CANHoops.ca CIS Top 10 for 29th November 2015


My take on the latest CIS Top 10 including games up to and including Sunday, 29th November 2015.

#1 McGill (10-1, 3-0) (LW #1)…  Redmen were idle this week while Bishop’s got their first win of the regular season with what most would consider an upset at Concordia on the road in Montreal.  Combined with Friday night’s UQAM victory over Laval (McGill’s next opponent), the Redmen already have a two-game lead in the loss column against the rest of the pack in the Q.  McGill completes their first half with a home date vs. Laval this coming Saturday in a game that starts at 5 PM ET to accommodate NBA Canada which is using the venue as a promotional tool for NBA All-Star game, complete with pre-and post-game activities that mimic the events at the NBA All-Star game slated for Toronto this season.

#2 Ottawa (15-1, 7-0) (LW #2)… Two convincing wins over #8 Western and Windsor (HM) at home solidify the Gee-Gees as a top 3 team and widen the chasm between the elite teams in Canada and the rest.  Both games this weekend were over early as reserves 6’6″ Matt Plunkett and 6’4″ Brandon Robinson went a combined 7 for 14 from 3 in Friday’s win over the Lancers and 6’3″ Medhi Tihani had a career-best 6 for 8 effort from 3 in the easy win over Western on Saturday.  Tihani also did a stellar game defending Windsor’s 6’4″ Alex Campbell as Wayne Kondro reports in the Ottawa Citizen.

#3 Carleton (12-1, 7-0) (LW #3)… Dominant efforts locking down both Western and Windsor have quickly erased the memories of a sluggish outing against Algoma and re-established the Ravens as a juggernaut national championship contender once again.  This is one of Carleton’s deepest teams in recent memory with scoring, decision-making and featured offensive players much more balanced across up to as many as 10 players.  6’6″ Ryan Ejim, 6’2″ Kaza Keene and 6’5″ Guillaume Payen-Boucard provide as much pure athletic ability as any Raven team in recent memory.

#4 Brock (12-1, 5-1) (LW#4)… Swept Lakehead with two wins, dominating the Saturday game at the new Meridian Center in St. Catharines which attracted a Brock-record crowd of 2,887.  Friday’s game in front of a sold-out crowd at Bob Davis went into OT before Badgers prevailed.  Coach Charles Kissi is trying to go deeper into his bench given early season propensity to ride his first 5 or 6.  6’1″ Nolan MacKenzie has returned from injury and combined with 6’0″ freshman Tyler Brown give Kissi two solid lead guards – Kissi played both together on Saturday.  6’5″ Dani Elgadi continues to lead the way.

#5 Ryerson (8-2, 4-1) (LW #5)… idle.  Rams game vs. U of T Varsity Blues was moved from this weekend to February 12th-14th weekend as part of NBA’s All-Star game festivities at the Direct Energy Building on the CNE grounds.  Rams squeezed through the first half amid a series of injuries to key starters 6’5″ Aaron Best, 6’8″ Adam Vol (budding starter) and 6’8″ J.P. Kambola among others.

#6 UBC (9-3, 6-2) (LW #7)… UBC gets the nod over Calgary for winning 3 of 4 on the road the past two weekends including Friday’s comfortable win during which all 11 guys who played scored at least a point and the T-Birds led by 13 with 2 1/2 minutes to go.  In Saturday’s game, UBC committed 29 fouls and allowed Dinos to shoot 46% and 50% from 3 in game where T-Birds last lead was one minute into the second quarter.  But road wins mean something especially on the first night so Calgary and UBC swap spots in my poll.

#7 Calgary (11-4, 5-3) (LW #6)…   After a tough loss on Friday night, the Dinos recovered against the team many believe to be the best in Canada West:  UBC Thunderbirds (see #6 above).   6’4″ Thomas Cooper had 31 and 10 in the loss before breaking out for 35 points in Saturday’s win during which Calgary shot 12 for 24 from downtown including 6-8 from 3 from 6’6″ sophomore wing Lars Schlueter (29 points in all).  Dinos have a single game at home vs. Alberta this Saturday to complete the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule.

