Wednesday, 9 September 2009

York Lions vs. Chattanooga game review

From the York student newspaper Excalibur

Lions fall short against visiting Mocs

On Sept. 5, in a game that came before a packed house at the Tait McKenzie Centre, the Lions played with vigor but ultimately lost to the Mocs in a nail-biter: 78-71. York’s offensive spark was apparent from the tip-off, with Chattanooga’s hulking defence unable to contain the Lions. While getting around the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I team proved to be easy, the York men had difficulties putting shots in the basket, even when they were directly in front of it. Chattanooga, however, had no such problem, capitalizing on most of their offensive chances, leading to an impressive 22-12 lead on York at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter saw much of the same but the Lions responded much better defensively, keeping the opposition on the perimeter of the court and forcing them to take risky shots.

Chattanooga was able to take advantage of these opportunities, with the Lions biting at their heels after every point surrendered. The second quarter of the game ended with Chattanooga taking a 42-30 lead into the dressing room at half time. The Mocs started the second half of the game with much more energy than they showed in the first half, jumping out to a 64-48 lead at the end of the third quarter. The Lions came storming back in the fourth quarter, pushing the Mocs back into defensive positioning, blocking any access to prime offensive areas on the court.

Led by the likes of guard David Tyndale and forward Stefan Haynes, the Lions put on a spectacular show, capitalizing on most of their opportunities. With the crowd clearly behind the home side, Chattanooga head coach John Shulman put out his two best players, forward Dante Harvey and centre Jeremy Saffore, in an effort to stop the Lions’ offensive run and maintain the lead. Unfortunately for the York side, it worked, and the Mocs took the game by a score of 78-71. “With four practices, I’m pretty pleased with how we played out there tonight,” said York head coach Bob Bain, who is in his 35th season with the Lions basketball club. “Obviously there are a number of revealing holes in our game and we’ll be able to work on them before the season starts. Overall, I’m pleased with the way the game went.”

The game against Chattanooga was the first after a tumultuous season the year before, which saw the club end the season in fifth place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East Division with a 7-15 record. With an extremely young but talented group of players going into this season, the Lions will most certainly look to improve on last year’s record. Chattanooga is in much the same position as York in terms of younger players patrolling the court. All five starters from previous year, which saw the Mocs capture the Southern Conference championship, have graduated and handed the reigns over to highly touted youngsters such as Saffore, Harvey and Josh Odem. It will definitely be a challenge for the younger Mocs, as the five graduates contributed 77.3 percent of the team’s points, 69.5 percent of rebounds and 72.7 percent of assists. The Lions open their season two months from now on Nov. 6, when they take on the Windsor Lancers. They will continue to hone their craft in anticipation of this game, with five more preseason matches scheduled.

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