Gryphons bring in impact Nigerian import big man

Guelph Coach Chris O’Rourke has pulled off one of his better recruiting coups, announcing today the signing of 6’9″ Emmanuel “Manny” Chukwu, who starred this past season at Suffield Academy in Connecticut.  Chukwu, who had a scholarship offer on the table from NYIT Bears, an NCAA Division II program in the East Coast Conference (ECC), was born in Nigeria before arriving in the U.S.A. at the age of 14 and is the younger brother of Syracuse Orangeman 7’2″ center Paschal Chukwu.  Chukwu features a 7’1″ wing span, projecting as a solid rim-protecting big-man who can run the floor and adds another long athletic big to the young Gryphons front court which includes 6’8″ Sean Carey and 6’7″ Banky Alade, both entering their sophomore seasons.

Glenn excited about opportunities and challenges at UPEI

New UPEI Panthers Head Coach Darrell Glenn is clearly excited about his newest coaching challenge in Charlottetown and his motivation, commitment and energy levels were evident during our recent conversation.  Glenn has hit the ground running, already connecting with all returning players and recruits – note that while the Panthers lost 5 graduating seniors (Tyler Scott, Dut Dut, Lorenzo Parker, Mark Matheson and Jake Kendrick) encompassing 70% of the shots taken and 140 minutes per game, the program had, prior to Glenn’s hiring, announced 5 recruits all from Atlantic Canada to help rebuild the roster.

While longer-term Glenn has plans to bring in a new crop of talent to re-build the Panthers in his mould, with regard to the recruits he is inheriting, he has taken the classy step of honoring the scholarship commitments that were made prior to his arrival.  Those recruits include 6’4″ Bryce Corless, a combo wing forward out of Kennebecasis Valley H.S. (KVHS) and a veteran of the New Brunswick provincial team program, 6’6″ Vernelle Johnson from Halifax Grammar School and the Nova Scotia provincial team program, 6’2″ Brett Curtis, a sharpshooting wing from three-time defending New Brunswick “A” champions Harvey High Lakers and two local PEI products:  6’0″ Matt Connolly, from PEI “AAA” Provincial champions Charlottetown Colonel Gray – he was an all-star at that championship tournament and 6’3″ Adam Ryan from Charlottetown Rural which Colonel Gray defeated in the championship game – Ryan was also an all-star at the tournament.

Key veterans scheduled to return as part of Glenn’s first UPEI team in 2017-18 include 6’7″ Mickey Sedlarevic, 6’9″ Stefan Vujisic, 5’11” Shavon Gayle, 6’0″ Samy Mohamed and 6’2″ Almin Dervisevic among others.

Glenn has secured at least one new commitment from 5’11” Yusuf Ali (Toronto Vaughan Road), who played for Glenn at Seneca College for the past two seasons, this past season leading the Sting, who finished 17-3 in OCAA, in scoring at 15.1 ppg.  For his efforts, Ali was named 1st OCAA East Division All-Star.  Expectations are high that at least three other newcomers could be announced by coach Glenn within the coming weeks.

As many also know, Glenn also spent time as an Assistant Coach at York University and when asked about the recent coaching change with the Lions, Glenn was quick to dispel any notion of interest in pursuing the York job:  “I am blessed to be able to coach at my alma-mater, my family is excited about the move to Charlottetown and I have no interest in the York position.  My sole focus is on making our UPEI program one of Canada’s finest”.

Glenn is in the process of moving his family to Charlottetown and expects to be settled in time for his official start date on 1st July, 2017.

U-Sport flavor to Canada’s Maccabiah Games men’s basketball entry

Canada and U-Sport men’s basketball will be well represented at the 20th Maccabiah Games, which will take place in Israel, July 4-18, 2017 including on the coaching staff with McGill Assistant Coach Madhav “Muddy” Trivedi part of the two person staff for Israel along with Allon Bross (Head Coach).  Canada has fielded teams at this event for many years going back into the 1990’s.  Trivedi, one of the up-and-coming young coaches in U-Sport, is a graduate of Vaughan S.S. and Ryerson U. and has previously held assistant coaching positions at Ryerson under Roy Rana and Queen’s with Steph Barrie before moving over to Dave DeAveiro‘s staff at McGill.  Trivedi also has held multiple posts with Canada’s National team program over the past summers.  Bross is a generous, long-time supporter of Canadian basketball and Maccabi Canada.

