Thursday, 15 November 2007

CIS Weekend Preview

Prior to providing a take on the weekend games, here is a link to Brandon Sun reporter David Larkins' site on which he provides his ranking of Canada West teams Larkins Canada West Power Hour

Bob Adams from Halifax, who provides an excellent service to CIS fans on his Bob Adams CIS site also has compiled the first RPI of the season Latest Cheers RPI

CANADA WEST: Two of the best guard/wing tandems in the country meet head-to-head this weekend as the #6 Brandon Bobcats travel to Edmonton to meet #8 Alberta Golden Bears on Saturday night. The Cats feature slick, strong 6'1" point guard Yul Michel, a fifth-year senior, and 6'3" Dany Charlery (pictured), both explosive offensive players off the dribble and in transition as well as shutdown-type defenders. Alberta features 6'2" Alex Steele and his tremendous first step off-the-dribble, ability to get to the rim and knock down shots and 6'4" Andrew Parker, probably the most explosive athlete in Canada (see links below of video examples) who has dramatically improved his offensive package. Charlery (16.3 ppg/5.8 rpg/3.5 apg/4.0 spg) is again off to a solid offensive start most had anticipated for the All-Canadian candidate; he is second on the 'Cats in scoring during league play despite playing only 25.3 mpg. Many feel that Michel (16.5 ppg/3.5 rpg/5.8 apg, shooting 55%) is the most important player on Brandon given his experience and leadership skills. Steele (22.0 ppg/5.3 apg in Canada West play) went off for 30 points last weekend against Saskatchewan but has been forced into more of a ball handling role with the foot injury to 6'1" C.G. Morrison, who missed the past two weekends (four games) with a foot injury. Parker has already been described as a highlight waiting to happen, especially in transition where anything thrown up near the rim is a candidate to be flushed hard. The Bobcats also have had to deal with an injury to a major contributor as 6'10" Yuri Whyms has been sidelined recently with a knee injury. This meeting of Top 10 teams and definite Canada West championship contenders happens Saturday night at 8 PM Mountain time at the U of A in Edmonton. Prior to Saturday, Alberta hosts Regina (4-0) and Brandon travels to Saskatoon to face Saskatchewan Huskies (2-2), both on Friday. Bears weekend preview For those of you who enjoy athletic dunks, here are a couple of videos for your viewing pleasure Andrew Parker 360 between the legs as well as Andrew Parker vs. Henry Bekkering Dunk Contest ... #4 UBC Thunderbirds make their second road trip in three weeks, travelling to Winnipeg, MB for games Friday at the Duckworth Center against the Winnipeg Wesmen and then Saturday at University of Manitoba to meet the Bisons. The explosive T-Birds (> 88 ppg as a team) may be even deeper than they were last season as at least 10 players are averaging 10+ minutes per game and 4 players are averaging better than 10 points per game including 6'4" Blain LaBranche, who has come off the bench to lead UBC in scoring in two of their past three games, going 11 for 22 from the three point line while averaging 14.8 ppg. 6'3" Chris Dyck (pictured) leads the way for UBC at 16 ppg while veterans 6'6" Brent Malish (10.5 ppg/7.2 rpg) and 6'7" Matt Rachar (14.5 ppg/5.5 rpg) provide scoring and rebounding up front... In other Canada West action this weekend, Calgary Dinos (3-1) and on the verge of a Top 10 ranking, play a pair of games in Southern Alberta against conference rival Lethbridge, 5-1 UVic Vikes also travel to Winnipeg for games against Manitoba and the Wesmen while Pacific Division rivals play two game sets against each other with Trinity Western visiting Thompson Rivers twice in Kamloops while Simon Fraser visits UC Fraser Valley twice in Abbotsford.

