Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – You won't find them making any excuses, but there's no doubt injuries have wreaked havoc on the rotations for MacEwan's men's basketball team so far this season.
Most notably, they've been without 2018-19 leading scorer Jake Notice (hand) through the first six games of the Canada West campaign.
The good news is Notice is making the trip with the team to Trinity Western this weekend for games against the Spartans on Friday (9 p.m. MT) and Saturday (8 p.m. MT, both on Canada West TV presented by Co-op).
"It's good for us to give us some more scoring," said head coach Mike Connolly. "I think the other guys have stepped up.
"What he has the ability to do is enhance what we want to do. That's what he needs to look at. He needs to bring his stuff to the table and just make the table better. He doesn't have to set the table, he doesn't have to make the table, just bring what he has and make it better."
What Notice brought last season was a team-high 16.1 points per game, so there's no doubt he has the ability to impact the game in a big way for the Griffins.
However, just as he's coming back, the team has a handful of other key players who are day-to-day with a variety of ailments that linger even after a bye week.
"Luckily I've been doing this long enough that you've just got to take it and not dwell on it too much," said Connolly of the injury bug. "We haven't been able to see our top 9-10 players play, so that hurts us getting into rotations, that hurts guys knowing their roles. The guys are accepting their roles and doing that well, but it's not like it's totally clear because we haven't had a chance to play with it.
"But no excuses," he stressed. "We still come in, we've been close in games, we've had some falters. We just don't want to be the team that loses for the first time to a team that hasn't won a game."
That's the motivation this week as the Griffins (0-6) face a Spartans program (also 0-6) that's nursing a 27-game losing streak stretching back to the 2017-18 season. Ironically, the last time TWU won a Canada West regular season game was when they beat the Griffins 97-88 on Feb. 2, 2018 in Edmonton.
"We treat it like any other game," explained Connolly. "We're going to play hard. We've talked about increasing our intensity to a playoff game situation, but you should be practising at that all the time. It's just a matter of getting going.
"I was talking to some other coaches. I think the pressure's the same as when you're 6-0 and 0-6. It's just how you take it and deal with it."