Sunday, 23 September 2007

Gaels open pre-season with win; UBC Update

6'6" Mitch Leger had 31 points and the Gaels hit 10 first-half 3's to break out to a 30+ point lead before the intermission before coasting to a 90-57 victory over Algoma University Thunderbirds Saturday night at Bartlett Gymnasium in Kingston. Queen's had their long-range shooting in high gear all evening as 7 different Gaels hit 3's and only a late run of 8 points by Algoma brought the game back to 55-22 by halftime. The Thunderbirds were playing their third game in 2 days, having defeating RMC by about 20 before playing an overtime affair with St. Lawrence College (Kingston). Queen's has welcomed back 6'4" Simon Mitchell, a mainstay of the program for the past few seasons, which has added even more depth to a group that should contend for a spot near the top of the OUA East this season. The Gaels got solid contributions from their veterans as 6'2" Baris Ondul and 6'3" Ryan Hairsine continue to mature and look to be two of the stronger guards in the OUA East. However, the Gaels also are getting early contributions from their underrated recruiting class as 6'5" Jon Ogden (Belleville St. Theresa) and 6'5" Nick DiDonato (Sault Ste. Marie St. Basil's) both started and were impactful as Ogden grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds while DiDonato continue to show he has a chance to be a solid player in the league. The Gaels were without 6'6" first-year forward Travis Mitchell, who is nursing a leg injury that is not regarded as serious. Algoma, which currently competes in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA), is coached by former Durham College player Thomas Cory. The program has ambitions of joining the OUA within the next couple of seasons - Algoma U., situated in Sault Ste. Marie, is already a degree-granting institution, as students can graduate with a Laurentian University degree. Over the next couple of years, Algoma may be granted full University status and thus athletically will be eligible to compete at the CIS/OUA level. Nippissing University in North Bay has already been granted status and is likely to field a men's basketball program by 2009-10. We hope to have more on the impact of new programs on the OUA divisions and schedules. The Gaels will meet Barry Smith's St. Lawrence College of Kingston next Saturday night at St. Lawrence.

The UBC Thunderbirds are preparing to defend their Canada West championship without 6'4" All-Canadian Casey Archibald and the T-Birds appear to be continuing where they left off last season if a five quarter scrimmage against highly-touted Douglas College is any indicator. UBC won all 5 quarters by 2, 8, 12, 14 and 20+ points on Friday night against the early-season CCAA favorites despite not having 6'7" Bryson Kool (MCL injury against NCAA teams on Labour Day) and 6'5" Graham Bath (did not play to attend a class). The T-Birds appear to have even more depth than last season to the point of likely redshirting touted freshman 6'8" Nick Adair, who has tremendous athleticism and will be brought along slowly, feeling big men need more time to develop. The Birds should get even better as a leader begins to emerge to replace Archibald and 6'3" Chris Dyck appears ready to assume the mantle as will Kool when he returns from injury. Douglas College, which was also missing some players due to injury, still had highly-touted 6'7" Bol Kong in the lineup. Kong, who had 40 points in a game against an NCAA D1 opponent over the Labour Day weekend, has been described by some as a legitimate NBA prospect and according to UBC Assistant Coach Randy Nohr, the assessment is not that far off. Nohr believes Kong's skill set is "National-team good", and that the athletic wing reminds him of ex-National team wing Denham Brown, who Nohr played with while playing for Canada a couple of summers ago. Kong appears to be an eager learner and by all indications a very good kid. Finally, UBC is still awaiting word on the eligiblity status for the coming season on 6'4" Blain Labranche, a third-year transfer from Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton. Labranche, who should help the T-Birds with his solid perimeter shooting, is another reason why UBC top-to-bottom is probably even deeper than last season's Canada West championship team.


Anonymous said...

Please don't tell me Algoma is seriously thinking of joining the OUA?
Are they kidding?
Two years ago, Algoma was 1-13 and last year 7-7.
They are not and never have been really a serious contender in the OCAA.
If they join the OUA, they are likely to be as bad as RMC.
Look at Thompson Rivers.
As a college team they were a national power, in the CIS they have been an embarrasment.
Just because they might become a full degree granting university, doesn't mean they are ready to step up in athletics.
Mount Allison is an example of a school that competes at the college level in basketball, even though they are CIS eligible.
They do so because they know they simply are not good enough to compete in the AUS.

bruchu said...

I think there are too many teams in the CIS as is. But I think the CIS is willing to accept teams even the teams are ready to take the next step. At some point you have weigh the need to increase revenue with the quality of your product.