Let’s flash back to last year for a moment. At this time last year, the Tigers were 2-5.
They averaged 62 points for a game, and 80 points against. The team was struggling and needed a boost.
This year, the Tigers are 1-6 and sit seventh in the AUS.
The difference? The Tigers offense has improved: they now average 78 points per game. Their defense has improved as well, and they now average 78.85 points against.
That 0.85 difference has meant a whole lot for Rick Plato’s young Tiger squad.
The Tigers have lost by an average of just over five points a game, including two one-point losses against the UPEI Panthers and an overtime loss to UNB. The simple fact is that they just haven’t been able to close out tight games, and could seemingly just as easily be 5-3 instead of 1-6, but that just isn’t the way the season has unfolded.
After starting the season with blowout losses to CIS No.1 ranked Carleton, the Tigers finished with a respectable 4-4 pre-season record and looked like they would be playoff contenders this season.
The Tigers opened at home with a doubleheader against UNB, and stumbled out of the gate with a 75-62 loss after UNB went on a tear in the final quarter.
The next day, the Tigers took the Varsity Reds to overtime on the strength of 25 points from Kashrell Lawrence, but couldn’t finish it out as UNB won by three.
After a ten-point loss to Acadia on November 13, the Tigers finally showed what they are capable of with a huge 84-58 win over Acadia at home on November 16. Starting big men Simon Marr and Devon Stedman combined for 38 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.
The Tigers then went on a road trip to Charlottetown to face the Panthers the following weekend. Both teams were under .500 going into the two-game set, and desperately needed the wins. Despite Kashrell Lawrence averaging 23 points per game over the weekend, the Tigers fell by one point each time, failing to capitalize in the final seconds.
The final game of 2013 came against Saint Mary’s at the Dalplex on November 27. After trailing at the start of the game, the Tigers stepped up their game on both ends and started to lead the AUS second-place Huskies going into the fourth quarter.
Trailing 68-67 with only seconds to go, Devon Stedman had two free throws that could clinch the game for the Tigers. He’d go on to miss both, and the Tigers would lose 70-67.
“To say that I am not disappointed at our current record, would not be telling the truth,” says first-year head coach Rick Plato. “Our goal remains to get to the playoffs. Getting there will not be easy but I believe 100% in this group of young men.”
Plato says that the keys to their success next semester will be in improving their rebounding, reducing turnovers, and improving their execution in the final minutes of the game, and that “We must take each game one at a time and understand we have 13 games to get this thing turned around.”