C/O Travis Nguyen
An in-depth look at the Marauders basketball teams after years of success
Anyone who has followed Ontario University Athletic basketball recently would quickly notice that the Marauders are one of the strongest teams in the league. Not only the Men’s and Women’s The teams started their 2021-22 seasons strong, with both holding a record five-and-one, but recent history also works in their favor.
Over the past decade, the men’s team has a solid 122-73 regular season record. The women’s team has an even stronger record of 144-55 with a championship victory of the 2018-2019 season to cap it all, their first since the dominant race of the 2000s, which saw four championships in a period of 10 years.
Having achieved lasting success, a rare and hard-to-achieve result in sport, further analysis of McMaster’s basketball program was conducted to understand how the school can continue to deliver strong results year after year.
Looking at the men’s team, this is a heavy offensive team that has also started to improve their defense. They are capable of scoring over 90 points every day and finding multiple double-digit scorers in every game. On the defensive end, the team began to find great success fending off the ball and racking up interceptions.
MBB | After bouncing back in the second half, the Marauders took the win 96-78!
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— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) November 20, 2021
Despite a slow defensive start to the season, the Marauders recovered quickly and became much livelier on the defensive end. The last time vs the Algoma Thunderbirds, they regrouped to set a single-game season high of 22 interceptions, defying their usual reputation as the first offensive team.
The team is primarily based on offensive threat Jordan Henry, who holds one season status line of 22.7 points per game while shooting 54.1% from the field and averaging 5.5 assists. The team is top heavy, but has a very strong squad, including Sefa Otchere, Christian Bentley, Mychael Paulo and Mike Demagus, who usually finish the game among the top performers in several categories (minutes, points, assists , etc).
Asked about the success of the start of the season, Demagus commented on the brand of basketball the team played and the culture found within the organization.
“We all have one goal in common and that is to win. Everyone in our team knows their role. Everyone on our team knows what they have to do for us to win and that’s where we come in as a collective. No one outperforms the others because everyone knows what they have to do to win,” Demagus said.
Demagus would later focus on head coach Patrick Tatham, a highly respected coach in the league. Before coming to McMaster, Tatham was an assistant coach of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA’s G-League, where he coached future and former NBA players including (but not limited to) Malcolm Miller (NBA champion), Damion Lee, Abdel Nader and Ryan Kelly.
“It’s great to know that we have someone with that kind of experience under our wing. He is constantly trying to prepare us for the next level,” Demagus explained.
Finally, Demagus explained the close culture within the team and how comfortable each player feels with each other. When asked to choose a word to describe the culture of the team, Demagus chose “brotherhood”, describing the closeness of the team and how the lack of anonymity provides an advantage to the Marauders.
The rich culture was one of the most discussed reasons for success in the interview with Demagus, which quickly became a common theme, with women attributing similar reasoning to their success.
McMaster’s highly successful women’s team is a very balanced team with significant depth in the roster. They revolve around star keeper Sarah Gates, who holds the season medium of 25.5 points and 7.7 rebounds, while shooting 52.6 percent from the field. She also holds a season-high 38 points, which was important to her. to reach OUA Player of the Month.
Beyond Gates, the team has a very deep rotation, where it’s common to see almost every player get minutes. Individual game point leaders rotate regularly and many team members can step in when needed. Rebounds and assists are spread across the entire roster and it’s become one of the team’s greatest strengths.
Tori Rigas-Didomenico, a point guard for the Marauders, discussed the team’s chemistry and the will they show in always wanting to be the best they can be.
“From day one I could tell it was a cohesive group. It’s a ‘one team, one heartbeat’ kind of thing. We work together on and off the pitch to have the “Highest performing team possible… Our team is always ready to learn. We have that collective mindset and we push our limits. I think that’s where our success comes from,” said Rigas-Didomenico .
Asked about the impact the coaching staff has had on the team’s success and development, Rigas-Didomenico was quick to praise the work of coach Theresa Burns and staff.
“We have such amazing and committed coaches who care about us as players and people and that starts with coach Theresa Burns. She really knows how to connect with us on an individual level and make us the best players and people we can be. We all look up to her and see her as a role model, on and off the pitch,” explained Rigas-Didomenico.
Just as Demagus was asked about the men’s team, Rigas-Didomenico was asked to provide a one-word description of the culture within the organization and the answer she provided was very similar to Demagus’.
“It would have to be ‘home’ or ‘family’ – those two words are really close to my heart,” Rigas-Didomenico said.
Although there is no definitive answer, the culture of both teams seems to be a big reason for their success. Both men and women feel extremely strong bonds with their teammates and always try to work as a collective unit, pushing the boundaries both on and off the pitch.
With a solid culture and coaching staff in place, it makes sense that the Marauders could sign such top-tier talent. It also makes sense that they could translate their off-court relationships into on-court chemistry and overall success.