Rams lock down defensively, rain threes in come-from-behind win at U of T

Ryerson (8-4, 7-2) 78, Toronto (9-7, 5-4) 69… Rams finished the game on a 30-7 run in the final 12 1/2 minutes, locking down the Blues guards defensively and going 6 for 7 from downtown during one fourth-quarter stretch when Ryerson took the lead for good in a character come-from-behind win at the Goldring Center.  6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa led all scorers with 27 points including a stellar 7 of 9 from three with 15 of his points coming after halftime – last night showed that Diressa, who has been nursing an apparent back injury – is virtually all the way back to the form that makes him, when healthy, arguably the toughest match-up in the nation.  6’7″ J.V. Mukama had all of his 15 points including four 3’s after halftime as Rams shot 10-19 from three in the final half.

After 6’3″ Sage Usher (5 points, 7 assists, 6 turnovers) made a difficult leaner along the right baseline to give Varsity a 62-48 lead late in the third, Ryerson coach Roy Rana went smaller, reinserting 6’8″ Adam Voll for 7’2″ Tanor Ngom and Ryerson took off from there, starting with a Voll dunk off a fine feed from Mukama.  Ryerson finished the game making 9 of their final 13 shots, taking the lead for good at 68-66 with 5 minutes remaining on a Diressa three off an offensive rebound scramble.

But it was Ryerson’s domination guarding the ball that turned this game around as the Blues made just 3 of their final 18 shots including 8 turnovers in the final 12 minutes.  It would likely have been worse had it not been for the offensive exploits of 6’8″ Daniel Johansson, (23 points, 10-14 shooting; 12 in the second half) who went a perfect 6 for 6 from the floor after halftime including several third-quarter mid-range jumpers while being guarded by the 7’2″ Ngom.  However, Blues guards were unable to create any advantages off the dribble down the stretch as Usher struggled against Rams defensive pressure and 6’3″ Reilly Reid (11 points – all in the first half) was held scoreless after halftime.  6’3″ Nikola Paradina went 4 for 5 from three to finish with 14 for Toronto but did not score in the final 12 minutes.

Blues and Rams complete the first half of their seasons this weekend as both teams host winless Lakehead:  Toronto at home on Friday and Ryerson at home on Saturday.


Gaels send York limping into Holiday break

Queen’s (9-6, 6-3) 81, York (6-12, 2-7) 62… Using an early 19-1 run to jump to a 16 point lead off the start of the game, Queen’s thoroughly dominated in all facets, building a 25 point lead midway through the second quarter to send the Lions to their 7th consecutive loss before a packed house of about 2,000 fans in Kingston.  After 6’6″ Ricky Hudson scored the game’s first points, the Gaels scored the next 19, getting numerous open looks in transition, having their way inside – 6’11” Mike Shoveller had 9 of his 15 points in the first quarter – and dominating the glass (Queen’s outrebounded York 61-27 including 18 offensive rebounds).  York started the game making just two of their first 19 shots overall from the floor and their first 9 from three-point land (5 for 23 overall; 22% from distance, with three of the makes in the fourth quarter when the game was well decided).  Queen’s again showed a strong willingness to share the ball offensively and find the best shot (21 assists on 31 overall field goals made).  6’6″ Jesse Graham came off the bench to shoot 7-8 from the floor and lead Gaels with 18 points and 7 boards while 6’6″ sibling Tanner Graham was again very impactful at  both ends – especially early swatting York shots – finishing with 5 blocks, 5 assists and a 16-point, 13-rebound double double.  Graham continues to show he is one of the more underrated wing forwards in the conference at both ends of the floor.  5’11” Jaz Bains had an efficient 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists for the Gaels.  6’6″ lefty freshman Prince Kamunga had 15 points on just 3-12 shooting from the floor while 6’3″ Gene Spagnuolo added 11 for York.

