Thursday, 22 November 2007

Thursday Night & Rest-of-Weekend Preview

CIS play continues tonight (Thursday) with a pair of games, one in Quebec and one in Atlantic Canada, both including teams that are definite contenders in their respective conferences - all 4 teams in action are currently undefeated. In an all-Montreal affair at the Love Gymnasium in downtown Montreal, the McGill Redmen (1-0 in league play) entertain #5 Concordia Stingers (also 1-0), while in Sydney, NS, the #10 Cape Breton Capers (4-0) host the perennially-tough St. FX X-Men (3-0 in league play). The X/CBU game is the first of a home-and-home set between the two provincial rivals and it is great to see the AUS set up their schedule to allow both teams an extra day of rest prior to Saturday's return engagement back in Antigonish. These types of scheduling set-ups are not always possible given distances between universities, travel logisitics and other issues. However, more care should be taken when finalizing schedules to ensure players get the proper rest and preparation to perform optimally and allow fans to get the best possible product.

7 PM ET St. FX (3-0) at #10 Cape Breton (4-0) Prior to the season, both teams had been viewed as in rebuilding phases but with the ongoing success this decade of both programs, it is not surprising that both teams have retooled. The X-Men have their usual array of athletic talent that is at it's best in an up tempo game while the Capers have been doing it despite injuries to a pair of starters that has forced freshmen to assume greater roles. In 5'10" freshman Tremaine Fraser, the Capers have a rapidly maturing guard who is confident taking big shots at key moments in games. Fraser and 6'1" Mark McGarrigle, playing with a bad knee, are becoming very complementary in the Capers back court and with their range have kept things open inside for 6'5" Eric Breland to operate. Cape Breton welcomed back 6'4" starter Philip Nkrumah for last Saturday's win against St. Mary's and hopes to have 6'4" sharpshooter Paul Blake ready to go for X. Expect another strong effort from X freshman sensation 6'7" Islam de Toledo, already a tremendous rebounder and presence defensively inside and getting more comfortable as a scorer - his matchup with Breland should be tremendous. In 6'2" Tyler Richards and 5'10" Christian "T-Bear" Upshaw, X has a pair of explosive scorers who can turn games around with their skills in transition and defensively. Both Richards and Upshaw will test the freshman Fraser. 5'10" Will Silver is an underrated guard who has the mental toughness and basketball "iq" to be effective especially in spurts where things may not be going well. 6'3" Dwayne Johnson has been a bear on the glass recently and appears to have his confidence back scoring the basketball, although Johnson did not play in either of X's resounding wins against MUN last weekend. This game should be a tremendous start to the AUS weekend. Preview in Halifax Chronicle-Herald

8 PM ET #5 Concordia (1-0) at McGill (1-0) The Stingers come off a narrow win on the road in Lennoxville as 6'1" Damian Buckley, coming off a knee injury that limited him to 15 minutes of play, nonetheless came alive down the stretch to lift Concordia to a tough road win. Expect a high-scoring affair as both teams love to push the tempo and can bring athletes off the bench to keep things exciting deep into their rotations. McGill's 6'3" Moustafa El-Zanaty has brought another element of scoring to this season's Redmen group but 6'4" veteran Sean Anthony continues to be the experienced, go-to guy most teams will focus on defensively. Concordia will look to get 6'7" Jamal Gallier working inside and as mentioned both teams will run alot and press selectively. No word on whether or not 6'3" Dwayne Buckley, who missed the Bishop's game will be back for McGill.


#2 Windsor (4-0) at #1 Carleton (4-0) The nation's top two teams square off at the Raven's Nest in Ottawa on Saturday night and, although both meet able opponents on Friday night, it is probable both teams will enter Saturday's game undefeated. The Lancers had their first real test of the regular season last Saturday night as they came from behind to defeat a very able Queen's side. While Windsor's roster does offer much quality through the lineup, the Lancers played only 8 guys against Queen's including their four stalwards 6'5" Kevin Kloostra (37 minutes), 6'6" Greg Allin (36 minutes), 6'0" Ryan Steer (35 minutes - dnp the night before against RMC) and 6'8" Greg Surmacz (30 minutes). Both teams are filled with upperclassmen all with experience in big games so expect a Nationals-type game. Recall that Kloostra and 6'0" Corey Boswell went off when the teams met last during last season's Wilson Cup championship when the Lancers won relatively easily. Windsor is out to prove they can win big games away from the St. Denis Center. Carleton can go at least 8 and up to 12 deep without much of a talent drop off and the Ravens will bring their usual pack-it-in "d" that does not allow opponents to get to the rim easily and their ability to clean the defensive glass. The deciding factor could be how the Lancers deal with the versatile inside/outside talents of Carleton's 6'7" Aaron Doornekamp. This will be the second #1 vs. #2 game the top-ranked Ravens have played this season after coming from behind to defeat then-#2 Brandon Bobcats at the Guy Vetrie Memorial tournament at UVic in October. Prior to Saturday's matchup, Windsor must face 4-0 Ottawa at Montpetit Hall and the Ravens host Western, also on Friday.

