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Francis remains positive after tough first season

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

With the campaign winding down, the Ontario Tech University Ridgebacks men’s basketball season hasn’t gone exactly as planned.

With only two games remaining in the season, the ‘Backs have a record of 1-19, only earning their first win in January against the Algoma Thunderbirds, where they won 67-64.

While it hasn’t been the greatest first season for a team on record, head coach Greg Francis still sees positives on the court.

“It’s been tough for the players more than myself. There’s been a lot of growing pains… but we’re able to be right in there,” he says. “We’re getting close to being up there with some of these teams, but throughout the year it’s been learning to win a little bit, and our guys have been coming close.”

He believes the team will learn to “put it all together” next season.

Francis is quick to single out a few of his players, noting rookies Graddy Kanku and AJ Cummings are both “really good scorers.”

“Both rookies have scored over 20 points multiple times this year,” he says.

He also believes his squad has one of the best rebounders in the country in forward Ammar Hassan.

Francis also pegs forwards D’on Duncan and Chris Ogie as players he believes will improve greatly in the future.

“I think they’re going to both be very good forwards, and I think they’re just     waiting to learn some of the lessons from   this season, and then I think next year       and the year after they’ll really be able to put it together and have really long and   effective careers at [Ontario Tech],” says Francis.

“We have some really good pieces to start with,” he says. “We obviously have to round out our roster, but I’m sure everybody did that in our league.”

Heading into next season, Francis hopes his team can improve on its toughness, and being able to get to the right spots when they need to.

“It’s not just the physicality of bumping somebody or pushing somebody, it’s the physicality and the mentality of making the right pass, making the right cut, and those type of things when the moments mean the most,” explains Francis.

Looking back at the team’s first win, Francis can’t help but laugh as he thinks of how “super silly” his players were in reaction.

“They really rejoiced and really enjoyed the moment… they even reminded me of how exciting it is to be the first to get that kind of win,” he says. “It really made me get back to the fun of basketball.”

The Ridgebacks are on the road for their final two games of the season, taking on the York Lions tonight (Wednesday, Feb. 12) and the Lakehead Thunderwolves on Valentine’s Day.