Gaels host York in afternoon affair

1 PM ET York (6-11, 2-7) at Queen’s (8-6, 5-3)… In a rare afternoon affair to accommodate the growing trend toward hosting elementary school children at games, the Lions, losers of six in a row and 4 in a row overall on the road in OUA league games, travel to Kingston.  An overflow crowd of about 2,000 is expected as the Gaels look to rebound from a tough loss at home to Western on Saturday night.  Queen’s tried to come back from a double digit second half deficit for a second consecutive night against the emerging Mustangs who had come back on Friday to win at York.  Lions played Saturday night’s loss against Windsor without 6’5″ Brandon Ramirez who suffered a head injury; his status for this afternoon is unknown.  This is the first of two games between these two teams with return match at York in the new year.

8 PM ET Ryerson (7-4, 6-2) at Toronto (9-6, 5-3)… Rams finally got an All-Canadian type effort from oft-injured 6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa in their victory on Saturday night over Laurier while the Blues improved to 7-1 at home this season (including the pre-season) with a pair of solid wins over the Golden Hawks and Waterloo this past weekend.  Ryerson’s 6’6″ Nathan Culbreath (transfer/York) has been sidelined all of the first term with a hand injury – he has had a cast on for several weeks.  Blues are nursing injuries to a couple of rotation players including 6’3″ McGill transfer Jawara Pedican (ankle) and 6’2″ freshman Evan Shadkami (shoulder).  Toronto’s 6’3″ fifth-year senior Reilly Reid is authoring what could be an all-OUA type season and has been their go-to guy.  No word on whether or not Ryerson Head Coach Roy Rana will be back on the Rams bench after his recent campaign heading Canada’s Sr. Men’s National team.  Another downtown GTA game between teams with a growing rivalry – tonight at the Goldring Center.

Seahawks shock UNB on the road

Memorial 105, UNB 92… MUN bounced back from last night’s embarrassing 35 point loss to UNB with a gut-check performance led by 6’2″ Daniel Gordon and 5’11” Davion Parnsalu to had V-Reds their first loss of the AUS regular season.  Memorial jumped on UNB right off the opening tip, building a 29-12 and maintained a double digit lead for virtually the entire game.  UNB did get it to 10 at 79-69 early in the fourth however Gordon took the game over with 8 consecutive points including a three, part of his game-high 28 point effort and later Parnsalu, who has worked through some early season injuries in this his fifth and final campaign with the Seahawks, added to his 27 point, 10 rebound game as MUN shot 59% from the floor including 9-16 from downtown.  Memorial is now 2-6 and picked up an important 4 points in the standings.

Saturday U-Sports round-up: Part Two

RSEQ:  After last Saturday’s loss at home to Concordia – a game in which the Redmen were physically and mentally hammered by the Stingers, Bishop’s Gaiters ran into a much more focused and workmanlike McGill team and were hammered 100-78 in Lennoxville – Redmen led by as many as 39 in the third – in a game played before another strong, enthusiastic Saturday night crowd.  Bishop’s stayed in the game for about the first 12 minutes before 6’1″ Alex Paquin and 6’1″ Jenning Leung took over from the perimeter.  Leung started a game-breaking 22-2 run with five consecutive points and later Paquin had a four-point-play and another three as Redmen broke it open using a suffocating full-court press that created 17 first-half Bishop’s turnovers.  The lead swelled to 80-41 midway through the third and McGill coasted from there.  Paquin finished with 29 points on 6-10 from three, playing with much more assertiveness and quick decision making from the onset.  Leung added 25 on 5-9 from three as McGill shot 14-40 from three and created 33 Gaiters turnovers.  Redmen are now 3-1 in the league and in a three-way tie for first in RSEQ while Bishop’s remains one game ahead of UQAM for the final berth at the RSEQ tournament.  Gaiters host 3-1 Laval this coming Friday in the final game of calendar 2017 in the “Q”.  Box Score

