Thursday, 28 February 2008

Peter Yannopoulos's QSSF Semi-Final Preview


Uqam at Concordia.

It's semi-final playoff time in the QSSF, and for the 3rd year in a row, the Uqam Citadins travel to Loyola Gym to face the defending league champions Concordia Stingers. For those who have forgotten, two years ago, Uqam barely sneaked into the playoffs and faced the highly ranked and powerful Stingers on their home court. Everyone thought it would be a blowout, but Uqam walked into Concordia and upset them, thanks in large part to a player named Claude Delmas. Delmas the former Dawson College star only played a few league games at the end of the season that year and despite claims by Concordia Head Coach John Dore that he should have not been eligible to play, league officials allowed him to play, and he was the main reason why Uqam beat Concordia and Laval on the road and won the QSSF championship. Last season, both teams matched up again, but this time the first place Stingers easily handled Uqam (minus Delmas) and went on to the Nationals ranked and seeded #1. Unfortunately, Concordia lost in the 1st round and their dream for a national championship was gone with the wind. This year's matchup seem's to be much more even. Concordia at (9-7) and Uqam (8-8) played each other 4 times this season, and the home team won each game. There is a respect factor from both teams,starting from the coaches down to players, but it is clear that these two teams do not like each other. The Delmas factor still leaves a bad taste for the Stinger program, and with both teams playing a very athletic and physical style of basketball, look for a serious battle come Friday nite. The build up is there but lets talk about the players now. Concordia is not the same team without Dwayne Buckley, out for the year with a knee injury. But brother Damian has picked it up to another level this year, and is probably the best point guard in the country( I still love Yul Michel). Buckley can change a game around at any second and he wants to get back to the Nationals. However, knowing coach Olga Hrycak like I do, she will have something very strategic planned for Mr. Buckley. The Stingers are not the Stingers of years past, they are not deep, they don't run as much and don't score as much either. Jamal Gallier has battled injuries all season, and does not look fit. He had a solid double-double vs McGill last week, but he's unable to log major mins. Concordia has some quick guards, but are very untested at this level. Levi Vann, Pierre Thompson and Decee Krah have not played significant mins in the playoffs before, and it will be interesting to see how they perform.

Uqam on the other hand, has come back from an 0-5 start to finish in 3rd place. They have battled injuries as well, but are playing inspired basketball at this moment. It all starts with 6-4 250lbs(his weight fluctuates) PG Mario Joseph. Joseph who has played the foward position all his life, has been asked to run the point for Hrycak this season. He's a player who can defend all 5 positions on the floor and dictate's the pace for the Citadins. He's looked more to pass this season, but don't be surprised to see him more in the post in this game and score inside for Uqam. We all know that Sam Johnson is a pure shooter, whose improved his mid-range game this season. He can now put it on the floor and attack the basket. The player that changes the game with his "freak" athleticism is Joseph Antagana. Whether he's blocking shots on defense, or throwing down monster dunks on offense, "Jo" is feared. Players get out of his way, and with him in the lineup(just like two years ago when he really impacted the game along with Delmas), he ignite's the fast break for Uqam and controls the boards. The other versatile Uqam player is Jules Diagne. He's a player that Concordia has a hard time matching up with because of his size and lenght and he create's problems with his scoring and offensive rebounding. Diagne is full of potential, that hasn't really fully developped quite yet, but he's capable of having a breakout game at anytime. This game will be a very tough and physical war. Uqam is strong, agressive and hungry. Concordia on the other hand, always plays well in their small and tiny home court. Having said that, if Uqam gets their motion offense in gear, control the glass and get their fast break going, the Stingers will have a hard time keeping up. Buckley will be flirting with triple-double again, but who steps up with him? Im not sure anyone really can. Uqam is more experienced and i think that Joseph will score inside, Diagne, Johnson and Antagana will be too much for the Stingers too handle. It should be quite a batlle come Friday nite.

Peter Yannopoulos
Yanno Basketball Consulting.

1 comment:

Alex Tourigny said...

What a great preview. Always a pleasure to read.

However, I'm don't think that Claude Delmas is the main reason why UQAM got to the CIS Final 10.

Claude did play a large part in the QSSF semi-final but didn't played a great game against Laval in the QSSF final. I got to admit that he helped UQAM somehow because Laval had to guard him (Dominic Soucy was guarding him) allowing other players to have better matchups.