Photos by Kyle West
By Adriana Skaljin
As an upper-year veteran of the McMaster men’s basketball team, David McCulloch has experienced the ups and downs of the team for the past five years. He is now in his final year at McMaster, completing a degree in kinesiology, and in his final season with the team.
McCulloch, who plays guard, describes the team dynamic as one strengthened by talented players and a high level of sportsmanship.
“Our team has a lot of good guys, and a lot of them are young,” said McCulloch. “We have nine first-year rookies, and they all got really tight, which helps us veterans, seeing as only five to six people were on the team last year.”
He describes the rookies as eager to learn and as humble coming onto the team.
“There are no big egos from these new players, making them open to work hard,” said McCulloch.
This level-headed mindset is crucial to the team dynamic, as it allows for the veterans and rookies to mesh well as a team, and to fit into the culture that head coach Patrick Tatham wants.
“It’s good for us, as the rookies are going to get a lot of minutes, averaging at 25 to 30 minutes,” said McCulloch. “So as long as they keep their heads focused and in check, then we are all going to play well together.”
Despite this influx of new players, the team dynamic has stayed strong, as a result of the teammates’ bond and ability to get along well, leading to one of the most cohesive teams McCulloch has seen in his tenure with the program.
Going into the new season, the men’s basketball team’s coaching staff has worked to implement ways to better both team and individual skills. Each practice, the players get 10 to 15 minutes of individual developmental training.
“The players have been continuing to get better individually since September, even August really,” McCulloch said. “With better individual development comes a better team.”
McCulloch describes the practices as ones of teaching and getting familiar with the way that Tatham envisions them to play.
“Since the team is young, it takes a bit of time to get adjusted to the way [coach Tatham] wants us to play,” McCulloch said. “But, everyone is adjusting very well and I think that the way he wants us to play, being super hard, is fit with the guys that we have. I think this is going to help us a lot throughout the year.”
On a more personal level, McCulloch aims to maintain his Ontario University Athletics All-Star status from last year, and to keep his stats up, hopefully allowing him to play professionally, either at home or abroad.
Last year, the team had an interesting run, winning only one game before their winter break, and then winning eight out of their last nine games to end their regular season. When asked to reflect on this unusual streak, McCulloch said with confidence that they will use that second half as motivation for the upcoming season.
“I think that we had a bad start to last season, and then finished playing the way we were supposed to,” said McCulloch. “Even this early into this current season, I am already feeling that we are playing the way we are supposed to.”
The dichotomous outcomes of last season sparked the bringing in of new talent, higher goals, and the strong belief that winning should be inevitable. On Oct. 24, the Marauders played the home-opener against the University of Waterloo, winning 93-75. McCulloch himself put up 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
“This was our best game of the year, and we experienced a lot of good first-year [player] moments,” said McCulloch. “The team effort was huge, and our harder playing showed results.”
📷: IG -@/chris_simon21 pic.twitter.com/glcFVWGYDd
— McMaster Men’s Basketball (@MacMensBball) 26 October 2018
The men’s basketball team pulled off another victory on Oct. 27, winning 95-67 over the University of Windsor, adding to their strong winning start to the season.
— McMaster Men’s Basketball (@MacMensBball) 27 October 2018
It is clear that these tactics of playing hard, strategic training and the goal of being consistent, will continue to show throughout this season. Hopefully, the Marauders can continue this winning streak throughout McCulloch’s final year wearing a maroon number 21 jersey.