Top 10 for 31st January 2016

Most of the favorites won rather easily this week – other than McMaster which lost twice up at Lakehead.

#1 Ryerson (14-2, 10-1) (LW #1)… Rams swept a pair of games this weekend against sub .500 competition in Northern Ontario, defeating Laurentian and Nipissing comfortably.  6’4″Ammanuel Diressa had another monster effort on Saturday night off the bench.  Rams retain #1 seed in the OUA and continue to be the favorite to host the OUA Wilson Cup Final 4, a circumstance that could be tested this Wednesday at home against #5 Brock.

#2 Ottawa (21-3, 11-1) (LW #2)… A pair of 30+ point games from fifth-year 6’1″ Mike L’Africain confirmed that Gee-Gees are in good hands without 6’3″ Caleb Agada.  While Queen’s hung around a bit on Friday and on Saturday Gee-Gees got off to a terrible start against the under-manned York (Lions were without 5 rotation players including 2 starters out with injuries/illness), L’Africain made sure that any thought of upset was quickly extinguished.  Agada should be ready to play in this Friday’s Capital Hoops Classic game at Canadian Tire Center against #3 Carleton.  Gee-Gees then embark on a two-game swing at #10 McMaster and at #5 Brock.

#3 Carleton (15-3, 10-2) (LW #3)… A dominant effort on Friday against York was followed by an inconsistent showing against Queen’s including allowing 6’3″ Sukhpreet Singh to score 39 on them.  The Gaels rallied from a 19 point deficit to tie the game at 69 early in the fourth before 6’2″ Kaza Keene and 6’6″ Ryan Ejim took over to engineer a 20 point win.  Capital Hoops Classic on Friday provides Ravens a chance at some redemption after their home loss to the Gee-Gees in mid-January.

#4 Calgary (19-6, 12-3) (LW #4)…   Idle this week:  Calgary, leaders in Canada West Pioneer Division, take an 8 game winning streak into this weekend’s games at home against Lethbridge (9-5).  While a playoff spot is assured, Dinos hope to clinch top spot and home floor for Canada West Final Four assuming they get there.

#5 Brock (16-2, 9-2) (LW#6)… Brock dominated visiting Guelph this past Wednesday night and now gets a shot at #1 Ryerson this coming Wednesday night in Toronto.  Badgers toughest stretch of the season continues at U of T on Saturday and then home to #3 Carleton and #2 Ottawa the following weekend.  McMaster’s pair of losses at Lakehead provides a two-game cushion atop OUA Central.

#6 UBC (15-5, 12-4) (LW #7)… T-Birds dominated in a pair of easy wins at UVic this past weekend.  In Friday night’s victory, Head Coach Kevin Hanson moved into 2nd place on the all-time list for victories in Canada West.  T-Birds have an outside shot at the #1 seed in Canada West playoffs but need Calgary to lose at least 2 of their final 5 games while UBC wins their final four games at Brandon and home against Winnipeg.

#7 Thompson Rivers (13-2, 12-2) (LW: HM)  Idle.  WolfPack lead the Explorer Division by 3 games with 6 remaining.  Second place Fraser Valley Cascades and TRU meet in two weeks in Abbotsford.

#8 Dalhousie (16-5, 10-4) (LW #9)  Tigers continue to elevate their defensive effort with another strong performance on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place against Acadia.  Dal has now won 5 of their past 6 by guarding the ball, changing defensive looks, taking care of the ball and making perimeter shots (14 of 28 from 3 last night).  6’6″ Sven Stammberger was on fire again from the perimeter last night while defensive presence pg 6’0″ Ritchie Kanza-Mata had 16 of his 23 points in the final frame when Tigers pulled away.  Dal travels to Memorial (5-9) next weekend for a pair of games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

#9 McGill (15-4, 7-3) (LW #10)…  Redmen gutted out a pair of wins vs. a young but improving Bishop’s team, finishing Saturday’s game in Lennoxville on a 17-4 run led by reserve 6’8″ center Noah Daoust, who had three 3’s down the stretch as McGill temporarily shook off a post-Holiday shooting slump that has seen Redmen shoot just 23% from downtown.  McGill hosts UQAM Thursday and then moves across town to meet Citadins on Saturday.  UQAM (5-5) is coming off a triple OT home win vs. Laval this weekend.