This edition’s roster is dotted with present day and former U-Sport players including 6’3″ Sage Usher (entering his 4th season with U of T Varsity Blues) and 6’1″ Mor Menashe (rising fifth-year senior at Lakehead).  Other roster members with ties to Canadian university basketball include 6’3″ Jordan Balaban (Queen’s), 6’4″ Winnipeg native Keenan Benarroch (Manitoba), 6’5″ Vancouver native Sean Ashkenazy (ex-Fraser Valley Cascade who now plays in the Israeli pro league) and 5’10” Ave Bross (McGill).  Another roster member is 6’2″ Raphy Abergel, (ex-Vanier College CEGEP and Yeshiva University Maccabees, an NCAA Division III school in New York, NY).  The team also was hoping to have ex-Dalhousie All-Canadian 6’1″ Simon Farine in the lineup however the ex-European pro is now home and has employment commitments.

The team assembled this past weekend at U of T in Toronto, scrimmaging a group of returning Varsity Blues on Sunday and will reassemble in late June for a week-long training camp before departing for Israel.  Canada last participated in the Maccabi Games in 2015 in Chile.

Opening Ceremonies are set to take place July 6, 2017 in Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.

NCAA vs. U-Sport Summer Action

Although the calendar has just turned into May, plans are actively being put together for this summer’s annual set of visits by NCAA programs to Canada.  As well, for the second consecutive summer, at least two U-Sport programs will make way to Costa Rica for games against NCAA teams in that beautiful Central American country.

Thanks to the fine work by John Dangelas at JD Sports, Canadian basketball fans can once again expect another set of NCAA teams to visit Canada this coming summer.  One tour is already confirmed:  Towson Tigers from the Colonial Athletic Association, led by Coach Pat Skerry will visit Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City in early August.  Tigers finished 20-13 last season, losing in the semi-finals of CAA tournament to College of Charleston.  Towson, located just north of Baltimore, MD, makes their second trip to Canada under Coach Skerry and graduates just two players from last season’s group.  Towson’s schedule is as follows:

Sunday, August 6th, 2017 at UQAM in Montreal, 3 PM ET

Monday, August 7th, 2017 at Carleton in Ottawa; 7 PM ET

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 at Laval in Quebec City; 7 PM ET

Thursday, August 10th, 2017 at McGill in Montreal; 7 PM ET.

As well, following the successful tours by uOttawa, Toronto Varsity Blues and Brock to Costa Rica last summer, both McGill Redmen and Laurentian Voyageurs will travel south this summer.

Exact dates for games are to be finalized however Coach Shawn Swords and his Voyageurs will arrive on Friday, August 3rd in San Juan and are scheduled to play Montana Grizzlies (16-16 in Big Sky last season; lost in first round of conference tournament), Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (15-17 in Conference USA last season; lost in first round of conference tournament) and Kent State Golden Flashes (22-14 won Mid-American conference and lost to UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament) with specific dates not yet finalized.  Golden Flashes feature 6’2″ rising senior guard Kevin Zabo (Gatineau, Quebec) and 6’6″ rising sophomore Alonzo Walker (Toronto, ON/Orangeville Prep)

McGill arrives in Costa Rica on Friday, August 11th and will also face Kent State as well as Lamar Cardinals (19-15 Southland Conference lost in semi-finals of tournament) and UTEP Miners (15-17 in Conference USA).  Miners feature former Windsor Lancer star Isiah Osborne who is scheduled to make his debut with UTEP during this trip.

We expect to make more announcements regarding NCAA/U-Sport match-ups as they are finalized.

