OTTAWA — Restoring a program doesn’t happen overnight.
For the La Cite Coyotes, they are hoping to get out of the basement in the OCAA East Division and get into the playoffs after years of disappointment. Last season wasn’t a good one for the Coyotes, as they finished with a 2-18 record in league play. They didn’t pick up their first win of the season until the calendar switched to February.
If you look at the last three games of the season, the Coyotes were 2-1. La Cite didn’t pick up its first win of the season until February 17th, and they did so on the road at the expense of the Fleming Knights, 93-90.
To make things a bit better, the Coyotes closed out their season two games later with another victory. La Cite closed out 2017-18 with another road victory, picking up an 86-80 decision over the Algonquin Thunder.
Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, the Coyotes will be looking to move out of the basement in the OCAA East Division and build some momentum as a program. After closing out the season with two wins over their final three games, their final memories of last season are positive and should serve as motivation moving forwards into the new campaign.
All things considered, the Coyotes put up decent numbers on the offensive end of the floor despite their record. As a team, they averaged 73.3 points per game, while pulling down a total of 49.1 rebounds per contest.
Where they struggled as a team was with their shooting, as they shot themselves in the foot in a sense. From the floor, the team shot 37.0% for the year. The Coyotes shot even worse from three-point range, hitting on just 29.0% of their attempts as a cohesive unit. Add in their struggles from the free throw line (55.5%), and La Cite left their fair share of points on the floor over their 20 league games.
The Coyotes struggled to get any continuity with their roster over the course of the year. Only two players (Maleek Ekumba and Steve Bikamba) played in all 20 games in OCAA play, while 10 different players saw action in at least 10 games. No player on their team made more than nine starts for the year, giving the Coyotes different starting lineups more often than not.
La Cite did post three players with double-digit scoring averages over the course of the season, led by Junior Masudi and the aforementioned Ekumba. In total, seven players finished the year averaging at least 5.6 points per contest.
Masudi led all players in scoring last season for La Cite with an average of 19.4 points per contest. He was a top 10 scorer in the OCAA for the season, finishing in a tie for ninth place with Sean Clendinning of the Fanshawe Falcons. Masudi also led the team in rebounding (9.1 rpg), assists (2.8 apg), and steals (1.7 spg) over the course of the season.
The play of Masudi was one of the few bright spots for the Coyotes last season. He appeared in 19 games on the year, missing the Coyotes’ third game of the season against the Durham Lords back in October. He was held to just six points in La Cite’s second game of the season before missing the Durham game. From November 4th on, a span of 17 games, Masudi never scored fewer than 10 points in a game.
Masudi closed out the season with five straight 20+ point performances.
Maleek Ekumba finished second on the team in scoring behind Masudi, posting an average of 15.9 points per game on 40.2% shooting from the field. He added in 4.8 rebounds per contest over 20 appearances throughout the year. While he wasn’t as consistent as Masudi was throughout the entire season, Ekumba did post some impressive numbers down the stretch.
Over the final 10 games of the season, six of which were starts for Ekumba, he posted six games with at least 20 points. In the Coyotes’ win over Fleming College, he went for 36 points to help give La Cite their first victory of the season. Over those 10 games, he averaged a casual 20.0 points per contest.
Ylane Kouassi rounded out the trio of Coyotes who averaged double-digit points per game last season, finishing the year with an average of 10.9 points over 14 games.
The Coyotes have yet to release their roster for the upcoming season, so it’s unclear as to which players will be back in the mix and who all has moved on from La Cite. With that being said, the return of both Masudi and Ekumba would be a big boost for the team in 2018-19.
In terms of the top scoring players in the conference, Masudi ranks right up there with the best of them. However, it’s tough to see the Coyotes winning many more games than their two from last season. In a tough market like Ottawa, it’s tough to draw in the top talent from the area to a program that doesn’t have the history of success like the others.
– T. Bennett