#10 McMaster (13-5, 9-4) (LW #5)… Giving up late double digit leads twice this weekend, the Marauders had an 8 game winning streak snapped by Manny Furtado’s Lakehead Thunderwolves in Thunder Bay.  Marauders generally struggled guarding the paint and played Saturday without 6’4″ Leon Alexander, who hurt his ankle on Friday and much of Saturday’s game without 6’3″ Rohan Boney.  Now having to play their way in to a chance for an OUA quarter-final home game, Mac has two weeks to regroup before hosting #1 Ottawa and #3 Carleton in Hamilton during the weekend of February 12th and 13th.

Honorable Mention:  

HM UPEI (18-9, 10-4) (LW #HM)  Panthers got a split this weekend at Cape Breton, bouncing back with a 19 point win earlier today behind 6’6″ Brad States who had 29 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists including 2 of 5 from 3.  The explosive forward continues to author a 1st Team All-AUS type season.  Panthers are now two points behind Dal in the case for the AUS regular season title with 4 of their last 6 games away from home.  Panthers have 2 more road games next weekend at last place St. FX in Antigonish.


Manitoba (15-10, 11-5) (LW #HM),

Lethbridge (14-7, 9-5) (LW #HM).


Canada West: Bisons, Horns, T-Birds, Wesmen sweep

A bit more clarity became evident in the Canada West playoff picture this past weekend as the 4 impactful home-and-home series all resulted in somewhat-decisive sweeps and it appears that now 5 teams have comfortable holds on playoff spots, leaving four teams (Regina, Alberta, Victoria and Saskatchewan) battling for the final two spots.

At the top of the standings, Manitoba impressively finished their weekend sweep against Regina with a 77-63 win as 6’4″ Keith Omoerah (12 points, 18 rebounds last night) continues to flash his all-round game down the stretch and 6’6″ Jonathan Alexander, always a high potential paint-area player, starts to fulfill that promise.  Inserted into the starting lineup as Manitoba played without CW rebounding leader Wyatt Anders, the athletic forward had a 12 point, 10 rebound double-double including 6 on the “o” glass and has scored in double figures in the past 3 games – all Bison victories.  At 11-5 with games remaining against Winnipeg (home and home) and at last place Trinity Western, Bisons should get a first round bye and control their own destiny for the home court advantage in a CW quarter-final series.  The Cougars (8-6) have an ultra-important home series with Victoria (7-9) next weekend before finishing at Calgary and home against Saskatchewan.

UBC dominated the Vikes, sending last season’s CW champions and CIS semi-final participants to their 9th loss in their past 11 league games.  Vic can still make it to 11 wins by sweeping Regina next weekend and then Brandon at home in three weeks.

Winnipeg swept Saskatchewan, pulling away late yesterday afternoon behind Denzel Lynch-Blair but the Huskies remain alive – albeit barely – having to win all of their last 6 remaining games:  home series against Brandon (1-13) and Alberta (7-8) followed by a pair at provincial-rival Regina to complete the regular season.  If Sask can get to 10 wins, Huskies would likely have to have a favorable tie-breaker scenario.  As Rocco advised Michael Corleone in Godfather Part II “difficult, but not impossible”.

Lethbridge also controls their own destiny as Jared Baker shook off what has been a tough stretch offensively to allow the Horns to pull away from the fleeting Alberta Golden Bears.  Horns (9-5) hit a tough stretch, travelling to first-place Calgary next weekend followed by a trip to Winnipeg for a pair against the 9-5 Wesmen but still can reasonably get to 11 wins – which should be good enough for a playoff spot – as they finish at home with a pair against Trinity Western.

The Wesmen, also 9-5, coming off their pair of gritty home wins against Saskatchewan, have a tough finish:  home-and-home vs. 11-5 Manitoba, home to Lethbridge for a pair before winding up the regular season at UBC for a pair.

It appears that 11 wins should get it done as far as making the playoffs with both Lethbridge and Winnipeg having good visibility of reaching that figure.  That would leave Regina, Alberta, Victoria and Saskatchewan fighting for the final 2 spots with possibly one team with 10 wins sneaking in.

