Halfway into the season, the Vanier College Division 1 Men’s Basketball team holds a perfect 8-0 record. The Cheetahs are the top-ranked team in their league and are currently 4th in the nation.
The team is feeling good about its achievements so far, but head coach Andrew Hertzog is remaining cautious. Several players have stepped up their game this season and he’s proud of their overall play. Continuing their winning ways in the second half of the season will be a challenge.
« We haven’t been blowing out our opponents in games. There have been many close ones. And we haven’t had to deal with any major injuries. So anything can happen, » says Hertzog.
Meeting of the giants
Vanier’s toughest test was their last game. On November 30, they faced off against the powerful Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf squad in what was dubbed « the meeting of the giants ». The Cheetahs defeated the Dynamiques 86-79.
« The biggest characteristic of our team is that opponents can’t focus on just one or two of our players. We have a very balanced lineup – a deep bench. There are literally six or seven players that can score 20 points on any given night. We’re hard to plan against, » says Hertzog.
The Cheetahs have scored an average of 89.5 points per game so far this season. They lead the nine-team Réseau du Sports Étudiant Québec (RSEQ) league in many offensive categories including field-goal shooting percentage, three-point shooting percentage and in rebounds per game.
« There is a lot of excitement in the school, that’s for sure. We have the talent, but question is, will these guys be able to put it together to go all the way, » says Vanier College Athletic Coordinator Mai Nguyen.
When asked about the team possibly going undefeated, a perfect 16-0 for the entire season, both Nguyen and Hertzog say the team is focused on winning the RSEQ championship and then hopefully advancing to the nationals.
« Championships are won in March, » Nguyen adds.
The Men’s Division 1 Basketball team last won the Quebec title in 2011.
The team’s next league game is January 11, at home against Cégep de Sainte-Foy. Until then, the Cheetahs will be taking part in the Basketbull Hoops Fest Tournament in Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s considered a major showcase event that many U.S. college basketball coaches and scouts attend.
« There will be a lot of people there. A tonne of scouts, » says Hertzog.
The Vanier College Cheetahs will be the only Canadian team at the tournament.