Saturday, 8 March 2008

Wilson Cup Preview provides their preview of Saturday's OUA championship (Wilson Cup) between Western and Carleton in the Nation's Capital Western woos Wilson Cup also Ravi Amarnath has a piece in the Western Gazette previewing the game and the Nationals from the Western perspective Mustangs hope for hardware on the hardwood here is the OUA preview from their site OUA Wilson Cup preview

Carleton's campus newspaper, the Charlatan has a couple of CIS articles in their most recent edition Hype for men's basketball championship builds

A pair of old friends do battle in their hometown of Ottawa tonight at 8 PM as the Western Mustangs, coached by Ottawa native Brad Campbell and 5 time defending national champions Carleton Ravens, coached by another national capital region native, Dave Smart, meet in the OUA championship game tonight at the Raven's Nest. Campbell and Smart trace their relationship back to the mid 1980's when Smart was in the early stages of his coaching career as Head Coach of Nepean H.S. in Ottawa and had Campbell as a player for three seasons. According to Smart, Nepean ran a Loyola-Marymount circa 80's type offense that encouraged putting up alot of shots quickly, on many occasions within the first 5 or so seconds of a possession. His current players at Western may turn their heads knowing that this pace perfectly suited Campbell's game - pre-knee injury. Smart describes Campbell as "one of the best shooters I've ever coached" and looking back "Brad had several 50+ point games in high school and scoring 40 in a game for him was not a huge event". Together, the pair led Nepean to an Ottawa City championship and a regular spot in the Ontario high school Top 10 rankings during Campbell's high school playing career. Unfortunately for Campbell, he blew his knee out in his Grade 12 year in the championship game of the prestigous Runnymede tournament in Toronto and the knee troubles continued to plague him the remainder of his playing career, including several very good seasons at Western in which he played with a large brace on and usually severe pain inside. I recall Brad having a tremendous game as a freshman in the championship of the 1992 Purple & White Holiday tournament at Western while hobbling around on his bad knee with a big brace. He tried to make a couple of comebacks but the knee injury got the better of him and he quickly refocused on coaching. Later in the 90's, Campbell served as an assistant coach to Smart for one summer on the Ontario Provincial team. As many know, Campbell was a long-time assistant at Western to coach Craig Boydell and is in his third season as Head Coach of the Mustangs including 2004-05 when he served as interim coach while Boydell sat out the season on medical leave. While Smart is clearly proud of how Campbell has progressed as a coach, expect game-time pleasantries to likely be reserved for the pre-game handshake as the Ravens look to win the Wilson Cup for the 4th time in their program's history. Western last participated in the Wilson Cup in 2001-02, defeating the York Yeomen in North York to culminate a string of 3 OUA championships in 4 years... Both teams have tremendous depth and, as we are wont to do, comparing the matchup at the point usually provides an indicator of how these late-season playoff games will go. Western's 6'1" Matt Curtis, who arrived in London out of high school with a reputation as a bit of an athletic gun-slinger who took more chances with the ball than most occasionally with spectacular results but has matured into a experienced floor leader who makes solid decisions, can hit the open jumper and also rebounds from the guard spot. Curtis pushes a triple double almost every night, averaging 12 pts., 5.3 rbs. and 8.7 apg against only 3.3 turnovers during the Mustangs three playoff games. In the big win at Windsor, Curtis had 16 points and 11 assists. Curtis could be matched up with Carleton's underrated 6'4" point guard Ryan Bell, who did not make either of the two OUA East all-star teams in his fifth and final season but continues to be one of the top defensive guards in the country. My opinion of how solid an overall player Bell is has been well-chronicled and he again showed that he is arguably Canada's top defender by holding down Ottawa's 6'4" Josh Gibson-Bascombe last Saturday. Maybe the Mustangs most important offensive player down the stretch has been 6'1" Jason Milliquet, who has gone an incredible 14 for 22 from downtown in Western's three playoff games including 6 for 10 against Windsor and 6 for 9 against McMaster, many several feet behind the arc. Milliquet is shooting the ball with tremendous confidence and can carry a team with his shooting when on fire. Western's leading scorer, 6'6" Brad Smith, a lefty with above average athleticism, especially around the rim with his second and third jumps, has been a tough matchup for most teams this season but in the past has shown inconsistency on the defensive end. 6'9" Colin Laforme has been a difference maker inside at both ends for Western since he became eligible in November after transfering from Youngstown State. Laforme had a 13 point/12 rebound double double at Windsor. As well, 6'5" Andrew Wedemire, who has suffered through an injury-plagued career thus far, gives the 'Stangs an athletic wing capable of creating his own shot; he had 21 in the win against Mac. The Mustangs have a rotation of 9 or 10 with depth at virtually every spot. However, in the Carleton Ravens, they draw an opponent with depth beyond the 12 players who can dress each night. Last week, 6'10" Neal Dawson took over in the second half with a career high scoring night as a Raven and Dawson has been the 11th or 12th man all season. 6'7" Aaron Doornekamp is the OUA East Player-of-the-year and one of Canada's toughest matchups while 6'3" Stuart Turnbull is the underrated glue who contributes in so many ways amidst very little noise or fanfare. 6'5" veteran Jean-Emmanuel Jean-Marie has been plagued by foot problems all season but has gutted out his fifth year and appears to be back in a groove with his scoring and defending in the post while 6'3" Rob Saunders, a very underrated ball defender, appears to have broken out of a mini shooting slump with 3 3's in key spots against the Gee-Gees. Saunders usually is the recipient of draw-and-kick looks from Bell, Doornekamp and Turnbull and can be deadly when left open from downtown. 6'3" Elliot Thompson has been the most consistent of Carleton's prized freshman class, especially defensively, and has been rewarded with solid minutes. 5'10" sophomore Mike Kenny is another solid high IQ point guard off the bench while 6'7" Kevin McCleery is another Raven who has battled leg/foot injuries (we think) but can finish inside and is very fundamentally sound. Expect both teams to go deep into their benches with Western likely wanting to get out and run while Carleton, one of the more underrated teams at converting defensively, will pack the paint but with their defensive rotations rarely do they give up open looks. The game is available on Rogers Television in Ottawa and London and hopefully will be picked up by other Rogers outlets across Ontario and the rest of the country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nepean won two or three Ottawa High School titles with Campbell and one National Capital AAA title in 1991 that broke up the Borden/Pearson dynasty of the previous few years. That was a great time for Ottawa high school hoops fans with such players as Campbell, Brad Rollo (South Carleton), Dave Munro, Steve Anderson, and Brian Lee (Borden), Pat Serediuk, Stephen Brown, and Curtis Houlden (Pearson), Junior Charles (Gloucester/Pearson) and, a little later, Shawn Swords (Woodroofe) all making significant contributions.

It's nice to see so many former Ottawa area high school ballers/coaches involved in the coaching ranks of the OUA these days.