#8 Toronto (4-0) at #9 Guelph (4-0) Both teams have been extremely solid all season long after not being rated especially high in the pre-season. The teams play very similar styles, digging in defensively on virtually every possession and playing as hard as any two teams in Canada. Especially since the return of 6'4" Jonathan Moscatelli, the Gryphs may be a little deeper, but Toronto runs their offense as well as any team in Canada, continually getting open looks for their 6'2" wing Rob Paris (see article link at bottom of this post) and revitalized 6'4" Paul Sergautis, who clearly has his confidence back. Expect a tremendous battle in the backcourt between a pair of veteran all-conference candidates as 6'3" Nick Pankerichan battles 6'3" Mike Degiorgio. Both have similar skills as both can play both guard spots, are very adept at finding teammates in transition and both can knock down the three ball with consistency, although Degiorgio is more of a streak shooter from downtown. Expect the Blues to put 5'11" freshman Mike Patrella to the test earlier, running him off screens and forcing him to deal with their array of offensive sets. Another interesting matchup is in the post where a pair of rapidly-maturing bigs in 6'9" Duncan Milne and 6'8" Nick Snow will do battle - both are fundamentally-sound offensive players and are strong enought to work the glass effectively. In the end, both teams ability to guard the basketball and avoid defensive situations where the draw and kick becomes available could be the deciding factor in what should be one of those "knock-'em-down and drag-it-out" affairs that should be played in the high 60's/low 70's.

#4 Alberta (5-1) at Calgary (5-1) In an early battle for first place in the Central Division of Canada West, the size, strength and athleticism of the host Dinos collides with pinpoint execution and fundamentally-sound big men of Alberta. The Bears have received solid work in the early season from 6'11" Richard Bates who will need to be at his best, including occasionally coming out on the perimeter, to deal with 6'8" Ross Bekkering, probably the Dinos best player. Alberta's 6'4" Justin Vanloo will likely have to deal with 6'7" Henry Bekkering inside. The Bears top offensive player is 6'2" Alex Steele and who should thrive on the wing if 5'11" Scott Leigh can continue to perform at the point as well as he did last Sunday against Brandon. The games could be decided by how well 6'4" Andrew Parker and 6'8" Tyler Fidler perform since both are arguably their team's most difficult checks when right. The teams play back-to-back games in Calgary in another peculiar scheduling quirk as the teams will play another set of back-to-backs in Edmonton after Christmas - with the proximity of the teams, playing a Thursday/Saturday home-and-home, similar to X/CBU this weekend, could have been more effective in the long term. Here is a more comprehensive preview from Wayne Thomas of Dinos News... (great work)... Dinos and Bears Battle For Top Spot cartoon from Matt Skinn "Tied atop the Canada West - Central Division standings, Calgary and U of A, both 5-1, tip off this weekend in Calgary for a pair of games to decide bragging rights in Alberta and to try and make a claim on 1st place. Alberta is ranked #5 in the country in this week's CIS coaches poll, but Calgary is knocking on the door, wanting to beat the Bears in a season series for only the 2nd time since 2000-'01. Coach Don Horwood, in his 24th season at U of A, has taken the Bears to 10 CIS National Tournaments, and won 3 CIS titles (1987, 1994, 2002), and he has guided the Green and Gold to a 21-15 record in league and playoff games vs. Calgary since 2001-'02. In many of these games it meant Alberta going ahead in playoffs, leaving Calgary to lick their wounds. It is definitely a case of the Dinos wanting to knock off the perennially strong Golden Bears, and a little of Coach Dan Vanhooren, who has been at the Dinos helm for 8 years, wanting to even the score with his nemesis from the north. In both home wins last weekend vs. Regina (79-71) and Brandon (106-93), Coach Horwood started Alex Steele, Andrew Parker, Harvey Bradford, Neb Aleksic, and Justin VanLoo for the Bears, but, we suspect, Scott Leigh and Richard Bates to play a bigger role than either Bradford or Aleksic. Here are the match-ups as we see them ... vs
POINT: 5'11" Scott Leigh, 2nd yr., VS. 5'10" Jeff Price, 3rd yr.,
TWO GUARD: 6'2" Alex Steele, 5th, shooting VS. 6'4" Cody Darrah
SMALL FORWARD: 6'4" Andrew Parker, 5th VS. 6'6" Henry Bekkering, 4th
POWER FORWARD: 6'4" Justin VanLoo, 4th VS. 6'5" Robbie Sihota, 3rd
CENTER: 6'11" Richard Bates, 5th VS. 6'8" Ross Bekkering, 3rd

