Other weekend thoughts

Our first installment summarizing the first week of the season focused on the more successful, positive outcomes from the weekend.  There were also instances in which teams had certain issues exposed that should help coaches tweak and/or revamp plans.  Our site had reigning RSEQ champions McGill in the Top 10 and certainly most believed that the Redmen were the pre-tournament favorites at the Guy Vetrie Memorial in Victoria.  McMaster Marauders had other ideas, almost immediately exposing McGill’s two freshman, 6’0″ Kendrick Jolin and 6’2″ Greg Trahan, that Coach Dave DeAveiro and staff are hoping can round into top flight lead guards.  It was clear from almost the beginning that 6’2″ David McCulloch had other ideas as he had his way with the McGill back court, forcing the Redmen to play 6’2″ Jenning Leung back at the point rather than as a wing/shooter where he is probably best suited.  Redmen were also pushed around on the glass by a Marauder group that got to more loose balls and simply played harder than the Quebec league champions.  McGill will very likely need to find an able point guard plus a rim protector/rebounder to compete with their rapidly improving competition in Quebec… Concordia Stingers altered their starting lineup in what turned out to be an easy win over the reeling Queen’s Gaels, inserting second-year 6’7″ forward Ahmadu-Tijani Umar into the first 5 – for now replacing veteran 6’5″ bruiser Michael Fosu who came off the bench – as well as touted perimeter shooter Nicky Noble.  Noble went 4-10 from three and Head Coach Rastko Popovic, himself an able 3 point shooter during his Stingers playing career, clearly is looking to address a critical area of concern from last year – consistently making perimeter shots.  Highly-touted NCAA Division 1 recruit 6’8″ Malcolm Henderson (transfer Cal St. Fullerton) played only 7 minutes as he eases his way into the rotation as Stingers suddenly have a higher-end paint presence to go with better shooting wings.  Another touted freshman, 6’7″ stretch 4 Olivier Simon, battled foul trouble and played just 12 minutes off the bench.  Stingers host their Concordia Classic this weekend with a Sunday afternoon meeting with consensus Top 10 Brock Badgers looming… Speaking of the Gaels, Coach Steph Barrie, who took his team to within one possession of knocking off uOttawa Gee-Gees in the playoffs last season, is working to integrate several new faces that have added some athleticism and, potentially, an ability to play at a higher tempo.  With two lackluster performances in Montreal, Gaels appear to have some work to do to find their desired rotation going forward.  With the return of 4 starters, Barrie was optimistic however currently 6’11” Mike Shoveller and emerging 6’3″ combo guard Vincent Wood are nursing injuries and like many Barrie is looking to find depth at the point guard spot.  Add in slow starts from expected quality-contributors 6’3″ Sukh Singh and 6’6″ Tanner Graham and Queen’s is a bit of a disappointment thus far at 0-2.  York transfer 6’3″ Richard Iheadindu, who when right should help Queen’s be more creative defensively and run more, struggled scoring on the weekend and 6’5″ Harry Range, while a high-potential freshman, ran into foul trouble and like virtually all freshman will need more work on the defensive end before he can be counted on for major, top-end minutes.  At the point, the staff is very high on the long-term viability of 6’1″ freshman Kris Rotterman (Burlington Assumption), who flew under the recruiting radar and could be a diamond-in-the-rough who can initially share minutes with diminutive 5’10” guard Sammy Ayisi for the Gaels.    Gaels influx of talent is meaningful and time should help integrate the new faces and produce the style of play most comfortable for the coaches.  Gaels host the Frank Tindall Memorial tournament next weekend with uOttawa, Memorial and Alberta Golden Bears from Canada West, offering one of the better fields in the pre-season… Another team facing a challenging integration of new talent is Brent Baker’s UNB Varsity Reds who this past weekend had a chance to evaluate their large volume of new talent without AUS POY candidate Javon Masters, who sat out with a minor arm injury.  The Reds new lineup had little trouble scoring however struggled with fouls – Reds over the 3 tournament games averaged 30 fouls committed and gave up averaged 34 free throws per game, showing that defensively Baker has some work to do.  UNB showed at least 7 new faces this past weekend including a pair of guards who, when teamed with Masters, will try to offset the loss of 5’8″ glue-guy Matt Daley.  6’2″ La Cite transfer Hess Mayele looks like he will emerge as a productive combo guard who can slash to the rim to score or pass (averaged over 7 assists per game on the weekend) but probably will play off the ball more – he turned it over 16 times in the first two games alone.  Fellow newcomer 6’0″ Spencer Dawson started all 3 games also and while he showed he has the potential to create off the dribble, struggled from the field going 5-24.  The return of Masters should allow both to move to the wing.  UNB’s most productive newcomer offensively was 6’5″ Jamal Potopsingh from Brampton via Sheridan (Wy.) junior college, who averaged 18 ppg in the tournament – he appears to have won a starting job.  Touted 6’8″ center Stephon Smith, who played two seasons of D1 ball at San Jose State and transferred in from Holland College, epitomized Reds foul issues as he fouled out of all 3 games this weekend.  Reds are hoping Potopsingh, Smith, 6’7″ Donnovan Hastings and 6’5″ Tyrell Leotaud can help offset the loss of steady big man 6’6″ Mark Matheson who will play his final season of eligibility at UPEI this season.  Reds next action is against Queen’s and Laval at the Rouge et Or Tournament in three weeks… We have been somewhat remiss in our coverage of Canada West teams – no one does it better than Wayne Thomas – and we hope to catch up with some commentary on some of the leading teams out west in future posts.


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