Capers continue rebuild with 3 newest additions

Recently celebrating his 9 month anniversary as Head Coach of the Capers, Head Coach Dave Petroziello continues to evolve his roster consistent with his long-term plans for the program.  If the first three pieces of his first-ever recruiting class are any evidence, last season’s struggles will rapidly become a thing of the past.  In what is likely only the first set of ultimately will be an 8 to 10 player class, Petroziello has attracted a pair of NCAA Division II transfers, starting with 6’1″ Indiana Rotondo, originally from St. Elizabeth H.S. in Vaughan, ON who started 11 games as a freshman at Mars Hill University (located just north of Asheville, N.C.).  Rotondo is a long, stronger combo guard with range on the perimeter who should upgrade Capers back court immediately.  With 4 seasons of eligibility remaining, Rotondo is a key piece for CBU going forward.  Petroziello also reached into the D-2 ranks for 6’4″ fourth-year wing guard Martin Campbell, who averaged 23 minutes per game in his junior season at University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in Washington, DC for the Firebirds.  Campbell, from Arandel High School (Upper Marlboro, MD) via Danville Area CC, can handle on the perimeter and is a bigger guard who should also help on the glass with his strength and physicality.  Campbell sat out last season and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.  Adding a third guard to the mix, Petroziello brings in local Nova Scotia point 5’11” Levi Smith III, originally from Auburn Drive H.S. in North Preston who spent his final season of high school at B2B Prep in Ontario before sitting out this past season.  Petroziello continues to pound the pavement and the program will likely announce another set of newcomers in the coming weeks as Capers look to bounce back from last season.

McMaster roster update

With a hat-tip to Bill Malley, Media Coordinator at McMaster and long-time follower of OUA sports going back several decades, our OUA West early season update listed 6’3″ guard Elliot Ormond as a returning starter.  We are grateful that Bill reminded us that Ormond has graduated from his program in Chemical Engineering and was part of the Marauders Senior Day celebration this past season and will not be back for his final season of eligibility.

Without Ormond, new Head Coach Patrick Tatham inherits a roster that loses 4 of their top 7 players encompassing about 110 minutes per game and 47 points per game for a team that averaged 76 ppg.  Only 6’1″ David McCulloch, 6’2″ Chris Thompson and 6’8″ Matt Quiring, who started 12 of the 19 OUA league games, are scheduled to return from the first seven in last season’s rotation.  However, we are told that there is some excitement around some potential new faces that may be arriving in the coming weeks – stay tuned.

By the way, Bill is recovering from a hip replacement and we send out our best wishes for a speedy recovery !

OUA West: Badgers ready to dominate (* UPDATED *)

NOTE:  Due to some IT challenges, a prior version of this update appeared with an abbreviated version of the Laurier piece which has since been revised with more detail…

With their impressive improvement culminating in a third place OUA finish this past season, Charles Kissi‘s Badgers established major separation atop what is now the newest incarnation of the OUA West.  Still, several teams are on the upswing and with the coaching change at McMaster, many long-time observers are hopeful that this conference will return to historic levels of 5-10 years ago when typically 3 or 4 teams from Ontario West dotted the CIS Top 10.

If the early announcements and other discussions are any indication, there is likely to be a meaningful shift in the make-up of many rosters, specifically with several additions of impact big men in the mould of the true “5” man, potentially reversing a recent general trend toward smaller lineups.  At least 5 programs have announced or are likely to bring in tall, burly posts between 6’10” and 7’0″, another exciting development as U-Sport basketball continues to battle for higher profile on the Canadian sporting landscape.

Brock… Coming off a break-through season for coach Charles Kissi that included a pair of wins against National championship game participant Ryerson and a Wilson Cup Bronze medal after a win against perennial Top 5 team uOttawa among others, the Badgers are laser-focused on avenging what was strongly felt in the “Region” as a Final 8 “at-large” bid slight.  Brock loses 5 of the top 12 from this past season’s roster (starters 6’4″ Ryan Bennett and 6’5″ Trevor Thompson have graduated but majority of the other losses are confined to the bottom end of the rotation including 5’10” Nolan MacKenzie and 6’4″ Mo Ismail).  Still, the high-quality core returns led by 6’7″ former All-Canadian Dani Elgadi, who played like an A/C down the stretch last season, 6’5″ Johnell Simpson, 6’7″ Cassidy Ryan – who played the final two months like the D1 transfer impact many were expecting and 6’6″ freshman sensation Daniel Cayer.  Although 5’11” Tyler Brown has improved dramatically into a front-end lead guard, Kissi realizes that more depth at the point guard spot is required and thus is bringing in 6’3″ Ibrahim Ngom (Vanier CEGEP) who is likely to be a plug-and-play lead guard.  6’2″ Kascius Small-Martin (Scarborough Jean Vanier via Vaughan Prep) adds depth to the wing guard spot.  Expect 6’1″ Michael Asemota to continue to get comfortable off the bench and 6’7″ post Mitch Saunders, who redshirted this past season, should slide into the minutes that Thompson got.  In an effort to add dominant size to the lineup, Kissi has signed 7’0″ Donald Mims, a transfer from Las Positas College (California Community College league) just southeast of San Francisco/Oakland.  Mims, originally from Sacramento, averaged 7.6 ppg/6.7 rpg while shooting 60% from the field.  Kissi is excited about 5’10” guard Noah LaPierre from Sudbury LaSalle, who is an explosive, underrated athlete, complete with a 40″ vertical and a confident, ballers mentality.  More size should arrive with 6’10” Bobby Dhaliwal from Brampton Turner Fenton H.S. while a pair of Montreal Vanier College recruits: 6’6″ Godsman Kwakwah and 6’3″ Djibril Ngom (Ibrahim’s twin brother) are likely to provide depth in the rotation.  Badgers could go as deep as 15 or 16 including redshirts when all is said and done with this season’s class in their effort to break into the U-Sport Final 8 tournament.