#8 McMaster (9-3, 5-2) (LW HM)… Suddenly the surging Marauders have won 4 in a row and Saturday welcomed back 6’7″ Connor Gilmore who adds rim protection, rebounding and can stretch the floor (2 3’s made as part of his 14-point, 6-rebound performance).  6’4″ Rohan Boney showed no ill-affects from a recent knee injury with 18 points off the bench and Mac held Guelph to just 4 points in an 8 1/2 minute stretch of the second quarter to seal the game early.

#9 Lethbridge (9-2, 5-1) (LW HM)… Head Coach Mike Hansen has done a wonderful job with the Pronghorns and with two solid wins over perennial CW contender UVic Vikes at home, a top 10 ranking is more than reasonable.  Horns were incredibly efficient this past weekend against perennially top defensive team in Canada West; to wit:  47% and 51% from the field, only 14 turnovers on each night and 44% (17 of 39 from downtown).  6’0″ Dejon Burdeaux (22 ppg, 7.5 apg including 10 in the opener) and 6’6″ Brandon Brine (23.5 ppg over the two outings) led the way offensively.  Lethbridge’s meddle will be tested immediately after the Holidays with a pair of games at UBC followed by a pair at what will likely be a healthier-than-first-half Saskatchewan club.  Later, Horns finish their road schedule with a pair at #7 Calgary.  But this club has a tremendous opportunity to push into a CW Final 4 situation with this strong start.

#10 Dalhousie (9-3, 5-2) (LW #HM)… This spot could have gone to several other teams however Tigers won convincingly on the road in a tough place to play at X, leading by as many as 22 with another strong defensive effort.  Tigers welcomed back 6’5″ William Yengue (11 points) and my sense with this group is that it is built for post-season play with strong, experienced guards, ability to reach deep into the bench, a proven veteran scorer in Kash Lawrence and, most importantly, probably the best defending and rebounding team in the AUS; hence the ranking ahead of UPEI and Acadia.

 

Honourable Mention:

UPEI (10-6, 4-2) (LW #9)  6’3″ Tyler Scott continues to put up All-Canadian-esque offensive numbers and despite constant attention finds ways to score inside and out.  But the Panthers have a lot of work to do at the defensive end (96 and 110 pts allowed, 45% shooting including 41% from 3 allowed vs Axemen) and on the glass (18 and 16 “o” boards allowed vs. Acadia).  But definitely a team that can score in bunches; Panthers remain a favorite out east but have issues before they become a legit contender for National recognition.

Thompson Rivers (8-1, 7-1) (LW HM)… Still struggling to put this team among the Top 10 given the schedule and lack of pre-season games vs. CIS competition.  However this weekend’s pair of dominating wins vs. an albeit-undermanned (and not deep in the first place) Fraser Valley Cascades was very impressive.  Friday’s game was over by mid-way through the 3rd quarter and the following night was even more one-sided as WolfPack shot 13-26 from downtown and 53% overall, forcing 23 turnovers to win by 30 in a game that was over late in the second quarter.  6’10” center Josh Wolfram and 6’6″ forward Volodymyr Iegorov, each averaging near 22 ppg, present an imposing front line and senior guard Reese Pribilsky anchors the backcourt.  Wish they played someone good to see where they really are.  Note that Fraser Valley played without their pair of U.S. imports 6’6″ Mark Johnson and 6’6″ Nate Brown.

Out of consideration:

Concordia (9-5, 2-2) (LW:  #10)   Home loss to Bishop’s; two conference losses already including a blow-out at McGill.

Western (8-4, 3-4) (LW #8)...   Mustangs were thoroughly dominated – the numbers speak for themselves – as Western was never in either game in the Nation’s Capital and fall below .500 for the regular season.

Windsor (7-6, 4-3) (LW NR)… see Western above.

 

Lots to catch up on


The final full weekend of calendar 2015 CIS men’s basketball produced some specific upset-type results but, unfortunately for those fans seeking more parity- which the lack-thereof is a growing, common commentary across the country – several games indicated a widening gap between the very elite teams at the top of the rankings vs. the rest of the pack.

Another irregularity that is an emotion-grabbing topic during CIS hot stove discussions is the long gap between games in the first and second half.  Teams such as U of T and Ryerson have 60+ days between games, a ridiculous amount of time for the players and coaches to retain focus, not to mention fans who have no choice but to simply turn-off their attention to CIS sports.  Ever-optimistic, I continue to hold out hope that the newly-installed leadership look to address this and other issues that could grow the value of our fine product and do so while reaching out to others who have for many seasons followed and remain loyal to the game.

