Friday night’s games of interest

Another virtually full slate of games on tap across the country tonight and as we swing our thoughts east to west the following games are most notable in our eyes:

UNB (10-2, 4-0) at Saint Mary’s (8-3, 4-0)… V-Reds are off to a fast start and have a prior win over the Huskies – in late September at their own Eric Garland tournament – however of their 10 victories, only two have been against teams with winning records:  Queen’s (at Laval tournament) and the Huskies way back at the start of the season.  Virtually the same can be said about SMU – none of their 8 wins have come against a team with a winning overall record.  This is the first of two between these two undefeated teams:  both with pairs of league wins vs. UPEI and Cape Breton.

#7 Laurentian (7-0, 3-0) at McMaster (4-8, 1-4)… Voyageurs put their unblemished record on the line in Hamilton against 6’3″ Miles Seward (25 ppg) and the newer-look Marauders.  Voyageurs start the weekend as one of the more intriguing stories of the new year led by 6’2″ star guard Kadre Gray and look to prepare for their game tomorrow night in St. Catharines against #3 Brock, hoping that both teams will be undefeated.

Windsor (2-3, 2-2) at #1 Carleton (11-0, 5-0)… Historically Lancers have been one of the top rivals and challenges for the Ravens in the Dave Smart era; indeed Windsor is one of only about five teams in the country that has more than one victory over Carleton in the Smart coaching era including some memorable Wilson Cup battles.  Lancers come off a 1-1 weekend, losing to Ryerson at home and have not yet had 6’3″ Telloy Simon, a prized transfer from D2 in the lineup.  No word on whether or not 6’7″ Luke Allin will be available for Windsor; the slick shooting forward has battled an ankle injury all season.

Nipissing (4-4, 2-1) at #3 Brock (9-0, 6-0)… Recall Badgers lost in North Bay last season and Brock will look for some revenge although the Lakers welcomed back prized 6’4″ wing Marcus Lewis last weekend.

Notable Canada West games included Manitoba (8-2, 5-1) at Mount Royal (3-8, 2-4) in Calgary – a pair of road wins against a solid Cougars side will go a long way to determining whether the Bisons can squeeze out a top four Canada West finish… #8 Lethbridge (10-2, 6-0) at Thompson Rivers (3-5, 2-4):  Pronghorns travel to Kamloops in what is said to be a difficult trip.  WolfPack hopes to have 6’4″ Ukrainian import Anton Bilous back in the lineup and await the debut of U.S. import transfer 6’8″ Rico Nuno… In a battle of two programs that historically have been legitimate contenders for the Canada West crown but have fallen on somewhat-leaner times, Saskatchewan Huskies (3-6, 2-2) visit Victoria (8-5, 3-3) with the team that possibly could get swept severely hampering their playoff chances even this early in the season.  No word on when Huskies will debut their newest U.S. import 6’2″ J.T. Robinson to help them alleviate what has been a minutes-burden on their six man rotation.




Jean-Louis season-high lifts Gee-Gees to late win over Western

#10 Ottawa (11-3, 4-2) 67, Western (6-4, 3-3) 62… Finding a solid match-up was the tonic that 6’5″ Kenny Jean-Louis needed to produce his best game as a Gee-Gee, helping to rescue his sluggish group with tough work on the glass and inside and, more notably, a huge late three from the left wing late in the game as Ottawa outlasted a scrappy Mustangs side in a rare Friday afternoon matinee at Montpetit Hall in front of a near-sell-out filled with elementary school children.  Jean-Louis, playing the four spot, finished with a team-high 16 points, adding 7 rebounds on 7-9 shooting and knocked down a huge three from the left wing with just a minute and a half to play – part of his 8 point fourth-quarter, offsetting this afternoon what appears to be the longer-term loss of 6’7″ Brody Maracle.  Jean-Louis and 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles were able to gut out solid production against the younger and small Western front line, offsetting a tremendous performance by burly 6’1″ guard Eriq Jenkins, who was spectacular offensively authoring numerous highlight reel finishes that kept Mustangs in the game until the very end.  Jenkins driving lay-in that he gently threw up high off the glass, barely eluding the long arms of Pierre-Charles, brought the game back to one just prior to Jean-Louis big shot.  Western appeared to be in control early in the fourth up five at 47-42, aided by a stifling half-court “d” that confused Ottawa’s wing-ball screens and generally made it difficult to find open looks.  Unfortunately, Mustangs struggled at times on the defensive glass and the Gee-Gees went off late from the three-point line as 5’11” Sean Stoqua and 6’4″ Brandon Robinson found some lanes into the paint and were able to pitch out to 6’3″ Gage Sabean, 5’11” Calvin Epistola and, in the waning moments, Jean-Louis – Ottawa went a sizzling four for five from three-point land, erasing that early fourth quarter deficit.  Ottawa took their first lead since early in the third when Stoqua and Sabean hit back-to-back threes off draw-and-kicks to lift Gee-Gees to a 52-49 lead, part of a 9-0 run.  Later, 6’1″ Henry Tan gave Western their final lead at 54-53 with a shot from downtown but Ottawa clinched it with a 10-4 run highlighted by Jean-Louis’ three and the clinching bucket out of a timeout when Stoqua read the “d” and pitched it to Epistola who made no mistake from about 2 feet behind the line on the right wing.  Jenkins had 10 of his 25 in the final frame, knocking down j’s and getting to the rim – the Windsor native and D2 transfer scored Western’s final 8 points, virtually all in spectacular fashion.  Western shot just 6 for 22 from the three, went just 6-12 from the foul line and gave up 16 offensive rebounds in taking the tough loss during which their defense (ex-rebounding) and Jenkins, kept them in it.  Pierre-Charles had 6 of his 11 rebounds on the offensive glass, adding 13 points and 3 assists as uOttawa gutted out a win against an underrated opponent that is among the leaders in the country in several defensive categories.  Western meets Carleton tomorrow night while Ottawa gets set to host Windsor.

