Tuesday, 3 April 2007

OUA West Team Needs for Next Season

Recruiting commitments are beginning to increase as spring time brings us to the eve of the many all-star games and club tournament championships to be played between now and the end of May. OUA West teams have been busy addressing their needs for the coming season and beyond with a view to finalize their recruiting as quickly as possible. This edition outlines some of the player commitments over the past few weeks and outlines areas of need still not officially addressed.

Windsor: Key Losses None Key Players scheduled to return: Kevin Kloostra 6'4" (5th), Ryan Steer 5'11" (5th), Greg Surmacz 6'8" (4th), Greg Allin 6'5" (5th), Rich Allin 6'5" (5th), Corey Boswell 6'0" (3rd), Matt Handsor 5'10" (3rd), Kyle Kane 6'3" (2nd). Comments: The Lancers took a big step last season with a deep, talented lineup that hurt teams in several different ways, starting with the smooth-shooting Kloostra, who evolved into a top-tier CIS scorer. Combo guard Steer has dramatically improved the past two seasons and can create his own shot, find people in transition and defend. Surmacz emerged as one of the top low-post players in the conference and has a solid array of offensive skills. Greg and Rich Allin contribute all the little things required to win, especially defensively and both can score when left alone. Boswell is a lock-down ball defender who is improving his offensive package while Handsor provides a long-distance threat. Four young second-year players, all of whom saw some time last season, are ready to step in in '08-'09 and a couple may even push for more significant time next season. Recruiting Focus: With the OUA champions scheduled to return their top 12 players, there are few if any needs to address for next season however with four 5th year players, including a pair of conference all-stars, the time may be right to bring in young players at the point, on the wing at the 3 spot and up front (rugged, complementary four man). The Lancers have not announced any commitments for next season as of the date of this post.

McMaster: Key Losses Martin Ajayi PG, Adam Steiner F, John Obrovac F, Toms Lokmanis F, Mike Di Claudio G Key Players scheduled to return: Jermaine DeCosta 6'0" (2nd), Geoff McLaughlin 6'9" (2nd), Mark Valvasori 6'4" (4th), Nathan Histed 6'3" (4th), Andrew Losier 6'6" (4th), Jason Scully 6'0" (3rd), Joe Polizzi 6'5" (4th), Amino Bello 5'11" (2nd). Comments: The Marauders will have 5 new starters next season and hope that blue chippers DeCosta in the backcourt and McLaughlin up front can be the cornerstones of the next 4 seasons. Oft-injured Histed can knock shots down when right and knows the system well. The veteran Valvasori is a solid role player and Losier must elevate his contributions as a veteran. Bello showed signs of offensive skills and Scully is ready to assume more minutes as a steady three-point threat. Recruiting Focus: The current roster is devoid of a solid, athletic wing who can create offense for himself and others; the Marauders feel they have addressed this need with the commitment of 6'5" Sharif Wanis from Burlington Nelson. With the commitment of 6'7" Matt Willusz from Hamilton Cardinal Newmann, the Marauders fill another need with a solid four man with perimeter and rebounding skills who can complement the back-to-the-basket game of their returning big guys up front. The Marauders are also the destination choice of 6'1" long-range sharpshooter Tyrell Vernon from Hamilton St. Thomas More, assuming he stays in Canada. Other targets still being sought include a pure point guard who can run the show and one more post player to round out the front line.

Brock: Key Losses: Chris Keith, F Key Players scheduled to return: Brad Rootes, 5'9" (5th), Scott Murray, 6'0" (5th), Mike Kemp 6'2" (3rd), Owen White 6'7" (4th), Jesse Tipping 6'5" (4th), Matt Bassett-Spiers 6'6" (5th), Phil Poulin 6'0" (3rd). Comments: With All-Canadian Rootes back running the show, veteran Murray making shots and solid decisions and Kemp defending and scoring, the Badgers have a solid first 3 with whom to compete. Up front, White blossomed into a legitimate scoring threat while Tipping has always been a solid support player. The maturation of Poulin and Kadray at the guard spot is important for future seasons. Recruiting Focus: Although the Badgers outrebounded opponents on most nights down the stretch, another big man is needed to fortify the front line, especially defensively. One more wing player who can create offense and stretch defenses on the perimeter would be helpful and as would another point guard who can work under Rootes' wings and take over the reigns in '08-'09.

Guelph: Key Losses Aron Bariagbre 6'3" Key Players scheduled to return: Nick Pankerichan 6'3" (4th), J.R. Bailey 6'10" (5th), Duncan Milne 6'8" (4th), Jay Mott 6'3" (3rd), Borko Popic 6'4" (4th), Charles Agyemang 6'2" (3rd), Seb Kasiuk 6'5" (2nd) . Comments: The Gryphs as usual came on down the stretch, reestablishing their defensive mindset and playing a deliberate style offensively through the post with floor leader Pankerichan leading the way. Bailey came on late after an uneven season while Milne emerged as a legitimate OUA post player at both ends. The Gryphs need more consistent shooting efforts from D1 transfer Popic and Mott, who suffered through ankle problems last season. Agyemang fits Guelph's ball pressure "d" style very well while Kasiuk looks to build on a solid end to his freshman campaign. Recruiting Focus: After suffering through 2 major knee surgerys the past 2 years, Guelph anxiously awaits the return of 6'4" Jonathan Moscatelli, one of the top players in the GTA during his final high school season at Toronto Oakwood in '04-'05. Moscatelli will provide depth at both guard spots and if healthy should be a top player in the league for years to come. The Gryphs acquired more depth at the point guard spot with the commitment of 5'11" Mike Patrella, a fundamentally-sound coach's son from Brantford St. John's. In 6'3" Nick Walters, the Gryphs got a very tough, athletic 4 man who projects to be a solid complementary rebounder and defender up front. The Gryphs will look to add another big guy and another combination guard to round out their roster for next season.