AUS… Wayne Kondro’s fine pre-season preview of this league expoused the theme of “parity”; Wayne even offered up that all 8 teams finishing tied at 10-10 was not beyond the realm of possibility – this theme is generally playing out in the first half.  #9 UPEI Panthers hot start at 5-0 seemed to quickly dispel that notion until this weekend in Wolfville when Acadia swept a pair from the exciting, but defensively-dismissive UPEI team.  The pair of losses leaves 3 teams tied atop the conference at 5-2 including Acadia, Dalhousie and the Panthers.  The Axemen got a superlative effort from 6’5″ fourth-year wing Kyle Arsenault who went an incredible 12 for 15 from 3 over the weekend including 6 for 7 today.  But this afternoon’s win was keyed down the stretch by 6’3″ Ben Miller (20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) who made numerous key free throws late but more importantly got into the lane and distributed using his superior court vision and passing skills to help put the game away.  Sunday’s game was as close as it was only because of the ice-water-veined 6’3″ Tyler Scott (38 points today; 31 points in Saturday’s loss), who is the best pure scorer in the league and one of Canada’s top pure offensive players.  Scott was ridiculous going to the rim and knocking down mid-range shots.  He also made a three from about 4 feet behind the line to get it to one with about 20 seconds left before Miller, who made all 9 of his free throws – many in the late going – pushed it to 3.  Acadia then doubled Scott who missed a fall-away desperation 3 from about 28 feet as time expired.  Especially when Scott and 6’6″ Bradley States are going, UPEI might be the most explosive team in the AUS however the ability of this group to defend and rebound will dictate any post-season success.  UPEI was generally dis-interested in consistently defending or rebounding this afternoon – while there were some stretches for 12-15 seconds during a possession, Acadia (29-70 from 3 = 40% for the weekend & 50% from the floor today) generally got the ball inside for easy scores or for wide open perimeter looks.  Axemen turned it over 20 times or it could have been over sooner…  Cape Breton got back to even this weekend with a sweep over visiting Memorial in a pair of 4 point games.  Unfortunately for the Seahawks, 6’9″ Vasilije Curcic missed both games.  After playing sparingly in CBU’s first 6 games, coach Matt Skinn decided to start heralded freshman sharpshooter Jack MacAulay and the move paid immediate dividends as the PEI-native had a career-high 24 points in his first career start on Friday.  MacAulay followed up on Saturday with 11 points and went 9 for 22 from 3 over the two games to help a perimeter-scoring starved Capers group to a pair of home wins… Dalhousie built leads as large as 22 points early in the fourth quarter in Antigonish in sending St. FX to their fifth loss in 6 league games.  Tigers got 20 from Jared Reid and shot 10 for 19 from 3 while holding the hosts to 36% from the floor.  UNB and Saint Mary’s split a pair of games at the Currie Center as Javon Masters had 28 and 31 in the two games.  6’8″ Osman Barrie had 36 points in Friday’s loss and followed up with 19 in Saturday’s Huskies win.  Next AUS action is 6th January 2016 when Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie continue their Battle of Halifax at Dalplex.

RSEQ… Last season’s hero 6’2″ Jon Bermillo continued his perimeter-shooting exploits with 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to lift Bishop’s to their first league win, a come-from-behind effort at Concordia as Bermillo knocked in back-to-back 3’s with about 3 minutes remaining to give the Gaiters the lead for good in a very tough place to play.  Bishop’s got their 6’6″ freshman forward Nick Harvey back from a concussion and the impressive first-year banger was instrumental in the win with 11 points and 13 rebounds off the bench and a key shot in the waning moments of the game… UQAM knocked off Laval on Friday to further jam up the “Q” standings as 4 teams have at least 2 losses in advance of next Saturday’s calendar 2015 regular season finale in Montreal as Laval visits undefeated McGill.