OUA – ANOTHER GRAY TRIPLE-DOUBLE… Laurentian blew a 17 point third quarter margin but finished the game on a 22-11 run that featured 10 points including bucket that gave Vees the lead for good from 6’2″ Kadre Gray who fashioned another triple-double (31 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) in winning 96-86.  Algoma stayed in it by going 8-18 from three, shooting 54% overall and only turning it over 14 times… Western’s underrated half court “d” was display again for much of Saturday’s important 75-71 road win at Queen’s.  Mustangs were in complete control for much of the night, leading by 14 with just under 7 minutes remaining in the fourth when Gaels scratched out a 15-2 run highlighted by an “and 1″ finish by emerging 6’3” wing Quinton Gray with the ensuing free throw poised to tie the game with just 38 seconds to play.  Unfortunately for the Gaels, Gray missed the foul shot and 6’4″ Marko Kovac, who led Western with 18 points on the night, knocked down a dramatic, game-saving three and Mustangs escaped with a victory in Kingston… Ottawa Gee-Gees jumped in front early and pounded Lakehead 94-59 as Gee-Gees shot 58% from the floor including 12-28 threes.  5’11” Calvin Epistola and 5’11” Sean Stoqua combined to shoot 5-9 from three and Gee-Gees fans caught a glimpse of their future as 6’3″ freshman Alex Muise (14 points) caught 6’5″ Chase Tynes with a wonderful ally-oop slam; Tynes shot 7-8 and also had 14 points as Ottawa gets set to face #3 Brock in St. Catharines this coming Friday night (at the same time as the Pac-12 championship game between the Trees and the Troy)… Varsity Blues got another strong performance from 6’3″ Reilly Reid who had 24 points and 12 rebounds including several big plays down the stretch as Toronto swept the weekend with a victory over Waterloo.  The game was marred by numerous questionable calls that created some sideline tensions from normally mild-mannered and logical-thinking coaches.  6’3″ Simon Petrov was dazzling at times for Warriors with 24 points including several slick, creative takes to the rim.  The well-played game had teams combine for just 13 turnovers.  Toronto played without injured 6’3″ wing Jawara Pedican (ankle) and dynamic 6’2″ freshman Evan Shadkami (shoulder)… Windsor got a game-high 23 points from 5’11” Mike Rocca who also added 12 rebounds and 5 assists, showing off his now-regular wonderful court vision and imagination on offense as Lancers came back to edge York 65-61.  Lions played without impact 6’5″ Brandon Ramirez who sustained a head injury on Friday night against Western.  Both teams struggled from the floor, shooting a combined 28% and Lions under-the-radar 6’5″ freshman Prince Kamunga led the way with 18 points while 6’3″ Gene Spagnuolo had 17 points including the first 10 of the game for York to help build an early 10-2 lead.  Lancers took the lead for good on an elbow jumper by 6’3″ Marcus Jones with under 5 minutes to play.  The dynamic Jones missed his first 10 shots after scoring 27 on Friday night at Queen’s but came up huge down the stretch with 6 of his 8 points in the final 4 1/2 minutes… York travels to Queen’s for a Wednesday afternoon game in the final game of the first half for both teams… Ryerson got a crowning come-back performance from 6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa (24 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists) in a 10 point home win over Laurier that was not decided until well into the second half… Nipissing also got an important home victory over Guelph, giving the OUA East a 5-2 ledger over the OUA West last night.  Overall this season, the record sits at OUA East 41, OUA West 20 with just 11 remaining interlocking games (all next weekend).  Hope to get to some Canada West summaries later.

Saturday Round-up in U-Sports men’s basketball

Biggest “news” was that my #4 team Lethbridge Pronghorns lost twice this weekend at Regina.  As well, #7 Acadia tripped up, losing to St. FX on Friday in a neutral site game at Scotiabank Center in Halifax – however Axemen rebounded last night to win on the road against an improving UPEI Panthers squad – Acadia needed to rally from a halftime deficit.  All other Top 10 teams that saw action won their games including #1 Carleton, #2 Alberta, #3 Brock, #6 UBC, #8 Laurentian, #9 Ottawa and #10 Dalhousie.

There were several exciting finishes including a game we took in live on Friday night at Queen’s as the Gaels rallied past a very underrated Windsor group that plays offense with a wonderful approach led by their very underrated fifth-year point guard Mike Rocca.  Lancers remain without 6’7″ Luke Allin (ankle) and 6’3″ Telloy Simon, who may miss the entire year with an ACL.  Below is a quick across-the-country recap of last night’s action.

