Saturday, 10 November 2007

Notes from Last Night

QSSF In a tremendously-exciting start to the "Q" season, the Bishop's Gaiters, coming off a disappointing 2006-07 season, played their opener in front of a jam-packed house at Mitchell Gymnasium, leading virtually the entire way before Laval took a late lead with one final possession remaining. In what some observers viewed a bit of a broken play, 6'1" sophomore guard Andrew Wright, made something happen from almost nothing, dropping in a high tear-dropper NBA Hall-of-Famer George Gervin would have been proud of to give the Gaiters a wonderful start to their 2007-08 season. However, the Gaiters have very little time to savor the victory as they travel to Montreal this evening to meet the athletic UQAM Citadins, who as always will likely want to push the tempo to the boundaries. The Citadins can go probably 10 deep and for what they lack in team size have enough athletes to pressure defensively full court for the entire 40 minutes and the stamina to push it in transition at every occasion. Laval made the long trip home last night to Ste. Foy and will meet McGill Redmen tonight. Les Rouge et Or's season has to be viewed as somewhat disappointing thus far, what with the excellent recruiting class that brought in 6'4" Jerome Turcotte and 5'9" Xavier Barbeau. Turcotte ran into foul trouble in the opener last night and the Gaiters keyed on 6'7" J.P. Morin and 6'3" J.F. Beaulieu, so Barbeau and Marc-Andre Lefebvre had a little bit more room, combining for 8 of the 10 threes that Laval knocked down. McGill got off to a quick start with 4 consecutive wins including a thriller over Windsor at home but lost a couple of games to Queen's (away and at Western tournament) and also to the Western Mustangs. Each of their losses was to quality teams, and the Redmen are going back on the road to face another quality team tonight in Ste. Foy.

ONTARIO For the past 2 weeks, the Guelph Gryphons have had a solid argument for Top 10 consideration. Winners of 6 consecutive games including last night's route of RMC, the Gryphs have only 2 losses (Dal at a neutral site and at Carleton, where they played the Ravens right down to the end) and, with a victory this evening at Queen's, should legitimately involved in Top 10 discussions. Guelph's quick ascention back near the top of the CIS is being led by 6'3" Nick Pankerichan, who has finally put it all together offensively, especially with his consistency from the perimeter. Queen's continues to create open looks for their arsenal of perimeter shooters with their high-post oriented, spread screening game and their ability to dig in defensively down the stretch of games, having come back to win several games this season. The return of 6'6" sophomore Mitch Leger from an ankle injury only adds to the size and depth the Gaels have. The Carleton Ravens have at least 13 solid players very capable of being on the maximum 12 man roster per game. 6'7" Kevin McCleery, normally a starter, did not dress last night at McMaster and it will be interesting to see who the odd player out will be when McCleery returns. From one observers thoughts, candidates who are likely on the bubble for that 13th spot on the roster, which could be rotating, include 6'4" Luke Chapman, who has never really got himself into the main rotation since arriving on the Carleton campus two years ago, 6'11" Neal Dawson, who is in graduate school at Carleton and has only this season of eligibility remaining, 5'10" Mike Kenny, the diminutive, high-IQ point guard who has battled ankle injuries this entire season and 6'6" Daron Leonard, also in his final season and with a history of providing offensive energy off-the-bench but generally questioned for his lack of production on the defensive end for Carleton. Barring injury and assuming the three freshmen, all of whom have had stretches of excellence even in this young season, are likely to get uniforms every game, it is likely that at least one out of the 4 players above will have to sit out games, a luxury most other CIS coaches would love to have. Last night at Mac, Kenny played 15 minutes and had 4 points and 6 turnovers, while Dawson had points and Leonard 7 with much of Dawson's production coming late after the game had been decided. Luke Chapman played only 2 minutes and brother Aaron played only 5 minues but had 3 quick fouls in the first half and later fouled out. The Ryerson Rams came up with an unexpected but solid win over the Laurier Golden Hawks and have brought more experience to the point guard spot by moving 6'2" veteran Brandon Krupa, who played the wing for the majority of his career, to the lead guard spot. Ryerson also inserted 6'10" Joey Imbrogno into the starting lineup, giving them certainly the tallest front line and probably the biggest starting five in the country. The lineup paid dividends last night as the front line, including 6'11" Igor Bakovic and 6'7" Boris Bakovic combined for 56 points and 24 rebounds on 50% shooting to kick off the Rams regular season on a winning note. The U of T Varsity Blues continue to get it done with a focused effort defensively and the ability to run their offense to get open looks inside or out. Balance looks to be the mantra in Toronto as the Blues still won comfortably last night despite getting a lesser effort from 6'2" Rob Paris, the Blues best perimeter scorer thus far this season. Veteran 6'4" Paul Sergautis picked up the slack outside and 6'8" Nick Snow got it going around the paint as this group appears to be in tune with playing together and doing whatever it takes to win on any given night. An old nemesis appears to still be in the air however as Varsity shot only 9 for 17 from the free throw line last night and 6'3" fifth-year guard Mike Degiorgio, the unsung leader of this group who flirted with a triple/double again last night, again was one of the main culprits at the stripe, going 0 for 5. As the Blues hit the road next weekend, defending, rebounding, taking care of the ball and making free throws are the receipes for success away from home and it is important that Toronto settle that final issue going forward. The Ottawa Gee-Gees are searching for quality depth and with 6'5" David Labentowicz still out with an ankle injury, 6'6" freshman Justin Bell has been starting. Bell provided a key play in last night's win over Lakehead as he dove for and recovered a loose ball and shovelled it 6'9" Dax Dessureault for a momentum-changing dunk late in the game that helped lift the Gee-Gees to a very tough win at the Thunderdome. 6'5" Marvin Bazile, from John Abbott CEGEP, has been progressing steadily and with his play is trying to work his way into the role of first big man off the bench for Ottawa.

CANADA WEST Alberta played without 6'1" starting point guard C.G. Morrison in their win against Saskatchewan last night and 6'5" veteran Neb Alkesic filled in admirably, scoring 15 points. 6'2" Alex Steele, who scored 30 points and added 8 assists, filling in with the primarily ball handling duties very capably but also ended with 11 turnovers on the night. Morrison suffered a possible stress fracture of one of the bones in his foot and, best case is out for 1-2 more weeks but may be out until after the first semester. The Huskies welcome 6'2" Chris Bodnar to the lineup after he completed his season as a backup quarterback and special teams player on the Huskies football team. Bodnar is no stranger to the hardwood, having started on the Saskatchewan provincial team a few summers ago while still in high school. The Huskies also promoted 6'4" Brennan Jarrett, their emerging freshman, to the starting lineup for last night's game and Jarrett had 5 points, including a three, in 16 minutes. The teams, which have met for the previous 3 Central Division championship series, meet again tonight in Edmonton and with a win, the Bears can grab an early-season, three-game lead over the Huskies in the standings. The Calgary Dinos tripped up at Simon Fraser last night and observers witnessed a well-prepared, focused Clan group which ran their sets very well and did a solid job defending Calgary in the quarter court. Calgary has much depth and talent but the Bekkering brothers and 6'9" Tyler Fidler, a long and talented perimeter player who is maturing in his ability to focus and compete on every possession, appear to be the three most talented Dinos. The Regina Cougars played last season without 6'3" Bryden Wright and now that their star scorer has returned, the Cougars are winning the tight games they were losing last season with Wright a main reason why. Wright had 26 points and 9 rebounds last night as Regina pulled away in the last 6 minutes. Underrated 6'7" Kris Heshka has established himself as a solid rotation player up front for the Cougars, authoring a double/double last night.

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