CORNER BROOK Chad Warren thought there would be nothing worse than his St. Francis Xavier X-Men losing in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s basketball final for a third time in a row.
He was wrong — not even making it to the final was way more painful.
Warren, of Corner Brook, and the X-Men entered the season with expectations of success in the AUS final and were even hopeful a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship was a possibility.
Though they never played the part of the ‘team to beat’ during the AUS regular season, they still finished third in the conference and downed a tough Saint Mary’s team 111-93 in the quarterfinals on March 4.
They looked to be well on their way to a third consecutive appearance in the championship game.
Unfortunately for them, Dalhousie stood in the way, posting a 79-68 victory over the X-Men on March 5 in a semifinal game, ending the season of the boys from St. FX.
“Basically, they just executed their game plan and we didn’t,” said Warren. “They pounded the ball inside, which we knew they were going to do, but we didn’t do the right things to stop them.”
Almost a month later, there was still a hint of disbelief in Warren’s voice.
“It was nowhere near where we thought we’d be at the end of the year,” he said. “We thought we’d be on top of everybody, but that wasn’t the case.
“It’s just a brutal loss, it’s a brutal end to the season,” he added. “You don’t really get over it.”
The team will be losing six players in the off-season, including Warren, who graduates on May 1 with a degree in psychology, so it will likely take a little time before the X-Men are as strong a championship threat again.
Warren, meanwhile, moves on and, despite the basketball season not ending like he’d hoped, he’s excited to graduate and move on to something new, something different.
“More education,” he said of his future plans. “I need to do more schooling of some sort, whether it’s a diploma program or trying to do my masters, but I need to do something else. I’m applying to several places and weighing my options.”
He hasn’t touched a basketball since the early-March defeat. Hasn’t even been inside the gym. He’s spent the last month or so focusing on school and was forced to return home briefly to attend the funeral of his friend Jeff Gallant, who died of cancer at the age of 24 on March 21.
“Basketball wasn’t really on my mind,” said the six-foot-five forward.
That’s not to say it never will be again.
Students have five years of eligibility to play in the CIS and Warren has only used four, so he can return to play his fifth season at any time, with any school.
“You can use that when you’re 45 if you want, there’s no age limit or anything, you get five years,” he said. “So maybe down the road, if I do some grad school I can use that year in a different spot, but as of right now I’m not planning on playing anymore.”
He’ll be home again for a few weeks after he graduates, but his plans for the summer are still undecided.
“I’m not sure where I’ll be,” he said. “Maybe home, maybe Ontario ... I’m not sure yet.”