AUS:  Acadia came from behind to defeat UPEI 88-78 in Charlottetown.  Panthers welcomed back impact 6’8″ center D’Adrian Allen who contributed a double-double but more to the point is the manner in which Panthers are running their offense and committing better to the defensive end as new Head Coach Darrell Glenn installs his way of playing.  Watching much of the first half, Panthers guards are generally making sounds decisions, getting in the paint and sharing the ball and shot selection is usually sound.  Last night, Panthers jumped out leads as large as 9 late in the second quarter with several smooth possessions resulting in open looks.  The veteran Axemen rallied to take the lead late in the third on a three by 6’3″ Ben Miller with the comeback aided by a pair of threes from 6’6″ freshman Mason Middaugh.  Later the lead swelled to 17 however Panthers are showing signs of strong team play at both ends but could not overcome Acadia’s second half fire. Box Score.. IN Antigonish, St. FX held off Cape Breton 108-99 however this was a one-point game with with just 1 1/2 minutes remaining, primarily on the exploits of 6’4″ U.S. import Martin Campbell, who had 16 of his game-and-career-high 40 points in the fourth quarter.  Campbell drew Capers to within one with his third three of the quarter but 6’3″ Julius Antoine had 6 consecutive points and X, normally a team that has struggled on the line, iced the game with a perfect 8 for 8 effort in the final minutes.  In fact, X shot 12-26 overall from three, getting a 5-9 performance from downtown from 6’3″ Tristan Ross (team-high 23 points).  The game had just 19 combined turnovers and from all accounts was a typical barn-burner AUS game between the traditional rivals…. At UNB, Varsity Reds captured the first of two weekend games against Memorial, winning easily 90-55 after establishing an early 20+ point lead.  6’2″ Will Legere and 6’0″ Javon Masters led the way.

More to come later today.  Taking in some Grey Cup environment as I live about 5 minutes from the Stadium.

Stingers dominate UQAM

Concordia 82, UQAM 66… Stingers closed the 2017 calendar year portion of their schedule with an easy victory over winless Citadins, breaking to 20 point first-half lead by shooting a sizzling 9-14 from downtown.  Concordia extended to leads as large as 31 early in the fourth as 6’5″ Schneiders Suffrard had 19 points and 5 rebounds while 6’0″ Adrian Armstrong came off the bench to score 11 of his 16 in the first half, when Concordia created 11 UQAM turnovers and took control.  Stingers completely shut down UQAM’s tandem of 6’5″ Ibrahima Sylla (two points/zero at halftime) and 6’0″ Misi Boye (did not score in the game).  6’0″ Charles Miller led the way with 16 points for UQAM – 11 in the first half.  Stingers, now 3-1 in RSEQ play, and Citadins (0-4), both are off until after the holidays.

Friday’s round-up: Gray’s 39 lead Laurentian; Queen’s rallies to beat Windsor in a classic

AUS:  After an inauspicious start that included two losses to Dalhousie and a prior home loss to Acadia, St. FX and their core of five fifth-year guys reminded the AUS that X-Men are not likely to go away quietly, building leads as large as 17 points and holding on for an 80-78 win over the Axemen in front of about 2,400 fans at Halifax Scotiabank Place.  6’0″ Davonte Provo led a balanced X attack with 16 points and helped create 22 Acadia turnovers.  X held off a late Acadia flurry that got it to 1 at 76-75 in the final minute.  Acadia earlier had defeated X by 2 in Antigonish.  6’10” Erik Nissen led all scorers with 26 points and 11 rebounds but had 7 turnovers as did 6’3″ Ben Miller.  6’0″ Nick DePalma dropped six threes in the game while 6’3″ Tristan Ross helped X’s cause with three 3’s of his own.  Both teams travel for games tonight with Acadia in Charlottetown to face UPEI while X is back in Antigonish to host Cape Breton.  UNB hosts Memorial for a pair in the only other AUS game tonight.

