Hamilton, ON- After losing to the nationally-ranked Queen’s Gaels this past Sunday, McMaster Marauders men’s basketball head coach Patrick Tatham said they were outworked.
In the following game against the TMU Bold on Nov. 18, it was McMaster’s effort and grind that helped them pull out the victory.
“Grit, grind and just rough,” Tatham called it. Like their game against the Gaels, the first half against the Bold was evenly matched. It was tied at 31 at halftime. Unlike their game against the Gaels, the Marauders responded to adversity. When TMU won the third quarter 20-16, McMaster answered.
They outscored the visitors 28-17 in the fourth quarter for the 75-68 victory.
“It wasn’t pretty but sometimes, some good wins come from unpretty basketball,” Tatham noted. “Today we had to grind it out and I think the guys did a good job of sticking with it.”
He credited the team’s positive energy through highs and lows. After the Queen’s game, the focus in practice was on consistently competing, according to him.
The teams traded baskets throughout and it was tied at 66 late in the game. Then, the Marauders made their run.
Fourth-year guard Mike Demagus scored four straight points. First-year point guard Tyler Garcia intercepted a pass and dashed the other way to score as well. Ewaen “Ay” Osunde made a steal and forward Khalil Miller splashed a corner three.
The Burridge Gym crowd continued to erupt after each basket until the game was over.
Garcia said they executed their trap well during the late run in addition to getting to their spots and trusting their teammates.
Energy was another difference. “We just brought more energy than the Queen’s game,” Garcia noted. “We didn’t come out flat and we trust each other.”
Their energy comes pumping each other up and encouraging them to embrace their roles, according to Garcia.
“When guys embrace their role, they know what exactly to do,” he added. “When they thrive in that role, it brings energy for all the guys on the team. We all get excited when someone’s doing well.”
The Marauders had numerous players step up with balanced scoring. Demagus led them with 18 points while Osunde scored 12 and Ayres Culley-Bremner scored 10. Garcia and Otchere each added seven. Six players had at least five rebounds, including Demagus with a game-high eight.
McMaster had 44 rebounds to TMU’s 38 (including 12 offensive rebounds). It’s been a point of emphasis for the team this season. “I think they really understand the idea of being on the glass,” Tatham noted.
There are still things to improve on. Tatham pointed to their 19 turnovers as an example of that. However, when it came down to crunch time, they only turned the ball over once in the final three minutes.
“When it’s crunch time, we’ve got to either play at the free throw line or take care of the basketball,” Tatham said. They did both against TMU.
One player that will be important in taking care of the ball is Garcia. The Mississauga native has been playing substantial minutes right away. His 27 minutes against TMU was a career-high.
Tatham said he brings what former OUA All-Star point guard Jordan Henry brought to the team – “that quickness, hard to keep in front of you. Just a true PG.”
Garcia’s playmaking and energy has been on display. Against York in the home opener, he finished with two points, six assists, one steal and one block. He used his speed and quickness to drive into the paint. When he made his steal and block, it brought the crowd to its feet. “Hopefully, he’ll ignite the crowd again,” Tatham said.
Tatham said the point guard’s been learning a lot – and will still learn a lot. Garcia said his teammates’ trust has helped him adjust to the university game.
“I feel like I’m getting better at finding the right guys,” he noted. “Trusting my teammates. They trust me to make the right play as well.”
He’s had to adjust to the physicality of the game. He points out how some bigger guards try and push him off. Garcia said he needs to get a lot stronger as well as shooting more and being a better defender.
Garcia and the Marauders will have another quality opponent to challenge them as they host the defending OUA champion Brock Badgers on Nov. 19. Perhaps the Marauders can draw on their experiences against Queen’s and TMU. Tatham cited their grind and response against TMU.
“We’re going to have to grind it out on defence and be really active on the glass,” he added. “Learning that and seeing the success from tonight might help us.”
Perhaps they can also draw on the effort and energy needed to compete against elite teams. “Just keep it going,” Garcia said. “Keep the momentum going. Bring energy.”
Featured Image: Kevin Lassel/McMaster Athletics