OUA… The chasm between the elite teams and those many thought were on the verge of challenging the elites widened considerably over the weekend as uOttawa Gee-Gees and Carleton Ravens dominated both Windsor and Western in the Nation’s Capital.  None of the 4 games were even close as last year’s opponents in the CIS national championship game re-asserted their dominance.  My top 10 will have more commentary.  Ryerson (idle until next calendar year) and Brock Badgers now appear to represent the only legitimate potential opposition to site of the Wilson Cup Final 4 not being in Ottawa again.  The Badgers overcame a buzzer-beating 3 to defeat Lakehead in OT in front of a sell-out crowd at Bob Davis on Friday before manhandling the T-Wolves the following night at the new St. Catharines Meridian Center in front of a Brock-record crowd of 2,898.  The new venue is a perfect size for this type of event and expect the Badgers to host similar events over the course of the coming seasons.  The most surprising team thus far in the entire OUA could be the 6-1 Queen’s Gaels after sweeping a pair of games in Kitchener-Waterloo despite not having arguably their best overall player 6’7″ Tanner Graham in the lineup, out with a hip injury.  Also, Gaels have been without promising 6’5″ freshman Vincent Wood but a total team effort – including solid efforts from their much-maligned group of bigs on Friday against Laurier has helped coach Steph Barrie on the path to building something potentially very special in Kingston this season.  On Friday at Laurier, Gaels took advantage of Golden Hawks post defense to pound it inside but won the game in the second half on the heels of a 6 for 10 effort from 3 after intermission.  The Hawks play an exciting brand of basketball with their talented guard tandem of 6’2″ Will Coulthard and 6’2″ freshman Simon Mitre, although both did not have their best games this weekend.  6’7″ Luke Allin is finding the range from the perimeter – more consistently delivering the scoring that most believed would be plentiful as a highly-touted recruit.  Allin has range beyond the 3, a quick release and the size to shoot over most close-outs however his progression to a dominant player will occur when he becomes more engaged on the defensive end as a rim protector and consistent, in-traffic rebounder.

Canada West… As always, Wayne Thomas at canadawesthoops.ca provides a comprehensive look at this past weekend however Manitoba (6-2) has joined UBC at the top of the Pioneer Division standings and Lethbridge remains the most pleasant surprise of the young season as the Horns swept UVic this weekend and have the league’s best record at 5-1.

 

Nice tribute to Coach Tim Kendrick and UPEI Panthers


For the first time in the Tim Kendrick coaching era, UPEI Panthers have been ranked in the Top 10 in the CIS coaches poll – *article in Charlottetown newspaper.  (CANHoops.ca poll also has UPEI at #9).  Panthers are undefeated in AUS league play and of the four losses in the pre-season two came without star guard Tyler Scott in the lineup.  UPEI travels to Wolfville this weekend – home of Kendrick and several of his players  for a pair of games against Acadia.

The Panthers have received a nice contribution from their newest guard, 5’11” pg Zach Usherwood (Coquitlam, BC – transfer/Thompson Rivers; 5.3 ppg in 2013-14) who has logged meaningful minutes at the point, helping to reduce the load for 4th year guard Lorenzo Parker.  Usherwood started both games vs. Cape Breton and had 6 assists in his debut followed up by a 12 point effort in Saturday’s game.  The energetic point guard is providing another athletic element for Coach Kendrick, especially at the defensive end.

Getting close !: Varsity Blues have reason for optimism


“45 seconds away from 3-2” is a reasonable refrain that the still-young and maturing U of T Varsity Blues can repeat to themselves over the Holidays after a promising first-half during which Toronto was “that” close to taking two games – on the road no less – against perennial Top 10 competition.  Unfortunately, youthful inexperience resulted in some lack of execution at ultra-key moments and a 1-4 OUA mark that has left a sour taste but the confidence that the Blues are “getting close”.

Injuries have played a large roll in stalling Toronto’s first-half progress as Coach John Campbell rarely had his projected rotation in place what with the early-season injury to 6’5″ Devin Johnson, one of the top players in the OUA followed by the loss to concussions of starter 6’10” Miro Jaksic and sweet shooting 6’5″ wing Nicola Paradina, who was coming off the bench.  Maybe the biggest loss, given his expected experience, savvy and mental toughness, was 6’6″ Justin Boutilier, a former AUS All-Star at Acadia who tried to come back from a major knee problem but the injury was simply too difficult to return from and Campbell’s projected quality 4 man had to retire.