OUA:  6’2″ Kadre Gray had 39 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists as the Voyageurs got back in the win column with a 84-71 home win against Guelph.  Gray was 13-22 from the floor and was helped by 6’6″ Nelson Yengue (22 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists) as Laurentian dominated on the glass 48-31… IN Kingston, 6’0″ Jaz Bains led a late-game 6-0 run with a draw-and-dish leading to the game-tying layup plus two clutch free throws and later 6’3″ Quinton Gray had a momentum-changing follow tip-in as the Gaels rallied from an 18 point deficit to shock Windsor 96-94.  Lancers put on a first-half offensive clinic, spreading the floor and sharing the rock in a wonderful display of team ball led by 6’2″ Marcus Jones, who weaved his way to 18 first-half points.  However, Queen’s made some defensive adjustments primarily by going under any screening or hand-off action and cleaned up the glass after giving up 11 first-half “o” boards.  After shooting a sizzling 11-18 from three including 9-14 in the first quarter, Windsor made just 4 second-half threes and 6’6″ Tanner Graham took over on the glass (13 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks).  5’11” Mike Rocca was again a virtuoso distributing the rock and making tough shots, including a personal 6-0 stretch that gave Windsor their final lead of the night.  But Bains went to work as Queen’s flattened out for the talented transfer who showed his wonderful passing skills, finding 6’5″ Harry Range for the game tying layup.  Bains finished with 24 points and 9 assists.  Gray was outstanding especially in the third quarter when he had 9 of his 17 points while 6’0″ Mohawk transfer Matt Elcock had his finest game as Gael in a big spot, keeping Queen’s close in the first 25 minutes with 22 points on 6-8 threes, helping to rescue what had been a listless effort.  One of the more entertaining games between two very well coached groups who played great offense, combining for just 21 turnovers… Interim coach Borko Popic had his first victory behind the bench in Ryerson’s 88-83 OT home win over Waterloo as 6’1″ Myles Charvis and 6’7″ J.V. Mukama hit back-to-back threes midway through the extra session, erasing a 4 point Waterloo lead.  Warriors had gutted out a wonderful comeback when, down 18 at 64-46 in the third and down 11 with 8 minutes remaining, got a superior performance from 6’6″ Nedim Hodzic, who scored the final 6 points of regulation as Warriors closed the fourth on an 8-0 run to send it to OT.  Hodzic led all scorers with 21 points and 15 rebounds, rebounding from a 2 for 7 start from the floor while Mukama had 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead Rye… 6’7″ Cassidy Ryan had 20 points and 5 rebounds including the clinching basket in the final minute as Brock held off visiting McMaster 96-87.  Badgers struggled to put away a gritty McMaster side that got the game back to within three with a minute to play after Brock led by as many as 15.  An early 13-0 Marauders run led by 6’1″ David McCulloch (game-high 26 points) gave Mac a 4 point second-quarter lead but back-to-back-to-back threes by 6’5″ Johneil Simpson, 6’6″ Daniel Cayer and 5’11” Tyler Brown just before halftime ignited the Badgers, who struggled with 19 turnovers.  All five Badger starters finished in double figures.  Brock now gets set to host #8 uOttawa and #1 Carleton next weekend with a crowd of 3,500 expected for the Ravens game to be played at the Meridian Center… Western took advantage of 26 Lions turnovers, taking the lead for good with a 9-0 third quarter run capped by an Omar Shiddo three in winning 70-63 at York.  Lions shot just 2-17 from three and missed 5 of 12 free throws.  York’s last lead was late in the second but a 13-2 run bridging halftime gave Mustangs some cushion.  Later York tied it but Shiddo (16 points) and 6’1″ Eriq Jenkins (17 points, 9 steals) helped Western claim a solid road win, one of only two wins by OUA West in the interlock which after Friday night stands at OUA East 36, OUA West 18... U of T Varsity Blues locked down defensively, especially in the third quarter, pulling away for a solid home win over visiting Laurier 86-74.  Toronto got 24 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists from 6’3″ Reilly Reid who had 15 after halftime while 6’3″ Nick Paradina came alive for a perfect 5-5 from the floor in the second half, part of a career-high 23 points and 12 rebounds.  Blues played without prized 6’3″ freshman Evan Shadkami, out with a shoulder injury.  Hawks got 25 from 5’11” Tevaun Kokko but only 8 after halftime… IN other games, 6’9 3/4″ Eddie Ekiyor had 20 points and 8 rebounds as the Ravens overcame an uncharacteristic 6-20 shooting from three in a victory at Lakehead.  Carleton turned it over only 9 times all night.  Algoma upset Nipissing right in North Bay 76-70 as Jermaine Lyle went 5-10 from three for 23 points and Lakers shot just 4-21 from three.

