Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Guelph, Dalhousie & Lakehead Updates

The Guelph Gryphons had their usual strong finish to last season, playing Windsor Lancers very tough in the OUA West semi-finals before succumbing to the eventual OUA champions and that optimism has carried over to this season as, despite the loss of 6’9” J.R. Bailey and graduating 6’3” Aron Bariagbre (OUA West All-Star), the Gryphs return several key players and bring in what could be a very underrated recruiting class. Guelph begins their CIS pre-season with a visit this weekend to the Nation’s Capital and the annual House-Laughton tournament at Carleton, starting with a 6 PM matchup with Dalhousie Tigers on Friday night. Guelph Head Coach Chris O’Rourke has had to deal with some injuries in the early season but is optimistic that his young troops can again peak when it counts down the stretch, “We have a younger team than usual but if a couple of kids can step up and we get what I think we will from some freshmen, we should be in the mix when it matters”. Expect 6’9” fourth-year center Duncan Milne, who has matured tremendously over the course of his career, to be the Gryphs leader. Milne, who has bulked up to 245 lbs., is one of the hardest workers ever to come through the Gryphons program and his progress was the centerpiece of Guelph’s solid play down the stretch last season. Milne, who has become a stalward offensively, honed his skills at the world-famous Pete Newell Big Man camp over the summer. Newell has mentored countless NBA players over a couple of decades at his prestigious camp. “Duncan is a prime example of how hard work can pay off to making a great player”, coach O’Rourke noted proudly. 6’4” Nick Pankerichan will likely play a lot of minutes at both guard spots. Pankerichan is a tough, scrappy guard who can shoot it from downtown and has excellent court vision. 6’4” Jay Mott, currently nursing a knee injury which should keep him out at least another couple of weeks, is one of a couple of players who will be expected to step to the forefront and lead. Mott, now in his third season, has excellent shooting range and should be a fixture in the rotation when he returns from injury. 6’4” Borko Popic transitioned into the CIS game last season and is another defense-stretching perimeter shooter who needs to take the next step this season. 6’6” Seb Kasiuk, also entering his third year, has shown glimpses of stardom in his first two seasons and is another player who needs to take on a higher profile with the Gryphs. In 6’4” Jonathan Moscatelli, Guelph may have a guard with one of the sweetest strokes in the conference, however Moscatelli’s knee problems have been well documented and the Gryphs are being very careful with breaking him into the lineup – while he is working out, his knee is still not where it needs to be and he likely won’t be ready until early November. Adding depth to the back court is 6’1” Charles Ageymang, a top defender who was able to produce down the stretch last season in the face of some Gryph injuries. O’Rourke had another strong recruiting class which should produce at least one pleasant surprise. “I’ve been very happy with our young players including some freshmen who should help us.”, stated O’Rourke. Most impressive of the frosh has been 5’11” Mike Patrella, who has shown all the signs of being a classic tough, heady CIS point guard. Patrella has been running with the starters for the most part in practice and is “way ahead of where we thought he would be at this point of the season”, added O’Rourke. 6’0” Omar Ibrahim from Toronto, while not as consistent as Patrella has been during training camp, certainly has shown signs of brilliance as a scorer. 6’2” Jimmy Seymour from Ottawa appears to be a solid defender and athletic 6’3” Nick Walters adds depth at the four spot after a brilliant three-sport career (football, basketball, rugby) at Erindale Collegiate in Mississauga. The last time the Gryphons participated in the House-Laughton tournament, O’Rourke was the starting point guard on the 1993 Guelph squad that capture the tournament championship and O’Rourke was named a tournament all-star. Guelph is hoping that Coach O’Rourke can make it two-for-two, beginning Friday against Dalhousie, coached by John Campbell. The Campbell (Woodstock, ON) vs. O’Rourke (Tillsonburg, ON) rivalry goes back to the early 80’s when both were the stars on their high school teams in southwestern Ontario and met often in playoff and tournament action. Campbell went on to play for his father Peter at Laurentian while O’Rourke had an all-star career at Guelph.