Gee-Gees host Mustangs in Noon Friday game

NOON EASTER IN OTTAWA… Western (6-3, 3-2) at #10 Ottawa (10-3, 3-2)… Gee-Gees have hit a bit of an early season wall, suffering with the loss up front of 6’7″ Brody Maracle, who suffered a significant concussion early in Ottawa’s loss at Laurier a week ago tonight.  Ottawa was rarely in Tuesday’s loss at Carleton but did get an encouraging performance from 5’11” Sean Stoqua who led the way with 15 points.  Mustangs are guard-heavy so expect heavy doses of small ball in an attempt to negate 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles who likely will have an opportunity to go to work inside against the younger Mustangs front line.  Game time is 12:00 PM Noon at Montpetit Hall in a rare lunchtime affair where many – including potentially a pair of Hall-of-Famers – are assembling at Sammy’s University Tavern for a pre-game meal/refreshments.  Gee-Gees are hosting this event as a reach-out to the local school community and the noon start should accommodate a larger, more vocal afternoon crowd full of kids.  The game also pits former Mustang star Ryan Barbeau against his former program – Barbeau is now Lead Assistant for the Gee-Gees.

Redmen gut out comfortable win at UQAM

#6 McGill (7-2, 2-0) 86, UQAM (3-8, 0-2) 69… Redmen rebounded from an early double digit deficit to maintain a double digit lead for much of the contest, holding off a late run with a flurry of late-game threes from 6’1″ fifth-year shooting guard Jenning Leung in a road win at UQAM in front of a loud, excited standing-room only crowd.  McGill could never really put the scrappy, hard-playing Citadins away partially due to some inconsistent decisions against pressure and a pair of missed wide-open layups but primarily because UQAM plays very hard for interim Head Coach Mario Joseph regardless of time and score.  Leung had four of his five threes in the final six minutes of the game including three in the final 2 1/2 minutes of play after UQAM had cut a 19 point deficit to just 8 with 3 minutes to play.  Earlier, Leung flubbed on a wide open break-away lay-up and 6’7″ Francois Bourque, after a fine beat of a sloppy UQAM close-out, missed a wide open finish, opening the door for Citadins final run which was highlighted by a pair of long threes from 6’7″ Ibrahima Sylla, which got the crowd back in it.  But the veteran Redmen ran their stuff and off wonderful ball movement found Leung free and the native of Philippines made no mistake when it counted.  McGill got a tremendous overall effort from 6’5″ Daniel Pieper, who played virtually the entire second half, reading his offensive opportunities very well to finish a perfect 5-5 from the floor for 10 points, one of five Redmen in double figures.  Leung led the way with 24 points while steady 6’2″ wing Dele Ogundokun added 15 points and three 3’s – one being a flashy step-back three from the right way with a hand in his face.  McGill front rimmed several shots early in a bad start but finished the game shooting 51.5% from the floor, getting to the rim almost at will during major parts of the contest.  Sylla had 18 to lead UQAM with sharpshooting 6’0″ Charles Miller adding 14 and 6’0″ Misi Boye, who epitomizes the competitive zeal with which UQAM plays, had 13.  McGill hosts Concordia at 6 PM ET on Saturday in Montreal.