Notes ...... Steele was a one man wrecking crew against the Dinos in Edmonton last season, scoring 35 pts. in both league games ... he had 13 and 16 in the two games in Calgary... When Bates scores and rebounds well, the Bears have beaten the Dinos, in three games last yr. he averaged 10 pts., and 12.5 rebs. In the 4th game, a Dinos 89-77 win in Calgary , bates had 0 pts., 3 boards, and 4 fouls. For Calgary, Ross Bekkering averaged 16 pts. and 10 rebounds in his best 3 games with Alberta last year, while Cody Darrah, an Edmonton native, released by the Bears in 2004, averaged 20 pts. in his best three against his former team last year. X- factors ? Probably too many to list, but here are several key ones ... 1. Who is more effective in the battle of the high flyers? Henry Bekkering or Andrew Parker ? These guys are both terrific athletes, and will provide some highlight reel action as they attack the hoop and each other ! 2. Can the Dinos guard Steele ? He is averaging 19.4 pts this campaign and has to carry most of the scoring load with the absence of the injured C.G. Morrison in the Bears backcourt. Calgary's high scorer thus far is Henry Bekkering at 17.2 ppg. 3. Who will win the rebound battle ? Ross Bekkering is averaging 10.2 rpg for the Dinos, who have out-rebounded their opponents by 8 per game, while Alberta rebounds by committee, out-boarding the opposition by 6 per game, with no one Bears player averaging over 5 per game. 4. Does Tyler Fidler come off the bench to give Calgary an edge ? He is capable of scoring and creating scores for teammates but he has to outplay Unger or Aleksic at both ends of the court... These are two veteran teams with an edge in experience to the Bears, but it will come down to which team will show up with the key shots, the big stops, and the clutch performances. These two teams are among the best in the country, and this will be a great weekend of hoops in Calgary !

Rootes continues to climb in OUA All-Time Scoring from Shawn Whiteley, Brock Sports Information: November 21, 2007 ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - As the Brock University men's basketball team prepares for this weekend's regular season homeopener, senior captain Brad Rootes (Niagara Falls, ON) will look to continue to climb in all-time OUA career scoring as he currently ranks 10th all-time with 1362 career OUA points, tied with Lakehead's Dan Zapior.

2092 - Kevin Dulude (RMC)
1737 - Kevin Stienstra (Brock)
1723 - Norm Hann (Laurentian)
1534 - Mark Bellai (York)
1494 - Titus Channer (McMaster)
1433 - Ryan Dudley (Brock)
1408 - Trevor Boose (Windsor)
1389 - Mike Ayanbadejo (Guelph)
1389 - Sean Van Koughnett (Waterloo)
1362 - Dan Zapior (Lakehead)
1362 - Brad Rootes (Brock)?

As promised, a story on Rob Paris in the Varsity on-line publication Introducing Rob Paris

