The 2018-19 season didn’t have the start the men’s basketball team would have dreamed of, but with six games remaining for the team they find themselves in a heated playoff race.
There is a group of four teams in the ACAA hunting for the final two playoff spots, and only four points separates them.
Currently the UNB Saint John Seawolves and the Tommies are holding down those playoff spots, with the UKC Blue Devils only two points back, and the resurgent Dal AC Rams making a late push.
The Tommies face the Crandall Chargers (4th in the ACAA) Friday night before they head to Halifax to face the Blue Devils on Saturday in a game that could have severe playoff implications for both teams.
“I think we will be able to make a strong push down the stretch,” said 4th year guard/forward Travis Valanne. “We have competed against all the teams we have remaining and beaten most of them. With the way guys are feeling and the lineup we have, they are all winnable games to us.”
The Tommies have a great mix of veteran presence to go along with the youth of the team. Justin Grant (Winnipeg, MB) is in his 5th year while Valanne, Arthur Reece III (Houston, TX), and Michael Otoo (Ottawa, ON) are all in their 4th years. Otoo is in his first year with the Tommies but has never missed the ACAA playoffs.
“Our team right now compared to the team at the start of the season is completely different,” said Otoo. “Let’s just say if we were in a game of NBA 2K and we put the team now against the team at the start of the year we would beat them by like 40.”
“We knew that we were better than what our record was showing,” said Reece about the team’s start to the year. “We just had to put everything in place and take it day by day.”
Valanne knows you can’t set a goal for all of the six games remaining, so he is thinking smaller when it comes to goal for the end of this season.
“The goal is to take it one game at a time and to focus on what we can do in the moment. We won’t be thinking about UKC until we are done the Crandall game.”
Head coach Scott MacLeod wants the team thinking in an even smaller mentality for the remainder of the season.
“We have to win quarter by quarter, and even minute by minute,” said MacLeod. “We can let down in games, and let teams make their runs, but we have to bounce back. Your goals will have to change on the fly, minute by minute.”
The Tommies will be a team to watch down the stretch. You can catch this weekend’s action on acaatv.ca, before they are back at home on February 13th versus the UNB Saint John Seawolves.