author: nathan mccarville | sports writer
Cougars hope to return to form
As the men’s basketball team begins their regular season once again after the holidays, the team’s record has diminished in the previous grandeur that the fans and the team enjoyed before the winter holidays. Coming back from the cold, the Cougars were unable to get a win in the Phoenix College Holiday Basketball Classic, playing against the South Mountain Cougars (another Cougars team?), Cochise College, and the Howard College Hawks.
The real return to the regular season after the short holiday tournament was marked by the games that the Cougars played against the Mount Royal University Cougars. The first game that the U of R played against MRU on Jan. 5 was a loss by 10 points, wherein the good Cougars were able to get 77 points to the 87 points that the MRU Cougars got. The next game against the MRU, held the next day on January 6 had an extraordinarily different result, where the Regina Cougars were able to hold close, finishing the first half 2 points ahead their MRU counterparts.
Shaquille Harris was placed into the game as a starter for the first time in a Canada West regular season game, and this move was no mistake. When asked what was the deciding factor over starting Harris in this game in particular, Joel Hunter, the assistant coach of the team, said, “Sometimes you have to mix things up and see if a change works for the better. On Saturday night Shaq had a tremendous game. I believe we have a close group. In any game, we could have any combination of guys starting/finishing the game. Everyone ultimately wants the same thing and that’s to win. It’s evident in our season stats having multiple players averaging over 10pts per game.”
Over the course of the game, the third-year forward recorded 24 points. Harris wasn’t the only player who was able to shine in the second half. Shawn Lathan was able to get 15 points in this game, as well, with only playing the second half of this game against MRU.
Alex Igual was also able to double the amount of points that he got between the games against MRU, having scored 9 points during the first game, and 18 points during the second. Three other players were able to get points in the double digits, including Brian Ofori with 14 points, Brandon Tull with 13 points, and 11 points for Samuel Hillis. The game finally ended with a final score of 107 points for the Regina Cougars and 91 points for the MRU Cougars.
On the subject about the discrepancy between the games, on the first game, Ofori said, “We honestly just didn’t come ready to play. Mentally and physically we weren’t dialled in. The second game, we came ready to hoop and just took care of our business. It was all on us to come out and play, so we made it happen.”
The next two games played by the Cougars were less idealistic in terms of the result. They played against the University of Alberta Golden Bears, though were unable to win either of the two games that the Cougars played against their opponents in Edmonton. The first game was a close one, resulting in a score of 63-59 for the University of Alberta who won by only four points. Three of the Cougars were able to get points in the double digits, including Alex Igual with 14 points, Shaquille Harris with 14 points, and Samuel Hillis with 10 points.
The next game had a drastically different result. Far from a win, the Cougars lost by 47 points against the Bears, with the ending score being 101-54 for the Golden Bears. The slow return by the men’s basketball team yields little hope for the future, but the team hopes that this is only the bit of rust that needs to be shaken off. The next team that the Cougars are set to play against is the Brandon University Bobcats, who currently have a record of 7 wins and 5 losses.
Joel Hunter, the assistant coach of the Cougars men’s basketball team, went into detail about how the team struggled with MRU.
“We had a much better focus and effort in the second game than in the first. First games back after Christmas break are always tough as you have a fairly lengthy layoff. Mount Royal is a good veteran team.”
He said further, “We got outworked in the first game. Mount Royal seemed to get every loose ball and hustle play. [You] can’t allow teams to outwork you in your own gym. The second game, we got back to what we do well, sharing the ball on offensive, scoring in transition and having better communication on the defensive end.”