Bitter Ending To A Tough Season… Positives!

A very tough loss officially ended our season at X Saturday night. Leading by three with ten seconds remaining and having possession of the ball in a sideline out of bounds in the front court, we safely got the ball in bounds to Tyler Scott. X tried to double team, and when the whistle blew with our guy on the floor in possession of the ball and two opponents on top of him with 4.5 seconds remaining, we believed that we would be heading to the free throw line with a chance to put the game away. The play was ruled a jump ball, and possession was in the X-Men’s favor. X hit a very deep three to send the game into OT, and won 94-93. I felt very bad for our seniors and all of our players. Our guys have continued to work through adversity all season, and this was just another difficult pill to swallow. I am very proud of our players that have hung tough throughout this most difficult and trying time. We finished the season 13-18 overall, and 6-14 in the AUS. We lost three league games by a total of six points, and if we had won those, we would be getting ready to go to Halifax this coming weekend. Our league is very tough, as witnessed by the number of close games throughout. We are not an excuse making group, nor do we ever talk of injuries, etc. throughout the season. We try to live by the “next play philosophy”, as well as the “next man up” credo that is popular particularly in the pro sports genre. The facts are real though… as a Coaching staff, in meetings prior to the season, we looked at who we thought would probably play significant roles in our rotation. Of those ten players combined, we lost 34 man games due to injury/illness and other issues. As I have said many times throughout this year to our guys, adversity is a great teacher, and moving forward, will only make you a stronger and better person!

Coming back to Charlottetown on the team bus from Antigonish Saturday night, I did something that I rarely do. My wife and I went to the back of the bus to hang out with the players for a bit! As you can imagine, many of them were pretty down about the loss earlier, and the culmination of what we all felt was a disappointing season for us. In no time at all we were telling stories (my wife told my guys and some of our female players on the bus with us some less than stellar tales of our early years together and my playing days!) and the entire mood was picking up! People must remember that these guys and girls are student athletes and still impressionable young men and women. My guys have put forth great effort, some over five years, both on court and off. None of them try to play poorly ever, and most all are constantly trying to do what is best for the team, the Coaches, and UPEI! I love and respect them all!

As always, I believe that it is very important to celebrate the positives in everything! Dut Dut lead the nation in rebounding this season, pulling down 11.9 per game, while setting a single season record in AUS play for UPEI at 237 total boards! Tyler Scott won the AUS scoring title, checking in at 21.5 points per game, which puts him fourth in the nation! Tyler also went over 1700 career points in Saturday’s game at X, finishing with 1706 for his career, which leaves him currently fourth ALL-TIME in AUS history! Two of our other graduating seniors, Lorenzo Parker and Jake Kendrick, also high school teammates at Horton H.S. in N.S., leave us as two of the greatest TEAM players that I have ever had the privilege to coach in my 30 year career! And lest we all forget… it is very important for all to know and understand that after the previous six seasons, including our most recent campaign, the UPEI Panthers record in AUS regular season play still ranks second overall in what many consider the most competitive league in the country, for wins over that span (70!)… only one win back of the leader!  Also remember… the Panthers have already began to reload, with seven new student athletes now currently committed to UPEI!

Thanks to all of our great and loyal Panther supporters, I hope to see you next year!

GO PANTHERS GO!

 

 

 

Last Games of the Season… PEI Men’s Basketball League… NBA Trade Deadline!

We play our last two games of the season on the road this weekend. We play at Dal Friday, and finish up at X Saturday, with both games set to tip-off at 8:00pm. Both Dal and X are in the AUS playoffs, and we would like nothing more than to go into their gyms and win! We have had a very good week of practice, and our players have continued to bring their best effort and attitudes… I am very proud of the fact that we have not wilted in a number of team areas in the face of adversity! Dal has only lost one game at home the entire season, and X has had a great year as well. I have the utmost respect for both of these programs, and of course even more, for Coaches Konchalski (X) and Plato (Dal)!

The PEI Men’s Basketball League completed it’s fourth season under our direction Tuesday night. The final series, a best of three affair, went to the #2 seed Green Machine in two games over the defending champs and #1 seed Vets. The final game of the series was one of the best men’s games that I have ever witnessed! A number of lead swings and changes, tough but clean physical play, culminating in a 103-98 2OT victory for the newly crowned league champs! We really appreciate the support we receive to help run this league from Courtside Sneakers, UPEI, Domino’s, and BPEI!

I have my Boston Celtics cap on today! As all basketball fans know, the trade deadline in the NBA comes today! I am fully expecting my Celtics to pull off some kind of blockbuster trade that will put us legitimately in the hunt for BANNER #18 this June! Players such as Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Jahlil Okafor, etc… would all look great in Kelly Green!

Please tune in for Monday’s final blog post of the season!

GO PANTHERS GO!

 

Big W On Senior Day… Recruiting!