Other previews: Simon Fraser weekend preview from Scott McLean (Clan hosts Winnipeg and Manitoba this weekend)... Burnaby, B.C. – As their record indicates it has been an up and down season for the Simon Fraser University Clan men’s basketball team. The Clan opened with four straight losses to start the season, following that up with three straight wins and then finally a perplexing 79-73 Saturday night loss to the University College of the Fraser Valley Cascades to sit at 3-5 on the year. This weekend SFU can right the ship if they can take care of two Prairie opponents, as the University of Manitoba Bisons (Friday – 8:15 pm Clan Radio) and the University of Winnipeg Wesmen (Saturday – 5 pm Clan Radio) fly across the Rockies and into town. After wins over Calgary and Lethbridge, the Clan used 30 Greg Wallis (Victoria, B.C.) points to post a dominant 75-57 victory over the Cascades last Friday night. On Saturday, Wallis’ and the Clan’s point production diminished, as SFU fell to UCFV for their fifth loss of the Canada West season. Wallis has been the glue that has held Simon Fraser together in the first half of the season and while opposing teams have keyed in on Wallis in the paint by doubling him up defensively, he has still averaged 17.3 points per game, currently ninth in the Canada West. Third-year point guard Sean Burke (North Vancouver, B.C.) struggled on Friday against the Cascades, however stepped up his offensive production Saturday with 18 points in the loss. And while the Clan have become more consistent from a game-to-game standpoint recently, they still are struggling to put together four quarters of quality basketball. Starters Nolan Holmes (Victoria, B.C.), Matt Kuzminski (Nanaimo, B.C.) and Kevin Shaw (North Vancouver, B.C.) have had their ups and downs, seemingly never coming together at the same time, while the Simon Fraser bench, led by newcomer JP Kamand (Toronto, Ont.) and second-year guard Jordan Nostedt (Brandon, MB), has shown potential, however is still making raw basketball mistakes. On Friday, the Clan will face a dangerous Manitoba Bisons team searching for their first victory of the season. Isaac Ansah and Darcy Coss can score, and the Bisons demonstrated last weekend that they can hang with the Canada West’s big dogs last. On Friday night Manitoba gave away a 38-26 halftime lead to the Victoria Vikes, ultimately losing down the stretch 66-65 to Victoria. Then on Saturday the Bisons trailed by only one point at halftime (32-31) to the UBC Thunderbirds, before falling 86-71. If Manitoba can shut down Wallis and their perimeter players can help out defensively, then the Bisons may be able to steal their first victory of the season against the Clan. On Saturday, Simon Fraser will welcome the Erfan Nasajpour show to the Lower Mainland when the 3-3 Winnipeg Wesmen make the trip to the West Gym. In Winnipeg’s overtime win last Saturday against Victoria, Nasajpour scored 41 points, including nine in overtime, to hand Victoria their second loss of the season. That game was eerily similar to the last time the Clan played the Wesmen in 2006-07, when Nasajpour scored 45 points to beat SFU 84-79 in overtime. In that game the Clan needed 34 points from then senior Aaron Christensen to come back from a 44-40 halftime deficit, and still couldn’t shut down the electric Nasajpour. This year, without Christensen’s presence in the post, Simon Fraser will need Burke and Shaw defensively to shutdown Nasajpour and force others on the Wesmen to beat them. Clan News and Notes: - No need for an injury report, other than the usual bangs and bruises everyone on the Clan is currently healthy... The last time Simon Fraser beat Manitoba was on November 24, 2006, when Aaron Christensen scored 19 points to lead the Clan to a 66-55 victory... The last time SFU defeated Winnipeg was January 21, 2005, when Brent Charleton scored 33 points in a 78-64 win over the Wesmen... The only current student-athlete on the Clan roster who has defeated the Wesmen is Matt Kuzminski. As a member of the Victoria Vikes in 2005-06, Kuzminski was a part of the Vikes 75-61 win over Winnipeg on November 11, 2005.

UVic Weekend Preview from Mike Tucker... University of Victoria Vikes Athletics Vikes looking to go on the offensive... VICTORIA - The University of Victoria Vikes have the top ranked defence, but the second-to-last offense. However, the Vikes will have a chance to go on the offensive this weekend when they host the Fraser Valley Cascades, who are surrendering an average of 80.0 points per game.
Fri. Nov. 23 vs. Fraser Valley Cascades (McKinnon Gym) - 8 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 24 vs. Fraser Valley Cascades (McKinnon Gym) - 8 p.m.
Nov. 16 at Manitoba Bisons W 66-65
Nov. 17 at Winnipeg Wesmen L 67-70 OT
The Vikes had their four-game win streak snapped last weekend with a 70-67 loss to the Winnipeg Wesmen. The Wesmen needed a 41-point effort from All-Canadian Erfan Nasajpour, and overtime, to defeat the Vikes for the first time since the 2002-03 season. The previous night the Vikes needed a buzzer-beater by Cyril Indome to edge the Manitoba Bisons 66-65. Fourth-year forward Tyler Hass led the Vikes in scoring both night, boosting his season average to 11.5 points per game. The weekend split puts the Vikes at 6-2 for second place, behind UBC, in the Pacific Division.
Last year marked the inaugural season in the Canada West for the former BC College heavyweights, while the Cascades posted a 6-17 record. This season, Fraser Valley is reinvigorated under new head coach Barnaby Craddock, who was 2006-07 CIS coach of the year at Brandon. Fraser Valley is already two wins shy of matching last year's total, and sits third in the Canada West after last weekend's split against Simon Fraser. Fifth-year guard Lee Jackson is the team's leading scorer averaging 12.2 points per game.
The two teams have only met three times, with the Vikes victorious in each meeting. The Vikes won their first meeting in Abbotsford handedly 86-73, but the next night escaped with a 76-75 victory. In the rubber match at McKinnon Gym, the Vikes won a close contest 73-70.
Under head coach Craig Beaucamp, the Vikes are 38-17 in regular season games against Pacific-Division opponents… the Vikes have the top-ranked defence in the Canada West, allowing opponents to shoot just 40.9 percent against them… they have held opponents under 40 percent eight times, and are 6-2 when doing so… the Vikes defence has proved the stingiest if the fourth quarter, allowing an average of 15.4 points… the Vikes have now lost their past three overtime games… the Vikes have had more assists than their opponents is every Canada West game this season, six Vikes have totaled 20-plus helpers this season.
With a weekend total of 30 points, fourth-year forward Tyler Hass realized 1,000 career points in a Vikes uniform… Hass has led the Vikes in scoring eight times this season… Rob Kinnear scored 12 points and added 10 rebounds in a losing cause versus Winnipeg, but gave him his third double-double of the season… Mitch Gudgeon is the Vikes' leading scorer in conference play, averaging 16.8 points and ranking 12th in the Canada West…Brandon Dunlop has made nine three-pointers in the last four games, leading the Vikes from behind the arc… Dunlop, the 2006-07 BC College Rookie of the Year, is averaging 9.8 points per game.
Friday, November 23 is Elementary School night sponsored by Hothouse Pizza. Students wearing their school colours (t-shirt, sweats, hat, etc.) get in free. There will be a cheering contest at halftime with the winning school getting a lunchtime pizza party with the Vikes basketball teams.
Saturday, November 24 admission is free, until 7 p.m., with a canned food donation to the Mustard Seed food bank. Thrifty Foods is sponsoring the event.