OUA INTERLOCK: Coming off a pair of 40+ point wins at home last weekend, the #2 Windsor Lancers have a pair of home games this coming weekend prior to four consecutive games away from the St. Denis Center in the following two weeks. The Lancers first major test of the season may come on Saturday night when the Queen's Golden Gaels visit. Queen's read and react offense that usually starts in the high post will test the abilities of Windsor's big men to guard the perimeter. The Gaels welcomed back 6'6" Mitch Leger last weekend who returned from an ankle injury but have yet to play a league game with 6'3" Ryan Hairsine who is also hurt. The veteran Lancers have talent and athleticism across the board led by 6'8" Greg Surmacz inside with a combination of back-to-the-basket and face up game making him as tough a matchup as any big in the country. Expect 6'3" Isaac Kuon (pictured) to become more impactful as he gets comfortable operating in Windsor's defensive systems. The young Gaels, with seven first or second year players in their current eight man rotation, make their first league appearance on the road as their group gains experience on the fly. League road games usually require a steadying experienced leader and 6'3" Simon Mitchell has fulfilled that role admirably thus far this season. Prior to the game in Windsor, the Gaels will meet Western at Alumni Hall in London where they staged a fourth-quarter comeback against the Mustangs three weeks ago and claimed an 87-82 win to capture the Purple and White tournament... In another interlock game between teams that have met previously this season, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues visit McMaster in Hamilton, where the very young Marauders took a bit of a step back last weekend in losing a pair of games including allowing the Ottawa Gee-Gees to stage an 18-0 second-half run to break open a tight game. 6'8" Mouchtar Diaby has been a pleasant offensive surprise for the Marauders, a team that historically has set their offense up around the three point line. 6'6" Andrew Losier return from an extended layoff due to an injury so expect his fitness level and timing to improve; Losier's experience is vital for this young group which has been tripped up by the injury bug as 6'1" sophomore Amino Bello missed the Ottawa game while 5'10" Jermaine DeCosta left the Ottawa game late with an injury. Mac features a rotation in which six players are in either their first or second season at the University level. The well-balanced Blues continue to get tremendous contributions from their array of big guys led by 6'7" Nick Snow, on the wing from sharpshooters 6'2" Rob Paris and 6'3" Paul Sergautis and in the backcourt from 6'3" fifth-year veteran Mike Degiorgio (pictured) and 6'2" Nick Magalas. While not as explosive or athletic as in prior years, the Blues have a solid array of experience CIS players complemented by unheralded role players who have learned the system and play very hard, making this group a definite Top 10 team. Prior to facing Mac, the Blues will be in Thunder Bay to face Lakehead while the Marauders have to deal with the largest front line in Canada on Friday when they entertain the Bakovic brothers and Ryerson... Both Kitchener-Waterloo area teams look for their first victories when the Laurier Golden Hawks and Waterloo Warriors travel to the Nation's Capital for games Friday night and Saturday night. Coach Peter Campbell's Hawks are another young team with a pair of exciting freshmen in 6'5" Dominique Brown and 6'5" Kale Harrison but for Laurier to succeed they'll need their OUA West Second Team All-Star 6'5" Matthew Walker to lead this group on the road. 6'8" Andrew Pennycook had a tough start to the regular season in his hometown of Toronto last weekend and his defensive presence in the paint will be key if Laurier is to come home with wins this weekend. The Warriors have won only one game against CIS competition this season but that win was against their opponent on Saturday, the Ottawa Gee-Gees, at the Golden Bear Invitational in Edmonton in overtime by 7 points as the Warriors came from behind in regulation to later win in the extra frame. The Gee-Gees have been without starting forward 6'5" David Labentowicz since mid-October who has been battling an ankle injury... #10 Guelph Gryphons, newest entrants into the Top 10, have a pair of difficult road games beginning on Friday night at the Ben Avery Gym in Sudbury where the Laurentian Voyageurs come off a confidence-building overtime victory on the road at Western. The Gryphs are finally getting themselves healthy with the return of 6'4" Jonathan Moscatelli and 6'4" Jay Mott, providing Guelph with another pair of outside threats to complement 6'3" Nick Pankerichan. The Gryphs can spread the floor and give 6'9" Duncan Milne room to operate inside. 6'5" Seb Kasiuk was injured last weekend and his status for this weekend is uncertain. In another interesting matchup on Friday night, Brock visits Guelph in a game that could see both teams get into triple digits... After the first of four interlocking game weekends, the OUA East holds a 10-6 lead in the head-to-head. Recall that last season was the first in six seasons that OUA East won the interlock series after the West had dominated for so long.

QSSF In a light schedule in Quebec, #3 Concordia Stingers make their 2007-08 regular season debut on Friday night when they travel to Lennoxville to face the unbeaten (in league play) Bishop's Gaiters. The Stingers may have to face the red-hot Gaiters without both Buckley brothers as 6'1" Damian will have an MRI today which will go a long way in determining his status in the near-term while brother Dwayne hurt his knee last Wednesday night at Maryland. Bishop's will try to control the tempo at home with 6'1" Junior Nicolas and try to keep the athletic Stingers off the offensive glass. In the other game, also on Friday night, UQAM visits Laval in a game in which both teams seek their first conference victory of the season. Les Rouge et Or have struggled thus far this season, losing several close games, while UQAM blew a big lead last Saturday in dropping their home opener to Bishop's. McGill is idle this weekend.

AUS Four back-to-back series of matches highlight this weekend's AUS schedule with the feature matchup being #5 St. Mary's travelling to Sydney to face Cape Breton Capers for games Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The Huskies successfully opened their AUS regular season with a solid win at Acadia last Wednesday night as 6'2" Mark McLaughlin and 6'1" Shane Morrison each had a tremendous offensive night. Cape Breton comes off a pair of decisive wins in Newfoundland against MUN Seahawks last weekend. The health of 6'5" Ike Uchegbu (pictured) is key to the success of SMU as his presence inside against Cape Breton star forward 6'5" Eric Breland represents one of the key matchups of the weekend. Breland, a fifth-year senior from Baltimore, MD, has led the Capers in scoring in each of their first 8 games. Cape Breton played last weekend without both 6'5" Philip Nkrumah and 6'4" Paul Blake and in their absence 6'7" Scott Jaspers-Fayer and 6'1" Chris Noddle got extended playing time and contributed to the wins. If everyone is healthy, expect Cape Breton to go eight deep against the athletic Huskies including impact freshmen Al Aliovic and Tremaine Fraser. St. Mary's 6'7" Derrick Coleman continues his offensive progress and could present a matchup problem inside for the Capers. Pay attention to the point guard matchup of 6'1" Mark Ross and 6'2" Mark McGarrigle which should go a long way in determining the outcomes of the pair of games in Sydney. Other matchups include UNB visiting #7 Acadia twice, Memorial travelling to St. FX twice while the undefeated in league play UPEI Panthers go to Halifax to face Dalhousie. Several of these games are expected to be available on webcast.

NOTE: I will be travelling to Southern Ontario this coming weekend, primarily to attend a fundraising event for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) on Saturday evening in Oakville, ON. The youngest daughter of one of my best friends was born with this very debilitating disease and young Rebecca, the same age as my own daughter, has been confined to a wheelchair since birth. The good news is that the charity has been efficient in channeling resources to some very dedicated doctors and as a result the disease is very close to being cured. Usual life spans for children afflicted by SMA are 5 years old or less; Rebecca has made it to 7 and we are very hopeful of a cure very soon. Updates may not be as consistent as usual this weekend and I thought readers may wish to know why. Good luck to all teams this weekend.

No comments: