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.
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.