Westworld: George Brown loses twice on day one of OCAA East/West Holiday Series

Huskies offence gives ineffectual performance without guards Kevon Mascoe and Ajahmo Clarke

George Brown men’s basketball received a belated lump of coal yesterday, after being dismantled by the Sheridan Bruins and Humber Hawks on day one of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association’s East/West Holiday Series.

Hosted this year by Centennial College, the games afford top teams from the East and West an early opportunity to face opponents across the inter-divisional divide. Sheridan, Humber and Fanshawe are 2016’s West Division standard bearers, while George Brown, Seneca and Centennial represent the East.

Though the Huskies lead the East Division with a 9-1 record, their tilts against the West’s first and second place teams quickly turned into mismatches. In the midst of the holiday break and playing without guards Kevon Mascoe and Ajahmo Clarke, George Brown’s offence lacked its normal potency. The result was a 84-65 defeat to the Sheridan Bruins (7-0), followed by a 91-63 loss to the Humber Hawks (7-2).

“We’re obviously missing two key guys, but that’s no excuse for how we played,” said Huskies guard Dejazmatch (DJ) James, who led the squad with 21 points and five assists in their game against Humber. “Being out of shape, not communicating well on defence, not trusting one another on offence, not being there for each other, playing one on one too much. It’s not a good performance for us; we’re in first place, but we’re not playing like it right now.”

There were bright spots, such as Jordan James and Teshayne Gayle seeing their first game action of the season. Overall however, George Brown looked slow, plodding and little like its division-leading self.

Huskies head coach Jonathan Smith pulled no punches when asked about his team’s performance, but saw learning opportunity in the many flaws.

“Our pick and roll coverage was terrible today, our baseline help coverage was horrible, weak side was terrible,” said Smith. “As long as we can take those things, learn from them… then we’re okay. If we don’t learn from them, we’re in deep trouble.”

Whether victor or vanquished, the value this best-on-best format holds is clear. Taking place in the heart of the holiday break, the series helps to keep teams game-ready while allowing depth players the opportunity to play increased roles.

“We don’t play the East teams in conference play, so it’s a good chance for us to try new defences, try new schemes and be able to get a mixture of the core guys with the non-rotational guys,” said Hawks guard Gibson Eduful, after scoring 15 points against George Brown.

With no inter-divisional play during the regular season, the holiday series is an exciting peek behind the curtain not just for players but coaches as well. “I do think the three teams from the East that we’re playing here, Seneca, Centennial and George Brown, are the three best teams in the East,” said Sheridan assistant coach Nick Davis. “It’s a great opportunity for us to see where we actually are in terms of our own abilities as a team.”

Discussing the scouting and developmental aspects of an exhibition series is significantly easier when it comes hand-in-hand with winning. For George Brown, today’s 10 a.m. game against the Fanshawe Falcons (5-4) offers one last chance at putting the West on notice.

“We’re not coming here to just have exhibition games and play for fun. Guys are trying to win,” said DJ James. “We’re trying to send a message to the West that George Brown is a contender, and right now it doesn’t look like it with these past two games.”

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Westworld: George Brown loses twice on day one of OCAA East/West Holiday Series