HAMILTON, Ont. — If you’re reading this, it’s not too late.
The 2019-20 basketball season is right around the corner, and we’re here to help you get set for what will surely be an incredible journey.
While we’re still looking back on an incredible 2018-19 season, one that saw two teams win their first-ever National Championships in school history, it’s also the perfect time to look ahead. The 2019-20 season promises to deliver a heightened level of excitement, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the new campaign.
To get fans across the country ready for the new season, we’ve taken on a challenge that hasn’t been done before. In the coming weeks, we will preview every team from coast to coast ahead of the 2019-20 season.
That’s 111 different programs, if you’re keeping a tally.
From August 8th through to October 6th, every team will be previewed in some capacity. For institutions that have both men’s and women’s basketball, a separate preview piece will be done for each team.
Rosters will be dissected and a look back at the year that was will help us determine what the team looks like this time around as every team begins with a blank slate in the standings.
Without further adieu, here is today’s preview on the men’s basketball program for the McMaster Marauders.
2018-19 in Review
The 2018-19 season for the Marauders can be summed up in three words.
What could’ve been.
McMaster came into the season on the heels of a 2017-18 season that saw them go 10-14 in the OUA West Division. Despite their sub-.500 record, the Marauders closed the regular season with six straight wins to secure themselves a playoff spot.
With a slew of young talent in tow, and a veteran star back in the mix for 2018-19, the Marauders had a heightened sense of optimism for the new campaign. McMaster started the season with three straight wins, but consistency issues would creep in and linger for the remainder of the year.
Following their three-game winning streak to start the season, the Marauders lost their next three contests to fall to 3-3 on the year. In fact, after their three wins to start the year, the Marauders would win just one more game before the Christmas break, closing the first half of the season with a 4-7 record.
The second half of the season was more of the same for Head Coach Patrick Tatham and the Marauders. They were unable to put together a winning streak of more than two games in January and February, which caused the team to sweat down the stretch to secure a spot in the post-season. However, two wins over their final three contests helped the team secure a fourth place finish in the West Division to earn themselves a home playoff game.
McMaster closed the regular season with a record of 11-13 overall, a single-game improvement from the year prior. Things could have been much different in the standings, as eight of the Marauders’ losses were decided by 10 points or less, seven of which were decided by single digits. If any of those single-digit losses went the other way, McMaster could have had a different path through the post-season by way of their regular season finish.
With their 11-13 record, the Marauders finished in a tie for fourth-place with the Guelph Gryphons, but by way of a tiebreaker, McMaster was the home team for their home contest. The Marauder knocked off the Gryphons in the First Round, 78-75, to punch their ticket to the Wilson Cup quarterfinals.
An 95-89 loss to the Laurier Golden Hawks brought the Marauders’ up-and-down season to a close.
When the Marauders fell in the OUA quarterfinals to the Golden Hawks, it marked the end of the career for one of McMaster’s guards. Fortunately for the team, they only graduated one player, but the player who’s beginning the next chapter of his journey was a key piece to the puzzle.
David McCulloch (Hamilton, Ont.) saw his career come to a close at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, and he’s left some big shoes to fill in the back court for Coach Tatham.
Last season, McCulloch ranked second on the team in scoring with an average of 15.4 points per contest. He added 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game for a strong two-way stat line. Add in the fact that he shot 39.9% from the field, 37.4% from three-point range, and 77.8% from the free throw line, and it’s easy to see why McMaster will be in tough to find someone to fill the void left due to McCulloch’s graduation.
While losing McCulloch is a blow to the team, both on and off the court, the Marauders return the bulk of their production from last year’s team. With another year of experience under their belts and an understanding of what it takes to win at the collegiate level, McMaster will be looking to find consistency over the course of the season.
When the list of players leaving is limited to just one name, that’s a good problem to have for a coaching staff. McMaster will return the bulk of its production and core group from last year’s team, a group that includes three of the top young stars in the OUA plus a veteran eager to close out his career with one more run at both an OUA title and a National crown.
Arguably the brightest star in the OUA is guard Jordan Henry (Pickering, Ont.). Last season, he burst onto the scene with a stellar debut season, especially on offense. Henry ranked third on the Marauders with 11.9 points per game, but it was his ability to get others involved that made waves across the league.
