One of the top coaches in the country in my opinion is Windsor’s Chris Oliver who continually has the Lancers in the OUA championship discussion, at times with lesser talent than opponents. Chris is a wonderful teacher of the game – I highly recommend his site “Basketball Immersion” which provides a plethora of basketball wisdom including numerous individual and team drills and much more compiled through Coach Oliver’s three decade (or so) odyssey in the basketball world.
Part of Chris’s more recent success could be the result of the growing field of analytics and a member of the Windsor staff, Daniel Iannetta has compiled a “A Final 8 Preview Per Synergy”. While I am ordinarily a one-man-show, Dan has clearly put in meaningful work for this preview which I hope you enjoy.
Daniel Iannetta is nearing the completion of his Masters in Applied Human Performance at the University of Windsor. His research mainly explores the use of sports statistics and data analytics in the field of many different sports, including basketball, soccer and football. He also spent the last year with the Lancer Men’s Basketball team as their Head of Statistics & Analytics where he developed detailed scouting reports, and game analysis utilizing Synergy Sports Tech, as well as a program that he and his advisor, Dr. Kevin Milne created using C++ programming. For updates on sport statistics research and other sport-related topics, follow Daniel’s twitter @danieliannetta
Acadia Axemen (NR) – Host
Ball Distribution: (low turnovers too)
– The host team, Acadia Axemen do a very good job at distributing the ball, and making sure that their offense is free-flowing. They average 16.8 APG, putting them in the top 10 of the country, and right behind Carleton for tournament teams. The Axemen have 4 players who average over 2 APG, including senior guard, Ben Miller, who averages 6 APG, good for 3rd most in the country. When the offense can be facilitated by anybody on the court, it will make for a tough time for any opponent.
– Acadia can generate many second chance point opportunities by the way they can get after the offensive glass. The Axemen average 14 ORPG, which puts them top 5 in the country. Erik Nissen averages over 2 ORPG, and per Synergy, converts 1.3 PPP off of the second chance opportunities, putting him in the top 10% in the league for that category.
Inefficiency from the Field:
– Acadia has some limitations offensively in that they can be average in efficiency in both transition, and overall half court (per Synergy). The Axemen only generate 0.936 and 0.793 PPP in transition and half court, respectively, which slates them in the bottom 40% of the league. Outside of the 3, Acadia only shoots 41% from the field, which puts them at 28th in the league. They will need to be able to convert more from inside the arc if they want to make a run.
– Acadia has one of the lowest FT shooting percentages in the league at 67.5%. Similar to McGill’s struggles, Acadia will be going against some great competition where points might be difficult to generate offensively. They cannot squander the chance to get points at the free throw line if they want to succeed.
Erik Nissen (#11)
- Senior forward, Erik Nissen has been the driving force for the Axemen all year. He is a walking double-double with his PPG total of 18.3 and 10.8 RPG being key in the team’s 15-5 record this year. At 6’10, Nissen is a problem for anyone in the post, however, he can also stretch the floor (1.1 3PM/G) creating a matchup problems for other bigs.
Ben Miller (#9)
- Though Miller has struggled from the field this year (37.7%), he is an incredible ball distributor (6 APG) and rarely makes mistakes with a 2.2 A:TO ratio while shooting 87% from the line. Both qualities you love to have from your senior point guard.
McGill Redmen (5) – RSEQ Champion
– McGill does an incredible job at taking the ball away from their opponents. As a team, the Redmen lead the country in turnovers forced with 23.1 takeaways a game. They also cause a turnover on 23.8% of their opponents possessions. Much of their success has to do with 6 of their players averaging over 1 SPG.
– Per Synergy, McGIll has the most efficient defence in both transition, and half court while only allowing 0.807 and 0.696 PPP, respectively. Defensive standouts Dele Ogundokun (#3) and Daniel Pieper (#8) have helped the Redmen hold opponents to 66 PPG (2nd in the country) while shooting 39% from the field (5th in the country).
– One of the areas that could cause McGill fans some concern is their inconsistency at the free throw line. Throughout the season, McGill averages getting to the line 20 times a game, but only makes 62.8% of their attempts (bottom 5 in the country). This means, on average, the Redmen leave just over 7 points on the board. In close games against better competition, this could prove costly.
– Though McGill forces a lot of turnovers, they also have some issues in taking care of the ball themselves. McGill averages 16 TO/G, which ranks them 39th in the country. Against teams that thrive in transition (e.g., Brock, Carleton, etc.) McGill has to do a better job at taking care of the ball, and eliminating easy opportunities for their opponents.
