The offseason was technically not as long as in previous years, but few breaks will have felt longer for the McMaster men’s basketball team. After finishing fifth at the CIS Final 8 last March, Mac has regrouped and retooled to make another running at capturing the schools first W.P. McGee trophy.
In the first national men’s basketball top 10 list released by the CIS earlier this week, McMaster was ranked an impressive no. 4 with Carleton, Ottawa and Ryerson as the top three (in that order). After finishing last season ranked no. 5 in the country with a 23-7 overall record and an impressive 18-4 regular record, McMaster Basketball is back and hungrier than ever to return to the national spotlight.
Fifth-year centre Taylor Black has sky-high expectations for arguably the deepest team in the country.
“I think this is the best chance we’ve had in many, many years. I’m so glad to be part of a team that’s so talented but also willing to put in the work to get to the national championship level. I think our program has the highest number of guys that stay over the summer to train together and live together,” said Black.
The Marauders on and off-court dynamic is something special and translates positively in practices and games. It is encouraging to hear that the Marauders basketball team has a positive, family-like bond off the court because it definitely plays a role in how these guys will perform together as a unit.
“I’m going to miss this family that I’ve become a part of and that has become a part of me a lot. I’m going to make the most out of this year no matter what. So whether or not the team is playing for me, if you want to put it in those words, I feel like we’re just playing for each other and playing for the coaches. It’s a 12-month process. It’s a 15, 16-man effort. However many people we have on the team is what we need to compete for a national championship,” explained Black.
As a leader on this team, Black values the unity of the team and believes it has its advantages on the court. In terms of team camaraderie Taylor paints an encouraging picture.
“It’s like you don’t even have to look at each other to know what you’re thinking on the court in terms of reads, defensive rotations, all that stuff. You might need eye contact or a finger point and we all know what we’re talking about. I don’t know any other program that’s tighter than we are. You go into our change-room and everyone is smiling. It’s the best place to be here on campus,” said Black.
The optimism and confidence that Black displays in this year’s team is contagious, and should provide Mac fans with credible assurance entering this season. McMaster Men’s Basketball is a force to be reckoned with.
With only one senior, Nathan Pelech, departing last year, Mac has retained much of the same group of guys along with the welcome and notable additions of guard David McCullough, forward Connor Gilmore and Long Island University transfer Troy Joseph. The additions strengthen what was already a strong bench unit.
Mac finished an impressive 7-0 in fall preseason play with wins over Mohawk, Laval, Memorial, Manitoba, St. Francis Xavier, Acadia and Cape Breton.
But now the real action starts.
Mac opens up their 2014-15 season with two tough back-to-back games in the nation’s capital. The Marauders take on the No. 2 Ottawa Gee-Gees on Nov. 7, followed by a date at the Raven’s Nest on Nov. 8 to take on the defending national champions, the No.1 Carleton Ravens. Both games should be worthy tests for this ambitious Marauders squad to kick off the new campaign.
McMaster men’s basketball plays their home opener in Burridge Gym at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14 where they host the Lakehead Thunderwolves.