Henry ranked fifth in the OUA with 4.7 assists per game as a first-year player. Across exhibition and regular season games, Henry posted 19 games with at least four assists. Against the Brock Badgers on January 30th, he went for a double-double of 16 points and 13 assists in a 91-86 loss. Henry knows he can score himself, but he’s one of the best in the OUA at getting his teammates involved on offense for open looks. Time will tell what he has in store for Year Two.
Fellow first-year standouts Sefa Otchere (Niagara Falls, Ont.) and Tristan Lindo (Ajax, Ont.) round out Tatham’s trio of talented young stars, all of whom are ready to have a bigger impact on the team and the league in 2019-20.
Otchere averaged 9.7 points per game while shooting over 50% from the field as a first-year player. From November 7th through to January 4th, a stretch of six games, Otchere put his offensive talents on display when he recorded double-digit points in each game. He opened up the six-game stretch with a 26-point performance against the Toronto Varsity Blues, hitting 10-of-15 from the field in the process.
As for Lindo, he kicked off his McMaster career with one of his better games of the season. Against the Waterloo Warriors in his regular season debut, Lindo recorded 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists in the Marauders’ 93-75 victory. For the season, Lindo posted 7.1 points and 2.6 rebounds per game while shooting 46.7% from the field and 39.4% from three-point range.
When asked about his talented trio, Coach Tatham had some high praise for his second-year student-athletes.
“Even with our youthful/talented team, there is legit expectation on our young core (Jordan Henry, Tristan Lindo, Sefa Otchere) that have gained one year of experience in the OUA,” said Tatham. “I’m really excited to see these three young men elevate their games now that they all have an idea of the league.”
Along with their young core, the Marauders return a pair of veterans who will add leadership, as well as production, to the mix. Connor Gilmore (Etobicoke, Ont.) made his return to the lineup last season after missing the 2017-18 campaign. He made his return in style, posting five straight games with double-digit points to begin the season. Gilmore finished the year as the team’s leading scorer, averaging 16.6 points to go along with a team-best 8.0 rebounds.
Matt Quiring (Cambridge, Ont.) is also back for his final year of eligibility. Last year, he averaged 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 54.1% from the field. The theme of inconsistency hit Quiring last year on offense, as he had four games with double-digit points, but he was also held without a point on four occasions.
The Marauders have a talented team with their returnees, and when you factor in the pair of newcomers they have joining the mix, the future looks bright with their abundance of talent up and down their roster.
Keeping with the trend of talented youth coming to McMaster, the Marauders have added a pair of talented players to their roster for the 2019-20 season.
Mike Demagus is a 6’3” guard who played his high school basketball at Thornlea Secondary, and he will be yet another talented guard in the back court rotation for the Marauders. Forward Tomi Johnson (Milton, Ont.) brings size and athleticism to the front court rotation, and at 6’8”, he has the size and skill set to become a household name in the OUA as his career unfolds.
Add both Demagus and Johnson to a roster that already features its share of talented young players, and Coach Tatham is excited for the future of the program.
“This year’s recruiting class is something that excites me for the future,” added Tatham. “Above all their basketball gifts, both of these young men bring GREAT character to our team and culture.”
Tatham followed that up with some high praise for both of his new commitments.
“Mike Demagus is a player that can fill it up with good length and shooting ability, and Tomi Johnson is a high motor physical forward that will help us out on the glass and possibly be one of the top forwards in the OUA in the near future.”
“This year the expectation is to be consistent and contend for a spot at OUA Final Four, with hopes & opportunity to earn a spot at the U Sports Final 8,” concluded Tatham.
The Marauders know how close they were last season to changing their own fate in the race for the OUA standings. Any number of seven close losses could have changed their fortunes and placement in the playoffs in the OUA.
This season, the focus surrounds consistency from the team as a cohesive unit. Consistent performances on a nightly basis could mean the difference between a First Round bye in the OUA playoffs and having to play an extra game to secure your spot in the quarter-finals.
With the talent that the Marauders return this season and their younger players now having a year of experience under their belts, McMaster has their sights set on contending in the talent-rich OUA with the goal of reaching the U Sports Men’s Basketball National Championships.
Be sure to bookmark our 2019-20 Season Previews page to keep up with the previews as they are released online.
– T. Bennett