After John Metras retired as their coach in 1964, the UWO men’s basketball team had quite a few hard years ahead of them. Coached by Jerry Gonser from 1964 until 1974, they faced many losses. Also included in these hardships were the injuries of two star players in the 1967-68 season, Captain Greg Poole and, one of their leading scorers, Marnix Heersink. They managed to recoup that season by winning the Ontario-Quebec Athletic Association title, but that was the last big title win for the “Cage Mustangs” for almost twenty years.
The following year, the basketball team saw a change of scenery when they started playing games at Alumni Hall on the UWO campus. Unfortunately, the first game they played was a sign of what was to come over the next decade, with the team losing to the visiting Windsor Lancers.
The situation only got worse for the team as they headed into the 1970s. At first, hopes were high at the beginning of the decade, with captain Bruce Dempster being selected as captain of the Canadian National Basketball team, but things soon took an unpleasant turn. By the 1973-74 season, the team came out with a record of eighteen losses and only one win, their worst record in the history of the sport at the university.
Doug Hayes took over coaching duties in the 1974-75 season and was seen as a great asset for the team because of the effort he put into making sure they improved. Hayes was also known for his optimism. Even though the team was not successful enough to boost them into any title or championship positions at that time, Hayes’ determined optimism and focus made noticeable changes and improvements in the team.
With the dedicated Hayes as their coach, the early 1980s became rebuilding years for the Cage Mustangs.They had high hopes that they would return once more to their former glory days, and their determination to improve would serve them well in the years that followed.