Laurier: Key Losses Omar Miles, PG Key Players scheduled to return: Matt Walker 6'5" (4th), Trevor Csima 6'8" (5th), Jesse MacDonald 6'1" (3rd), Andrew Pennycook 6'8" (2nd), Justin Golob 6'5" (2nd), Evan Eliason 6'6" (2nd), Jeff Mitchell 6'2" (3rd). Comments: The young Hawks showed rapid improvement down the stretch of the season with big wins at Windsor and at home against Mac and several other close games proving they definitely will be in the mix in the division for several seasons. Walker showed he is one of the top returning players in the division while Pennycook may already be the top defensive post player in the division. MacDonald has steadily improved his offensive skills creating his own shot and Golob was a pleasant surprise as a skilled big man who can make perimeter shots. Eliason had a strong start to his freshman season and is another solid perimeter threat. Recruiting Focus: The Hawks need a table-setter at the point who can take care of the ball and run the team for the next 5 seasons after losing Miles to graduation and look to burly 6'1" Hamilton St. Mary's PG Austin Walsh to assume the lead guard mantle. Connor Moshino, 6'5" left-handed swing man Oakville Holy Trinity and Kale Harrison a 6'5" wing player from Stratford Central add depth and size to the forward spots. Another big, strong scorer up front to allow Laurier to play more inside/out offensively could also be a focus. As well, another three point shooter from the guard spot would round out the roster.

Western: Key Losses None Key Players scheduled to return: Matt Curtis 6'1" (4th), Andrew Wedemire 6'3" (2nd), Brad Smith 6'6" (4th), Adam Ruickbie 6'7" (5th), Alan Paron 6'8" (5th), Jason Milliquet 6'3" (3rd), Jordan Smith 6'0" (2nd), Danny Jeon 5'11" (2nd). Comments: The Mustangs continued to mature as a group over the course of the season as Curtis continued his athletic play in the back court and Wedemire emerged as a future all-conference candidate after coming back from major knee surgery. Smith got more consistent as the season progressed and Ruickbie and Paron provided size, scoring and rebounding up front. Milliquet is one of the top shooters in the conference and both sophomores should contribute again. Recruiting Focus: The Mustangs addressed several areas in their most recent recruiting class with commitments from 6'10" Colin Laforme, entering his fourth year of eligibility and eligible to play on November 28th, who should be a solid low post threat offensively and a defensive presence after transfering from NCAA Division 1 Youngstown State. In 6'5" Garrett Olexiuk from Burlington Pearson, the 'Stangs get a solid complementary forward who can step out and shoot the perimeter jumper. Recently committed 5'11" Ryan Barbeau from Belleville Nicholson is another solid coach's son type point guard who will add depth but possibly Western's biggest recruit since All-Canadian Andy Kwiatkowski should create the biggest impact as 6'7" Keenan Jeppesen, a transfer from NCAA Division 1 Brown of the Ivy League where he started every game as a sophomore before leaving in late November of last year, should step directly into the starting lineup and be one of the conference's top players from day one. The official announcement of Jeppesen, who played his high school at Hamilton Saltfleet, declaring for Western should be made sometime within the next week.

Waterloo: Key Losses Matt Kieswetter, Michael Davis, Olivier Quesnel. Key Players scheduled to return: David Burnett 6'2" (3rd), Alan Goodhoofd 6'5" (2nd), Luke Kieswetter 6'0" (2nd), Dan White 6'4" (4th), Jordan Hannah 6'1" (2nd), Ben Frisby 6'7" (3rd), Matt Hayes 6'8" (3rd). Comments: The ever-improving Burnett represents the only proven scorer on the Warriors roster and he must rise to the occasion as the primary, veteran offensive threat. Goodhoofd was the best among a somewhat-mediocre array of bigs up front while Kieswetter needs to contribute more scoring to complement his ball handling skills as the lead guard. White will also be counted on to provide experience and scoring to what will likely be one of the most inexperienced rosters in the OUA Recruiting Focus: There are several areas that need to be addressed for the Warriors to even compete with the top teams in the OUA West, beginning with a wing player who can score, rebound and defend. In 6'3" Cam McIntyre, the former Kitchener C.I. star who did not play while attending Consetoga College in Kitchener this season, the Warriors likely have addressed this need. Waterloo also needs a consistent scorer and intimidating defender in the post, a three-point shooting specialist, another point guard and depth at every position as they look to rebound from missing the playoffs last season.

Lakehead: Key Losses Chris Richards, Hugh Mullally, Justin Dickens. Key Players scheduled to return: Warren Thomas 6'5" (5th), Saad Beg 5'8" (2nd), Dean Magierowski 6'1" (2nd), Matt Verboom (5th), Jamie Searle 6'1" (2nd). Comments: The Thunderwolves have OUA West all-star Thomas and diminutive point guard Beg to build around offensively. Verboom provides size and rebounding up front while much is expected of sophomore Searle, who came on late last season. Recruiting Focus: There is plenty of room for playing time for new starters at 3 spots and, pending successful completion of a couple of academic courses, 6'5" Kieran Posey, the OUA West's leading scorer in '05-'06 who practiced with the T-Wolves this season while sitting out to improve his academics, is likely to return at small forward with his array of offensive skills. Lakehead improved their depth up front with 6'8" Clinton Belisle from Sioux Lookout while 6'1" London Beal guard Kyle McConnell will help with depth in the backcourt. The T-Wolves are still trying to add depth up front with one more big wing (a "three/four") and another low post player.

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