The Centennial Colts men’s basketball team made history as they took on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on Friday night in pre-season action.
Despite suffering a 102-68 loss in front of the Goldring Centre crowd, it marked the first time the Colts of the Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) faced off against a team from Ontario University Athletics (OUA).
Although the final score wasn’t the outcome head coach Michael Jackman would have liked, he knew this matchup with a university squad was exactly what his team needed before the regular season.
“It’s hugely important for our growth,” said the second-year head coach after the game. “Hugely important for our confidence too. I had the pre-season schedule set up to where we’re playing colleges and universities both so we can prepare for our competition and our conference.
“It’s important to know these games are preparing us for our OCAA challenges that are going to be coming up, so these games are only going to help us get better.”
Jackman commended his team’s effort level but recognized their ability to match scoring runs by U of T wasn’t where he wanted it to be, but also figured that might happen coming into the night.
“I felt their [his team’s] competitive level was there,” said the Scarborough native. “Not as consistent as I wanted, but that’s the drop-off I find from university to college, so we were challenging our guys to be consistent and disciplined.
“We knew that no matter what it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park … knowing that coming in, we needed to make sure they didn’t make their runs too big, but unfortunately we didn’t do that today.”
Even in the loss, the Colts did have some stand-out performances. Three players scored in double figures, led by returning point guard Husam Shallo who dropped a team-high 13 points to go with five rebounds and four steals.
He was helped by fellow starter Omar Nur who put up 12 points and eight rebounds, and guard Malik Gibbs who added 12 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
After the game, Nur called it a good experiece.
“To get live up and down reps against good competition, it’s a good opportunity,” said the centre. “As long as we play out the process everything will be good.”
More than anything, coach Jackman emphasized how the pre-season matchup was a stepping stone for his program’s long-term development and hopes it can help them improve upon their 8-10 record from a season ago.
He also wants other collegiate teams to follow suit and recognize what can be gained from taking on teams in the OUA. Humber, George Brown, and St. Lawrence College have also scheduled university teams this fall.
“I hope it’s a wake-up call for all the other OCAA schools,” Jackman said. “To know that competing against universities in the pre-season is a good thing to happen. It’s going to help you get better as a team.”