In Canada West, Regina held off Lethbridge by two after taking leads as large as 14 while Alberta struggled from the perimeter – shooting just 5-25 from three and turning it over 18 times but still defeated Saskatchewan 78-65 despite 27 from Huskies U.S. import guard Lawrence Moore.  Brandon Bobcats continue their early season push into a comfortable playoff position with a gutty OT win at Manitoba.  UBC won 83-67 at Winnipeg.


U-Sports Men’s Weekend Preview: AUS action in Scotiabank Center in Halifax

I will be travelling for the next few days and updates are likely to be spotty so here is a quick thumbnail of the week that will be in U-Sports men’s basketball – the penultimate weekend (not a fan of that word but…) of the 2017 calendar year.

ONE GAME ON THURSDAY NIGHT… in Montreal as Laval (2-1 in the “Q”), coming off a resounding home win over Bishop’s, seeks their first road win in league play at UQAM.  Expect a fast, athletic, even above-the-rim affair – coach Mario Joseph has Citadins playing hard on every possession.  Later in the weekend, McGill travels to Bishop’s in Lennoxville on Saturday night while Concordia hosts UQAM at 4 PM on Saturday at the BeeHive.

THIS IS THE FINAL WEEKEND OF AUS PLAY IN CALENDAR 2017… and what a great way to complete the year with a game at Scotiabank Center (always the Metro Center in my books) as St. FX (1-4), coming off a split in St. John’s, squaring off with #7 Acadia (5-0 in AUS league play), who swept Dalhousie Tigers using an imposing, veteran front line led by 6’10” Erik Nissen and 6’8″ Rhys Larry.  X matches up much better with Axemen at the forward spots with 6’7″ Kevin Bercy and 6’8″ Cam Walker – expect 6’5″ Azaro Roker to see time also.  This game precedes Canada’s Senior Men’s World Cup 2019 qualifier against Bahamas; Canada is coached by Ryerson’s Roy Rana as well as Assistant Dave Smart from Carleton.  Both X and Acadia have quick come-back games, both involving travel as X-Men travel back to Antigonish to meet Cape Breton (2-4), coming off a two-game sweep of UPEI at home last weekend.  Acadia has to get to Charlottetown for a single game against the winless Panthers on Saturday night.  Memorial, coming off their first victory of the season in any U-Sports game, has a pair of four-point road games at UNB, still undefeated after a pair of impressive comeback wins at Saint Mary’s last weekend – although UNB fans will question how impressed this site was given V-Reds are still only given Honorable Mention status in our ranking.

FULL SLATE OF OUA PLAY WITH SIX (“S I X”) GAMES IN TWO NIGHTS IN METROPOLITAN TORONTO… With all due respect, for those in the GTA who possibly would want to catch multiple games, on both nights – all three games at York, at Toronto and at Ryerson – begin at exactly the same time.  Just sayin’… With OUA East leading OUA West 31-16, there are 14 more interlock games this weekend.  Even with a sweep by OUA West teams, OUA East would still lead by one game.  However… 12 of the 14 interlock games are in OUA East gyms with only Lakehead – host #1 Carleton (led by Rob Smart Jr. with Dave Smart in Halifax with the National team) and #9 Ottawa – hosting OUA East teams.  Guelph and Algoma takes trip to Northern Ontario as Gryphs get #8 Laurentian at the Ben Avery on Friday and Thunderbirds at Nipissing.  Gryphs and Algoma then cross each other with Guelph at Nipissing and Algoma at Laurentian on Saturday.  Voyageurs have already defeated Algoma once at home in September in pre-season play… Waterloo Warriors and Laurier Golden Hawks will not have to travel on Friday and Saturday as both teams play in downtown Toronto – Friday’s games have Laurier at Toronto and Waterloo at Ryerson – Rams will have Associate Head Coach Borko Popic at the helm while coach Roy Rana handles Canada’s national team.  Observers continue to anticipate the return of 6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa and possibly 6’6″ Nathan Culbreath to the Rams lineup.  Golden Hawks are still likely to be without veteran 6’1″ guard Chuder Teny… In North York, York Lions, losers of four in a row, host Western on Friday and then welcome Windsor Lancers on Saturday.  The Lancers/Lions gave could threaten the U-Sports record for combined threes attempted in a game – if that record was readily available.  Windsor is at Queen’s on Friday night and Gaels get Western on Saturday.