Youth also has been a large contributor to inconsistency and an inability to close games and/or key possessions:  Toronto has 8 players in their first or second seasons – virtually all of who can now or eventually be counted upon for meaningful minutes, led by 6’3″ sophomore point guard Sage Usher, who is learning to be a lead guard on the fly.  6’2″ Devon Williams, a key American recruit who was teammates with Usher at Worchester Academy, gives the Blues a legitimate 3 point threat – he single-handidly got Varsity back in the game at Ryerson on the opening night of the regular season with 23 points including 7 for 15 from 3 – all 3’s after halftime.  Williams was coming off a tournament all-star performance at Carleton’s House-Laughton tournament (the diminutive guard went 6 for 9 with 26 points against Bishop’s and shot 11 for 20 from 3 from the tournament overall).  But given his youth, he has had some rough games and continues to learn what it means to defend and compete at this level.

The slick Johnson, with an array of inside and out offensive skills, missed much of the pre-season but has turned it on in league play offensively – he had 34 against Windsor which was a career-high.  His leadership abilities will get to the next level as he makes a stronger commitment at the defensive end.  6’7″ Swedish import forward Daniel Johansson has been getting more time up front in the absence of Boutilier.  6’3″ Manny Sahota competes and is a streaky shooter/offensive finisher and a solid, complementary piece to build around.  Jaksic has a chance to shine with his skill set as a big while 6’9″ freshman Nick Morris, who prepped for one season at New Hampton school after playing at Toronto Crescent, is another rising impact guy.  Crescent School is coached by former CIS player Ari Hunter (McGill) and has been producing its fair share of next-level players.

Watching this group on several occasions, it is evident that many of the basic pieces are in place and this group will grow when the young players learn about what it means to compete at this level.

I recall about 10 years ago the development of a then-reeling Western Mustangs program – led by a new Coach struggling to make the playoffs who brought in one of his first recruiting classes, ultimately led by a lightly-recruited and much-maligned (early in his career) point guard plus a decent group of young recruits that struggled in their first 2-3 years together before staying together and learning to win.  That group, led by Hamilton-native point guard Matt Curtis, grew to a Nationals contender that was one possession away from knocking off #1 Carleton in the Final 8 semi-finals in 2009.  There are noted similarities between that group and the present-day Blues; expect Toronto to keep getting better.

CIS Coach’s Top 10 Comments


CIS Coach’s Top 10 release earlier today (see below)…

I continue to believe that the CIS Top 10 coaches poll discounts/ignores? pre-season play and thus rankings do not entirely reflect the entire body of work to the extent they should – look no further than #1 ranked Ottawa which lost at home to #3 McGill – a home loss to a team that has lost only one other game:  at #5 Ryerson in their third game in 48 hours vs. a fresh Rams team.  Home losses/road wins in my opinion should be more impactful (see also below for Mac comments).  McGill should be #1 and I’ve placed them there in my ranking.

Coaches gave McMaster plenty of leeway at #7 in my opinion, despite three home losses thus far – although all setbacks came against teams above Marauders in the rankings:   #3 McGill, #4 Brock and #5 Ryerson.  As mentioned, home losses count for more in my opinion and that’s why I put Mac in Honorable Mention despite two impressive road wins against un-ranked but potentially dangerous teams (Queen’s, York) this past weekend.  Marauders get Guelph at home on Saturday afternoon.

Nice to see coaches reward UPEI which is off to a nice start with four of their five wins at home, where in the past statistics show that home cooking was of benefit to the Panthers.  However, watching this weekend’s games against Cape Breton, the officiating was definitely not bias for the home squad – multiple head-scratching calls affected both teams equally.  Panthers hit the road on the weekend for a pair in Wolfville vs. Acadia.

I have the Canada West teams ranked ahead of Western and McMaster and also believe that a team like Concordia (not ranked by the coaches; #10 in my rankings) needs to be rewarded for taking on a tough pre-season schedule on the road.  Victoria did same however was not as successful in their trip to Ontario.  Vikes played 4 of their first 6 Canada West games at home and this weekend travel to Lethbridge (7-2, 5-1) for a pair.

No CIS action until Thursday night when Saskatchewan travels to Trinity Western.

Potentially most meaningful action with regard to future rankings happens in Ottawa this weekend as coaches #1 Ottawa and coaches #2 Carleton host coaches #6 Western and HM Windsor on Friday and Saturday.  Mustangs hang in the Top 10 on the heels of their impressive win at Windsor last week but I dropped them lower than the coaches did given how one-sided Western’s loss to Ryerson was.