Important matchups to watch next week include:  Winnipeg/Manitoba home-and-home; Vic at Regina and Lethbridge at Calgary with UBC idle.

AUS: Defense lifts Tigers to first-place

In last night’s second of two AUS showcase Varsity Challenge men’s basketball games at the newly-renovated Canadian Tire Center in Halifax (there were 4 games overall:  two men’s and two women’s), Dalhousie Tigers again showed that their group is the most dedicated to the defensive end in the entire AUS, forcing 22 Acadia turnovers and handling the glass in an 87-68 win before what looked like at least 2,000 or more fans on a weather-influenced day in Halifax.

Unlike the first game between X and Saint Mary’s during which very few 3’s were even attempted (6 for 18 between the two teams), both Dal and Acadia started on fire from downtown, undeterred by the arena-influenced shooting backdrop.  The first 5 makes of the game were all from beyond the arc and teams combined for 7 threes made in the first quarter alone.  Reserve shooting guard Sean Dodds had 8 consecutive points off the bench including a pair of 3’s, breaking a 13-13 tie to give Tigers the lead for good.  6’6″ Sven Stammberger continues to grow in confidence as an offensive talent, knocking in the first 2 3’s of the game for Dal and finishing with 16 points and 7 boards.  In total, Dalhousie finished 12 for 24 from downtown for the game in a solid performance.

Once again, 6’3″ Ben Miller was the orchestrator for the Axemen, however, in my opinion, on a national-championship calibre team, Miller’s true value would be as a wing-oriented decision maker playing off more of a true point guard.  With this Acadia group, Miller is required to bring the ball up, start the offense and make key offensive decisions late in the clock.  Dal tested all those talents last night and the results were fruitful as Miller, despite scoring 16 points and doling out 5 assists, was charged with 7 turnovers, including several during a key second quarter run when 5’11” Ritchie Kanza-Mata and friends turned up the ball pressure in the half court.

Kanza-Mata, who led all scorers with 23 points, had 16 in the final period including three 3’s in a minute and a half stretch that ballooned the lead to 20 with under 3 minutes to play.  The diminutive point guard from Scarborough has ramped up his play, especially on the defensive end, and the Tigers are once again poised for a run at the AUS crown, built on their defense, rebounding and solid perimeter shooting.

In Sydney, Cape Breton put a crimp on UPEI’s first-place and Top 10 ranking plans with a convincing 77-63 win at home.  This game was delayed by 24 hours due to inclement weather on the East coast and could have played havoc with the travelling Panthers.  Referees kept a tight lid on this game, whistling 29 fouls combined in the first half alone (15 against Panthers, 14 against CBU) and neither team shot it well from 3 (combined 8 for 38) as 6’5″ Kenny Jean-Louis had 21 points and 8 rebounds while fifth-year 6’6″ forward Meshack Lufile had a 14-point, 12-rebound double/double.  AUS POY candidate 6’2″ Tyler Scott suffered through a miserable 5 for 23 night from the floor including 0-6 from 3 as Cape Breton led by as many as 20.  It could have been worse for the Capers, who won easily despite 27 turnovers and 17 offensive rebounds allowed – however Panthers shot just 25% from the floor.  The teams meet again this afternoon.

Finally, 6’1″ Javon Masters went off for 34 points while underrated, scrappy 5’9″ pg Matt Daley set the table with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists as UNB defeated visiting MUN 108-90 despite 30 points and 10 rebounds from d.  The UNB guards dominated as Seahawks starting pg Davion Parnsalu finished with just 2 points on 0-8 shooting in 28 minutes.  The game was decided midway through the third when Varsity Reds authored a 19-2 run during which Masters scored 12 points including a pair of 3’s and dunk.  The teams meet again today in Fredericton.



RSEQ: Daoust rescues Redmen; Citadins win in 3 OT’s

6’8″ sophomore Noah Daoust scored all of his team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter, propelling the cold-shooting lacklustre McGill Redmen to a sweep of their weekend series with Bishop’s, winning 76-63 in Lennoxville.  The smooth-shooting big got free from beyond the arc, knocking down 3 3’s when it appeared that the scrappy Gaiters may be poised for the upset.  Redmen also locked down defensively, holding Bishop’s without a field goal for about a 7 minute stretch, allowing only 7 points in the fourth after entering the final frame trailing by 1.

