During the halftime break of last night’s game between Langara and Capilano, I walked out of the gym and down the corridor of Capilano’s Sportsplex to the washroom. As I made my way past Langara’s team room, I noticed the entire roster of players sitting on chairs in a semi-circle facing a wall, as if attentively listening to a lecture.
At first, I assumed that head coach Paul Eberhardt was going over what needed work as they headed into the second half with a marginal 43-39 lead over Capilano, but when I turned back to look in the gym, I saw Eberhardt and his assistants gathered back at the team’s bench, going over the stat sheet and relevant clipboards.
It wasn’t a coach that had the player’s attention in the team room – it was an orange jersey-ed Falcon. I couldn’t quite see who was talking, as my view was obstructed by the poster-plastered windows, but Eberhardt had a pretty good clue.
“I would expect [Glenn] Ruby to be the voice in the room, I would expect him to stand up at that time,” said Eberhardt. “But it’s been really interesting this year, as I’ve noticed that all of the veterans are doing of teaching with our younger guys. Last year it was irritating because I didn’t think they talked enough. But they’ve definitely embraced that this year.”
Whether it was the third-year utility player from Clayton Heights leading the halftime pep-talk or not, whatever was said certainly carried over into the second half.
Both squads, known for their fast-breaking and freewheeling offences, got off to a rather sluggish start in the opening quarter, bogged down by 94-feet of heavy defensive pressure.
The score was knotted at 15 after one, and stayed tight at the conclusion of the second frame. The Blues utilized the polished mid-range and slashing games of their lethal backcourt combo of Tony Rowe and Michael Hunter, while Langara fed it frequently into the post – letting centre Jitt Lohcham go to work against Cap’s undermanned front line.
But that halftime speech worked wonders for the Falcons in the third quarter, as Cap began to miss their defensive assignments in transition – allowing Langara to jump out ahead by double-digits and eventually lead 74-59 heading into the fourth.
“I think we just got away from our game plan a bit,” said Capilano head coach Dwayne Selby. “Our plan was to identify the three-point line first instead of the rim. When they went on that quick run, we just weren’t doing that. They were coming down and we were getting sucked into the paint. Their transition works where they go to the three point line, and a couple quick threes changed the momentum just like that.”
Langara continued to build on that 31-point quarter, but the Blues weren’t about to let the number-one country in the nation take the win without earning it. Third-year guard John Leong came off the bench in the final quarter and hit back-to-back threes, trimming the Falcon’s lead to six with just over three minutes left in regulation.
“Johnny’s been a constant for us,” said Selby. “He’s one of our leaders – one of our team captains – and he’s actually a guy that we have to find more minutes for in our lineup.”
But Ruby, in Shane Battier-like fashion, answered with a corner three, drew a charge on the ensuing possession, and then ripped a steal shortly after to revive Langara’s double-digit lead in the final stretch.
“That’s Glenn’s thing. He doesn’t get noticed a lot of the time, but he does a lot of our dirty work. He was great tonight,” said Eberhardt.
Ruby drew a charge on three separate occasions during the game, and will be enjoying a medium-rare reward in the near future due to his efforts.
“He took three charges, so I owe him a steak dinner – that’s our rule,” said Eberhardt.
Lohcham led the Falcons with 25 points, including two treys and six emphatic swats. Garrett-Ling Lee poured in 21 points and 11 rebounds, and point guard Brody Greig collected a huge double-double of 18 and 14 – the 18 being his assist total.
Hunter was the high-scoring Blue with 18 points, while Rowe chipped in 14.
Langara remains undefeated early, but the Blues proved that they’re going to remain one of the Falcon’s – and the league’s – biggest obstacles this season.
“The ceiling on us is very high,” said Selby post game. “We’ve revamped our roster, but right now we’re just learning how to play together. Right now, I’m pretty happy where we’re at. It’s going to be a long process of growth, but I think come January or February, we’re going to be right where we need to be.
“Tonight was a good wake up call for us. I think we got a little complacent after our opener last week [against Quest]. When you’ve got the number-one team in the country coming in, you can’t be complacent, and you can’t cut corners.”
This evening, Langara heads up to Squamish to battle Quest – who came back from a first-half double-digit deficit to beat Douglas College 98-85 last night.
“The first time we play a team, they’re going to be extremely fired up to play us,” said Eberhardt. “So it’ll be a tough one tomorrow night – I know it will.”
Capilano, on the other hand, remains at home and will host the struggling 0-2 Royals.
“Douglas does a very good job of shooting the ball from outside. They do a good job of spacing and spreading you out then looking for two-on-ones in the paint,” said Selby. “So tomorrow I think our ball pressure is going to be huge.”
Eberhardt on playing at Capilano – where he coached for 10 seasons:
“It’s always weird coming here. I mean 10 years is a long time to be here. And to see a lot of people working here when I was still here, and I coached Dwayne here right. Last year was super weird, but this year isn’t quite as weird.”
Selby on the contributions from his bench:
“To be honest, I was looking for a little bit more. But with the guys that we have, I expect production out of everybody. But it’s a chance to grow and learn from this, and I think we’ll give them a better game next time we see them.”
Eberhardt on whether Lohcham is the most dominant post-presence in the PacWest:
“He’s not yet, but he should be. And he’s starting to realize that. I’m always on Jitt about playing hard and when he does, he’s unstoppable. He was banged up a bit tonight, and I’m never that happy with him, but then I look and he’s got 25 points, eight boards and six blocks, an I gotta say ‘Okay I guess he was pretty good.’ But I expect a lot out of him.”