Trying to get to the Queen’s/Laurier game – belated Happy Birthday wishes to legendary Peter Campbell go out as he turned 29 recently – and possibly down to St. Catharines where Robert Hilson and Company are putting on what promises to be a great show at the Meridian Center on Saturday night at 7 PM.  I encourage Golden Horseshoe fans to make the trip down to the Garden City for this event which likely will continue for future events.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

(regular season record) / votes (first-place votes) / (previous ranking)

1. Ottawa (5-0) / 448 points (29) / (1)

2. Carleton (5-0) / 422 (8) / (2)

3. McGill (3-0) / 398 (10) / (3)

4. Brock (3-1) / 295 / (4)

5. Ryerson (4-1) / 280 / (5)

6. Western (3-2) / 207 / (6)

7. McMaster (4-2) / 157 / (9)

8. Calgary (4-2) / 156 / (7)

9. UPEI (5-0) / 57 / (NR)

10. UBC (5-1) / 55 / (NR)

Other teams receiving votes: Windsor (37), Victoria (33).

Articles from the weekend


McGill Tribune on Redmen strong start with several quotes from Head Coach David DeAveiro.

Wayne Kondro of Ottawa Citizen sums up Algoma’s weekend in Ottawa vs. Ravens and Gee-Gees.

Very good recap of Ryerson’s big win Friday night at Western.

Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on Huskies blowing a 6 point lead in the final minute of regulation to lose to UBC in overtime.

Victoria Times-Colonist with a story including quotes from Vikes Head Coach Craig Beaucamp in the aftermath of Calgary’s victory at Victoria on Saturday night.

Regina Leader-Post with an article on Cougars Alex Igual

Prince George Citizen article on UNBC’s rally that fell short vs. Fraser Valley 

St Catharines Standard piece on Brock Badgers weekend 

CANHoops.ca CIS Top 10 22nd November 2015


Hopefully, most/all were able to find this new site after blog.com mysteriously stopped working as the message “504 Gateway Time-out” is embedded in my brain.  I made the strategic business decision 🙂 to move to wordpress which appears much more reliable so thanks for your patience.  In the mean time, after a 72+ hour absence, the old site seems to also work but any new posts will be published here.

My take on the latest CIS Top 10 including games up to and including Sunday, 22nd November 2015.

#1 McGill (10-1, 3-0) (LW #2)…  Redmen were dominant at home against Concordia, stifling the Stingers defensively and running their offense with general precision.  Two nights later against a rested UQAM team playing at home, McGill again locked down defensively against an improving Citadins team, bouyed by the return of 6’10” 260 lbs. Rudolphe Joly, a legit 5 man who will create issues for teams.  McGill can go 11 deep and their first 9 are collectively as good as any team in the country.  Redmen have given up less than 60 ppg in winning their first 3 – their win at Ottawa and their only loss – at Ryerson by 3, their 3rd game in less than 48 hours against a fresh Rams squad solidifies their #1 ranking in my opinion.  Next game is in two weekends at home vs. Laval (Redmen are idle next weekend).

#2 Ottawa (13-1, 5-0) (LW #4)… The Gee-Gees move to #2 after hammering Algoma while Carleton struggled until very late to put away the Thunderbirds.  Ottawa welcomed back 6’6″ MacKenzie Morrison to the lineup on Saturday after the sophomore suffered a shoulder injury in August against Baylor.  The athletic Morrison should see time as the 8th or 9th man in this strong rotation.

#3 Carleton (10-1, 5-0) (LW #3)… Ravens struggled to put Algoma away, leading by only 5 points with 5 minutes left in the fourth.  6’2″ Kaza Keene remains the underlying key.  Both Carleton and Ottawa have tough, important home dates next weekend, hosting #8 Western and Windsor (Honorable Mention).

#4 Brock (10-1, 3-1) (LW#1)… Badgers gave up a comfortable lead on Saturday night in Kingston trying to close out a second consecutive win on the road but could not get it done, losing to Queen’s by 6.  Brock was whistled for 23 fouls against 12 for the hometown Gaels including taking 9 of the 10 fouls called in the pivotal fourth quarter.  Brock hosts Lakehead for a pair of games next weekend including the Saturday game at the new Meridian Center in St. Catharines where a crowd of 2,500+ is expected.

