This Thursday, September 20, our UTM Eagles were engulfed in a head to head match with UTM’s very own allies from the other side of the city; UTSC. The match started with booming music to get the energy rolling in the gym and some great tracks from Drake and Travis Scott to really set the bar high for the remainder of the evening. Both teams for men’s varsity basketball competed in the first of three exhibition games at the RAWC Gym A/B. These games constitute the ceremonial preseason games both at home and away to simulate the experience of actual league matches and allow the athletes to test the waters with their competence and skill. This will prepare our Eagles for their first matchup against the Mohawk Mountaineers on October 20.

Although the women’s varsity team still has its first exhibition game to attend with the Georgian Grizzlies, last Thursday the fans at the RAWC got a taste of the Eagle spirit and its fresh blood with green recruits taking flight in their first game.

The match between UTM and UTSC was a game played with heart. Each player was trying to find his balance on the court with their respective teams. The game started with UTM’s, Kyle Boorman, sinking the first basket, which was a lead further maintained consistently for the rest of the period. In fact, the Eagles right off the bat had an intimate chemistry. They played with a rapport noticeable in their communication and passes to move the ball around and even the defense, where the team of five moved as one throughout the court to keep UTSC facing a tough front to break. With an air tight defense, UTSC scarcely managed to get more than distant shots, whereas UTM dominated the paint receiving wide open shots to score. UTSC on the other hand was slow to acclimate, with a few players being hyperspecialized and taking control of the team. As such, UTM dominated the scoreboard for the first period with a clear lead. Thus, ended this period with the Eagles ahead 25-12.

Taking notice of this, UTSC finally settled down to diffuse the responsibility throughout the team and adapted a clear line of communication. UTM eventually lost their capacity for follow through and had a clearly dismantled offence. While UTM struggled to move their scores significantly, UTSC came in white hot within the second period and initiated a rally, finishing the period on top at 37-32.

One of the clear handles both coaches of UTM and UTSC had was on the lineup changes. They definitely noticed the weak points in each line of five and implemented changes to counterbalance each flaw. UTSC did however stand apart in their players. Several athletes stood out as being motivated enough to carry the game on with sheer skill.

By the end of the match, UTSC and UTM had learned to establish a decent defense and as such, both teams had settled down to an equal struggle. This equality was also noticed in the increased amount of interceptions and steals that made quite a few heads turn from the crowd. It’s also worth realizing that although the Eagles had the UTM mascot present as a welcome addition to their moral support, UTSC still had a clear advantage with their cheerleading team propelling the UTSC pride. However, UTM took the game 87-81—a great victory as they near the start to their season.

As a whole, this exhibition game was a green light indicating the Eagles have entered the point of no return and set on a wide-open path of the 2018-2019 season of men’s varsity basketball.