Axemen dig in, upset Dalhousie at home

Acadia (9-3, 4-0) 70, #5 Dalhousie (13-2, 4-1) 67… Axemen overcame an early 10-point deficit and then built a double digit lead of their own in the fourth quarter before holding on for a dramatic home in Wolfville, breaking Tigers winning streak at nine.  6’0″ Nick DePalma got free off a nice set piece to knock down the game clinching three from the left wing off a feed by 6’10” Erik Nissen which gave Acadia a five-point lead with just over a minute to play.  Tigers did mount a final comeback attempt when, down six and just 17 seconds remaining, 6’5″ Alex Carson, who had a quiet night, knocked down a long three to get the deficit down to three.  On the ensuing possession, 6’3″ Ben Miller was tied up with the possession arrow belonging to the Tigers but Carson subsequently missed a game-tying attempt at the buzzer from about 3 feet behind the stripe from the same area of the floor.  6’5″ Thomas Johnston played a key role all evening at both ends for Acadia – his “d” was instrumental in holding the normally hot-shooting Tigers – averaging almost 50% from three-point land in their first four AUS regular season games – to just 8 for 26 (31%) and 35.6% from the floor overall.  Illustrating the adage that there rarely are substitutes for experienced fifth-year seniors, Johnston, back after sitting out last season, played 24 minutes, finishing with 10 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.  DePalma had 12 points on four 3’s in the game including an important pair in the fourth quarter, getting free earlier off an “o” board scramble – Acadia had 14 offensive rebounds, once again exposing a chink in the Tigers armour.  Nissen had 12 points, 13 rebounds and 7 blocks, protecting the rim on Dalhousie drives and knocking down a series of perimeter j’s.  Miller, who played limited minutes in the first half due to picking up a rather quick two fouls, added 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals and continued his fine decision making.  Dal’s 6’6″ Sven Stammberger came out of the gate on fire with a pair of early 3’s as Tigers rolled to a quick lead, surprising the Axemen early with a zone defense that quickly went back to man-to-man when DePalma re-entered the game.  After 6’10” Sasha Kappos hammered home a dunk off a nice feed from 6’1″ Jordan Aquino-Serjue, Dal led 21-11, making 8 of their first 15 from the field including 3 of 6 from downtown.  But the Dal bench could not sustain the momentum and Tigers finished the game just 18-58 including just 5 for 20 from the three in absorbing their first loss of the AUS regular season.  Stammberger led the way with 20 points and 8 rebounds while Kappos added 15 on 7-9 shooting and 6 rebounds but interestingly did not finish the game as Coach Rick Plato opted instead to use bespectacled 6’5″ U.S. import Tyler Williams to finish the game.  For much of the contest, the game was played at a high-level and high-tempo although the defenses took over, especially in the second half.  Expect another entertaining, quality affair on Saturday when the two teams meet again at DalPlex in Halifax.

Dalhousie at Acadia highlights pair of U-Sports games this evening

#5 Dalhousie (13-1, 4-0) at Acadia (8-3, 3-0)… Given Acadia’s size, experience and talent up front, Axemen could potentially provide one of the more challenging match-ups for a Tigers team that has stampeded through the early portion of the AUS schedule.  However, Acadia has two of the best overall bigs in the conference in 6’10” Erik Nissen and 6’9″ Rhys Larry – both fifth-year guys who are likely to test Dalhousie’s younger front line that starts 6’10” Sasha Kappos, a sophomore who at present is a better perimeter player than rim protector and rebounder.  Expect Dal to try to speed the game up however Acadia also has a fine array of guards led by 6’3″ Ben Miller.  Axemen will have to find match-ups for 6’6″ Sven Stammberger and 6’5″ Alex Carson – while Acadia has a perceived advantage up front, Axemen on paper could have issues addressing the size, shooting ability and explosiveness of two of the top players in the conference.  The size and strength of the Acadia front line against the perimeter shooting and overall explosive scoring of Dalhousie’s wings – one of the more intriguing match-ups in this early season.

#6 McGill (6-2, 1-0) at UQAM (3-7, 0-1)… Redmen dominated Laval in their opener at home while Citadins fell behind by 20 in the second half in their opener at Bishop’s before making it interesting.  Looks like an overflow crowd already at UQAM for this encounter.

