Saturday, 1 March 2008

Peter Yannopoulos's McGill at Laval Preview

Sunday's McGill(8-8) at Laval(13-3) Game Preview Laval heads into the playoffs aiming to hold serve at home and claim the QSSF championship which has eluded them for a few years now. After winning an unbelievable 13 games in a row in conference play, the Rouge et Or stumbled a bit last week-end on the road at Uqam, but head into this Sunday's matchup prime, angry and ready. That doesn't bold well for the pesky Mcgill Redmen, who finished the season with an 8-8 record, tied for 3rd place, but lost a tie-breaker and thus are forced to travel to Quebec city and face the Rouge et Or. The teams played each other 4 times this season, with Laval winning 3 of 4, but Mcgill did pull out a surprising Overtime win at Laval early in the season. When you start analyzing Laval, you start with one name: Jean-Phillipe Morin. The 5th year Senior has had a spectacular season for the Rouge et Or, winning player of the year in the QSSF and will no doubt be named All Canadian in the CIS as well. He's dominated game after game, with his great footwork in the post, tremendous scoring ability from everywhere on the floor, rebounding, shot-blocking and leadership. Laval is loaded at every position, has a deep and productive bench and their high octane transition game turns solid leads into blowouts. Coach of the Year Jacques Paiement loves to run and run some more with his team, but also has some of the best half court sets as well, which usually lead to easy baskets. Somehow McGill will try and slow down Laval, but that's obviously easier said than done. The Redmen always play Laval tough, and look for McGill to come out hungry after a crucial home loss to Concordia last week. McGill will have to decide how they want to defend Laval. Do they concentrate on stopping Morin, with double teams and traps, or do they let him get his points and concentrate on neutralizing Beaulieu, Turcotte, Baribeau and Cote? Either way, it wont be easy, especially at Laval's home court, where over 2,000 fans regularly cheer on their home team. For McGill to have any chance, they need to shoot the basketball at a higher percentage. They must take the ball to the basket and hopefully draw some fouls on Morin. Sean Anthony has played exceptionally well all season, but he will need some scoring help as well from Moustapha El Zanaty and Matt Thornhill. Having said that, the key for Mcgill will be controlling the glass. All season long, the undersized Redmen have gotten outrebounded by their opponents and if they don't keep the rebounding close with Laval, it will be a long day for them. Not many people are giving McGill a chance, Laval is as a strong a team in the CIS right now. They have all the ingredients to win this game rather easily, therefore it's essential for Mcgill to not let Laval dictate the pace of the game. Mcgill has to be aggressive yet at the same time not take any bad and quick shots, which will lead to transition opportunities for Laval. It's playoff basketball and as we've seen across the country the last few days, upsets are becoming the norm. Will the trend continue at Laval come this Sunday? It will be a major shocker if it did.

Peter Yannopoulos
Yanno Basketball Consulting

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