McGill’s perimeter shooting woes continued as Redmen made only 3 of their first 17 from downtown despite several wide-open looks before Daoust, who played only 13 minutes, got it going against a Gaiters match-up zone that continues to confound McGill.  Redmen pair of veteran go-to guards, 6’2″ Dele Ogundokun and 6’1″ Jenning Leung combined to shoot just 6 for 18 including 0-5 from 3 but 6’3″ Tychon Carter-Newman was active all night with 13 points and McGill, again playing without reigning RSEQ POY Francois Bourque, got a wonderful effort from little-used 6’10” freshman Michael Richard, who was a perfect 4-4 nside and finished with 8 points in a tidy performance.

The young and rapidly maturing Gaiters continue to play hard although McGill’s active athletes helped force 23 Bishop’s turnovers.  Still Bishop’s gave McGill problems inside as 6’5″ sophomore David Belanger got free to lead all scorers with 17 poits on 8-11 shooting while my favorite for Quebec freshman of the year Abdul Kamane had 15 points and 9 rebounds, consistently putting pressure on Redmen defenders with his creative slashes to the rim.  6’0″ Jonathan Bermillo was largely controlled, save for a third quarter stretch when he knocked down consecutive 3’s including a beautiful shot-fake, step-back from the left wing that gave Bishop’s their largest lead at 5 points.  Bermillo had 12 points, 3 assists and 6 turnovers.

Leung shot just 4 for 11 but did have 8 assists against just 1 turnover with 9 points while Ogundokun played all 40 minutes, scoring 10 points, adding 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

In what was arguably the most exciting game this season in the Q, UQAM Citadins outlasted Laval 98-97 in 3 Overtimes behind 28 points for Greishe Clerjuste – 13 in the overtimes.  6’1″ Kewyn Blain had 21 points, 13 assists and 6 rebounds offsetting a 38 point effort from Alexandre Leclerc.

RSEQ Standings:

McGill 7-3

Concordia 6-4

Laval 6-6

UQAM 5-5

Bishop’s 2-8

The Gaiters are now 3 games out of the final playoff spot in the “Q” with just 6 games remaining in the regular season.  Next week the Gaiters have a home-and-home with Concordia, where they won before Christmas on the road while McGill takes on UQAM in a home-and-home.  McGill clinches a spot in the RSEQ Final 4 – to be held at McGill – with one victory or one loss by Bishop’s.

Robichaud defeats Mac again !

For the second consecutive night, 6’3″ Alexandre Robichaud had the winning basket in the final moments, this time knocking down a three with under 10 seconds to play as Lakehead staged a second consecutive dramatic comeback, sweeping #5 McMaster Marauders with a 74-72 victory before another sell-out crowd at the Thunderdome.

We have been critical of the on-the-edge play of the veteran wing – as the Lakehead announcers properly cited this evening “he puts his body on the line on every possession” – but this weekend’s pair of clutch performances are worthy of praise.  Robichaud finished with 16 points – the game-deciding three he made at the end was his only basket after halftime.

Down 10 with just 3 minutes remaining, 6’0″ Henry Tan (19 points, 5 assists) got going for the Wolves with 3 consecutive hoops and then 6’5″ Bakarius Dinkins (19 points, 6 rebounds) got it back to a one-point game with an “and 1”.  Lakehead held on the next possession, setting up Robichaud’s heroics.

For the second consecutive night, the Marauders could not close and are now unlikely to hold their own destiny to be in a position to host an OUA quarter-final playoff game with now 4 losses on the season.

In other OUA action… #1 Ryerson pounded Nipissing 97-68 behind 30 points from emerging All-Canadian candidate 6’4″ Ammanuel Diressa.  #2 Ottawa shook off a lacklustre first half, outscoring York 54-27 in the second half of a 91-61 victory over the Lions as 6’1″ Mike L’Africain had 31 points.  #3 Carleton won at home, defeating a valiant Queen’s Gaels group 99-81 despite a career high 39 points for Gaels star wing Sukhpreet Singh.  After trailing by 19 early in the third quarter, Queen’s came all the way back to tie the game at 69 behind 17 third quarter points from Singh.  Ravens then finished the game on a 30-10 run, led by 6’2″ Kaza Keene‘s near triple-double (20 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists).  6’6″ Ryan Ejim had 12 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to help lead the comeback.  Also Laurentian won at home 75-74 over U of T Varsity Blues and Guelph hammered Algoma in the Soo.  This afternoon Western defeated Laurier 70-61 behind another 30 point game for Greg Morrow while Windsor defeated Waterloo.