#5 Ryerson (8-2, 4-1) (LW #5)… Rams welcomed back 6’5″ Aaron Best in time for Wednesday’s loss at Windsor during which their 3 point shooting deserted them.  Ryerson rebounded to shoot 15 for 27 from three-point land and 60% from the floor overall to hammer Western on Saturday afternoon.  6’9″ J.P. Kambola missed both games – he was hurt early in Rams win over Mac about 10 days ago.  Rams remain a dangerous, potentially-explosive team.  In another of the head-scratching scheduling quirks, neither Ryerson or Toronto play another league game until the New Year. 

#6 Calgary (10-3, 4-2) (LW #9)…  Even though Dinos split on the road – losing Friday in overtime before handing UVic their first Canada West regular season loss of the season on Saturday, their early-season performance allows them to move up in my opinion.  American Thomas Cooper and Calgary native and U.S. prep school transfer David Kapinga – who missed the pair of road games last weekend at Manitoba – lead the way but this team can go 8 or 9 deep and have played two tough opponent on the road.  Calgary gets #7 UBC at home for a pair next weekend before a single game at home vs. Alberta on December 5th completes the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule.

#7 UBC (8-2, 5-1) (LW #10)… The Birds took care of business winning a pair of road games in Saskatoon against a depleted Huskies lineup.  But at 5-1 the Birds are tied for first in Canada West Pioneer? Division.  6’8″ Connor Morgan’s game-tying 3 with 2 seconds left in regulation tied Saturday’s game and another 3 by Morgan gave T-Birds the lead for good in OT.  UBC is at #6 Calgary next weekend to complete the first half.

#8 Western (8-2, 3-2) (LW #8)...   Mustangs rebounded this afternoon with a dominant home win against U of T after the sizzling #5 Ryerson Rams shot 60% including 15-27 from 3 on Friday night right in Alumni Hall against what had been a strong Western defensive team.  Those who doubt whether or not Western should be a consistent, legitimate Top 10 team this season get an opportunity for some stronger evidence as the Mustangs travel to #2 Ottawa and #3 Carleton this coming weekend.

#9 UPEI (10-4, 4-0) (LW NR)  Panthers are the only undefeated team in the AUS and come off a pair of convincing wins at home vs. Cape Breton.  Friday’s win came without the services of Atlantic Canada’s top offensive talent in 6’3″ Tyler Scott who came back off the flu to score 33 points on Saturday as Panthers completed the sweep.  What hurts the Panthers in my mind are losses to Western (down by as many as 22 points late in that game) and the neutral-court loss to Laval, although Scott was also unavailable for Rouge et Or and a pre-season OT loss to Saint Mary’s.  Panthers also lost by 12 at Concordia.  But definitely a team that can score in bunches and a favorite out east, deserving of a Top 10 ranking at this point in the season.

#10 Concordia (9-4, 2-1) (LW:  #7)   Stingers rarely threatened at McGill on Thursday night but this is a deeper, more organized group with talent 1 through 4 spots and after their strong pre-season – one of only a few teams that took to the road to challenge top competition – a spot in the Top 10 remains reasonable in my opinion.  Concordia hosts Bishop’s next Saturday afternoon at the Beehive to complete the first half.  Strong deliberation whether or not Mac, after their strong weekend (see below) should have been in this spot.

Honourable Mention:

McMaster (8-3, 4-2) (LW HM)… After a tumultuous last couple of weeks, the Marauders authored a pair of solid road wins in tough places, defending when needed and taking advantage of their smallish lineup to play in transition.  6’4″ Rohan Boney returned for both games although was noticeably affected by a left knee injury while 6’3″ Aaron Redpath had his best game of the season at Queen’s with 20 points.  6’7″ Connor Gilmore remains out while 6’2″ Adam Presutti will not return this season after a concussion injury sidelined him.  McMaster hosts arch-rival Guelph on Saturday afternoon at 3 PM to close out the first half of their OUA regular season.

Dalhousie (8-3, 4-2) (LW #6)… Extremely disappointing week for the Tigers who did not show up in their mid-week showdown with Saint Mary’s and then struggled before almost coming back at Acadia.  While Tigers were without 6’5″ William Yengue, this group should be deep enough and defend/rebound well enough to overcome his loss.