Rams dominate in road victory at Guelph

Ryerson (5-4, 4-2) 82, Guelph (1-10, 1-5) 57… Rams led from virtually the opening tip, breaking the game open with a mid-third-quarter 17-2 run that extended the lead to 26 in a comfortable win at Guelph.  6’6″ sophomore Keevon Small had 10 of his game-high 21 points in the third quarter including a pair of threes as the Rams made 4 of their 6 threes in the game in the third.  Rams deployed a zone defense including locating long, athletic 6’7″ J.V. Mukama up top and Gryphons struggled to find clean looks all night, shooting just 4-19 from beyond the arc and getting to the line just 8 times.  Guelph turned it over 19 times.  Mukama finished with 10 points and authored arguably the slickest move of the night when he penetrated the lane, drew help and then delivered a behind-the-back dime to 7’2″ Tanor Ngom who threw down a two-handed flush from the right side as Ryerson extended a second quarter lead.  6’1″ Myles Charvis had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists for Ryerson, consistently putting pressure on Guelph’s ball defenders while 6’1″ Chase Vassell, inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in his career, added 10 points including a three during the third quarter run.  Ngom, who continues to see his minutes somewhat limited, had an efficient 12 points on 5-6 shooting in just 10 minutes.  Ryerson again played without 6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa and 6’6″ Nathan Culbreath.  Guards Jordan Sobot (122 points) and 6’2″ Daniel Dooley (11 points) led Guelph.  Gryphons host U of T Varsity Blues this Saturday while Ryerson is idle until next Friday night when Rams host Waterloo Warriors, with Associate Coach Borko Popic taking the reigns as Head Coach Roy Rana handles his new responsibilities as Head Coach of Canada’s Sr. National team for the qualifying round games in Halifax and Dominican Republic.

Canada West Thoughts: Roster updates

While UBC Thunderbirds had an impressive sweep this past weekend at UNBC, a notable absence in their lineup with 6’2″ starting guard Jauquin Bennett-Boire, who played his freshman season at Saskatchewan in 2015-16 before red-shirting with the T-Birds last season.  Unfortunately it appears that Bennett-Boire’s time with UBC has come to an end – a quick look at UBC’s 2017-18 no longer lists his name on the roster, apparently confirming what many have been whispering throughout Canada West.  By all accounts, there is very little doubt that Bennett-Boire is a talented player – recall that as a freshman, the Abbotsford Yale Secondary grad led the Huskies to an 82-80 victory over Carleton at the 2015 Guy Vetrie Memorial tournament.  Bennett-Boire has a baller’s lineage, as he is the son of former Brandon Bobcat and Toronto George Harvey Hawk Wayne Bennett… Thompson Rivers WolfPack struggled this past weekend at Saskatchewan amid a thinned out roster, most notable being that 6’4″ Ukrainian import Anton Bilous did not play – Bilous is a junior college transfer from Western Texas College who has shown a sometimes-prolific touch from long-distance in the early season.  WolfPack is also expecting to have a potential impact big man in the lineup shortly as 6’8″ Rico Nuno on the roster.  Nuno is a native of Half Moon Bay, CA (suburb of San Francisco/Oakland/Bay Area) where he was a San Francisco All-Metro selection in his final year of high school.  This will be Nuno’s fourth stop in four seasons after his stellar high school career – he played his freshman season (2014-15) at Diablo Valley junior college where he was a first team All-Big 8 Conference selection after averaging 10 points and seven rebounds.  This earned him a Division 1 scholarship at Eastern Washington, an NCAA Division 1 program in the Big Sky conference where in 2015-16 he averaged about 1 point and 2 rebounds per game in 7 mpg.  According to Wikipedia, Nuno was dismissed from Eastern Washington and played 2016-17 season at St. Martin’s Saints, an NCAA Division II program out of Lacey, WA (same conference as Simon Fraser Clan) where he played in just 6 games in 2016-17.  According to his coach at Eastern Washington:  “Rico is a unique combination of size and skill. He is an outstanding passer and shooter from the perimeter, and does not shy away from interior physical post play.”  No official word on when Nuno will be available although St. Martin’s box scores from last season show him playing in games as late as early December, 2016… Manitoba coach Kirby Schepp could be an early leader for Canada West Coach-of-the-Year, thus far leading his Bisons to a 5-1 record in Canada West and 8-2 overall despite losing four of five starters from last season’s U-Sports Final 8 team and returning only three rotation regulars.  Bisons only pre-season loss was to #7 Laurentian Voyageurs in a tight game in October.  Bisons are getting steadily improved play from 6’7″ James Wagner, who is taking on a much more important offensive role in his sophomore season and 6’3′ Justus Alleyn, who did a great job in a key supporting role on last season’s Canada West finalist club and has stepped up after a strong summer with Canada’s FISU Games team to become a 1st Team All-Canada West candidate.  With new table setter 6’1″ Rashawn Browne, a D2 transfer, running the point, Bisons have reloaded and are currently on our list of Honorable Mention teams in our rankings.  Schepp and his Bisons also appear to have the schedule maker on their side this season (hat tip to our sage Southern Alberta correspondent) – note that Manitoba does not have #2 Alberta, #4 Calgary or #8 UBC on their schedule and host #10 Lethbridge at home in Winnipeg.  As well, of their 20 Canada West regular season games, a total of 11 will be at home and only 9 on the road.  Manitoba could be poised for at least one or two home playoff rounds and another shot at advancing deep into the Canada West playoffs.