AUS: Saint Mary’s knocks off X at SBP

In a game played at the newly-renovated Scotiabank Place – what most oldtimers know as the Halifax Metro Center – Saint Mary’s came from down 7 early to win comfortably over long-time rival St. FX 82-69, earning the Huskies a valuable four points in their quest for the AUS tournament.  SMU is now 5-7 on the season with 12 points, moving into a tie with Memorial for the sixth and final spot in the AUS tournament set-up.

The downtown Halifax venue, site of numerous story-book CIS games over the decades, has been refurbished with modern seats and looks tremendous – many across the country are pleased that Halifax once again will be hosting the Final 8 next season.  Saint Mary’s, which got 22 from do-everything 6’3″ wing Brian Rouse and a double double from 6’8″ Osman Barrie (13 points, 15 rebounds) once again played without spark-plug point guard Marquis Clayton.

X, which drops to 1-12 and very likely will miss the AUS tournament for the second consecutive season, did break out to an early lead on the heels of a pair of 3’s by 6’2″ lefty Julius Antoine and looked to establish their inside game with 6’8″ Kevin Bercy and 6’7″ Cameron Walker, jumping out to a 28-21 lead early in the second quarter.  X built their lead on some forced turnovers as their defense got them some scores and the resulting momentum seemed to energize the X-Men, desperate for a win.  Unfortunately both Antoine and Bercy picked up their second fouls, forcing X coach Steve Konchalski to go to his bench late in the quarter and the results offensively were mixed.  X-Men scored just 4 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the half and allowed Saint Mary’s multiple easy transition scores.

When X was able to keep the game in the quarter court, their switching “d” – from 3/2 zone to man and back – kept Huskies off balance.  But an inability to knock down open looks, some careless turnovers and poor transition “d” allowed SMU back in the game, led primarily by Rouse, one of the better all-round talents in the AUS.

X did mount one run in the fourth quarter, getting the game back to within 5 however Rouse and 6’5″ Theon Reefer took over, with Reefer catching one on the break and hammering home a two-handed dunk which sealed the deal.  Tempers flared toward the end of the game with some needless pushing and shoving – Reefer and Antoine both picked up their 5th fouls in the exchange as X especially released some emotion in what has been a very trying season in Antigonish.  Walker led the way for the X-Men with 23 points.

Other AUS games this weekend:

MUN at UNB (tonight and tomorrow afternoon)

Acadia at Dalhousie

UPEI at Cape Breton (tonight and tomorrow afternoon)

Brine’s magical third quarter leads Horns to route of Golden Bears


In a recent “guest” post here on this site on the topic of first-half-of-the-season Canada West all-stars, some eyebrows were likely raised upon first glance of the First Team, which included Lethbridge’s 6’6″ Brandon Brine.  For the doubters, consider that post somewhat of a foreshadowing as the athletic forward from Australia painted a career-night portrait, especially in the third quarter of last night’s 91-63 Pronghorn shellacking of visiting Alberta Golden Bears.

Breaking open what was a 1 point game at halftime, Brine knocked down three 3’s as part of a 19-point performance in the third quarter alone, finishing with a career-high 37 points (7 of 9 from downtown) and 6 rebounds in only 22 minutes.  6’1″ Dejon Bordeaux, questionable in the pre-game because of a series of nagging injuries, led the way defensively, creating numerous turnovers (8 steals) as Lethbridge selectively trapped out of their zone, adding 10 points and 8 rebounds in a near triple-double.

6’6″ Lyndon Annetts was the catalyst in keeping Alberta close for the first 20 minutes, scoring 18 of 20 before halftime including 4 of 7 3’s but Horns big third quarter allowed both coaches to rest all key starters early in anticipation of tonight’s important second game between the two teams in what becomes an almost “must win” for Coach Barnaby Craddock’s Golden Bears.