Windsor (7-4, 4-1) (LW NR)… Lancers big win over #5 Ryerson at home during which Windsor slowed down Rye’s transition game and 3 point shooting merits some consideration despite 4 losses.  Windsor also got it done late despite being on the ropes on Saturday afternoon against a valiant U of T team.  Observers will get a better look at how deserving this mention is next weekend as the Lancers travel to Ottawa for games against #3 Carleton and #2 uOttawa Gee-Gees.

Others considered:  Thompson Rivers (6-1, 5-1) LW HM,   Lethbridge (7-2, 3-1) LW HM, Victoria (7-5, 5-1).

 

Mustangs storm to early lead, defeat Varsity Blues


Mustangs got what could be a career-high 24 points from Anthony Spiridis while Greg Morrow added a tidy 19 as Western pulled away off the opening tip and was rarely challenged in an 81-56 Mustang victory at Alumni Hall this afternoon.

Blues got off to a terrible start this afternoon after yesterday’s afternoon’s heartbreaking loss at Windsor in which Toronto led by 4 with 40 seconds remaining only to lose.  Off the opening tip, U of T was just 1 for 7 with 3 turnovers, falling behind 18-4 as 6’2″ sophomore guard Jedson Tavernier had 7 points in the run to start the game.  6’6″ Devin Johnson, who continues to be U of T’s sole consistent offensive threat, had 12 consecutive points for Varsity, cutting the deficit to 7 after which Spiridis keyed a run to give Western a 40-24 halftime lead.  Tavernier, who made 7 of 12 shots from downtown in a pre-season victory over UPEI at the Cape Breton tournament, this afternoon ended a dubious streak by knocking one down from beyond the arc late in the game – the sophomore guard had missed his first 24 shots from downtown over Western’s first five OUA regular season games.

Toronto did not get closer than 15 in the second half and frustrations set in – some of which were justifiable bringing back not so fond memories of OUA West referees – as 6’3″ Sage Usher was ejected late in the game.  Johnson was very good offensively for Toronto with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 4 3’s.  However, the Mustangs isolated the 6’6″ forward defensively to some success; in general, U of T, playing their second tough road game in 24 hours, left much of what they had on the floor in Windsor.

 

UNB gains key split at Memorial


6’0″ Javon Masters had 15 of his game-high 33 point in the final 8 minutes of play as the Varsity Reds survived a furious Seahawk comeback to gain an important split of a pair of games this weekend in St. John’s with a 99-96 win.  After 6’3″ Daniel Gordon gave MUN their first lead at 72-71 with just under 8 to play, Masters went to work, getting to the rim and showing he why is regarded as one of the top guards in Canada.

UNB stormed out of the gate to lead by 13 at 19-6 as emerging swing forward Mark Matheson (15 points, 8 rebounds) had 8 in the run including a pair of 3’s.  Varsity Reds built the lead to as many as 17 late in the first half but Memorial, behind their fine pair of veteran bigs 6’9″ Vasilije Curcic (28 points, 9 rebounds) and 6’6″ Caleb Gould (22 points, 8 rebounds), came back to tie the score by the end of the third, setting up Masters heroics.

The scrappy Reds pick up what is a very important road win on Sunday afternoon.

Gaels hand Badgers first loss


Storming back from a 14 point deficit, Queen’s authored what is arguably the biggest win in Head Coach Steph Barrie’s tenure, an 87-81 win over previously-undefeated Brock Badgers in Kingston.  Reserve guard Patrick Street had 8 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter while emerging 6’7″ swing forward Tanner Graham again was clutch with 13 of his 17 points in the second half to allow Queen’s to move to 4-1 in OUA league play.  6’2″ Suhkpreet Singh, the Gaels most experienced and best overall player, was also instrumental in the win – his late free throw gave the Gaels the lead for good in a game that featured numerous lead changes – and the slick guard finished with 18 points including 12 after halftime.  In all, Gaels shot 14 for 27 from the floor in the second half including 5/12 from downtown.

6’6″ Matt Marshall had 26 points and 10 boards to lead Brock which also got 22 points and 12 boards from Dani Elgadi.  The Badgers lose their first game of the season against CIS competition.

There is one game of note in the OUA this afternoon as U of T Varsity Blues travel to London to face Western Mustangs in a game that begins at 3 PM.