Monday, 1 October 2007

Mustangs look to return to CIS elite

The Western Mustangs are poised to return to the top of the OUA West standings and compete for a spot at the CIS Nationals for the first time since 2002 when Western lost 76-71 to Alberta in the championship game. With a stellar recruiting class including three NCAA Division 1 transfers plus a number of solid returnees, Coach Brad Campbell and squad are very optimistic. Injuries to key players such as 6'3" forward Andrew Wedemire have held the Mustangs back the past few seasons and this pre-season has seen the injury bug come back again, albeit not very seriously as 5'11" guard Danny Jeon, 6'8" center Alan Paron and 6'0" guard Jordan Smith all have missed time. The 'Stangs hosted their annual Alumni game on Saturday and came away with a 93-85 despite dressing only 9 guys because of injuries. The Varsity squad took a 20 point lead against a solid Alumni squad that included former All-Canadians Andy Kwiatkowski and Jimmy Grozelle (both stalwards on Western's CIS finalist team from 2002) plus center Chris Brown, forward Mike Milne and wing Jonathan Dingle. The Alumni made a late run to lose by 8. 6'1" Matt Curtis led Western with 22 with Wedemire added 19, 6'6" Brad Smith 16 and 6'6" freshman Garrett Olexiuk added 13. Coach Campbell has been impressed with at least 3 of his freshman including Olexiuk, 5'11" point guard Ryan Barbeau and Michigan transfer Alex Brzozowicz who has shown great athleticism and an ability to knock down shots. Western also did not play 6'10" Colin Laforme (transfer from NCAA D1 Youngstown State) and 6'5" Brown transfer Keenan Jeppesen, who are ineligible until November 28th as per CIS transfer rules. Jeppensen had been nursing an injury but is scheduled to return to practice this week. The Mustangs will prepare for a home game on Thursday, October 11th at 8 PM against Sir Sanford Fleming College from Peterborough before heading out to New Brunswick the following weekend to participate in the UNB Varsity Reds tournament, which has the usual eight team field.

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