“Ups and downs,” and “rocky” were the words used by graduating forward Robert Nortmann. “It’s been a roller coaster,” said head coach John Campbell.
When it comes to describing the season so far, everyone on the team seemed to be singing from the same hymnal: if Dalhousie’s men’s basketball season was indeed an amusement park ride, you would have had to reach for your barf bag more than once.
To be honest, a rocky season was expected. Dal basically graduated their entire starting roster, leaving last year’s bench to take on quality minutes this season. It wasn’t easy. The team had a gut-punching 1 – 4 start to the season. Their turbulent season landed them a final record of 9 – 11, and fifth seed in the playoffs, both a far cry from the team ranked second last year that rolled through the competition on their way to AUS glory.
Their saving grace, according to Campbell, is that come Mar. 3, it’s a whole new ball game.
“We get to throw this whole season out and we get 0 – 0 records.” Yes, this Friday, the Tigers get the chance to wipe the slate clean, starting with No. 4 seeded Cape Breton Capers. The two teams battled evenly to a 2 – 2 record this season with each taking a home and road victory against the other.
The Tigers, however, are hoping for a bit more of a home field advantage as the entire AUS Championships will be played at the Halifax Metro Centre, “We’re hoping that the Metro Centre becomes a positive for us,” said Campbell. Nortmann echoed his sentiments, “It’s a fun experience having [the fans] come out and have a good time.”
The Tigers will certainly need that boost if they manage to make it past CBU. Dal has a collective 1 – 5 record against St. FX and Acadia this season, the top two seeded teams this season, and Dal would have to face at least one of those teams if the Tigers plan on winning back-to-back championships.
For a team with such daunting foes looming, Dal’s biggest opponent may be themselves.
“We’re struggling right now to put together a good effort over the course of 40 minutes,” Campbell noted, highlighting the team’s inconsistencies have not been game-to-game, but seemingly moment-to-moment.
Obviously, it’s a challenging road ahead for the Tigers to win the conference banner, but Campbell spared a few thoughts on what winning two straight titles would mean to the program. “We’re trying to establish, I guess, an identity that we are a perennial contender.”
Having already won two of the past three championships, a third title in four years would definitely cement that reputation for the Tigers. All they have to do is become this year’s Cinderella.