Alberta (1-1) 73, Queen’s (1-3) 65… Dominating the glass at key times and locking up the Gaels defensively, Alberta rebounded from a sub-par effort against uOttawa with a tidy win over Queen’s on the second day of the Tindall Invitational event, staged on Homecoming weekend at one of the more participatory schools for this type of event in the country – Queen’s Homecoming still the best after 35 years.
Alberta dominated for the most part inside, revealing an achilles heel for the Gaels, defensive rebounding – although not fully revealed in the final stats. Bears built an early lead on the strength of several second-chance put backs and then putting the game away late as 6’7″ Brody Clarke (19 points, 8 rebounds), who is much stronger this season, especially through the shoulders, ripped down several tough boards and had strong finishes inside. 6’7″ Mamadue Gueye is simply a stud as a wing forward getting to the rim with a quick first step and explosive lift off the floor, augmented by his length – he finished with a game-high 21 points and added 9 boards. After shooting just 6 for 17 combined vs. uOttawa in Friday’s opener, Clarke and Gueye combined to go 15 for 29 from the floor against a less formidable Gaels front line. Gueye can knock in the open 3 but excels attacking the rim also while Clarke has this season developed a much more polished offensive package, able now to pick and pop for elbow j’s and simply more mature around the rim. Coach Barnaby Craddock has brought in 6’0″ guard Austin Waddoups from Utah and, while the steady point generally struggled shooting it (just 1-7 in 30 minutes), took care of the ball and made numerous correct reads, especially making the proper choices in transition. Craddock is also utilizing one of his key veterans 6’6″ fourth-year wing Lyndon Annetts in an effective manner, having the slick shooting wing spot up for catch-and-shoot 3’s. Bears 6’2″ freshman Andre Kelly is also maturing rapidly finishing with 6 points – all in the first half – in 22 minutes.
Gaels lack of size inside demands more of a collective approach on the defensive glass which unfortunately can fly in the face of a team trying to play fast – and Queen’s can look really good when they are in transition after a miss. 6’7″ Tanner Graham struggled from the perimeter after making two first-quarter 3’s and represents the only real rim protection defensively for Gaels at this point. Graham (17 points but made just 1 of his final 8 3’s) and star 6’3″ wing Sukhpreet Singh (18 points, 8 rebounds) combined to shoot just 11 for 30 including 4 for 16 from 3 as Gaels shot only about 33% in the second-half, with the score masked by a late 60 foot buzzer-beating 3 and a shoddy decision from one of the crew working the game. Bears took a 5 point lead into halftime, extending to as many as 19 early in the fourth before a pair of sensitive calls by the referees somewhat-marred what had been a very well played (31 combined turnovers, only 34 fouls) game. After a warning was issued to Queen’s coach Steph Barrie, Craddock was on the very next possession whistled for a very quick trigger technical by one of the referees who has a history of being very fair and approachable. Later this referee quietly fixed things with Craddock in a very professional way and the thought was that the issue was behind everyone in a satisfactory manner – well done. However it was not be as a second official in the crew shockingly assessed Craddock a second “T” late in the game when the outcome was well decided – Craddock had in a reasonable and non-profane manner highlighted what was a very obvious rim hanging by a Gaels offensive rebounder. In any instance, this was a poor decision by the official – especially for a second technical after how undeserving the first T was. Craddock had not been warned prior to either nor was there a show-up or profanity used – not well done.
In the other game, the Gee-Gees used their dominant pair of bigs 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles and 6’7″ Brody Maracle to pound it inside and easily handle Memorial 84-47. Coach James Derouin is playing differently this season given his almost-nightly advantage in the paint although not completely abandoning the 3, ensuring his bigs get touches on virtually every possession, playing inside/out. Ottawa’s bigs combined to shoot 13 for 21 from the floor and helped the Gee-Gees hammered MUN on the glass 52-24. 6’1″ point guard Calvin Epistola, who knocked down four 3’s today and had a career-high 12 points, adding 7 rebounds and 3 assists, was as steady as a sophomore can be. With 6’2″ McMaster transfer Adam Presutti due back for the Jack Donohue tournament in a couple of weeks, expect Epistola to return to coming in off the bench and is likely to be paired with Presutti. 6’9″ Vasilije Curcic (25 points but just 3 boards) showed off his fine Euro-esque big man skills however Memorial was undermanned inside and their guard play continues to be inconsistent. After a nice start during which the Seahawks had good open looks, shots stopped falling and Ottawa’s depth and suffocating “d” (held Seahawks to just 32% shooting including 3-14 3’s) took over for a dominant win.
The tournament closes today as Memorial and Alberta meet at Noon followed by an all-OUA match between Ottawa and Queen’s at 4 PM.