After qualifying for the AUS tournament for the first time in 4 seasons and pushing eventual tournament champions Acadia Axemen down to the last minute of their first round game, the Dalhousie Tigers knew that they may be one top recruiting class away from contending for an AUS title. Tigers Head Coach John Campbell hopes he has attracted that kind of class to a roster that returns four starters. Headlining this season’s group is Dal’s top recruit, 6’1”, 215 lbs. Simon Farine, who Campbell already calls “our best player”. Farine, who practiced with Dal while sitting out last season as a transfer from Wiconsin-Green Bay, an NCAA Division 1 team where he played sparingly as a freshman, will run the point and also be looked upon to score. Campbell added that after almost two seasons removed from competitive play, Farine, who was generally regarded as one of the top graduating high school ballers from the City of Toronto in 2004-05 at Northern S.S., is “anxious to get going”. Campbell feels that Farine teamed with 6’1” third-year guard Andrew Sullivan makes his backcourt the strength of the Tigers. Both should be counted upon to play key minutes as Sullivan, who showed flashes of brilliance at the point the past 2 seasons, should benefit from sharing the ball with Farine as both can create and finish. In 6’0” freshman Charlie Campbell (no relation to Coach Campbell) from B.C., the Tigers have a steady, young backup point guard that can be eased into the rotation when either Farine or Sullivan need a break. Up front, 6’5” Germain Bendegue has matured into a top AUS post player, with his finishing abilities now catching up to his presence defensively and on the glass. Bendegue is also ridding himself of a propensity to get into foul trouble as his game matures. Two other underrated starters, 6'3" Devon Norris, who really came on offensively toward the end of last season, making several key late shots to win games, and 6’7” Drew Stratton, who can keep teams honest inside by making elbow jumpers, also return to Dal’s experienced starting five. Providing depth in the front court for the Tigers are 6’5” Ryan deWinter, a veteran who has grown up with this program, and 6’7” sophomore Sandy Viet from Mississauga Lorne Park, who should get more minutes this season with natural progress. The Tigers added another graduate of Toronto Northern S.S. with 6’4” Yannick Walcott, a solid wing, who should see significant time off the bench this season. After scrimmaging Mount St. Vincent last week, the Tigers are anxious to get started next weekend in Ottawa at the House-Laughton tournament at Carleton when they meet Guelph on Friday in what will be a homecoming for another Tigers freshman 6’7” Jason Wang from Ottawa Sir Robert Borden. Dal meets UQAM on Saturday and then the host Ravens on Sunday.

Here is a preview of the Lakehead Thunderwolves courtesy of hard-working Lakehead SID Mike Alyward. Mike has also added a preview of this weekend's Brandon Super 8 tournament in which the Wolves will participate Lakehead at Brandon Tournament Preview

Wolves Season Preview... Courtesy of Mike Alyward Showcasing a more experienced line-up and the return of an OUA all-star, the Lakehead Thunderwolves look to build on the major development job started last season and get themselves back among the championship contending teams in the OUA West. Six of last season’s eight freshmen return to the team starting with guard Jamie Searle who is expected to lead the team into battle each night and reap the benefits of an excellent summer of skill development. Fellow sophomore Dean Magierowski, who started every game for the team last season, is also back and will be a tone setter for the intensity level on the defensive end. Joining them in the backcourt will be sophomore guard Paul Popo-Ola and senior Ryan Precious who both provide an athletic punch on the offensive end in addition to excellent play on the defensive side of the ball. Fifth year seniors Warren Thomas and Matthew Verboom lead the way in the frontcourt for the ‘Wolves. Thomas is a returning second team OUA West All-star and will look to benefit from a stronger group of scorers around him this season. Sophomore ‘Big’, Andrew Quirion, of Thunder Bay, should provide some consistent minutes off the bench behind the two seniors. The perimeter attack will be led by 6’4” Baltimore native Kiraan Posey who returns after a red-shirt season to be a ‘go-to-guy’ on the team. Posey was a First Team OUA all-star in 2004-05 and that year’s OUA’s top scorer. Zach White, returning for his sophomore year from Belfast, PEI, will look to provide a consistent all-around game off the bench this year after continuing to work on his strength and outside shooting in the off-season. With tough match-ups including Thomas and Posey expected to demand extra attention from opposing coaches, Wolves Head Coach Scott Morrison recognized the need for additional players able to knock down outside shots and create scoring opportunities. He and his staff have addressed these needs with the addition of freshmen guards Kyle McConnell of London, Ontario and Lerry Williams of Montreal. Both players are expected to be solid outside shooters this season and be ready to compete physically on the defensive end. A third freshman, 6’6” Aaron Jackson of Bermuda, is also expected to provide some minutes in the frontcourt this season and promises to be a big contributor to the team in seasons to come. Returning players Andrew Hackner and Graeme Enns are both versatile players who will add to the depth of the team by providing multiple options on the court for the team. Coach Morrison will be joined on the bench by third year assistant coach Matt Erdman, second year assistant coaches Scott Seeley and Franco Veneruzzo and rookie assistant coach Evan Woodland of Fort Frances, a former player and graduating student at Lakehead. The Thunderwolves are promising a ‘run and gun’ style of basketball this season. With a more experienced line-up and increased scoring punch; the ‘Wolves will look to compete each weekend with the goal of returning to the OUA Playoffs in 2008.

No comments: