One of Canada’s most storied basketball programs – with National championships, multiple Wilson Cup wins and Final 8 appearances in the past 25 or so years – Western Mustangs have gone through a longer-than-expected dry spell with regard to National status. Indeed, it has been going on 7 seasons since the Mustangs were definitive Nationals contenders: recall that Western, led by guard Matt Curtis, had Carleton Ravens dead-to-rights in the 2009 National semi-finals before Ravens Stu Turnbull hit an elbow jumper as the buzzer sounded propelling the Ravens to what turned out to be their 6th title – Carleton defeated UBC the next afternoon in Ottawa. Western has struggled by their standards since that game… until now.
The Mustangs have their swagger back, even after last season’s home playoff upset loss at the hands of Laurier. With All-Canadian candidate 6’3″ Greg Morrow leading the way, Western is back in the Top 10 and fresh off a resounding road win at Windsor, full off confidence as they host Ryerson Rams this evening in London.
“We’re playing pretty well right now,” Head Coach Brad Campbell told Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press (full article link below). “We’re pretty tough. We have a nice veteran core of guys. We have more depth than we had before. We’re also taking care of a lot of the details a little bit better.
“The biggest thing is our defence. It has been outstanding so far.”
“With the growth of this core group what we really have is a growth of understanding on ways to win. It’s the old cliché that good teams are going to find ways to win,” Campbell said.
“Whether pushing it or winning it with defence when we have to, we have a specific style of play. Other teams used to be able to take us out of it and now more often, we are able to impose that style on other teams.”
Western’s depth was helped by the return of 6’5″ Peter Scholtes who, after a year away to concentrate on academics, gives them an inside presence. As well, guards Alex Coote and Jedson Tavernier help spread the floor when they are making shots.
But Campbell cites Morrow justifiably as the focal point, something everyone in the CIS recognizes.
“He’s unbelievable,” Campbell said. “He’s one of the best in the country. He is as good as his stat line and makes an impact everywhere. He’s shooing 61 per cent in three league games and it’s high percentage shots that he takes. He makes great decisions with the ball. He’s someone who is a difficult matchup and he’s unselfish.”
Morrow is leading the OUA in scoring and is third in the CIS with 29 points a game. He’s averaged four assists and nine rebounds while playing 37 minutes a game.
“Honestly, I kind of am surprised at how it’s gone and how much I’ve improved,” Morrow said. “I’ve always just loved kind of playing basketball and working out. It’s good to know I can compete with guys who are at the top level. My confidence is pretty high right now.
The athletic Rams, especially with the return of 6’5″ Aaron Best who came off the bench for Ryerson in Wednesday’s loss at Windsor, presents another challenge for Western and expect this game to be a contrast of styles with Rams wanting to push the tempo at every opportunity vs. the comparatively grinding, defensive oriented Stangs who want to play through Morrow virtually every time down.
The entire article can be viewed at http://www.lfpress.com/2015/11/19/mustang-men-start-strong
Another piece on the Mustangs from the Western Gazette