not return to action until a back-to-back against the Waterloo Warriors on Jan. 14 and 15, with the former being played in Waterloo and the latter at home. They’ll then welcome in Algoma for a pair of games the following weekend. Tickets don’t go on sale until Jan. 11, but you can find them here for all future home games.