Windsor… Spunky 5’10” OUA all-star point guard Mike Rocca returns for his fifth and final season as one of the most improved players from first to fifth in recent OUA memory and, teaming with athletic 6’2″ Micqueel Martin, gives the Lancers one of the better guard tandems in the conference.  6’6″ Luke Allin will have a full season after transferring from Laurier – Lancers will expect more on the glass and at the defensive end from their now-senior wing forward.  Coach Chris Oliver must replace two upper-end rotation wings in 6’3″ Mitch Farrell and 6’5″ Tyler Persaud but got a wonderful freshman season from 6’7″ Anthony Zrvnar.  6’4″ veteran fifth-year forward Randy Oriakhi, undersized as a post-area presence, provides experience off the bench.  6’4″ Lucas Orlita is a confident offensive player while two other rising sophomores – both from Guelph – 6’0″ Chris Poloniato and 6’4″ Lukas Wood, continue to get more experience in the Lancer system.  Lancers have yet to announce any new recruits although rim protection and better overall rebounding are two areas of obvious need, especially for a program that usually features athletic guards and wings who love to push up and force the action defensively on the perimeter.

McMaster… Graduation and transfers have decimated the Marauders roster with 6’4″ Rohan Boney and 6’4″ Lazar Kojovic running out of eligibility, 6’3″ Elliot Ormond graduating after his fourth season (will not return) and 6’7″ OUA 1st Team all-star Connor Gilmore transferring to uOttawa.  New coach Patrick Tatham does have 6’2″ David McCulloch, a 35 minute a game guy with all-star skills, to build around.  6’2″ Chris Thompson and 6’8″ Matt Quiring are the most notable of experienced returnees for Tatham to build around but expect a heavy roster turnover over the coming months/seasons.  Marauders had previously announced that 6’2″ lefty Jacob Edwards, a native of Barrie, ON (Bear Creek S.S. where he played for ex-Marauder Paul Hopper before moving to St. Andrew’s College) has signed and the smooth-looking athlete brings the ability to shoot beyond the three point line and get to the rim.  Also previously announced was 7’0″ Jake Hammell from Kirkland Lake, ON before moving to Florida’s IMG Academy projects as a developing U-Sport big man.  Expect Tatham to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail.

Laurier… Golden Hawks are scheduled to lose only 6’6″ Matt Chesson and 6’0″ Owen Coulthard as second-year Head Coach Justin Serresse welcomes his first true recruiting class that has garnered at least two likely regulars in 6’1″ Ali Sow, a highly-regarded scoring guard out of Ottawa Merivale and 6’8″ Ben Stevens an athletic big from Halifax Grammar and the Nova Scotia Provincial team.  Freshman sensation 5’10” Tevaun Kokko, an OUA All-Star, is scheduled to return as one of the top creators in the conference while 6’3″ Shamar Burrows also comes off a solid freshman season.  The addition of Sow provides another get-to-the-rim scoring threat while 6’0″ Matt Minutillo became a pleasant surprise as a freshman, complementing his athletic backcourt mates.  Hawks are excited about the addition of another tough, scrappy, high IQ guard in 6’2″ freshman Goran Veselinovic (Hamilton) who played for ex-Carleton Raven Victor Raso at Cardinal Newman High this past season.  Maybe the most improved front court player in the country last season was 6’7″ Vlad Matovic, who authored several dominant rebounding efforts and took a huge step toward all-conference status with his play at both ends.  6’7″ Nick Broady was another revelation in the front court, moving into the starting lineup in November as a freshman from B.C. before fracturing his wrist causing the promising four-man to miss the remainder of his freshman season.  6’2″ Chuder Teny is a veteran who shoots the ball.  The staff is also high on 6’6″ Jack Demaree, an above-the-rim finisher who has the athleticism and skill set to be a solid “3” man in the league and should mature as his body fills in.  6’9″ Jordan Kenning a local product will likely need time to mature into a solid true U-Sport five man.  Laurier is likely to bring in at least one more impact player as the recruiting season moves into the summer months.

