Friday, 7 March 2008

QSSF Championship Game goes tonight

Amid all the encouraging excitement around the AUS tournament, the Wilson Cup, the OUA play-in game and the escalating wild card debate, somewhat forgotten is the Quebec league championship game, which goes tonight in Ste. Foy between the host Laval Rouge et Or and Concordia Stingers. In one of the very few important CIS streaks not held by #1 Carleton, Laval will compete in the "Q" league championship for the eighth consecutive season, the longest running streak in the country for one team in a league championship (Carleton has participated in 8 consecutive OUA East championship games but lost in two of those games meaning they've made 6 of the last 8 OUA Wilson Cup conference championship games including this). After resurrecting their program in the mid-90's and struggling through the initial growing pains of a new CIS team in the first few seasons, Laval Head Coach Jacques Paiement has been able to attract several All-Canadian talents to Ste. Foy and his group returns to the "Q" championship game looking to make amends after Concordia drubbed his team 84-57 last season. Of the seven previous consecutive appearances, Laval has won 4 championships, the last one in 2003-04 against Eddie Pomykala's upstart Bishop's Gaiters, 75-62 at Laval. The Stingers will participate in their 5th "Q" championship in the last 9 seasons, having won 3 titles during that time. The two best players in the "Q" this season, 6'7" J.P. Morin of Laval (Player-of-the-Year) and 6'2" Damian Buckley of Concordia will face off; both will trade any individual accolades for a trip to the Nationals. Morin has the support of one of Canada's top starting fives which includes 6'3" wing J.F. Beaulieu-Mahieux (last season's CIS Rookie-of-the-Year and one of Canada's hottest shooters down the stretch), 6'4" Jerome Turcotte, 5'9" point guard Xavier Baribeau (this season's Quebec Rookie-of-the-Year) and underrated 6'8" Marc-Andre Cote. Laval has relied on this starting five for major minutes in key games this season although 6'4" F.O. Gagnon-Hebert does an outstanding job off the bench for Laval. The Stingers usually go a little deeper, owing to their desire to press and play up-tempo basketball and have the luxury of a more fit 6'7" Jamal Gallier in the middle. 6'3" Andre Johnny is a defensive stopper who will likely be assigned the task of guarding either Morin, Beaulieu-Mahieux or both. 6'5" Sebastien Martin is another solid front court performer for the Stingers while 5'9" Levi Vann hopes to stretch the defense with his long-range missles. In the end, this game could come down to how effective Concordia's pressure is in turning Laval over for easy transitions score and how the game is called. With so many offensive weapons, a Laval team that takes care of the ball should be able to score and le Rouge et Or statistically have been one of Canada's top defensive teams, at or near the top of CIS in several defensive categories. Traditionally, the better Laval teams have always got after it on the defensive end, pushing up on the ball, making life miserable for cutters off the ball and generally taking teams out of their offensive sets when right. Concordia has relied almost exclusively on Buckley for offense after Dwayne Buckley went down with a season-ending knee injury over the holiday break, another reason why a half-court game may not be favorable for the Stingers. But Gallier has had a couple of solid efforts including an 18-point, 10-rebound double/double, including several big put backs, in the semi-final win over UQAM and there are several Stingers who can go off, especially in an transition-filled game. Laval swept the 4 regular season games between the two teams but all were reasonably close games, giving the Stingers some optimisim despite le Rouge et Or dominating the season series. Expect a high scoring affair in front of a big crowd of over 2,500 and another classic Laval/Concordia matchup to determine this season's Quebec league representative in Ottawa at the Nationals.

As well, Randy Phillips of the Montreal Gazette has his game preview in today's edition Stingers out to break jinx

1 comment:

jayme said...

Laval won 84-61.They now join carleton,western,ubc,alberta in the nationals.