OUA: Three games tonight including Nipissing fighting for playoff lives

Nipissing Lakers have their playoff backs to the wall as they host the first of a back-to-back with second-place Laurentian tonight in North Bay.  Lakers trail sixth-place U of T Varsity Blues by a game and a half (one game in the loss column) and a victory tonight would put Nipissing in a stronger position to leap frog Toronto.  While the team’s meet on the final night of the season in Toronto, Blues have a somewhat-easier schedule to end their season.  Nipissing still has to play at Ryerson and host uOttawa and Carleton in addition to Friday’s return engagement at Laurentian.

In the OUA West, first-place Brock can officially clinch the division pennant with a victory over Laurier in a game that will be played at the Waterloo PAC.  Badgers won the first meeting of the season between these two teams in late October in St. Catharines, coming from behind for an 80-70 win, despite shooting just 3 for 23 from downtown.

IN London, Western Mustangs hope to solidify their hold on second place in the division, hosting reeling Waterloo, losers of four of their last five games and getting somewhat closer to teams below them.  Still, Warriors have a three game lead over the triumvirate of McMaster, Guelph and Algoma with just six games to play.  Mustangs rallied from a double digit deficit at Waterloo in October, holding Warriors to just 22 second-half points, to capture the first game between these two long-time rivals.

All games are available on OUATV.

Mis-mash of possibilities in Canada West playoff race

As we enter the final weekend of regular season play, very little in terms of final placement has been decided other than Alberta, UBC and Calgary all have clinched spots in the Top 4 and the first-round byes that go with those finishes.  Lethbridge is also more than very likely in the Top 4 and under virtually all scenarios #4.   How the Top 3 are arranged is anyone’s guess with multiple scenarios available – too many to consider as our Southern Alberta subject-matter-expert found out while testing Martin Timmerman’s wonderful program.

Practically speaking, there are three teams vying for the final two playoff spots with Winnipeg, Brandon and Mount Royal, all sitting at 8-10, hoping to pull away.

Brandon travels to Kamloops to meet Thompson Rivers, Winnipeg hosts UBC-O while Mount Royal has a home-and-home against the third-place Dinos (Thursday/Friday in an all-Calgary affair).  Advantage Winnipeg at this point and to a lesser extent Brandon.  Cougars playoff fate will very likely be decided late on Friday:  a pair of losses and MRU will likely be eliminated (but not for sure).

Thanks to our Southern Alberta correspondent, we have a much better view of the tie-breaking procedure and how it might apply to Mount Royal and Brandon if they end up tied for the final spot (we are going out on a limb and picking the Wesmen to sweep UBC-O at home and clinch a playoff spot).

Final league standings, at the conclusion of league play, shall be based on each teams winning percentage.  Only Canada West league games are to be considered for tiebreaking procedures. The tie breaking criteria are in the following prioritized order.

Two Teams Tied:

  1. Win/Loss record in head to head competition.
  2. Win/Loss record versus common opponents. 
  3. Each teams RPI ranking.
  4. Points difference in head to head competition between the tied teams.
  5. Points difference using all games versus common opponents.
  6. Points difference using all games played.
  7. Coin flip by Canada West President.

Three or More Teams Tied:  Use the same procedure as a two-teams tied. Once one team has been separated from the tied group, go back to step one with the remaining tied team(s).  

Regarding Bobcats and Cougars, thus far their records against common opponents are:  Brandon 3-7 and MRU 4-6, so advantage Mount Royal.

vs Lethbridge – both 0-2

vs Calgary – Brandon 1-1; MRU 0-2 presuming as you do Calgary beats MRU twice this week.

vs Manitoba – Brandon 1-1; MRU 2-0

vs Winnipeg – Brandon 0-2, MRU 1-1

vs Regina – both 1-1.

Presently in fourth spot, Lethbridge (12-6) has a two game lead over the quadrumvirate of UVic, Thompson Rivers, Manitoba and Regina (all at 10-8).  But most/all scenarios have the Horns still finishing 4th even with a pair of losses given the RPI.  Lethbridge hosts first-place Alberta for a pair of games Saturday and Sunday and with a split will finish fourth and gain a bye.

