The annual Marauder Weekend tradition aims to celebrate the alumni who have previously donned the Maroon and Grey. But, this year, the celebration may be for the future, as the Marauders men’s basketball team seems to have turned a corner in their rout of the Brock Badgers.
Just under a month ago, Mac hammered out a 79-73 victory over the hyper-athletic St. Catharines school. This weekend’s game ended with a 94-75 victory.
Despite a lackluster first half from the Marauders, the second half was completely one-sided. Mac controlled the tempo on both ends on the floor and Aaron Redpath turned in one of the best defensive games of his Maroon tenure.
But the player who grabbed the most attention on Saturday was Nathan McCarthy. On both ends of the court, the second-year centre dominated his matchup.
Seven-footer Mike Luby was outplayed from the opening tip. McCarthy beat him on the glass too, grabbing an impressive 11 rebounds with six of them coming on the offensive class. The 6’ 8” big man chipped in 13 points also.
For head coach Amos Connolly, the production outburst didn’t come as a surprise.
“He really studies the game and cares about getting better. The impact of [assistant coach] Aaron Doornekamp has been very positive,” said Connolly. “What Nathan’s starting to get is a better awareness of his own strengths and weaknesses. For the most part, he’s starting to figure his game out.”
McCarthy has blossomed into an underappreciated member of the starting line-up. His averages of 6.1 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game aren’t likely to grab the average fan’s attention, but his willingness to do the dirty work is sure to win you over.
While the Marauders only used a frontcourt line-up of McCarthy and Taylor Black to match-up against larger opponents at the start of the season, it’s nearly impossible to imagine the team using a different duo. Black’s finesse mixed in with McCarthy’s physicality has made McMaster’s frontcourt one of the most talented in the OUA.
The Burlington native has come a long way from the start of the 2012-13 season but the coaching staff believes this is only a sign of things to come for the second-year.
“He’s got a chance to be a very, very, very talented player in this league. Very effective. He’s carving out a style of play that’s effective for him,” said Connolly of the big man’s growth.
McCarthy is just another one of the budding talents on the Marauders roster, but the growth he’s shown this season comes as a surprise. Frontcourt players often struggle to get used to the speed and athleticism of the university game, which Connolly noted as one McCarthy’s weaknesses. But the head coach doesn’t have any worries, praising the second-year for his work ethic and dedication in the weight room.
With the improved play of McCarthy, among other young players, the core of the Marauders roster is beginning to emerge. The coaching staff continuously ask players “What’s next?”
Time will tell about the future, but the team is getting better with each game. What’s next could be playoff victories. Or more.