Monday, 15 January 2007

Blog's Top 10 & Two Great H.S. tournaments

First off, thanks to blog readers Janet and Abby Scott for bringing to our attention these 2 articles on UPEI Panthers women's and men's games over the weekend. They come from the PEI Guardian PEI St.Mary's Game Report from Friday night PLUS PEI Women's Report

TOP 10 THOUGHTS: Given that 5 of the top 6 teams in last week's poll lost and teams ranked #8 and #9 defeated teams higher ranked than them, putting together a vote for this week is challenging at best. An informal poll of some of the coaches around the country came up with a varied number of opinions and the way things went on the weekend, it is anyone's guess at who should be ranked 2 through 10. I have based my rankings (I don't have a vote) on who I think is playing best at this point in the year, so there are some wide variances from last week. Coaches have more constraints than this as I believe they are not allowed to drop teams more than 3 spots or put teams higher up more than 3 spots from the week prior. Nonetheless, for better or for worse, here is my Top 10:

1. Carleton: Smart vs. Smart happens this Saturday as Queen's visits the Raven's Nest and then next Tuesday is the Capital Hoops Classic as the Gee-Gees rivalry continues this time at Scotiabank Place where apparently over 7,000 tickets have already been sold GET YOUR TICKETS HERE
2. Windsor: Only two losses are at home to Carleton and on the road at York which is pushing a top 10 ranking themselves; have soundly defeated every OUA West opponent including an improving Western team in London this past weekend; also have pre-Christmas wins against Ottawa and Victoria. Critical test comes this Wednesday at Brock.
3. Concordia: Only a single loss since October against Canadian competition and it came Saturday against a fired-up UQAM team that scored 59 points in the second half. A key assumption is that star guard Damian Buckley will return to the Stingers lineup soon; without Dam.Buckley they come back toward the pack in the "Q", with him they have a chance at John Dore's second national championship. Concordia hosts McGill this Friday.
4. Cape Breton: Having defeated X twice including Saturday's comfortable win in Antigonish, the veteran Capers, full of talent across the board and run by a very underrated point guard in Ryan Keliher are playing as well as anyone right now. Detractors to this position point to their 13 point loss at York when they collapsed in the second half in the face of the long, wide York zone as well as early season losses to Carleton and UBC however the fact remains that the Capers have knocked off X twice in league play including once in their house.
5. St. Francis Xavier: Still one of Canada's top teams but having to replace 5 graduating seniors with 5 freshman is a difficult challenge that began to catch up a little bit with the X-Men on the weekend. The first-year players were experiencing their initial taste of capacity-crowd, every-possession-counts basketball and their ability to learn from Saturday will help determine how well X finishes the season. The freshman get thrown right back into the fire on Wednesday when X visits Acadia, which is pushing the Top 10.
6. Brandon: With their two victories against UBC and Victoria, they are the best team in Canada West currently although both games were at home. As well, Brandon has a couple of losses to Winnipeg (5-9) on the slate that can't be ignored. With no more games against ranked teams until February at the earliest, the Bobcats won't be tested again by a Top 10 team for a few more weeks. Young Barnaby Craddock has done a splendid job with this group.
7. Ottawa: Blowing a late 5 point lead and not scoring in the last 5 minutes at York on Saturday cost the Gee-Gees the #2 ranking and may have taken some of the lustre off the marketing spin for the Capital Hoops Classic but Ottawa has only lost 2 games, both on the road and both to tough teams (Windsor and York). Not having the depth to play 40 minutes of trapping basketball has forced Coach Dave DeAveiro to be more selective with his pressure and a porous interior defence is an area that teams are recently exploiting more.
8. Victoria: Holiday injuries to stalwards Tyler Haas and Jacob Doerksen have held the Vikes back a bit however they were one Yul Michel coast-to-coast Tyus-Edney like take from arguably being ranked second. Still, we will know quickly where Vic stands this weekend as they host UBC for a pair of games on the island.
9. UBC: It has likely already been overstated on this blog however the T-Birds appear to have difficulty with teams throwing athletic guards at them who can push up on their scorers, as Concordia over the holidays and Brandon last weekend did. From all accounts, the Bobcats controlled the game this past Friday and UBC needs to come back strong on the weekend at Vic as much for their own confidence as anything.
10. Queen's As much as teams like York, Alberta, Acadia and even Laval deserve consideration for this spot, the Gaels have been simply tremendous compared to their pre-season forecast. It took a clutch three by Dwayne Grant in Toronto on Saturday to send the U of T game into overtime against a team that easily could have swept a pair of games the weekend prior in Ottawa. Prior to that Queen's comfortably defeated York and lost to Victoria on a desperation buzzer-beater from 35 feet in Victoria. The 10th team in the poll is the most difficult to choose and this coming weekend, when Queen's visits Ottawa on Friday and then Carleton on Saturday, will help tell how far the Gaels have come.

HIGH SCHOOLS As readers know, we don't make a habit of reporting on high school events however a couple of great, historic high school tournaments took place this past weekend in Southern Ontario that are near and dear to our hearts so we've added some articles. The 47th edition of the St. Michael's Invitational took place at the corner of Bathurst and St. Clair in Toronto and the Silver Fox was held in Hamilton; here are pieces from local press of both of these prestiguous tournaments.

St. Michael's Tournament CHAMPIONSHIP: Henry Carr over Mother Teresa

Frank Zicarelli reports on Sunday's happenings at St. Mike's Final Day of St. Mike's tournament from Toronto Sun

Carr's semi-final win led by 6'6" Curtis Trotter Henry Carr gets to the championship

Mother Teresa defeated Oakwood in the first round and Frank Zicarelli spent some time discussing 6'8" Grade 10 Matthew Walker, considered one of Ontario's top prospects Mother Teresa St.Mike's tournament article

Silver Fox CHAMPIONSHIP: Eastern Commerce over D'Youville

Tony Fitzgerald from the Hamiltion Spectator covering the Silver Fox Championship Commerce Took Care of Business

Toronto Star's David Grossman was also in Hamilton for the Silver Fox Final Cole Saves the Day for Sluggish Saints

Hamilton Spectator coverage of the earlier rounds of the Silver Fox as St. Thomas More of Hamilton eliminates top-seeded Pickering as Victor Raso (son of Mac Coach Joe Raso) has a big game Silver Fox earlier rounds

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