Other important series this weekend include UBC vs. UVic in a rivalry home-and-home beginning Thursday at UVic followed by the return encounter Friday night at UBC.  No matter what the standings, this rivalry always seems to produce classics and UVic (10-8) still has an outside shot at not qualifying for the playoffs.  In what is an unlikely scenario (but still possible), Mount Royal, Brandon and Winnipeg (all 8-10) could sweep their games, and Regina, Manitoba, Thompson Rivers and Victoria could lose both of theirs, resulting in “eight” teams all with 10-10 records.  Possible but not probable.  Regina has a pair of games at Saskatchewan (9-9) with Huskies – winners of 7 in a row – poised to qualify after a rough start.  Bisons are at Fraser Valley, long since eliminated while Brandon has their two uuuge games at Thompson Rivers.

Canada West Standings

Alberta 17-1

UBC 15-3

Calgary 14-4

Lethbridge 12-6

Victoria 10-8

Thompson Rivers 10-8

Manitoba 10-8

Regina 10-8

Saskatchewan 9-9

Winnipeg 8-10

Brandon 8-10

Mount Royal 8-10

Fraser Valley, UBC-O, MacEwan and Trinity Western have been eliminated from playoff contention.

RSEQ: Thinner Stingers lineup dominates at Laval

After a disappointing home loss on Thursday that helped cast doubts that Concordia could host an RSEQ playoff game, Stingers were in a virtual “must win” situation on Saturday night at Laval for the return encounter against Rouge et Or.  Catalyzed by the return of 6’0″ Ricardo Monge, who sat out the lid-lifter in Montreal due to a one-game suspension, the Stingers played arguably their most complete game of the season and defeated Laval handily 84-61 with the shortest bench coach Rastko Popovic has used all season.

Indeed, Stingers were without usual starting 6’1″ shooting guard Nicky Noble who also missed Thursday’s game however 6’0″ backup pg Cedrick Coriolan and 6’7″ Matthis Guerut also did not see action as Popovic went with just 8 players in what turned out to be a dominant victory at Laval.  Rouge et Or had it to 4 midway through the third but that was as close as Laval would get as Concordia peeled off a 14-5 run to close the quarter, highlighted by a buzzer-beating three from Monge, who led all scorers with 19 points.

Laval shot just 6 for 26 against the Stingers zone and turned it over 18 times, allowing Concordia to stay within striking distance of first and second place and the home playoff game that comes with that finish.  In the other weekend game, McGill rebounded from their upset loss at Bishop’s with 108-57 thrashing over the Gaiters at home in Montreal.  Bishop’s turned it over 36 times in the game.

RSEQ Standings

McGill 8-2

Laval 6-3

Concordia 6-4

Bishop’s 3-8

UQAM 2-8

Games this week:  Thursday:  Concordia at UQAM; Laval at McGill

Saturday:  UQAM at Concordia; McGill at Laval

OUA West: Gritty Gryphons go to their bench to stay in playoff contention

Faced with a double digit deficit and their season on the brink, Guelph Gryphons Head Coach Chris O’Rourke bravely went to his bench down the stretch and the unit was instrumental in a “character” come-from-behind win over McMaster that kept Guelph’s playoff hopes alive.

Trailing 73-61 early in the fourth, O’Rourke inserted the unlikely combination of 6’5″ freshman Rasheed Weekes, 6’3″ reserve Kieran Naus, 5’10” freshman Jake Chaput, 6’2″ third-year guard Tommy Yanchus to team with stalwart fifth-year starting guard Daniel Dooley, who played the entire second half and 38 minutes overall in one of his best games of the year and the five-some promptly went on a 13-0 run.

Weekes especially was spectacular during the come-back with 10 of his 15 points in the quarter including an “and 1″ that brought the deficit back to within 1 at 73-72.  Yanchus was 4-6 from downtown for 14 points while Dooley had a team-high 16 points.  Guelph took the lead for good with just 39 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws by 6’3” Drew Walford and held on three Marauder attempts to tie it including a difficult buzzer-beater by 6’6″ Sasha Simic that did not go.

With the victory, Guelph pulls into a tie with Mac for the sixth and final playoff spot.  In other games, Western had to go to OT but was able to sweep aside Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie while Brock hammered a listless, tired Waterloo Warriors side that is now firmly in fifth place in the division.  Windsor also moved back to .500 with a 20 point win at home over Lakehead.

OUA West Standings

Brock 16-2

Western 11-7

Laurier 9-9

Windsor 9-9

Waterloo 7-11

McMaster 4-14

Guelph 4-14

Algoma 4-14

Lakehead 2-16


Wednesday:  Brock vs. Laurier (at Waterloo PAC); Waterloo at Western.

