Sunday, 11 November 2007

Weekend Thoughts

NOTES FROM THE WEEKEND: The return of 6'3" fifth-year swingman Bryden Wright has provided a huge boost to the Regina Cougars (6-1 overall, 4-0 in Canada West), emerging as contenders for the Great Plains division crown, a spot pretty much regarded as Brandon's from the start of the season. Wright, who was injured in the pre-season prior to last season, spent last year rehabbing and is now back in fine form, as his 26 point effort against Winnipeg on Friday night will attest. With long-range shooter Jeff Lukomski bombing away from the perimeter (career-high 39 points on Saturday against Winnipeg) and emerging 6'5" sophomore forward Kris Heshka getting better each weekend, the Cougars have a chance at making some noise in Canada West. With Heshka's progress, Coach James Hillis alternated starting 6'5" Jamal Williams and 6'7" Adam Huffman off the bench, providing a little more depth to a team that basically has 6 main rotation players currently. The Cougars will get a chance to see where they stand relative to two of the stronger teams in Canada West and on the road at that when they travel to Edmonton to face the Alberta Golden Bears on Friday and then face provincial rivals Saskatchewan Huskies on Saturday. The Cougars lost a tight three point game to the Huskies last month at the Invitational in Saskatoon however Huskies' 6'8" All-Canadian Andrew Spagrud was not in the lineup for that game. Both the Bears and Huskies, when fully healthy, have the talent to be considered for Top 10 status so a successful weekend on the road will significantly increase the Cougars national profile.

The Concordia Stingers returned home from their five-games-in-eight-days trip to the U.S. vs. NCAA Division 1 teams a little banged up but did learn alot about what to expect this season from their two top freshmen. 6'1" Damian Buckley (pictured), who is the underlying key to the Stingers from the lead guard spot, reinjured his knee in the first game of the trip at Vermont and is scheduled to have an MRI on Thursday to assess the extent of the injury. A bad prognosis could shelve Da. Buckley for an extended period of time. Older brother 6'3" Dwayne Buckley injured his knee in the trip finale at Maryland against the Terrapins, suffering what was described as a second degree sprain of the MCL and his status going forward is also uncertain. On a more positive note, 6'5" freshman James Clark, from Toronto Eastern Commerce, progressed rapidly throughout the five games and was the Stingers best player against Maryland. As Clark continues to gain strength and confidence necessary to excel up front against CIS forwards, expect his playing time and positive contributions to increase. 6'1" freshman Decee Krah finally got some time and resulting much-needed confidence in the Maryland game and showed his ability to be an athletic defender. Krah rapidly gaining in his understanding of the game and will look to mature into a lead guard, being more comfortable currently on the wing.

WHO WENT OFF THIS WEEKEND: Regina's 6'1" sharp-shooter Jeff Lukomski had the high game of the weekend, going off for 39 points against Winnipeg, enabling the Cougars to sweep the Wesmen. Lukomski finished 6 for 13 from downtown highlighting his career-high effort... In that same game, Wesmen guard 5'9" Erfan Nasajpour kept his team in the game with 32 points including 6 3's of his own... 6'2" Alex Steele had a 30 point night on Friday in a win against Saskatchewan while 6'1" Junior Nicolas also had 30 on Friday night, leading Bishop's to a one-point, season-opening victory over Laval. Nicolas then had 22 as the Gaiters went on the road to defeat UQAM on Saturday... 6'11" Igor Bakovic, trying to make his fifth and final year a memorable one, knocked down two free throws with 5.2 seconds remaining which were the margin of difference as Ryerson made it two-for-two on the weekend with a come-from-behind win over Waterloo. After a summer of diligently working on his strength and offensive skills, Bakovic was overcome with emotion after the character-building victory, shocking the Warriors. After his 22 point/14 rebound effort against Waterloo, Igor is now averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds on the young season. Igor's younger brother Boris, a 6'7" forward, is averaging 25 points per game after leading the way with 28 points on Friday night against Laurier... St. FX's 6'3" forward Dwayne Johnson manhandled the Dal Tigers inside on Thursday night, going off for 26 points and 10 rebounds and making himself a presence on the offensive glass. The Tigers again surrendered multiple second chances this afternoon as 6'5" Leonil Saintil had a 26 point/19 rebound double double including 9 offensive rebounds. Dal's 6'1" Simon Farine has been a one-man band for the Tigers in their first two games, averaging 24.5 points and 9.5 assists per game in Dal's first two games of the season... Ottawa Gee-Gees 6'4" third-year guard Josh Gibson-Bascombe was terrific in a key stretch at McMaster on Saturday and finished the weekend averaging 24.5 points and 5.5 assists per game in a pair of wins for his Gee-Gees... Despite two losses by his Laval Rouge et Or, 6'7" J.P. Morin averaged 26 points per game this weekend... 6'3" Andrew Black, a newcomer to UPEI's rotation after transfering from Seneca College, has begun to assert himself with his strength and finesse around the rim, authoring a pair of double/doubles against UNB on the weekend. Black averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds per game in the two Panther wins... Western's 6'5" Brad Smith averaged 25 ppg as the Mustangs split a pair of games at home against OUA East competition... UVic's 6'7" Mitch Gudgeon had another strong offensive effort with 26 points as the Vikes went to 5-1 with a home win over winless Thompson Rivers... Trinity Western Spartans are only 1-5 thus far this season but got solid offensive play from 6'2" Lucas Goltz, who played parts of two seasons in the OUA East for Queen's and RMC earlier this decade. Goltz had 29 on Friday and 24 on Saturday for the Spartans... 6'5" Kevin Kloostra, one of the candidates for OUA West Player-of-the-Year in this his fifth and final season, had 27 points to lead the Windsor Lancers over York on Saturday. Incidentally, the Lions gave up over 100 points in both games over the weekend as they get set to host Brock Badgers and Guelph Gryphons this weekend in North York, ON.

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