Waterloo… Arguably the most improved team in the OUA from mid-January to the end of the season, the Warriors catapulted into the playoff race late, staying in it until the final weekend of the season behind rapid maturation of their Big 3 recruits:  6’7″ Nedim Hodzic, 6’5″ Justin Hardy and 6’3″ Simon Petrov, who with his play down the stretch showed the potential to become a 1st team all-star type guard by the time his career is said and done.  Coach Justin Gunter‘s team quickly becomes very young however with the loss of three key seniors in 6’2″ Jon Ravenhorst, 6’4″ Ben Davis and 6’5″ Mike Pereira, all of who contributed to Waterloo’s success last season.  Beyond Waterloo’s three rising sophomores, key returnees include 6’8″ Spanish import third-year wing David Ramon Prados and 6’6″ 4th year forward Kristian Vande Kemp.  Gunter is also encouraged that 6’2″ rising sophomore Korbil Gany, who was a rotation guy last season before sustaining a bad concussion in early January, will return as a combo guard – Gany had 16 points in a summer NCAA game against Northwestern State.  Redshirt 6’0″ shooting guard Colin Connors (transfer from Brock) has a chance to be a steady, feet set long-range shooter at this level and should contribute.  Gunter also attracted at least four new recruits from high school led by 6’10” Evan Rodenburg (OFSAA Finalists Cambridge St. Benedict’s), a strong (300 lbs.) post with solid footwork and good hands who Gunter believes will be a main rotation guy from Day One, especially in light of the loss to graduation of OUA leading rebounder Pereira.  Complementing the new big man is 6’7″ lefty Cameron Penner (#43 NPH/Collingwood, ON), a physical banger who is a true grade 12 grad, just turning 18 this summer.  Rodenburg’s teammate from St. Benedict’s 6’2″ Justin Malnerich is another high IQ, coaches son who can knock shots down.  Waterloo has also announced 6’2″ Muyang Iluya who is also a high-end recruit for the Warriors football program and is more likely to concentrate on the gridiron.  The sturdy linebacker/safety type may end up finding a role with the hoops squad but certainly not at least until after football season is done.

Guelph... Coach Chris O’Rourke ordinarily played 9 or 10 guys or more during most games last season and, with numerous returning seniors and a deep group of under-classmen, expect Gryphons to continue to be a scrappy, tough defensive team that comes at opponents in waves.  Guelph loses only 6’5″ Ahmed Haroon, 6’6″ Martin Popiel and 6’5″ Kingsley D’Silva from last season’s group that in ’16-’17 will be led by 6’1″ Daniel Dooley, the fundamentally sound combo guard who leads five fifth-year players back including 6’1″ Jonathan Wallace, 6’4″ Andrew Grant, 6’2″ Drew Walford and 5’11” Taylor Boers.  A pair of rising second-year guards 6’1″ Jordon Sobot and 6’0″ Craig Valeriote showed progress in their rookie seasons to develop into legitimate OUA back-court talents.  O’Rourke is most excited about 6’5″ Aaron Nugent, a promising young wing who dealt with injuries last season but is healthy.  The core of their post presence is also young led by 6’8″ Sean Carey and 6’6″ Banky Alade.  Guelph has announced two recruits thus far:  6’4″ Rasheed Weekes (Mississauga St. Francis Xavier) and 6’7″ forward Yamin Ben Mireault-Dibanda from CEGEP Lennoxville-Champlain.  Expect the Gryphons to announce shortly at least two more additions including a potential impact big man.