Stifling “d” lifts Ravens to easy victory

#1 Carleton (11-0, 5-0) 74, #10 Ottawa (10-3, 3-2) 53… 6’6″ T.J. Lall hit back-to-back threes and 6’10” Eddie Ekiyor had six points including a dunk during the late second quarter game-deciding run that lifted the Ravens to a comfortable win over the Gee-Gees, playing without 6’7″ Brody Maracle.  After 5’11” Sean Stoqua (15 points to lead Ottawa) knocked down a three from the top of the bowl, Carleton locked down defensively as Gee-Gees missed 11 of their final 12 shots of the half, scoring only a single bucket in the final 7 minutes of the second quarter.  Lall’s pair of threes in the final two minutes capped a 14-2 run and later Carleton would lead by as many as 24 to claim the victory at the Raven’s Nest.  6’0″ Yasiin Joseph led all scorers with 21 points, breaking down Gee-Gees defenders during a third-quarter stretch when the Ottawa Glebe product had 8 consecutive points while 5’11” D1 transfer Minus Tutu scored Carleton’s first 9 points of the contest (17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) as Carleton guards generally wrecked havoc in the front court, rotated with extreme effectiveness and generally made it difficult for Ottawa to consistently get decent looks.  Ekiyor (13 points, 10 rebounds, 6-8 shooting) generally had his way with 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles, who had just 4 points and 4 rebounds against his former team.  In three games vs. Carleton since his widely-publicized transfer, Pierre-Charles is averaging 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while Ottawa has lost all three affairs.  Stoqua had one of his strongest efforts for Ottawa, keeping the Gee-Gees in it in the first half with a pair of threes and creating.  While Ottawa generally defended Carleton’s actions very well including playing the ball screen effectively, Gee-Gees simply could not generate enough offense (32.2% shooting including 6-26 from downtown).  Ottawa did get encouraging minutes from 6’5″ Chase Tynes who showed his explosive athletic ability and did not back down and later in the game from 6’3″ Alex Muise who knocked down a corner three and looked good making decisions with the ball.  But Carleton showed their superior depth and perimeter shooting going 8-17 from three and dominating the glass at 37-22.  At this point in the season, Ravens appear to be head and shoulders above their cross-town rivals.  Both teams get set to host OUA West teams this weekend with Western at Ottawa and Windsor at Carleton on Friday night.

One game this evening in OUA play is an interlock with Ryerson (4-4, 3-2) at Guelph (1-9, 1-4).

Wayne Kondro’s article on the game from the Ottawa Sun

#10 Ottawa at #1 Carleton tonight at Raven’s Nest

The latest in the continuing rivalry between two Nation’s Capital programs happens tonight at the Raven’s Nest as undefeated and #1 ranked Carleton Ravens entertain uOttawa Gee-Gees, reeling somewhat after a 1-1 weekend in Kitchener-Waterloo that included what could be a long-lasting injury to star 6’7″ forward Brody Maracle (concussion).  Maracle’s status for tonight’s game is not known however the forward missed Saturday afternoon’s game at Waterloo.  Should Maracle not be available, expect the Gee-Gees to surround 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles with shooters and, should Carleton coach Dave Smart look to double down defensively on the ex-Raven and turn Pierre-Charles into a passer, Ottawa’s ability to knock down shots will be key.  The last time these two teams played in a conventional gym, last season at Montpetit Hall, Pierre-Charles was a non-factor at either end, Gee-Gees struggled to make shots and Carleton won going away.  Given their depth and athleticism at the guard spots, Carleton has the ability to push up and even press in the front court, speeding up the game.  Gee-Gees will have at least four guys playing their first-ever Canal War (5’11” Sean Stoqua, 6’5″ Kenny Jean-Louis, 6’5″ Chase Tynes and 6’3″ Alex Muise) which many first-time alumni of this game will tell you is an entirely different experience:  Ottawa looks to have both Pierre-Charles and 6’4″ Brandon Robinson step up as senior leaders.  Carleton’s 6’10” Eddie Ekiyor will again look to make his mark in this game – he had a spectacular, soaring, swooping transition slam in the game at Montpetit Hall last year, part of a dominant effort.  Expect a sell-out crowd and the usual electric atmosphere at the Raven’s Nest.