Lakehead ThunderWolves Weekend Preview The Lakehead Thunderwolves men’s basketball team heads to Central and Southern, Ontario this weekend for a game against Laurentian in Sudbury on Friday and York in Toronto on Saturday. Lakehead is 1-3 in OUA play (5-9 overall) and is coming off a loss to No. 9 Toronto and a smothering win over Ryerson. Laurentian is 1-3 in OUA action (2-10 overall) and last weekend lost to Guelph and Brock; and are in third place in the OUA East. York is 0-4 in OUA play and 2-11 overall. The Lions are also coming off losses to Guelph and Brock. The Wolves are tied for fourth in the OUA West with McMaster while Laurentian is in third place in the OUA East and the Lions are tied for last place in the OUA East.

Lakehead Thunderwolves: The Wolves played their best basketball of the season this past weekend against Toronto and Ryerson. They played very well against the Blues but let the game get away in the fourth quarter. Instead of sagging after that loss; they played their best game of the year against the very big Ryerson Rams; smothering the Ryerson bigs with selfless team defence. A big story for the Wolves, and one of those players who had a gem of a defensive weekend, was sophomore Andrew Hackner (3.3 ppg, 4 rebounds per game) and his improved play is a very positive sign for Lakehead. Senior Kiraan Posey (21.3 ppg, 7 rpg; Top 20 OUA) found his scoring touch and averaged 29 ppg last weekend and is now in sixth in OUA scoring. The other big early season story for the Wolves is that sophomore guard Jamie Searle seems to have found his comfort zone in OUA play and is putting up very big numbers (12 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3 assists per game) while directing the Lakehead attack. He and senior guard Ryan Precious (6 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.5 assists per game) are developing into a solid backcourt for the Wolves. Freshman Kyle McConnell (7.5 ppg) also seems to be finding his range and his continued strong play and points off the bench could be key this weekend. Senior Warren Thomas (7.3 ppg, 4 rpg) played excellent defense against both Ryerson and Toronto but the Wolves will need some more scoring from him this weekend. Fifth-year senior post Matt Verboom will also be a key player for Lakehead on the road this weekend.
Laurentian Voyageurs: The Voyageurs have a very balanced offense and get scoring from throughout the roster. Leading the way so far this season is Bryan Davidson (12.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Omar Linder (11.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg). Matas Tirilis can score (10.8 ppg) and rebound (7.8 rpg). Darrell Drake directs Laurentian’s attack and is good for 9.3 ppg, 4.75 assists per game, and 4 rpg. Paul Kovacs (9 ppg, 5.3 rpg) is another Voyageur to watch.
York Lions: The Lions, a perennial power in the OUA, aren’t off to the best of starts and will be looking to rebound this weekend. They have a triple threat in offense; led by Mathew Terejko and his 16 ppg and 6.3 rebounds per game. The other two big guns are Tut Ruach with 14 ppg, 4.3 rebounds per game, and 5.1 assists per game and Eeylon Zemer with 11.5 ppg and 2 assists per game. Other Lions to watch are Stefan Haynes (7.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and Amde Evans (6.5 ppg, 2.1 assists per game).

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