Lakehead… Thunderwolves must replace their three best and most experienced rotation guys in 6’5″ OUA All-Star Bacarius Dinkins, 6’5″ Alexandre Robichaud and former all-star 5’11” Henry Tan, representing 95 minutes of starting talent.  But the roster has some emerging young talent sprinkled in with others who gained experience this past season to add to core returnees 6’1″ Mor Menashe, 6’2″ Nick Burke and perimeter-stretching wing 6’3″ Kache Kopec.  Head Coach Manny Furtado was encouraged by the late season play of 6’2″ rising sophomore Nahshon Hurst (Bill Crothers) who provided big minutes down the stretch and the return from injury of 6’5″ Quincy Johnson, who missed all of last season, which will boost the front line.  6’1″ Darnell Curtain (Hamilton Saltfleet) is a three-point threat off the bench while 6’4″ Mike Theodore will also help eat up space in the paint.  6’6″ post Noel Jones transfers in from uOttawa and his experience will be an asset.  A pair of little-used freshmen last season, 6’5″ Kingsley Campbell-Olsen and 6’0″ Tarik Smith-James hope to be in the mix also.  Furtado expects to announce at least two new recruits within the next month including an experienced scoring guard and a freshman wing from GTA.

Western… The promising rebuild continues in London and progress has already been made, epitomized by the tremendous second half that the young Mustangs had this past season – to wit, Mustangs were one double-OT loss from qualifying for the playoffs.  Certainly a solid foundation exists in the back-court with 6’0″ Eriq Jenkins and 6’1″ Omar Shiddo; the athletic pair allowed coach Brad Campbell to be more aggressive defensively on the perimeter and Jenkins was the OUA leader in steals last season.  Underrated and maturing point guard 6’0″ Nikola Farcic continues to evolve as a scoring point guard and remains a strong pass-first lead guard.  5’10” Tyler Thomson struggled with a high ankle injury sustained early last season that refused to heal, limiting his progress as a freshman; the tough, fundamentally-sound guard is healthy now.  Mustangs have added another athletic scoring point guard in 6’0″ Romeo Kabongo, originally from Hamilton (Wildcats club team) who spent this past season at Erie First Christian Academy in Erie, PA and ’15-’16 at Mississauga’s Clarkson S.S.  Kabongo loves to get out and run and adds another athlete to the lineup defensively.  Campbell also expects experienced contribution from 6’1″ Kayon Mayers, a transfer from Cape Breton who missed all of last season after he blew out his patella tendon in a pre-season scrimmage.  Mayers, originally from Mississauga Loyola who played his final season of high school ball at Boston Trinity Academy in 2010-11, last played in 2014-15 for Capers, averaging 7.4 ppg.  Mustangs have upgraded on the wing with 6’4″ Marko Kovac, the transfer from Windsor who has stepped in and taken on a leadership role already given his post-season experience with the Lancers.  Kovac projects initially as an undersized stretch 4 and looks to mature into a player who can defend the “3”.  6’7″ freshman Julian Walker, originally from Barrie Innisdale who spent last season at Brantford’s TRC Academy-Hill basketball (former home of legendary high school program Brantford St. John’s College) is another long, athletic wing forward who could help wreak havoc defensively.  6’1″ Alex Coote returns as a pure shooting wing along with 6’4″ Jedson Tavernier with both representing much of incumbent senior leadership now that 6’1″ Eric McDonald, Mustangs only roster loss, has graduated.  Up front 6’5″ stretch 4 Cam Morris had an uninterrupted year from an injury perspective and showed the promise he came to Western with out of high school.  6’5″ Ian Smart produced depending upon his match-ups inside.  At the center spot, Campbell expects 6’10” 250 pound freshman Jacob van Santen (Vancouver St. George’s) to push incumbent 6’9″ Alex Otzyv for time at the five spot.  van Santen, who had a 38-point, 19-rebound game last season in high school, is a huge, space eating body in the paint with good hands and mobility.  Mustangs expect to sign at least one more new face as the roster gets deeper and much more competitive.

Algoma… Coach Thomas Cory continues to make his Thunderbirds squad competitive but will have to replace two starters: leading scorer 6’0 Sean Clendinning and 6’4″ Adam Benrabah as well as reserve 5’10” Jacob Clendinning.  Still, Algoma returns their promising pair of Kitchener St. Mary’s grads entering their third season in 6’3″ Nathan Riley and 6’1″ Jermaine Lyle as well as impact 6’7″ big Reng Gum.  6’3″ Cailum White also returns for his fifth season and 6’1″ Detroit, MI native Ian Nash, who joined the team for the second half of last season (6.4 ppg in about 14 mpg) should help.  Another U.S. import, 6’5″ Elijah Butler (Honolulu, HI), averaged 6.0 ppg in 14 mpg last season.  Others expected to contribute include little-used reserves 6’0″ Taylor Smith, 5’10” Nik Zorcic and 6’0″ Toronto native Damian Okungbowa.  Coach Cory advises that the program is close to having three players commit in the next couple weeks with size at both forward spots a key area of need.