CANADA WEST SCHEDULE MAKERS ARE OUA-ESQUE… Two sets of games this weekend in the City of Winnipeg for what I believe is the second time this season as Brandon visits Manitoba & UBC at the Duckworth Center vs. Wesmen – both scheduled for the exact same time both Friday and Saturday.  Clearly this site put an SI-like hex on the Bisons – after highlighting Manitoba’s schedule and opportunity to possibly even finish first in Canada West, Bisons lose twice in Calgary against Mount Royal.  Bobcats present a somewhat-underrated challenge, especially after their impressive win this past Saturday at home against Calgary.  Winnipeg hosts #6 UBC, poised to continue their home winning streak against the T-Birds:  when these teams last met at the Duckworth Center in 2014, Wesmen swept UBC in two games.  Probably the only person in the country who had Lethbridge ranked in the Top 10 (#4 is where I had them), this weekend’s Pronghorns visit to upstart Regina will immediately have that ranking tested.  Multiple coaches in Ontario talked to how dangerous the Cougars could be, especially now that 6’4″ Brandon Tull has returned to the lineup and Lethbridge’s undefeated Canada West record is sure to be tested twice, with both teams likely to want to push the pace.  Cougars will have to guard the ball effectively… In a meeting between two somewhat-bitter rivals, #2 Alberta Golden Bears host reeling Saskatchewan, just 2-4 on the young season.  Golden Bears qualified for the Final 8 last season after their 83-70 win over the Huskies in the Canada West semi-final this past March in Calgary.  It was the third consecutive time that Alberta had defeated Saskatchewan in a CW Final 4 game since 2012.  The last time these teams met in Edmonton (2014), the then-CW powers split a pair which was the same result last season in Saskatoon.  Alberta’s depth should provide an advantage as the world continues to await the arrival to the lineup of 6’1″ U.S. import/California native J.T. Robinson of the Huskies… In other match-ups, Thompson Rivers travels to Mount Royal for a pair in Calgary, UBC-O travels to Abbotsford to meet Fraser Valley and UNBC travels to MacEwan – with scheduler makers doubling down on the Edmonton home games.  Three teams are idle this weekend:  #5 Calgary, UVic Vikes and Trinity Western.

Muamba has career night as Laval romps

In the “better-late-than-never” category of news, we were remiss in not highlighting the tremendous exploits of Laval’s third-year 6’7″ Joel Muamba this past weekend in an 89-74 home win against Bishop’s.  Muamba, who had been hampered by injuries throughout the pre-season, netted a career-high 28 points – an RSEQ individual season high – on 13 for 16 shooting which included a spectacular five dunks !  Muamba’s athleticism and explosiveness has never been in question and as he begins to realize his vast potential, Rouge et Or have their sights set on their first RSEQ championship since 2007-08.

Muamba, who is a graduate of Thetford Academy and spent one season at Northwest JUCO (Wyoming) where he averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds per game in 2015-16, also made both of his three-point attempts and entertained what was a crowd well in excess of 1,000 at the beautiful “PEPS” (Laval University Sports and Physical Education Complex) – arguably the most beautiful facility in the country.  (Aside:  for our readers in Quebec City area – “when will Laval bid on the Final 8 ???”).

Laval was very efficient in the victory over Bishop’s, with 25 assists on their 34 made field goals and Rouge et Or generally looked after the rock, being charged with only 13 turnovers, an area of concern all season long as Coach Jacques Paiement Jr. looks to play fast and highlight his wonderful array of above-the-rim athletes.  Laval now 2-1 in RSEQ league play (5-5 overall vs. U-Sports) rides a two-game winning streak into tomorrow night’s (Thursday’s) game at UQAM (0-2).

Our thanks to one of our loyal readers in Quebec City for the recap and reminder – keep the good news coming…