Head coach Steve Hanson was blunt after the game.
“We were terrible,” he said. “It was just an embarrassing loss.”
SFU lost by 24 points Saturday night. Other than the 27 seconds at the beginning of the game with no score, they had trailed the whole game. Worst of all, they did it against an opponent that should have been an easy win.
Quest University, where SFU lead assistant coach Sean Shook had spent the previous eight seasons as coach and athletic director, is a member of the PacWest conference of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). The two previous exhibition games against PacWest teams saw SFU dominate them 97–63 and 96–53.
That means no offence to Quest, which obviously played a very good game, and carried a lot of skilled players (Theo VandenEkart and Daniel Canzater would be good pickups, if SFU could just poach other players). But it would be like a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I team losing to a Division II team, or an American Hockey League team beating a team in the National Hockey League. Not only beating but thoroughly dominating.
To add to matters, Quest only dressed seven players, and one player played three minutes — essentially, they played only six players in a sport which requires five players on the court. Five of those players were on the court for 30 minutes or more.
This was a team that SFU should have been able to beat, if only because they should have been able to exhaust them.
“We have some guys that they’re just [. . .] we thought we could walk on the court tonight and just play, and we can’t. We got our ass kicked in every component of the game,” Hanson explained. “I mean, the only positive [from] tonight is that it doesn’t count for much, but it shows a lot of our weaknesses.”
VandenEkart opened the scoring for Quest with a three-pointer. SFU didn’t score its first field goal until 3:38 into the game, when J.J. Pankratz scored a layup. By the 10-minute mark of the first half, SFU had only added six more points to the score, while Quest had cruised to a 28–10 lead.
While the last 10 minutes of the first half proved more equal — SFU put up 26 more points to Quest’s 27 to be down 55–36 at halftime — falling behind so early in the game proved deadly to the Clan, who were unable to go on any point runs of much substance.
Quest was dominant on the three-point line in the first half, going nine for 17 (52.9 percent). While they fell back down to earth in the second half, they still finished with a respectable 13 for 31 (41.9 percent). Meanwhile, SFU went an abysmal three for 27 (11.1 percent), with only one success in the first half.
The second half was closer, but even in second half scoring, SFU trailed five points.
Kedar Wright carried the offence for the Clan, with 22 points, and one of SFU’s three successful three-point attempts. Other than Wright, the only player to put up double digit points was Michael Provenzano, with 10.
“The only positive [from] tonight is that it doesn’t count for much, but it shows a lot of our weaknesses.”
Graham Miller, who stands at 6’7” and was a redshirt last season, showed flashes of what he could do with his size.
Andrew Williamson and Aleks Vranjes were “both hurt in practice,” and didn’t play Saturday, nor the game before against Columbia Bible College. By the end of last season, Williamson had become a valuable player who could chew up minutes and put up points. Vranjes is in his redshirt freshman season.
This was a tough loss for SFU. It marked the end of three games that should have been easy wins, and confidence boosters for a Clan team that only had two wins last season. From here, all of SFU’s games are against NCAA Division II opponents and will be much harder. An effort like this most other nights would probably result in a much worse deficit than 24.
“If we don’t come out ready to play next week, then we’ve got some issues, so we have to get better, and we have to get back to practice next week and learn,” said Hanson.
The focus in practice? “Competing and rebounding, that’s it.”
SFU was outrebounded by Quest 51–34. To quote an old sports cliché, it just seemed that Quest wanted it more, fighting for every ball.
If the Clan is to get a few wins this season, it will have be through outworking the competition — something that just didn’t happen Saturday night.
THIS WEEKEND: The Clan heads off to the Sodexo Classic in Seattle, WA for its first taste of NCAA Division II competition this season.
On Friday, the team takes on the University of Hawaii Hilo Vulcans. The Vulcans had an overall record of 9–15 last season, and lost in three appearances to Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponents. The Vulcans sat 13th of 14 teams in the PacWest conference — the NCAA Division II version, not the CCAA version — in scoring defence, and were fifth in scoring offence.
On Saturday, SFU faces the Humboldt State Lumberjacks, a member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (also confusingly abbreviated to CCAA). Humboldt won its only exhibition game so far 121–56 against Future College. Last season, Humboldt placed fourth in the CCAA with a 21–9 overall record, and led the conference in scoring offence by a margin of 7.2 points per game.
Tipoff for both games is at 3 p.m.