Belated Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to the entire basketball community across the entire country. We have been hunkering down over the past couple of weeks, anticipating the Holiday tournament season which begins tomorrow and today I am hoping to catch up with some items of interest… Just prior to Christmas, one of my long-time friends in basketball – Paul Brousseau – and I met up with Coach Chris Dooley while Dools was on his book tour here in Ottawa. Coach Dools as readers may already know authored a biography of Kevin Pangos recently. As part of the celebrity sighting another great friend Big Al Overwijk showed up and we were able to capture the moment.
For those who have yet to pick up a copy of Coach Dooley’s book, “Can’t Miss: The Kevin Pangos Story“, I encourage you to do so. Paul, who was RSEQ POY and First Team All-Canadian at McGill in 1989 (?), has been coaching his daughters for the past few years with Leo Doyle’s/Tom Chadwick‘s Ottawa Shooting Stars and Big Al, one of the finest teachers of the fundamentals of the game, continues to coach pretty much every day at various levels. The boys also got together last Friday for our annual pre-holiday Yuletide Series at Ottawa’s famed Prescott Tavern and present among the numerous CIAU celebrities from the past was former Regina Cougar great Chris Biegler, who was one of the top CIAU players in his day culminating a legendary career during which he was a three-time All-Canadian and member of Canada’s National team for a spell. Apparently he continues to dominate JCC runs to this day even with several younger, former CIS players in the mix… We originally were aiming to do a more comprehensive first-half review, complete with CANHoops.ca individual honors but time got away on us. Still, here is a list of All-Conference honors for the first half of the season for AUS and Quebec league:
AUS: My pick for first-half POY in the conference is 6’7″ Kevin Bercy, who averaged a 20.6 ppg/10.6 rpg double-double despite being the opponent’s defensive focus each and every night. Consistency has been the key with Bercy, who has hit double figures in every game this season. X sits at 4-3 primarily because of Bercy’s exploits which include a season-high 30 points in a win at UPEI and 63% shooting overall from the field. Also worthy of individual honors mention are: 6’9″ Erik Nissen, who leads the AUS in both scoring (21.4 ppg) and rebounding (12.9 rpg) including a season-high 33 points at UNB when he shot 12 for 19 – the lefty shot 48% from the floor overall in the first half while logging 35 mpg. While both Bercy and Nissen both had outstanding first halfs, in my opinion, Nissen, more than Bercy, benefited from teammates who spread the floor with their three-point barrage and also from the talents of underrated pg Ben Miller. Both Bercy and Nissen are worthy of mention as AUS POY for the first half. Others well deserving include reigning AUS POY 6’0″ Javon Masters of UNB who punctuated the pre-Holiday portion of his fourth season with a 22 point, 10 rebound, 7 assist and 4 steal effort at home against Dalhousie as the Varsity Reds finished the first half with an important home victory. Masters added one triple-double, 15/10/10 at home against UPEI in a 102-87 win. While Masters overall line reads very well: 17.9 ppg/7.4 rpg/6.1 apg, he continues to be an inconsistent three-point shooter (only 25% from 3) and is a high-volume shooter (38% overall from the floor). In the end, Masters will likely be judged on how far he can lead his V-Reds team in the post season. Finally, after an injury-plagued ’15-’16 season, 5’10” Marquis Clayton has re-emerged as a 1st Team All-AUS candidate with the Saint Mary’s Huskies. Clayton averages 20.0 ppg and shoots almost 43% from the three-point line as SMU pushes for a first round bye in the AUS tournament and remains in the discussion for a U-Sport Top 10 ranking. Clayton had a season-high 38 points on 7 for 10 shooting from 3 in a big win against Acadia. As most figured during the pre-season, the most impactful freshman in the AUS this season has been 6’6″ Alex Carson of Dalhousie. Carson has not disappointed, averaging 9.5 ppg including making 14 of his 25 three-pointers (56%) and shooting 53% from the floor overall for the well-balanced Tigers. Carson had a career-high 19 points in a win at Acadia during which he shot 5 for 10 from three-point land. Dal lost the only game that Carson did not play in, the first-half finale at UNB.
RSEQ: Especially given the sudden, late-summer departure of reigning Quebec POY Kewyn Blain, UQAM Citadins must be regarded as one of the more encouraging stories in the country and 6’2″ lefty Greishe Clerjuste has proven to be the main reason why. Clerjuste has embraced the leadership mantle for the Citadins, leading RSEQ in scoring at 19.2 ppg, sitting in the Top 10 in rebounding with 6.4 rpg and adding 4 assists per game while logging 36 mpg. Clerjuste has produced to a level that puts him squarely in the discussion for RSEQ First Half POY. 6’5″ Alexandre Leclerc, who was runner-up POY last season, continues his stellar offensive play at 17.3 ppg for Laval which also has had a solid, if not underrated first half from 6’5″ athletic forward Frantson Demosthene who leads the Q in rebounding at 10.5 rpg including an 11-point, 17-rebound double double in a win against UQAM. Concordia has had un-even production from Q All-Star 6’4″ Ken Beaulieu, who has missed time with injury and illness but remains one of the more explosive scorers in the conference (team-leading 12.0 ppg/6.5 rpg on the very well-balanced Stingers). Without a doubt however the top newcomer in the conference – and arguably one of the top 5 players in the “Q” overall based on first half regular season play – has proven to be McGill’s 6’0″ freshman Kendrick Jolin, who had an RSEQ season-high 34 points at Bishop’s as the slick guard who spent a season at U.S. Prep school last season drove the Redmen to erase an early 13 point deficit in Lennoxville. Jolin, who made 6-9 3’s against the Gaiters, took that next step to higher honors with a wonderful end-of-game effort in Redmen’s thrilling OT loss at UQAM when the Montreal native made several big shots down the stretch of a game that few gave McGill a chance to win given that 4 regulars were missing, including reigning RSEQ Defensive POY 6’2″ Dele Ogundokun. Ogundokun shook off a lacklustre beginning to his season with a 29 point effort (including 7-10 3’s) in McGill’s 30+ point win over Concordia, adding 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. Expect the well-balanced “Q” to be very tight all through the end of the season.