Dele Ogundokun (#3)
- The work that Dele does on the defensive end of the floor cannot go unnoticed; he has only allowed opponents to score 0.652 PPP while being the primary defender. He is forcing opponents to turn the ball over 24.4% of possessions while averaging 2.4 steals a game. Look for the RSEQ MVP Candidate to be a thorn in the side of most players this tournament.
Alex Paquin (#5)
- Paquin is one of the best spot-up shooters in the country, scoring 1.37 PPP off of spot up chances.The senior guard is the main offensive spark-plug for McGIll as he leads the team with 15 PPG, and over 2 3PM/G. Teams will need to plan for him every time out.
Calgary Dinos (4) – Canada West Champion (CW)
Steals & On-Ball Defense:
– Calgary is an excellent team defensively, only allowing 72.8 PPG, which is good enough for 8th best in the country. Most of their defensive ability comes from their ability to disrupt passing lanes, and force teams into bad matchups, causing many turnovers. Calgary averages 13.1 steals per game, which leads the country. Guards, Mambi Diawara and David Kapinga average 2.5 and 3 SPG, respectively.
One of the Dinos’ biggest strengths in comparison to the rest of the field is the amount of depth that they have at all 5 positions. In a tournament played over 3 straight days, fresh legs are extremely important, and Calgary can go deep to their bench, having 9 players average over 15 minutes a game this season.
Lack of Rebounding:
– Calgary has some trouble defending the ball as a team. As a whole, Calgary is ranked 29th in the country in total rebounds per game, and they are the only team in the Final 8 that averages a negative margin in rebounding difference against their opponents. Look for teams to try to crash the class against Calgary this tournament.
– Though Calgary is 11th in the country in 3PM this season averaging 9.65 a game, they are only 31st in the country in overall 3Pt% at 31.2%. The Dinos’ only have one player averaging over 1 attempt a game that shoots over 35% from distance. There’s an old saying that “you live by the 3, you die by the 3”; to be successful, Calgary needs to make sure they increase their percentages.
Mambi Diawara (#1)
- Mambi is an incredible offensive threat both in transition, and from distance averaging over 2 3PM/G, while averaging 22 PPG, good for 7th in the country. Diawara has scored over 20 points in 14 of Calgary’s games this year, but his impact isn’t just scoring; he leads his team also in rebounding with 7 RPG. Look for Diawara to be an impact player moving forward in the Final 8.
David Kapinga (#0)
- Kapinga is a jack-of-all-trades for the Dinos. Not only does he lead his team in assists with 4.2 APG making sure to distribute to players like Diawara and Schlueter, but he averages an incredible 3 SPG, making sure that he is a difference maker on defence.
Alberta Golden Bears (2) – CW Runner Up
– One of the most important keys to being successful in basketball is the ability to rebound the ball. No team in this tournament does that better than Alberta. The Golden Bears are top 4 in every rebound statistic in the country (ORPG, DRPG, TRPG) with the 3rd highest rebound margin of +12.3. Alberta will not let up second chance points on the boards, and will make sure to crash the glass to get their own second chance opportunities.
Amazing Spot Up Team:
– Per Synergy, the Golden Bears score 0.972 PPP off of Spot Up sets, which puts them at #2 in the country. They have incredible shooters from the perimeter like Austin Waddoups (#1) who averages 2.5 3s a game at 40.2% shooting. However, they also have dual-threat playmakers off the dribble who can attack the basket like Geoff Pippus (#9) who scores 1.35 PPP going to the basket from Spot Up.
Average in Transition:
– One area which Alberta struggles in is generating offense from transition. This could be due to the fact that they send everyone to the defensive glass, and may not have a lot of players running out in transition. However, against great half court defensive teams (e.g., McGill, Carleton, etc.) the Golden Bears may have to consider sending players out in transition to get easier scoring opportunities.
– An area which may need improvement for the Golden Bears is their distribution of the ball. Only 1 player on the team averages over 2 APG while the team as a whole has an A:TO ratio of 1.09, which has them near the bottom of the rankings compared to other Final 8 teams. Alberta cannot be so reliant in on one facilitator if they want to make a deep run this year.
Brody Clarke (#14):
- The 6’8 Junior had an incredible year for Golden Bears totalling 15 PPG and 8.3 RPG, while shooting 54.4% from the field, all in only 24.4 MPG. Similar to Ekiyor from Carleton, Clarke is a problem to anyone guarding the post, and trying to keep him away from the boards. He is excellent in the pick & roll both going to the basket, but he also has a mid-range to his name that defenders have to respect.
