Losses continue to snowball.
By Brian Jones
[associate sports editor]
Usually after a basketball game, the losing team can pinpoint the reasons for what went wrong. Maybe it was a buzzer beater, too many turnovers, poor shooting, lack of defensive intensity, or the other team simply caught fire.
When more than one of those factors occurs in the same night, it’s often perceived as bad luck. It wasn’t their night. The basketball gods weren’t in their favour. The other team got hot and they didn’t.
They’re all completely plausible reasons for an in-game breakdown.
But when it happens over and over and over again, and the losses begin to snowball, and the standings look like a rock wall with no place to grip – it becomes more than just bad luck.
That’s what the Kwantlen Eagles men’s basketball team is facing right now. A mid-season collapse that has resulted in four-straight losses and an incredibly small playoff window that gets increasingly smaller every weekend.
The latest setback came this past weekend, where the Eagles dropped a pair of home games to visiting squads from Vancouver Island.
On Friday night, the Camosun College Chargers overwhelmed Kwantlen in the third quarter, outscoring their hosts 32-16 en route to a 90-76 victory.
“The third quarter was kind of deflating,” said head coach Stefon Wilson. “I could see it in our body language. And that was the difference in the game – the third quarter.”
Trevor Scheurmann led Camosun in scoring with 22 points and added nine rebounds – part of balanced offensive attack that consisted of five Chargers reaching double-digits.
The Eagles big man Ali Bosir bounced back from his struggles last week to amass a huge double-double of 32 points and 16 boards, while third-year forward Nii-Nortey Engmann added 14 points and five steals.
On Saturday afternoon, the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners used a huge second-half swing to dispatch the Eagles 90-68, avenging a loss they suffered in Nanaimo back in early December.
The Eagles were only down by three going into halftime, but a confluence of their own poor shooting and an elevated level of pressure from the best defensive team in the province turned the game into a blowout in the second half.
“I think that our energy and intensity isn’t the same [in the second half],” said Wilson. “But today I didn’t think we hit shots. We scored 25 points in the second half, and I know that VIU’s the best defensive team in the league, but I thought we got open looks and just couldn’t knock them down today.”
Fifth-year forward Tyler Olsen led all Mariners with 32 points and seven rebounds, while point guard Brandon Jones controlled the flow of the game and chipped in 23 of his own.
Bosir threw down another monster double-double with 19 points and 18 rebounds, as well as five assists, four steals and two blocks. Second-year guard Aaron Ram, despite his wild shooting percentage, filled his role of the team’s secondary scorer with 18 points and added seven dimes.
Point guard Chris Arcangel finally had a solid offensive showing, going 6-12 from the field for 12 points, but turned the ball over five times.
Wilson believes that their struggles stem from a lack of scoring options available when their outside shots start to clank.
“We gotta figure out a way to get easier baskets when the shots aren’t falling. And that’s our weakness right now – we don’t have guys that can attack the rim when we’re not hitting those shots. Because we do need to make some three-pointers to win, that’s just how the roster is set up,” said Wilson.
“You can’t shoot the ball well every game. It’s just not going to happen. But we can’t run out of too many more games.”
This-coming weekend, Kwantlen hosts the Capilano University Blues and the Quest University Kermodes. In their previous meeting with Cap, the Eagles narrowly lost 94-87 in a game they could have and should have won. Against Quest, they won rather comfortably 102-83, in a game that I thought they should have lost.
That was their last win, their only positive outcome so far in 2013 – and as they look ahead to this weekend – a reminder of what’s possible when they play efficient basketball.
The men tip off against Capilano on Friday night (Feb. 1), and Quest the following evening (Feb. 2). Both games start at 8 p.m.