Sheridan Bruin’s men’s basketball head coach Jim Flack is preparing for a deep postseason run. With a battle-tested roster full of upperclassmen, the team is poised for the start of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) playoffs this month. The visiting Algonquin Thunder will travel to Brampton on Saturday, where the teams will open up the 2019 playoffs at 4 PM at Sheridan’s Davis Campus. After finishing the season 15-5, the Bruins enter as one of the league’s top seeds.
Spearheaded by offensive stalwart Nick Campbell, the Bruins scored a league-leading 101.9 points per game in 2018-19. As productive as their offence has been, head coach Jim Flack is doing his best to prepare his team for the slower pace that playoff basketball presents.
Flack told the Sun on Thursday, “You have to be able to play both fast and slow in the playoffs … I’ve always found as a coach it was way easier to take a team that plays fast and get them to slow down than the opposite.” If that’s the case, fans can expect a deep run from the Bruins. Just as they have every year under Flack, Sheridan thrived in 2018-19 while playing at a fast-pace. It’s evident that their coach is more than confident in his team’s ability to slow down offensively while not sacrificing what makes them successful, their defence.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bruins are highly adept at forcing turnovers. The team averaged 12.6 steals per game in the regular season, good enough for second in the OCAA. These steals come from Flack’s patented press defence — a defence that leads to a flurry of transition buckets. On Thursday, Flack reiterated that he has no plans to abandon his press in the playoffs, as he trusts his team will be able to control the pace of games while continuing to force turnovers. “I’m comfortable with where we are,” says Flack. “And you have to be able to play both, but our preference is to play up-tempo and then adjust as the game goes on.”
For the Bruins, the next few weeks will be an opportunity to prove to the rest of the league that Flack’s confidence isn’t unwarranted. If they can manage to maintain their success in the half-court on offence while keeping up the pressure on the defensive end, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
Despite the vast difference in their records, the Bruins aren’t taking the matchup with Algonquin lightly. During his interview with the Sun, Flack stated that his team “knows enough about upsets to know that they happen.” Upsets are something the Bruins have known all too well the past handful of years, and it’s Flack’s hope that they’ve learned their lesson. Coming into the playoffs as a top seed, Sheridan is expected to roll over the Thunder — but just like everything in sports, nothing is guaranteed. The Thunder are a gritty team that excels in a slower pace, the type of pace that comes about during playoff basketball. If the Bruins aren’t on their p’s and q’s, Algonquin could take advantage.
Algonquin is a team that struggles to create much offensively, averaging only 76 points per contest. If the Bruins’ focus is as locked-in as Flack expects it to be, the Thunder will have to get creative and find ways to score. The differences on paper are quite eye-popping, and all signs point towards a Bruins win, even if focus is lost. A matchup to keep an eye on will be between Campbell and Algonquin’s leading scorer David Tshimanga, and with the two men expected to guard each other, it’s shaping up to be a must-watch battle.
With a number of seniors suiting up for their final games as college athletes, emotions will be running high amongst the teams, making for some pretty good competition. Sheridan students from all campuses are encouraged to attend and cheer on their Bruins. Tip-off is at 4 PM on Saturday, February 23rd at Sheridan’s Davis campus.