Brine’s journey to Southern Alberta is an interesting tale and with the Horns now comfortably in a playoff spot there appears much more to be done.

Congratulations to UBC Head Coach Kevin Hanson who, after last night’s 79-51 route of the UVic Vikes in Victoria is now 2nd on the Canada West career coaching victories list.  T-Birds broke open an early 23 all tie with 4 players in double figures, dominating the glass (45-26) while holding Vikes to just 2 for 18 from downtown.

After the game, Hanson was appreciative during an interview with UBC Sports Info:  “It is a special moment and coming over here I had a bit of mixed emotions,” said UBC’s bench boss on surpassing Vetrie’s record of all-time wins. “I had a lot of respect for Guy Vetrie. He was a great coach, friend and person. It’s a piece of history that I really appreciate. I also want to recognize the coaches and players that have played for me and coached with me over the last 15 and a half years. It’s been a pretty special ride and hopefully it keeps continuing for more years.

Manitoba Bisons held off a late Regina comeback in an important 89-82 with that keeps Bisons within striking distance of first place at 10-5 (see Canada West standings below).  6’0″ A.J. Basi had 27 points in the win including 5 for 10 from downtown while the player who potentially could be a catalyst to Manitoba’s chances for a Canada West crown, 6’4″ Keith Omoerah flashed his all-round abilities with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists.  Bisons held Cougars star wing Jonathan Tull to just 8 points on 0-7 shooting but as the Regina Leader-Post reports Tull has delivered for Regina.  The teams meet again this evening beginning at 6 PM Central Time.

Winnipeg fortified their playoff hopes despite giving up a big lead before defeating visiting Saskatchewan 81-77 as Denzel Lynch-Blair had 22 points in the victory.

Canada West Standings after last night’s games:

#4 Calgary 12-3

#7 UBC 11-4

Manitoba 10-5

Lethbridge 8-5

Winnipeg 8-5

Regina 8-5

Alberta 7-7


Victoria 7-8

Saskatchewan 4-9

Brandon 1-12

Trinity Western 0-13

If the playoffs were to begin today, both of the Canada West championship game participants and CIS Final 8 representatives from last season (UVic and Saskatchewan) would be eliminated from this post-season.


OUA Tonight: T-Wolves shock Marauders with 2nd half comeback

In Thunder Bay, The T-Wolves came from double digits down, ending the game on a 14-2 run and taking the lead on a basket by 6’2″ Alex Robichaud in the final minute to defeat #5 McMaster 73-67, ending the Marauders 8 game winning streak in the first of two games this weekend at the Thunderdome.  6’5″ Bakarius Dinkins generally had his way in the paint against a porous Mac inside “d”, scoring 14 of his game-high 27 points and adding 15 rebounds (10 in the second half) despite missing much of the first half with 3 fouls and battling foul trouble all night.

Lakehead, which outrebounded the Marauders 44-34 also got a strong second-half offensive effort inside from 6’11” Jack Bull as the Australian had 6 points and 7 rebounds that include a two-handed dunk off a sweet pick-and-roll with 6’0″ lefty facilitator Henry Tan.  Marauders had a chance to tie the game when, down 3 and 14 seconds left, 6’7″ Connor Gilmore missed a long 3 from the right wing.  Dinkins grabbed a big in-traffic rebound and Lakehead iced the game on the line.

Marauders appeared to be pulling away, taking a 12 point halftime lead, keyed by a 12-5 run to end the first half after Dinkins hit the bench with his 3rd foul. Up to then, Dinkins (13 points, 5 rebounds) was the story inside, keeping his team to within 4 at 30-26.  Marauders maintained leads between 8 and 12 before Lakehead stiffened their ball “d”, not allowing dribble penetration and contested Mac shots stopped falling.

