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2013-14 Men's Basketball Season Recap

2013-14 Men's Basketball Season Recap

Written by: Duncan Forbes

The season began with floods of optimism as Rick Plato was named the next head coach of a young Tigers squad. The season kicked off with a battle against the eventual CIS Champion Carleton, when the Tigers were humbled by the powerhouse Ravens.

The Tigers ended their pre-season with a 4-4 record, as they found themselves in the finals of both the StFX and the Laval Invitational tournaments.
Stumbling out of the gate in the regular season, the Tigers had a pair of losses against the surging UNB Varsity Reds, and wouldn’t find their way into the win column until they put a 26 point beating on the Acadia Axemen at home, with Devon Stedman and Simon Marr combining for 28 points in the win.
Heading to UPEI the next weekend, the Tigers lost two heartbreaking games by one point, as they struggled to close things out in the final minutes. They would go on to finish 1-6 heading into the holiday break, with only two of those losses coming by more than three points.

The Tigers couldn’t repeat as tournament champions at the Rod Shoveller Memorial Tournament this year. They defeated the Bishop’s Gaiters in their first matchup, but followed up the win with tough losses to Acadia and UPEI.

After the break, the Tigers had 13 games remaining to improve their record. Despite losing leading scorer Devon Stedman and Chidi Majok to season-ending injuries, the team showed a lot of mental toughness and grit in January and February. They finished the second half with a 5-8 mark to end the season at 6-14, finishing in seventh place and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Ritchie Kanza Mata made an immediate impact in his return with the Tigers, leading the AUS in assists with 5.4 per game, while finishing second in steals.

It was a big learning experience for the young Tigers team, for both the players and the coaches.

“My first year at Dalhousie made it very clear that there’s no substitute for hard work, preparation and commitment,” says coach Plato. “I always preach the importance of the small things, and so many of the little things which were inconsistent in executing cost us too many games.”

This marks the end of an illustrious career for former AUS second team all-star Simon Marr and forward Nathan Smith, who both made an impact during their time with the Tigers.

“As a quiet leader on and off the court, Simon provided consistency, confidence and a huge post presence all season long. Nathan Smith provided depth, encouragement and consistency to a young team when it was needed most,“ says Plato.

The bitter taste of missing the playoffs will serve as stern motivation for next year’s Tigers squad, who have 13 players eligible to return. The coaching staff, returning players and new recruits will have a new sense of commitment to doing what is necessary to return to the Metro Centre next March.