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(Credit: Eva Ou)
(Credit: Eva Ou)
PREVIEW: MBASK look to kick off New Year with a bang
Game Dates and Times: Friday, January 5 – 8:00 p.m. (at Western) and Saturday, January 6 – 8:00 p.m. (vs. Windsor)
Game Locations: Alumni Hall, London (at Western) and Laurier Athletic Complex, Waterloo (vs Windsor)
Live Webcast/Radio Coverage:
Tickets: at Western, vs. Windsor

The latter stages of 2017 were not too kind to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball team. After trading wins and losses for the first six games of the season, the Hawks (3-7) dropped the last four games of the calendar year to leave themselves with some work to do in 2018 to climb back up the standings in the OUA’s West Division.

One factor working to their advantage is the fact that all the purple and gold’s remaining contests will be against teams in the West Division, which has only one team with a record above .500 entering the New Year. 

Following a month-long break for exams and holidays, the Hawks have had time to rest nagging injuries and reenergize for a second half that will be pivotal in determining the fate of their season. The work begins this weekend with a trip to London Friday to take on the rival Western Mustangs (5-6) for the first time this season, before returning home to Waterloo for a clash with the Windsor Lancers (4-7) at the Athletic Complex.

The Mustangs and Lancers present two unique challenges for the Hawks due to their contrasting styles of play. With the OUA West’s second-best defence, Western will look to suffocate the Laurier offence, slowing the game down and forcing the Hawks to grind it out in the half-court. Contrastingly, Windsor, much like the purple and gold, prefer to push the pace, getting out quickly in transition and dictating the game with their speed.

Despite the clashing styles of their opponents this weekend, Laurier Head Coach Justin Serresse is encouraging his team stick to their strengths and impose their high-energy, up-tempo brand of basketball on the game, regardless of the opposition. Serresse says that he will be preaching the process over results during the upcoming stretch, knowing that, if the Hawks play their style to the level they are capable of, the results will come.

-    The Hawks will play an even number of games at home and on the road in the 2018 portion of the schedule (seven home, seven away) as part of an elongated 24-game season that debuted for 2017-2018
-    The OUA continues to dominate the U SPORTS Top 10 rankings with four teams ranked (No. 1 Carleton, No. 7 Laurentian, No. 8 Ottawa, and No. 10 Ryerson)
-    The Windsor defence had a rough start to the New Year on Wednesday night, giving up 106 points in a road loss at McMaster, something the Hawks will try to take advantage of on Saturday night

Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (3-7)

G Tevaun Kokko (Markham, Ont.)
-    Averaging 20 points on 46 percent shooting so far this season despite fighting through injury trouble, it will be fun to see what sort of damage he can cause at full strength

Western Mustangs (5-6)

G Eriq Jenkins (Windsor, Ont.)
-    Jenkins leads the Mustangs in points per game and three-point shooting
-    The third-year guard had three triples in Western’s shock 62-59 victory over nationally-ranked Ryerson on Nov. 4 in London

Windsor Lancers (4-7)

G Chris Poloniato (Guelph, Ont.)
-    The sweet-shooting guard is shooting 43 percent from beyond the arch and 91 percent at the free-throw line coming off the bench and he will be a handful for the Hawks’ second-unit
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U Sports Top 10
1. Carleton (1)
2. Brock (2)
3. Alberta (3)
4. UBC (4)
5. Calgary (5)
6. McGill (7)
7. Dalhousie (8)
8. Laurentian (6)
9. Ottawa (10)
10. Ryerson (9)
As of Feb. 13, 2018
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