Mamadou Gueye (#11):
- Gueye has been an anchor for Alberta’s team all year both on offence and defence. He is top 2 in every statistical category on the team, and he is also one of 4 players in the country to average over 1 steal and block a game. He can do it all for the Golden Bears.
Carleton Ravens (1) – Wilson Cup Champion (OUA)
– Carleton allows a league leading 60.4 PPG while holding teams to under 35% from the field, and 30% from 3. Per Synergy, Carleton has the #1 overall half-court defense in the league, only allowing 0.66 Points Per Possession (PPP) while forcing turnovers during 21% of the opposing team’s half-court offensive sets.
– Carleton made the second most 3s in the country this year at 9.5 a game (only behind Windsor), while shooting 36.2%. Not only are they making their 3s (5 of their players average over 1 3PM/G), they are making them at a percentage which is top 5 in the country..
Pick & Roll Offense:
– When Carleton guards run the pick & roll and try to keep the ball, they are below average in generating offense and very inefficient (0.642 PPP, 27.4 TO%). Players like Yasiin Joseph and Munis Tutu struggle to score in these sets (37 FG% combined) while turning the ball over 26% of the time.
– Carleton averages 18.5 PFs a game; they play a very aggressive style of defense that it can allow teams to get in the bonus very early, and get teams quick and easy points. However, with Carleton’s amazing depth, individual foul trouble might not be the biggest problem.
Eddie Ekiyor (#42)
- Ekiyor was an OUA First-Team All-Star this season averaging 14.3 PPG with 7.3 RPG. Though his per game averages may not be as flashy as others around the league, it’s important to note that Eddie is doing this in only 24 MPG. His overall offensive & defensive efficiency (59% FG, 1.1 PF/G) and per 40 numbers of 24 PPG and 12 RPG are much better representations of how dominant this sophomore has been for the Ravens.
Yasiin Joseph (#10)
- Joseph joins Ekiyor as an OUA First-Team All-Star selection averaging 14.7 PPG while knocking down over 2 3Pt/G. Joseph is the quarterback to the Ravens offense, with an A:TO of 2.0 making sure to get his surrounding cast involved, while still knowing to score when needed.
New Brunswick Varsity Reds (10) – AUS Champion
– UNB has the 2nd most potent offense in the league, generating 90 PPG on 45.3 FG% and 34.1 3PT%, both top 10 percentages in the league. Per Synergy, the Varsity Reds generate 0.906 PPP which ranks them in the top 15% in the country, with 10 players averaging over 5 PPG.
– To compliment UNB’s incredible offensive efficiency, the team also sports amazing numbers from the charity stripe. The Varsity Reds get to the line 23.4 times a game, 5th most in the country, while scoring 74% of opportunities, also good for 5th in the country. With these highly efficient numbers in all areas on offense, opposing coaches will find it very difficult to scheme for this team.
– An area in which UNB struggles is defending the 3-point line. Opposing teams score 35% of 3Pt attempts on the Varsity Reds, which ranks them bottom 7 in the country, and well in away the lowest team in the tournament. Per Synergy, they give up 0.942 PPP on 3-point shots, which is average. However, for teams that can let it fly, like Carleton and Acadia, UNB can possibly be exposed.
– Only one player on UNB’s roster averages over 10 PPG, and that is MVP Candidate, Javon Masters. For teams that have made it this far, they have done so in being able to take away what their opponents do best. If teams are keying in on Masters and he isn’t able to carry the load as much, who on UNB will be able to step up?
Javon Masters (#23)
- As previously mentioned, MVP Candidate Javon Masters has been unstoppable this year for UNB. With a stat line of: 24.5 / 5.9 / 5.5 with 1.8 SPG, he truly does everything for the Varsity Reds. His efficiency is on another level (50.7 FG%, 37 3Pt%, 90.2 FT%) almost putting him in the 50-40-90 club. He might be the most talented player in the league.
Ibrahima Doumbouya (#21)
- It can be very difficult to shine while playing alongside MVP Candidate, Javon Masters, but freshman forward, Doumbouya has been able to put together a nice season averaging almost 10 PPG with 5.2 RPG. It’ll be interesting to see how the freshman can handle the big stage alongside his 5th year senior teammate.