Friday:  McMaster at Lakehead; Laurier at Windsor; Algoma at Guelph

Saturday:  Brock at Waterloo; Western at Windsor; McMaster at Lakehead; Algoma at Guelph


AUS: Three-way battle for first place tightens again

By virtue of their home sweep against Saint Mary’s, UNB Varsity Reds have all but assured observers of an exciting, three-team race to the regular season finish for the top two spots in the AUS and the first round byes at the AUS tournament that come with those finishes.  Despite having to deal with foul trouble to 6’0″ Javon Masters (just 9 points, 7 assists in 24 minutes before fouling out), UNB again held off the Huskies 95-84 to complete the weekend sweep and clearly establish three-tiers in the AUS standings.

The pseudo “Top Tier” includes Acadia Axemen, who completed the weekend sweep in St. John’s earlier today with a 78-65 win over Memorial, who played the weekend without emerging 6’5″ star Nathan Barker, and Dalhousie Tigers, who came back to the pack after Friday’s blow-out loss to St. FX.

Saint Mary’s, St. FX and Memorial appear comfortably in the final three playoff positions (next “Tier”) and both UPEI Panthers, who swept Cape Breton this weekend and the said Capers have some ground to make up to become playoff contenders.

First-year Panthers Head Coach Darrell Glenn got his first two AUS regular season wins with a pair of solid defensive efforts – I was able to take in some of Saturday’s game and there is a growing level of organization and accountability on the defensive end for UPEI which bodes well going forward.

UPEI’s victories this weekend put a potential playoff spot in focus, especially with next weekend’s schedule that has Memorial visiting Charlottetown for a pair of four-point games.  At present, Panthers have four points and sit 10 points behind Memorial for the sixth and final spot in the AUS tournament.

This coming weekend’s action is rather sparse with just 5 games total but each and every game is worth four points so will be impactful in the standings.  Action begins Thursday as Saint Mary’s visits Acadia, the only game of the weekend these teams play.  Friday in a single game in Sydney, Dalhousie visits Cape Breton for another four pointer while UNB travels to St. FX for same 4 pointer.  The weekend culminates in a Saturday/Sunday double header at UPEI where 8 points are at stake between sixth-place Memorial and seventh-place UPEI.

AUS Standings

Acadia 12-2, 30 pts

Dalhousie 11-3, 30 pts

UNB 12-3, 28 pts

St. FX 6-8, 18 pts

Saint Mary’s 7-6, 16 pts

Memorial 4-10, 14 pts

UPEI 2-12, 4 pts

Cape Breton 2-12, 4 pts

OUA East Saturday Review

OUA:  #1 Carleton put on a tremendous defensive effort to pull away to a 23 point first-half lead, holding the Rams to just 7 points in the first 9 1/2 minutes of the second quarter in an easy 84-61 win.  Once again, 6’3″ Marcus Anderson was instrumental at the defensive end, holding down the incomparable 6’5″ Manny Diressa to simply human numbers, but the entire Carleton lineup offered up arguably their best defensive effort of the season in a big spot, holding the explosive Rams to just 32% shooting.  Rams did get the game back to within 10 early in the fourth quarter but 6’1″ Munis Tutu and underrated 6’0″ Yasiin Joseph had back breaking threes to rebuild a 20+ point lead.  Diressa finished with 20 points to lead all scorers while 7’0 Cam Smythe, who continues to show an improved, versatile offensive game on either side of the three point line, had 18 to lead Carleton while Joseph went 4-8 from three with 16 points and Tutu continues to get comfortable in the Ravens system with arguably his most impactful night:  12 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists in 38 minutes.  6’10” Eddie Ekiyor, back after missing last weekend with an upper-body injury, had 18 points off the bench for Carleton.  Ravens now prepare for the Capital Hoops Classic on Friday against the uOttawa Gee-Gees at Canadian Tire Center in Kanata where another crowd pushing toward 10,000 is expected… uOttawa Gee-Gees needed some strong late-game perimeter shooting from 5’11” Calvin Epistola and 6’4″ Gage Sabean in an 84-75 win over a persistent U of T Varsity Blues group that had what was a 12 point fourth-quarter deficit down to 3 on two occasions late including with under 2 minutes to play.  Epistola hit a pair of clutch 3’s in waning minutes, offsetting 6’3″ Reilly Reid, who came alive with 8 of his 10 points in the fourth including back-to-back late 3’s.  The game was nip-and-tuck through late in the third when Gee-Gees broke away but 5’9″ Chris Barrett with his best game of the season (19 points, 7 assists) help keep Toronto close… Blues maintain a two-game lead for a playoff spot after Queen’s Gaels rallied in the fourth quarter to stun Nipissing 80-68 in Kingston.  Queen’s entered the fourth down by eight but, with their playoff aspirations in peril, busted off a 25-3 run to put Lakers season further on the brink.  6’7″ Tanner Graham had 12 of his 20 points in the quarter and 6’0″ Jaz Bains added 22 points and 10 assists as Lakers shot just 1-16 in the deciding frame.

