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.