Lakehead coach Manny Furtado did a fine job tonight finding the right match-ups and his scrappy team really only has two very good players in Dinkins and 6’0″ lefty guard Henry Tam.  The talent level drops off somewhat after that although the Wolves do have a couple of decent shooters off the bench in Brandon Persaud and Kache Kopec who can knock down open looks with some measure of consistency.  However neither can create their own shot and need Tam to create on their behalf.  U of T transfer Nick Burke adds an element of athleticism while veteran Robichaud continues his chippy, on-the-edge antics although if his second foul of the game in the second quarter is an indicator, referees are getting wise to his work off the ball.  Robichaud’s two-handed push on Mac’s Leon Alexander during a rebound opportunity was quickly flagged to theatrical disbelief from Robichaud.  Still, Robichaud was instrumental in tonight’s win down the stretch, scoring the go-ahead bucket with just under a minute to play and also knocking down his only 3 early in the fourth to help build momentum; he finished 3-12 overall including 1-7 from downtown, 9 points, 9 rebounds.  The scrappy native Thunder Bay-ite remains a reliable third at the top of Lakehead’s rotation.

Alexander showed his perimeter shooting skill set, going a perfect 3 for 3 from beyond the arc in the first but was relatively silent down the stretch tonight while Gilmore, who also had a big first half, struggled down the stretch with some tough takes to the rim; he finished just 5 for 14 from the field.

The teams meet again tomorrow night in Thunder Bay.

In Ottawa at the Raven’s Nest, the York Lions unleashed a somewhat-bizarre look with their traditional road red jerseys combined with their home white trunks.  The sunglasses-inducing uniform combination provided little relief as #3 Carleton dominated a Lion team 96-53 that dressed only 10 players and did not have starting pg 6’3″ Shane Reader, oft-injured 6’5″ athlete-extraordinaire Daniel Tulloch, valuable 6’3″ reserve guard Gene Spagnuolo, 6’2″ Raheem Isaac or 6’1″ Tristan Newman in the lineup.  Carleton made 11 of their first 15 threes in the game to effectively decide it by late in the first quarter against the depleted Lions who are struggling to maintain a battle for a playoff spot.  6’3″ Gavin Resch went 6 for 10 from downtown to lead Ravens with 20 points.  Carleton created 23 York turnovers against only 8 for the home side.

#2 Ottawa got a near triple-double from 6’1″ Mike L’Africain as the Gee-Gees steadily pulled away for an easy 76-60 win over Queen’s at Montpetit Hall.  Still without 6’3″ Caleb Agada in the lineup, L’Africain has taken up much of the offensive slack, scoring a season-high 30 points tonight and adding 7 boards and 7 assists.  uOttawa’s two-headed “5”man package of 6’8″ Nathan McCarthy and 6’7″ Brody Maracle combined for 29 points and 9 rebounds on 13 of 18 shooting from the floor.

#1 Ryerson took a big early lead and cruised at Laurentian, winning 86-62 as 6’5″ Aaron Best led 5 players in double figures with 19 points and 6 boards.  6’8″ Kadeem Green went a perfect 6 for 6 off the bench in the win.

AUS game scheduled in Sydney between UPEI Panthers and Cape Breton was postponed until Sunday afternoon at 4 PM Atlantic Time due to inclement weather out East.  The teams will play their regularly scheduled fixture tomorrow night at CBU also.  Thus, a rare Friday off night for all teams in the AUS this evening.

Match-ups involving Top 10 teams this weekend

#1 Ryerson (12-2, 8-1)…  At Laurentian tonight and at Nipissing tomorrow.  Ben Avery can be a tough place to play and Rye could experience some level of hang-over after their big weekend but expect Rams to sweep ahead of their big home game this coming Wednesday night vs. #6 Brock.

#2 Ottawa (19-3, 9-1)… Gee-Gees host Queen’s tonight and York tomorrow night.  Lions have already made one trip to Ottawa this season for the Jack Donohue Memorial Tip-off at uOttawa, losing 3 games including a double digit loss to the host Gee-Gees which was a very good, close game through 3 quarters.  Gaels and Gee-Gees met previously at Queen’s pre-season tournament with tournament MVP Brody Maracle going off in Ottawa’s easy win.

#3 Carleton (13-3, 8-2)… Ravens host an athletic York side this evening and then a contrast in styles with Queen’s tomorrow night.  Ravens and Gee-Gees are expected to sweep their games this weekend ahead of next Friday’s Capital Hoops Classic, expected to draw over 10,000 fans to the Canadian Tire Center in Kanata.

