Over the weekend, our UTM Eagle’s Varsity Men’s Basketball team played in Sheridan’s Annual Pre-Season Exhibition Tournament, the Wayne Allison Fall Showdown. The Eagles played three games over the two-day event. They fought hard, and despite some great performances from some players, UTM finished the tournament with a 0-3 record.
The Eagles played their first game of the Showdown against the hosts, the 2018/2019 OCAA Champions, Sheridan Bruins. The Eagles were out-hustled to begin the game, down by just under 20 points in the first half. The Eagles seemed disorganized both offensively and defensively, and they couldn’t seem to find any rhythm. In the second half, our Eagles managed to dig themselves out of the hole, cutting the large lead into single digits. UTM was unable to sustain their tempo and renewed focus and were quickly overwhelmed by the Bruins, losing 92-76.
Later that evening, the Eagles played their second game of the two-day event against the Sault St. Marie Cougars. It was a game the Eagles should have won, with the Cougars being physically smaller and a less skilled. But too many sloppy plays, careless fouls, and turnovers led to too many Cougar points. Our Men’s team found themselves down heading into the fourth quarter. They cleaned up their game toward the end, cutting a 24-point lead to single digits. Despite the late push, it wasn’t enough to close out the game with a win. The Eagles couldn’t complete the comeback and fell 71-69.
In their third and final game of the Sheridan tournament, UTM took on the Niagara Community College Thunder, the only U.S. team in the tournament and the Eagle’s greatest challenge thus far. A tired UTM team played a taller, longer, and more athletic Thunder team. UTM’s disadvantage wasn’t apparent to start the game—they matched Niagara in pace and intensity, but they weren’t able to sustain it for long and were quickly outshot from the three-point range.
Though the Eagles got away with a lot of the physicality in the beginning of the contest, they got into foul trouble early on, with key players with too many personal fouls having to sit out for too long. UTM was unable to keep up with the skilled and well-coached Americans, and took a massive beating, losing 82-52.
Though it might look like a disappointing tournament, finishing with three losses, our Men’s Eagle team should be proud of the way they performed. The team is young, and in the early stages of development, but it’s clear that this group of men is smart, determined, and will continue to play with heart.
There were strong individual performances. Third-year forward, Zamam Khan, played consistently well through all three games, hitting triples when his team needed it and playing through contact. Second-year guard number five, Hassan Manjang, in his limited minutes this tournament, was a defensive juggernaut and vocal leader on the bench. Second-year guard, number 11, George Karagan, played with fierceness and determination, which will only grow as his confidence does. Though he had some foul trouble, third-year guard, number six, Nicholas Kwantwi hit a couple deep threes. Third-year, number zero Kyle Boorman, showed he put in a lot of work in the off season, improving in strength, size, athleticism, and willingness to attack. Second-year center, number one, Andreas Jankovic, put in the work this off season as well and it showed in his ability to battle for rebounds and finish at the rim though contact. First-year guard, number two, Keaton Thornton shows promise as a rookie, with his composure on the floor, shot selection, and continued hustle.
UTM’s Varsity Eagles men’s basketball team have their first official game of the 2019/2020 season on the road against the Seneca Sting on October 18. They play their first home game of the season on October 30 against the George Brown Huskies.