We came from 16 points down and won 86-82 on Senior Day, over a very tough and hard working CBU squad! I was very happy to get the win, but I was especially happy for our five seniors: Lorenzo Parker, Tyler Scott, Dut Dut, Jake Kendrick, and Mark Matheson! In a tough season for us, these five in particular have never wavered in their commitment to our team and program. They have “stayed the course” in this season of adversity, and I will always appreciate their efforts. The deciding part of the win for us was the third quarter, as we held the Capers to only eight points! This enabled us to climb right back into the game, as we only trailed by two entering the fourth quarter. Some special individual performances yesterday! Tyler Scott continued to climb in all time AUS scoring, dropping 35 points in the win. He passed legendary Panther great Peter Gordon yesterday, and now sits only 31 points from 1700 with two games remaining. If he reaches that number, he will finish as the fourth leading scorer in AUS history! Dut Dut, with 19 rebounds yesterday, set the single season UPEI Panther record of 215!

We knew going into this season that we were losing at least five players, so a solid recruiting year was a must! Well, I believe that we have done a great job thus far! As of right now, we have seven committed recruits for next season! We have already announced 6’6 forward Vernelle Johnson from Halifax Grammar School and BNS. Official announcements on the other six will come very soon, but two others that have announced their commitment to us over twitter are New Brunswick high school stars and BNB players 6’4 Bryce Corless and 6’2 Brett Curtis! Local Charlottetown Rural and BPEI star 6’3 guard Adam Ryan signed his Letter of Intent yesterday right here at our game! The three remaining players, one from Australia and two from Western Canada, will be impact players right away as well! We are thrilled to have these seven joining us for 2017 and beyond, and are very excited that six of them are all true freshmen with five years of eligibility!

GO PANTHERS GO!

Two Losses at MUN Eliminate Us From Play-Off Contention… Coach Vince Mulligan

For the first time in my era, the two losses at MUN this weekend have officially eliminated us from the play-offs. This is an extremely bitter pill to swallow for all of our players and coaching staff. After finishing no lower than third in the AUS over the past five years, and having the best regular season record in the league over that span (64-36), as well as having three straight 20 win seasons and five straight winning records overall, plus finishing with two straight play-off first round byes for the first time in school history, and losing by a bucket in the AUS Final last season… it is an extremely tough time for our team right now. There was a great deal of emotion after the game yesterday. Our players and staff had to face the reality that our goals for this season would no longer be possible. We had a great talk with our young men after the loss yesterday. I told them that no matter what, I was very proud of them and that I loved them. I told them that a man’s true character is only tested through adversity, and that I expected us to practice hard and to do our very best to win our remaining three games! I told them that the only way to respond to adversity is to remain as positive as possible and to keep moving forward, to keep working, to keep showing up and bringing your best effort and attitude!

Certain things happen throughout every season that makes a coach very proud or at times, very sad. We have certainly had our share of both this season. Believe me, not all of these things concern wins and losses. Yesterday, after we arrived back in Halifax and were getting ready to board the bus for the 3.5 hour drive back to the Island, two of our senior leaders and stars approached me separately. Both of these fine young men had made previous plans to stay in the Halifax area with family until early Tuesday, as they had arranged a ride back to school early so as not to miss class and practice later that day. We are constantly preaching team goals and values here at UPEI. We are constantly discussing the importance of team, and of our culture here within our program at UPEI. We have had to part ways with some players over my time here because we couldn’t get them to buy in and understand that our team goals and values must always come before the individual player. Both of these players came to me and said that after the weekend that we had, and the way that our season had gone to this point, and all of our talks and discussions through their years here… they had both decided that it was more important for them at this point to return home to UPEI on the bus with their teammates! It is a great moment for a coach when he genuinely sees and feels that his players have been paying attention.

Retired Coach Vince Mulligan is a legend here at UPEI! What he did for our hockey program in the late 80’s and early 90’s is amazing. He also coached soccer, etc. over his many years here on staff. Coach was inducted into the UPEI Hall of Fame this past weekend, with three other very worthy candidates. Coach Vince Mulligan was one of the first people I met here on campus when I arrived in 2011-12. He has become a very good friend and supporter of mine and our program. He drops into my office quite frequently, and it is always a great time when he does! I really appreciate knowing him, and am so pleased that this great and very deserving honor was bestowed upon him by our University!

GO PANTHERS GO!

 

MUN… Injury Report

Just received word that we are leaving today at 3pm for MUN (traveling to Halifax area in order to beat the storm, fly out early tomorrow afternoon), so I need to get everything ready to go fast!

Two big ones this weekend, Saturday evening at 8:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm. MUN is having a strong season, and are currently 7-1 at home. We have worked on a couple of things this week that we hope will be very effective against them. One of the things we know that we need to do is get off to a solid start. We really want to put together a full 40 minutes on Saturday, and do it again on Sunday! We realize what is at stake, and I believe that my guys will do everything they can to rise to the occasion!

As many of you know, we have had a difficult time staying healthy throughout the season. Three of our top seven rotation players were unable to practice this week due to nagging injuries. One of the three was able to practice yesterday, while the other two were able to participate in shooting drills. Two of the three should be able to dress for sure, while the third will be a game time decision.

GO PANTHERS GO!