#4 Calgary (17-6, 12-3)… Idle this weekend getting prepared to host Lethbridge next weekend.  The Horns entertain Alberta Golden Bears hoping to have Dejon Burdeaux back in the line up after dealing with injuries.  Bears have not had 6’2″ freshman Dwan Williams, from Toronto Oakwood, in the lineup since before the Holiday break, out with a wrist injury.

#5 McMaster (13-3, 9-2)… Marauders make the trip to the Thunderdome in Thunder Bay for a pair of games Friday and Saturday against the spunky Lakehead T-Wolves.  Long-time former Marauder coaching staff member and current Lakehead coach Manny Furtado, a Hamilton native, goes up against his old team and boss for a couple of seasons in Mac coach Amos Connolly.  Mac is flying, having won 8 in a row, all by double digits.  Lakehead, which has played just 1 (one) game since before Christmas and will play only 3 games total in January, after this weekend will play 8 games in the span of 23 days to complete their regular season schedule in what is simply a ridiculous set-up.

#6 Brock (15-2, 8-2)… Idle this weekend and next plays at #1 Ryerson this coming Wednesday in Toronto.

#7 UBC (13-5, 10-4)… T-Birds travel to Victoria to take on their long-time, bitter arch rival Vikes as UBC Head Coach Kevin Hanson looks to move into second place on the Canada West coaches all-time conference wins list ahead of the late Guy Vetrie with a view to catch all-time leader Don Horwood.  Vikes need wins to fortify their hopes for a playoff spot and potential home series in either the opening round or quarter-final.  Vic is currently 7-7 in the 7th and final playoff spot in the Pioneer Division of Canada West.

#8 Thompson Rivers (13-2, 12-2)… WolfPack, along with the entire Explorer Division, is off this weekend.  TRU has a three-game lead over 2nd place Fraser Valley.  Pack and Cascades meet in two weeks in Abbotsford after TRU swept UFV in Kamloops before Christmas.  Thompson Rivers could clinch first place in their conference after those games.

#9 Dalhousie (15-5, 9-4)… Tigers host third-place Acadia on Saturday in a four-point game at DalPlex which should go a long way to determining the top two seeds in the AUS tournament.  Axemen Shaquille Smith finished a fast break lay-up that just beat the buzzer to lift Acadia to a two-point win at home over Dal in the only other AUS regular season meeting between the 2 teams.

#10 McGill (14-4, 6-3)… Redmen looked sluggish offensively again last night’s at home vs. Bishop’s but did break a three-game losing streak, using pressure “d” to push the tempo and win rather easily.  The team’s meet again Saturday night in Lennoxville in the second of a home-and-home.

Other important games this weekend:

Memorial (5-7) at UNB (6-6) (Saturday night and Sunday afternoon)… Both teams are presently in playoff spots but a sweep either way would put the losing side in potential precarious positions.

Regina (8-4) at Manitoba (9-5) (Friday and Saturday at 6 PM CT)… Both teams can push into a top 3 spot in CW with a sweep – appealing given a finish in those spots would give teams the home court advantage in Best-of-3 CW quarter-finals.

Alberta (7-6) at Lethbridge (7-5)… Alberta is currently in 8th spot and out of a playoff position in Canada West so at least one win on the road is critical this weekend.  Expect near-sell out crowds in Lethbridge which means >1,000 fans hopefully.



Hanson looks to move up CW ladder


Coming into a rivalry weekend when second-place UBC visits Victoria for a pair of games, long-time Thunderbirds Head Coach Kevin Hanson looks to move up the Canada West career coaching wins ladder.  Now in his 15th season, Hanson has tied former Vikes Head Coach, the late Guy Vetrie, for second place on the list each with 245 regular season wins.  With a win this weekend -ironically both games are in Victoria – Hanson would take sole possession of 2nd on the list.  The legendary Alberta Golden Bears skipper Don Horwood is the career leader at 313 wins in 26 seasons.  Other active coaches on the Canada West list include:

Craig Beaucamp, Victoria:  186 wins in 13 seasons

Dan Vanhooren, Calgary: 184 wins in 16 seasons

Scott Clark, Simon Fraser/Thompson Rivers:  167 wins in 16 seasons

Barnaby Craddock, Brandon/Fraser Valley/Alberta:  138 wins in 11 seasons.