OUA East Standings:  Carleton 18-0, Laurentian 15-2, Ottawa 13-5, Ryerson 12-6, Queen’s 10-8, Toronto 9-9, Nipissing 7-10, York 2-16

Next week:

Wednesday:  Laurentian at Nipissing

Friday:  Ottawa/Carleton at Capital Hoops Classic; Toronto at Ryerson; Queen’s at York.

Saturday:  Nipissing at Laurentian.

OUA West Friday Round-up: Lancers, Golden Hawks solidify playoff spots

By virtue of their relatively easy wins on Friday night, both Windsor Lancers and Laurier Golden Hawks firmed up their grips on OUA West playoff spots – and improved their chances of hosting first round games – with solid wins at home.  Lancers jumped out to a big lead to defeat last place Lakehead in the first of two in Windsor last night while Laurier pulled away with a second-half offensive explosion, primarily from their stable of young, exciting guards to defeat cross-town rivals Waterloo at the PAC in what has become Golden Hawks de-facto “home away from home”.

Windsor jumped on Lakehead early and won going away 101-78, shooting 17-42 from three in their usual fire-wagon offensive basketball.  5’10” Mike Rocca had 18 points and 7 assists while 6’5″ Damian Persaud came off the bench to lead all scorers with 19 on 9-11 shooting.  Lancers appear to be getting oft-injured 6’7″ Luke Allin back on track in a deliberate manner as the smooth shooting wing went 4-11 from three in just 18 minutes.  The teams meet again tonight as Lancers, alone in fourth place in the division, hope to move back to the .500 mark.

Getting 22 second-half points from 5’11” Tevaun Kokko and shooting 54% overall after halftime were the catalysts in a 57 point second half as Laurier won in a gym where they have now played three games within the past two weeks plus three-games in November at the Naismith.  Kokko shrugged off a tough start to lead all scorers with 25 points offsetting another double-double from 6’7″ Nedim Hodzic for Waterloo, which travels to Brock tonight to face the first-place Badgers.  Warriors shot just 4-18 from three in absorbing their third loss in four games.

With 7 games remaining including the next three against the top teams in the division (Brock 2x, Western), Warriors are getting precariously closer to getting involved in the discussion for the final two playoff spots with McMaster and potentially Guelph among those teams hot on their heels – although Waterloo is still three games clear of Marauders and Algoma, currently tied for the final playoff spot.  Warriors still have two games remaining against the Gryphs and one vs. Mac.

Western got a solid 87-80 road win at Algoma with 6’4″ Marko Kovac and 6’0″ Omar Shiddo combining to shoot 8 for 15 from three point land as Mustangs shot 48% (12-25) from downtown as a team to put a crimp in Thunderbirds playoff hopes.  Algoma slips into a tie for that final playoff spot with McMaster, in advance of tonight’s rematch with Western in the Soo and Marauders uber-important game this afternoon at Guelph.

 OUA West Standings

Brock 15-2 (tonight: host Waterloo)

Western 10-7 (at Algoma)

Laurier 9-9 (idle)

Windsor 8-9 (host Lakehead)

Waterloo 7-10 (at Brock)

McMaster 4-13 (at Guelph this afternoon)

Algoma 4-13 (host Western)

Guelph 3-14 (host McMaster this afternoon)

Lakehead 2-15 (at Windsor)

AUS: U-Sports career scoring leader Masters gets 39 in UNB home win; X avenges losses with decisive win at Dalhousie

