Monday, 17 December 2007

Quebec League Update

Defending QSSF champions Concordia Stingers (3-1, 7-2 overall) have overcome injuries to their top three players and remain atop the Quebec league standings, which are much tighter already than they were last season. The Stingers played the entire first half of the regular season with 6'3" QSSF First Team All-Star Dwayne Buckley, out with a leg injury and welcomed back 6'1" Damian Buckley from a knee injury in time for their league season opener. As well, 6'8" Jamal Gallier, their main post presence, was less than full strength as he battled a leg contusion suffered in the pre-season. Still, the Stingers used their patented pressure defense (67.2 ppg allowed; lowest in the "Q") to stay in games, tripping up only in Ste. Foy against Laval when 6'7" J.P. Morin went off for 26 points and 9 rebounds. Da. Buckley was still able to average 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game while Gallier averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds per game while shooting 54.5%. 5'9" Levi Vann (12.3 ppg) has been the Stingers top threat from behind the arc, co-leader in the "Q" with 14 threes made. Concordia also got a strong effort from 6'3" Sebastien Martin, who had an 18 point, 7 rebound effort in a win over McGill... After a pair of heartbreaking losses to open the season, last season's Quebec league finalists Laval Rouge et Or (3-2, 7-7 overall) go into the break on a three-game winning streak and optimistic that a star-studded roster will begin to dominate in the second half. Based on the first half of the season, 6'7" J.P. Morin , described by a rival "Q" league coach as "unstoppable", has emerged as the probable favorite for Quebec league Player-of-the-Year, leading the league in scoring (25 ppg) and rebounding (11.3 rpg), while shooting 53.3% (7th in the conference) and playing a conference-leading 37 minutes per game, despite battling tendinitis in his knees. Morin's versatility make him one of Canada's toughest matchups as he gets on the glass (leads "Q" in offensive rebounding), makes perimeter shots and scores inside. 6'8" fourth-year post Marc-Andre Cote (7.8 ppg/9.0 rpg/72% fg - leads CIS) has come back after an early season ankle injury followed by a concussion and has been a major contributor. Cote is a tough defender and an outstanding rebounder (2nd in the "Q" behind Morin including 16 against McGill in Laval's last game) who has finally began to re-establish himself as one of the "Q's" top players since being named to the All-Rookie team back in his freshman season. 5'9" freshman Xavier Baribeau (10.0 ppg/4.2 apg/93% f.t./38% 3 pts.) has been the most consistent first-year player for Les Rouge et Or and is developing into an outstanding floor leader. Baribeau's decision making leading the break is improving every game and he has made several big 3's in the first half at key points in games. Fellow freshman 6'4" Jerome Turcotte got off to a slow start, fouling out in both of the first two games without scoring a point however Turcotte broke out with a vengance with 28 points on 8 of 11 shooting from downtown as the Rouge et Or started their winning streak against UQAM. Laval could use a more consistent effort from last season's CIS Freshman-of-the-Year 6'3" J.F. Beaulieu (14.4 ppg but only 42% shooting including 26% from three point range). Laval travels to the Ryerson tournament in Toronto during the holidays where they will meet York Lions in the first round... McGill Redmen (3-2, 8-5 overall) won their first 4 games of the pre-season including their own tournament and have since played near .500 with consistency being their biggest challenge. The Redmen are deeper, especially with the impact that 6'3" Moustafa El Zanaty (24.5 ppg - 2nd in the conference) has made. El Zanaty can get to the rim and is savvy enough to get himself to the free throw line - he leads the "Q" in free throw attempts with 41 (more than 10 per game) and is shooting 87.8% from the stripe to lead the conference. El-Zanaty finished the first half with a Quebec league season high of 34 points in their win against UQAM. 6'4" veteran Sean Anthony has been steady, scoring 14.5 ppg and the Redmen have ordinarily used 10+ players in each game with their up-tempo style allowing McGill to lead the "Q" with 83 points per game. McGill had a big overtime win at Laval to start the season however Les Rouge et Or came back to defeat the Redmen at Love Auditorium by 12, holding McGill to only five 4th quarter points and El-Zanaty, who fouled out, to only 4 points. McGill will meet U of Toronto Varsity Blues in the first round of the Ryerson tournament over the holidays in Toronto... Bishop's (2-2, 6-6 overall) got off to a quick 2-0 start including a dramatic win over Laval on opening night at home in front of almost 1,000 fans as emerging 6'1" Junior Nicolas (24.3 ppg, 55% fg, 34.5 mpg), who is doing his best to contend for Quebec league Player-of-the-Year, had a season-high 30 points. Nicolas also had a 28 point game in a subsequent loss to McGill. 6'7" Hermon Tesfaghebriel (13.3 ppg/5.3 rpg/62.5% shooting) has been generally effective up front with a season-high 24 points in the McGill game while 6'1" sophomore guard Andrew Wright has been thrust into logging the vast majority of minutes at the point (36.5 mpg) and has held up very well, averaging 7.0 assists against only 1.5 turnovers in the two Gaiter wins plus a 9 assist effort against McGill, although Wright found the going a little tougher against Concordia and their athletic backcourt. The Gaiters as always appear to be a resiliant group capable of strong efforts against virtually any team and are very difficult to beat at home where they generally play with alot of confidence. Bishop's will continue to contend as long as they get a little more offense from the remainder of their rotation players... The athletic UQAM Citadins (0-4, 1-7 overall) continue to play their pressing, up tempo game but have been hurt by an inability to knock shots down consistently and their half-court "d". 6'0" second-year guard Jules Diagne leads the Citadins in scoring at 16.0 ppg. 6'6" Karim Gueye, from Senegal, has been a pleasant surprise, providing solid finishing ability around the rim and getting on the glass. As Gueye gets stronger and builds on his experience, he should emerge into a top post player in the conference. 6'3" freshman Olivier Boyard has proven to be their top rookie. For UQAM to turn it around in the second half, the Citadins will need stronger offensive results from their three key veterans: 6'4" Mario Joseph (shooting only 29% on 14 for 49 from the field), 6'3" Kevin Boucher (shooting only 23% on 9 for 39 from the field) and 6'1" Sam Johnson, who should be rounding into fitness after coming back from a serious back injury. With the standings already tight, look for playoff spots to be hotly contested.

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