Brock Badgers (3) – At Large Bid
Low Post Defense:
– In the Final 8, the Badgers average the most BPG with 4.5, only another stat that helps solidify them as one of the best defenses in the country (70 PPG, 36% FG). Brock is equipped with many defensive playmakers, especially down low like First-Team All OUA, Dani Elgadi, who averaged nearly 2 BPG. Take it in the paint at your own risk when going against the Badgers.
– In addition to the Badgers stingy low-post defense, they are also well equipped at guarding the perimeter. Brock ranks 7th in the country in opponents’ 3Pt% with 29.5%. They do an amazing job at closing out on opponents and forcing them to pass away otherwise good shots. With their length and quickness, Brock is able to disrupt shot opportunities like no other (Spot Up Defense Per Synergy: 0.738 PPP).
Lack of 3-Point Scoring:
– One area where Brock has suffered in being productive all year is their 3Pt shooting. Brock averaged only 6.9 3PM/G, which puts them 36th in the country. To make matters worse, the low attempts they do have, they only convert on 32%, which puts them lower than any team in the tournament, besides Ryerson. Besides Johneil Simpson (#11), no one on Brock is really a threat from deep.
Giving Up Offensive Rebounds:
– Brock’s other weakness can stem from their willingness to get out in transition. When doing so, they leave themselves susceptible to offensive rebounding opportunities. The Badgers give up the 3rd most O-Boards at 12.8 opposition ORPG. Against teams that are able to crash the glass like Alberta and Acadia, they will need to do their best to limit second-chance points.
Dani Elgadi (#13)
- First-Team OUA All-Star, Dani Elgadi has been outstanding for the Badgers all year. As a senior, Dani averaged 17.3 PPG in only 28 MPG. What stands out is his length and athleticism for his size which helps him clean up the glass (9.3 RPG) and swat shots away (1.7 BPG). He is a problem for opposing players on both ends of the court.
Cassidy Ryan (#35)
- Cassidy has been one of Brock’s most consistent players throughout the season. He averages 17 PPG, and does so in a very old-school, bruising way. He is able to bully his way to the basket, and draw tons of contact. He is an excellent FT shooter (82.3%) and provides an outstanding 1-2 punch with Elgadi.
Ryerson Rams (5) – Wilson Cup Runner-Up
– The Rams are 9th in the country in 3PM/G at 9.3 per. Much of their team’s success in this department is due to First-Team OUA All-Star, Manny Diressa who averaged 3.1 3PT/G. In addition, 5 other players for Ryerson average over 1 3PM/G, meaning there are many players who can let it fly. However, Ryerson only shoots 31.5% from 3; if they want to shock some teams in the tournament, they need to shoot the 3 at a higher clip.
– Besides UNB, no other team in the tournament does a better job at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line than Ryerson. They play very aggressively and do not shy away from contact. Per Synergy, the Rams get to the line 13.3% of their possessions, the 3rd best in the country. Again, similar to their 3Pt% needing to improve, Ryerson’s FT% of 65.4 needs to improve drastically if they want to make a run this year.
Lack of Ball Distribution:
– Aside from Myles Charvis (#7), the Rams have a very difficult time in distributing the ball. They are the only team in the tournament who have a negative A:TO Ratio (-0.1). 8 players on the Rams average over 1 TO/G, meaning teams that are excellent in transition (Brock, UNB, etc.) will be able to capitalize on Ryerson’s mistakes.
– Though Ryerson sports a top 10 defense in PPG allowed (73.3), they allow opponents to shoot 33.4% from 3, which ranks them 33rd in the country. Per Synergy, they are a below average team defensively against guarding the 3, giving up 0.998 PPP against the 3, ranking them in the bottom 15% in the league.
Ammanuel Diressa (#4):
- Manny started off the year injured, but quickly found his form leading the Rams back to the Wilson Cup Final where they ultimately lost to Carleton. Diressa averaged nearly 22 PPG while scoring over 3 3Pt/G. Per Synergy, he is the most efficient off screen scorer in the country, scoring 1.47 PPP off of screens. He has such a quick release that when once he gets away from his defender, he is shooting it, and quite likely he will make it.
Myles Charvis (#7):
- The Waterloo transfer, Myles Charvis had a terrific season with the Rams this year. The senior guard lead his team in minutes played (32 MPG), while providing 12 PPG and leading the team in assists with 4.0 APG. He will need to bring his leadership, and ability to control the game (Top 10 in A:TO Ratio) every night to propel Ryerson forward.