I usually get a chance to watch at least some of the AUS games early in the evening but was unable to tonight – however needless to say it is clear that UNB’s 6’0″ Javon Masters intends on making his fifth and final season a very special one indeed.  Tonight with fourth-place Saint Mary’s in town and looking to move up into the top three places in the AUS standings, the leading scorer in AUS history added another career honor to his name:  leading scorer in U-Sports/CIS/CIAU history – no doubt putting on another show with 39 points in a 104-96 win over the Huskies.  Masters passed 6’7″ Boris Bakovic (Ryerson/Calgary) with now 2,296 points – Bakovic finished with 2,282.  Masters went 11-22 from the floor, offsetting a career-high 28 points from Huskies 6’1″ guard Nico Brauner…  After losing five consecutive games this season to the Tigers – including three league games by an average of 17 points, highlighted by Tuesday night’s loss in Antigonish when X-Men looked listless defensively, coach Steve Konchalski pulled all the right strings in a decisive 91-64 win at DalPlex.  While 6’3″ Julius Antoine led the way with 20 points, tonight may have seen the emergence of 6’6″ athlete Azaro Roker as the sophomore had arguably his best overall production of his emerging career with 9 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists.  X held Tigers to just 12-32 from the floor and 1-9 from three in the first half, establishing an early 19-6 lead and generally coasting from there, finishing the half on a 10-2 run to lead by 20.  Later back-to-back Roker dunks gave X a 21 point third quarter lead and Antoine, who had three threes in the third quarter, put X up 25, a lead that later stretched to as many as 33.  The win pushes X into fourth place in the conference, a full 14 points ahead of Cape Breton as X-Men senior-laden class moves closer to clinching a spot at the AUS tournament.

AUS Standings

Dalhousie 11-3, 30 points

Acadia 10-2, 26 points

UNB 11-3, 26 points

St. FX 6-8, 18 points

Saint Mary’s 7-5, 16 points

Memorial 4-8, 14 points

Cape Breton 2-10, 4 points

UPEI 0-12, 0 points

Future Games:  Saturday – Saint Mary’s at UNB 3 PM AT/2 PM ET; Acadia at Memorial 8 PM NT/6:30 ET; Cape Breton at UPEI 8 PM AT/7 PM ET.

Sunday – Acadia at Memorial 2 PM NT/12:30 ET; Cape Breton at UPEI 3 PM AT/ 2 PM ET.

RSEQ: Gaiters pull major upset with deserving home win over McGill

Bishop’s 86, McGill 81… 6’1″ Joany Castor-Thadal‘s deep three with just over 3 minutes remaining late in the shot clock put the Gaiters ahead for good and 6’5″ Yassin Naji clinched it with another clutch three from the right pocket – again late in the clock – as Bishop’s overcame a valiant fourth-quarter comeback attempt by the Redmen to claim an important and well-deserved victory over first place McGill.

Bishop’s generally handled McGill’s vaunted press despite turning it over 25 times, getting 24 points from 6’5″ Abdul Kamane, RSEQ’s leading scorer, who slashed his way to the rim consistently – getting to the free throw line 10 times – and added 12 rebounds.  Kamane has the strength and quickness to bull his way to the rim and create contact, putting pressure on the referees virtually every time he attacks.  Castor Thadal added 16 on 7-11 shooting including several important makes at key times that got the larger and boisterous crowd energized.  Naji had three threes but the major reason why Bishop’s is so much better in the second half of the season is 6’2″ Nervens Demosthene, who had 12 points and 6 assists and despite 8 turnovers, gives Gaiters a legitimate break-down guy off the bounce.

McGill, which trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, took their press off late in the third and relied on their quarter-court “d” to bring the game back and Redmen actually took a brief lead at 76-75 on a straight away three by 6’3″ Dele Ogundokun.  But Castor Thadal quickly answered with his d e e p  three from the left wing to restore a two point Bishop’s lead and McGill never regained the lead.  Redmen had a couple of chances to tie or take the lead but went 0-6 in a three minute stretch late including a pair of wide-open misses by 6’1″ fifth-year guard Jenning Leung who finished with 18 points but made just 4-16 from three point land as Redmen shot just 8-39 from three.  6’1″ Alex Paquin had 24 to lead McGill which also hurt themselves shooting just 7-13 from the free throw line.

The teams meet again tomorrow night in Montreal in a 6 PM ET start.

RSEQ Standings

McGill 7-2

Laval 6-2

Concordia 5-4

Bishop’s 3-7

UQAM 2-8