Tuesday, 19 February 2008

OUA West Review

Once again this season, the OUA West proved to be arguably Canada's most balanced conference top-to-bottom, with the playoff races coming down to the wire and final positions in the standings not to be determined until after the final night of play. The Windsor Lancers (11-2 since the new year) rode a late-season 10 game winning streak to their second consecutive OUA West regular season championship while the veteran Brock Badgers, winners of 7 of their last 8 and a solid 10-3 since Christmas, have the experience to secure a place in Ottawa. However, the most improved team from last season relative to competing for a conference championship could be Western, winners of 7 of their last 9 and 9-4 in the new year. Wednesday night's games will determine the final pairings for sudden-death quarter-final playoff games to be played on Saturday with Guleph and Western hosting either Laurier or McMaster.

Here is the CISHOOPS.CA take on the All-Stars in the OUA West for this season:

6'8" Greg Surmacz, Windsor, Player-of-the-Year The toughest matchup in the OUA West with his combination of back-to-the-basket and face up skills, Surmacz was the consistent element in the Lancers second consecutive OUA West regular season championship. For the entire season, Surmacz has averaged 19.5 ppg (2nd in OUA West) and 8.2 rpg (1st in OUA West) and has significantly upped those numbers in the new year in the head-to-head games against OUA West opponents (21.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 53% fg), scoring over 20 points in 9 of 13 games (including 14 in only 19 minutes in a blowout against Waterloo and 18 in a blowout against Lakehead). Surmacz saved his best for the toughest teams, going for 27 and 23 points in two wins against Western, 19/15 and then 27 against Guelph and consecutive 22 point games in two wins against Brock.
6'0" Ryan Steer, Windsor After a solid fourth-year when he developed into an all-conference type guard, Steer established himself as an elite CIS point guard in this his fifth and final season with tremendous offensive production, routinely pushing a triple double. His ability to extend his perimeter shooting, leadership in big spots and playmaking ability in the open court were among the key elements that matured in his game this season. A sure-fire way to be named first team all-star is to play well head-to-head against the incomparable Brad Rootes, which Steer did this season, averaging 18 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 9.5 apg in the two Lancer wins against the Badgers.
Brad Rootes, Brock Without a doubt, the best guard in the OUA West and arguably Canada during his career, Rootes ordinarily played through numerous ailments including a pair of ankle injuries this season and when available usually played the full 40 minutes without fail. Rootes consistently made big, game-changing plays for the Badgers at key spots this season and his value to the Badgers cannot be measured simply by statistics. With Rootes out of the lineup earlier in the year, the Badgers struggled. In constrast, Rootes willed his team to victories when the supporting cast of Rohan Steen, Mike Kemp and others were out with injuries. Brad goes down as one of the great players of his generation in the CIS.
Brad Smith, Western Emerged as an offensive machine this season with his blend of skill and underrated athleticism. Smith's second and third jumps make him a put-back machine and his smooth lefty stroke opens up the paint for drives. One of the most difficult defensive matchups in the OUA West is deserving of a first-team all star nod.
Mike Kemp, Brock The Badgers leading scorer at 18.9 ppg was also arguably the West's top defender with his combination of size, strength and quickness, ordinarily guarding the opposition's top player. Kemp has matured into an offensive threat alongside Brad Rootes, is an able rebounder and had several big scoring games in leading the Badgers to second place.

Second Team All-Stars
Matt Curtis, Western
Kiraan Posey, Lakehead
Nick Pankerichan, Guelph
Kale Harrison, Laurier
Duncan Milne, Guelph

All-Freshman Team
Kale Harrison, Laurier Harrison showed great confidence from the very beginning of the season and his 17.0 ppg including 48.8 % of his 3's were among the best numbers for a freshman in recent memory.
Jonathan Moscatelli, Guelph Likely could have pushed Harrison if not for injuries but still fashioned a solid freshman season.
Tyrell Vernon, McMaster Mac's future in the backcourt showed flashes of an above-average shooting range and progressed well as a lead guard also.
Cam McIntyre, Waterloo An explosive scorer with tremendous range, McIntyre had some eye-opening point totals but needs to become more consistent.
Mike Patrella, Guelph An unheralded recruit at the beginning of the season, this coach's son displayed a gritty, intelligent game running the point without fear of failure, allowing Nick Pankerichan to assume more of a scorer's role.
Honourable Mention: Ryan Baribeau, Western.

Wednesday's Action in the OUA West

7 PM Laurier at Windsor Senior's night for Ryan Steer, Kevin Kloostra and the Allin brothers. Watch the action on the Streaming Sports Network
7:30 pm McMaster at Brock These long-time QEW rivals meet in St. Catharines with Brock already clinching a bye and Mac a lock to play a road playoff game either at Guelph or at Western. Watch the action on the Streaming Sports Network OR listen live on Mac Radio 93.3 CFMU
8:00 pm Guelph at Western The winner gets third place and either Laurier or Mac at home and the loser gets fourth and either Laurier or Mac at home.

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