Sunday, 3 February 2008

Some Weekend Notes

In one of the more entertaining games in the CIS this season, the Toronto Varsity Blues took a stranglehold on second place and a first round bye in the OUA East playoffs by defeating the Gee-Gees in Ottawa. The second half was classic, exciting CIS basketball with the crowd of 400 sounding like 4,000 during a 16-0 Gee-Gees run that wiped out a 12 point halftime deficit. But as has been the case several times this season, when the Blues needed big plays, they turned to their 6'3" fifth-year point guard Mike Degiorgio and he delivered. First he hit a tough pull up elbow jumper over Josh Gibson-Bascombe to break the run, then fed 6'2" Rob Paris for a layup and then culminated the momentum-changing flurry with a long three pointer after underrated and emerging 6'6" burly forward Andrew Wasik grabbed an offensive rebound to keep a Blues possession alive. Degiorgio, who stayed home after graduating from Toronto's famed Oakwood Collegiate, showed why teams with experienced, veteran fifth-year guards will always be difficult to beat in March. Several of Ontario's top teams feature fifth-year guards including Windsor's 6'1" Ryan Steer, Carleton's 6'4" Ryan Bell, Brock's 5'10" Brad Rootes and Queen's 6'3" Simon Mitchell. Expect the ball to be in their hands for key possessions with their decision-making in these situations critical to how their teams fare... Speaking of Wasik, owner of one of the great last names in CIS basketball, he put on a tremendous display in and around the basket on Saturday, battling with 6'9" Dax Dessureault, keeping balls alive with tips and completing at least three difficult, big-time power finishes inside. Wasik, still just a redshirt freshman, promises to be one of the best post players in the OUA East before all is said and done. With about 3 1/2 minutes remaining and the Blues up 5, Wasik got tangled up with Gee-Gees 6'4" Josh Gibson-Bascombe late in the game battling for a rebound and during the ensuing collision for which Wasik was charged with a foul, Gibson-Bascombe injured his knee and did not return. Gibson-Bascombe's sub, freshman Bojan Dodic, made both free throws to make it a 3 point game but the Blues easily took advantage of the youth on the floor for Ottawa and pulled away to win. Ottawa's lack of depth this season is beginning to take its toll as 6'3" Sean Peter, quietly putting together an All-Star season, missed Saturday's game with a hip injury sustained in the Capital Hoops Classic and reaggrivated in Friday's win against Ryerson. Earlier, 6'2" sixth-man Jacob Gibson-Bascombe was lost for the season with a broken foot while brother Josh awaits a visit to the doctor on Monday to ascertain the full extent of his injured knee. The Gee-Gees need only one win in their final 3 games to lock up third spot. Ottawa hosts Queen's on Friday and RMC on Saturday before finishing up the following weekend at Carleton on the Raven's Senior's Night... Special thanks to Rogers Television in Ottawa for allowing me some time at halftime of their broadcast on Saturday night to discuss the CISHOOPS.CA Top 10 Media Poll with host Mark Masters. I was also asked to do colour commentary for the second half of the Gee-Gees web cast with Greg Gallagher which was fun.

CANADA WEST PLAYOFF UPDATE... Although final matchups and locations have not been officially set, the participants in the Canada West playoffs are already known going into the final weekend of the regular season next weekend. The playoffs begin in two weeks and we know for certain that by virtue of a pair of difficult road wins at UBC and UVic, the Alberta Golden Bears have clinched home court in their Best-of-3 Central Division semi-final playoff set against the Saskatchewan Huskies. The Bears and Huskies split 4 regular season games, with each team winning on each other's home floor. The Golden Bears made a strong case for early consideration as the Canada West wild card team with a terrific weekend, defeating UBC by 5 on Friday afternoon and then defeating the Vikes in Victoria where they are a very difficult team to beat. The situation in the Pacific Division is as yet not completely clear although we know that UBC and UVic will finish 1-2 and host semi-final playoff series. (Although Simon Fraser can catch Vic if they win their final game at home against Trinity Western and Vic loses at Fraser Valley and Thompson Rivers, Vic owns the tiebreaker against the Clan - Vic also already owns the tiebreaker against Fraser Valley after winning the first 2 games between the 2 teams). Simon Fraser has the inside track on third place and a trip to Victoria to meet the Vikes as they own the tie-breaker with UCFV and need only a win on Friday night at home against Trinity Western to seal up third place. The only way UCFV can finish third is with a Clan loss to TWU and two wins themselves (the Cascades host UVic on Thursday and UBC on Saturday to finish the season). The semi-final matchup in the Great Plains division is set however the coming weekend will determine where that Best-of-3 semi-final will take place as Regina will meet Winnipeg. With the teams tied with identical 9-11 records going into the final weekend, the Cougars have the inside track on home court advantage as they own the tie-breaker by virtue of a 3-1 advantage in the regular season including a pair of wins at home. Regina's magic number to clinch second is two, meaning any combination of Cougar wins and Wesmen losses totally two gives Regina second place. The Cougars play two games at last place Manitoba this Friday and Saturday while the Wesmen, currently dealing with injuries to 5'9" Erfan Nasajpour and 6'6" Dan Shynkaryk, have a Thursday/Saturday home-and-home set against #2 Brandon Bobcats, who long ago clinched top spot in the Great Plains division.


Anonymous said...

There is only one word to describe Ottawa U's loss to Toronto on on Saturday: catastrophe.
Not only a 2nd place finish, once a near certainty, was lost but more importantly a team that looked like the only one that could legitimately challenge Carleton in the OUA East has suddenly been crippled by injury.
Three out of the Gee-Gees big four are now hobbled with significant injuries, the most devastating of which could be the apparent knee injury to Josh Gibson-Bascombe. These injuries have exposed Ottawa's achilles heel, a lack of depth beyond the starting five.
If JGB's injury proves to be serious, then I'm afraid that will be all she wrote for the Gee-Gees playoff ambitions for this season.

Anonymous said...

However, you have to credit where credit is due. Toronto beat Ottawa U twice this year, the first time when Ottawa had their whole bench intact. To take away from U of T's win by saying Ottawa was crippled it harsh at best. U of T has been winning consistently of late and playing good basketball. They fully deserve second place in the East and won their way to that spot (barring any suprise losses down the stretch).
Injuries are unfortunate, but at the same time, credit good teams that just win games down the stretch.