Tatham named new Head Coach at McMaster

Here is the official press release put out moments ago.  Tatham replaces Amos Connolly who will remain with the program and the coaching staff, specifically assuming the role of Recruiting Coordinator and Player Development Specialist as a member of Tatham’s staff.  The press release contains further details on Connolly’s role with the Marauders including comments from the former coach as well as Athletic Director Glen Grunwald.

Tatham led Ryerson to the 2016 CIS Final 4 in Vancouver where, after an overtime victory in the first round vs. UBC, the Rams were defeated by eventual national-finalist Calgary Dinos in the semi-finals.  The Brampton, ON native spent this past season on the staff of former Lakehead Head Coach Scott Morrison, who is now Head Coach with the Maine Redclaws, the Boston Celtics D-League affiliate program.

The Marauders have suffered major personnel losses over the past two seasons including the graduation this past season of two fifth-year regulars:  6’4″ Rohan Boney and 6’4″ Lazar Kojovic.  In addition, 6’7″ Connor Gilmore, an OUA 1st Team All-Star, has announced that he will be transferring to uOttawa Gee-Gees.  As well, reserve wing 6’2″ Elliot Ormond has graduated his academic program after 4 seasons and will not be returning.  These four players represent almost 110 minutes per game of floor time.

6’2″ rising fourth-year senior David McCulloch, who played almost 37 mpg this past season at the point, is scheduled to return as are a pair of rising third-year juniors:  6’8″ Matt Quiring and 6’1″ Chris Thompson, who suffered through an injury plagued sophomore season.

After an impressive start to the pre-season that saw McMaster ranked as high as #3 in the U-Sport National Top 10 rankings as late as November, Marauders limped to the finish line this past season, winning just 2 of their final 8 before an upset win at Windsor in the first round of the OUA playoffs.  Marauders were then defeated by 39 points at Carleton in an OUA quarter-final playoff in Ottawa, which turned out to be Connolly’s final game as Marauders Head Coach.

Tatham will hit the ground running in an attempt to re-tool the Marauders roster and with his contacts in the GTA and now state-side, many are expecting McMaster to continue to vie for a spot at/near the top of the OUA West standings.



Major Coaching Announcement Today

On the heels of the UPEI hire and York’s decision to go in a different direction, stay tuned for another major coaching announcement to be released about 1 PM ET today.  The Twitter world is buzzing with the possibilities:  all that can be said presently is that a former U-Sport/CIS Coach-of-the-Year is taking over one of the most historically successful programs in the country.  Urging readers to follow this one closely as it is somewhat unique in how everything will be organized.  It has been quite the off-season thus far !  Stay tuned for more…

York makes a coaching change

In the wake of Darrell Glenn‘s hiring at UPEI, the U-Sport coaching carousel is in motion once again as sources indicate that York Lions administration officials communicated earlier today that Tom Oliveri will no longer be with the program.   The present core of players were advised that a nation-wide search will begin shortly to find Lions next Head Coach and Oliveri is not longer listed on Lions web site under “coaching staff” for 2017-18.

Oliveri spent over two decades as part of the Lions staff including the past 7 seasons as Head Coach and 13 seasons as Assistant to legendary Bob Bain, recruiting numerous high-end stars for the Lions including two-time All-Canadian and CIS Rookie-of-the-Year Dan Eves and another CIS Rookie-of-the-Year Tut Ruach plus numerous all-conference players.  Previous to York, Oliveri was instrumental in growing Scarborough Mother Teresa Titans into an Ontario high school power house.

The native of Toronto was always open with his thoughts with me and I wish Tom all the best going forward.

The search for a new coach should attract numerous candidates with the likelihood that several existing U-Sport head coaches and assistants will be among those exploring this position.  With the growth of Ryerson Rams as a perennial Nationals contender and the improvements at U of T, the Lions are in a very competitive environment when considering their GTA competition.