Thursday, 12 March 2009

Bracket Breakdown by Neate Sager, Sun Media

Bracket breakdown: A capsule look at this weekend's CIS men's basketball Final 8



COACH: Dave Smart.

KEY PLAYERS: F Aaron Doornekamp, G Stu Turnbull, F Kevin McCleery.

RECORD: 33-1, Host/OUA champions.


RANKINGS: 1st coaches' poll, 1st RPI.

X FACTOR: G Rob Saunders -- top defender who makes timely baskets.

TELLING STAT: Led the country in rebounding margin; made 9.8 three-pointers while shooting CIS-best 41% from downtown.

THEY'RE ALL ABOUT: Sowing the seeds of panic. Carleton, under Smart, is always ready to rebound and defend as a five-man unit for the full 40 minutes. It puts teams into a scrambly mindset, typically freeing up the Ravens to run their motion offence.

STORYLINE: The Ravens look to reclaim the national title after losing it last season in their first season since the graduation of their talisman, Osvaldo Jeanty; Kingston trio of Doornekamp, Saunders and Turnbull seek their fourth title.


COACH: Dan Vanhooren.

KEY PLAYERS: F Henry Bekkering, F Ross Bekkering, F Robbie Sihota.

RECORD: 25-6, Canada West champions.


RANKINGS: Co-No. 5 in coaches' poll, 4th in RPI.

X FACTOR: G Tyler Fidler -- how often do you see a 6-foot-9 shooting guard?

TELLING STAT: Only team in the country to take 600 free throws this season, which was also the case each of the past three seasons; can overpower teams and get to the rim.

THEY'RE ALL ABOUT: The explosive athleticism of their front line of YouTube sensation Henry Bekkering, his brother Ross and Sihota, a catch-and-shoot big man who's hit last-second game-winners this season vs. Ottawa and UBC. The point guard spot has been stabilized by a platoon of Jamie McLeod and Andy Rochon, both first-year Dinos.

STORYLINE: Calgary missed the Final 8 last season when it had two chances to clinch at home, but the Bekkerings-led brigade is more stress-tested after winning the Canada West title in hostile territory two weeks ago.


COACH: Kevin Hanson.

KEY PLAYERS: G Chris Dyck, F Bryson Kool, F Josh Whyte.

RECORD: 29-3, Canada West silver medallists.


RANKINGS: 2nd coaches' poll, 2nd RPI.

X FACTOR: PG Alex Murphy

TELLING STAT: Average 85 points per game without a player in the top 25 nationally in scoring.

THEY'RE ALL ABOUT: Pushing the tempo and wearing teams out with a rotation which goes 10 deep; even 12th man Akeem Pierre was on the floor in the fourth quarter of the Canada West final. UBC has talent to burn, but it hasn't always come together for them.

STORYLINE: UBC is trying to shake the stigma it can't win the big one after failing to make it past the Friday quarter-final four years in a row; fifth-year standouts Dyck, Kool and G Matt Rachar have one last chance to make a deep tournament run.


COACH: Brad Campbell.

KEY PLAYERS: F Keenan Jeppesen, G Bradley Smith, G Matt Curtis.

RECORD: 24-7, OUA silver medallists.


RANKINGS: 4th coaches' poll, 6th RPI.

X FACTOR: F Garrett Olexiuk.

TELLING STAT: Held foes to 37.1% shooting, tops in the country.

THEY'RE ALL ABOUT: Coming at teams in waves, with an offence led by OUA assist king Curtis and a strong inside game led by Jeppesen. Can ride the hot hand, be it the slashing Smith, Alex Brzozowicz from the outside or Andrew Wedemire inside.

STORYLINE: Campbell, a Nepean High grad who once played for Dave Smart, is trying to take the 'Stangs one step farther after losing out in the semis last season, but his team will likely have to get by his mentor to do so.


COACH: Dave DeAveiro.

KEY PLAYERS: G Josh Wright, G Josh Gibson-Bascombe, C Dax Dessureault.

RECORD: 30-6, OUA bronze medallists.


RANKINGS: No. 3 coaches' poll, 3rd RPI.

X FACTOR: F David Labentowicz.

TELLING STAT: Have only five losses since November, three to Carleton, one to second-seeded Calgary and one to their first-round foe, Western.

THEY'RE ALL ABOUT: Running the floor with the JJs, Gibson-Bascombe and Wright, a former NCAA Division I starter at Syracuse who enrolled at Ottawa just before Christmas. The Gee-Gees are undersized in the post, so they have a tough opening-round matchup vs. Western, which beat them by 20 four months ago.

STORYLINE: The JJs, former Syracuse starter Wright and veteran Dessureault, will try to get the Gee-Gees to the summit.


COACH: John Campbell.

KEY PLAYERS: G Simon Farine, G Josh Beattie, F Germain Bendegue.

RECORD: 24-10, AUS champions.


RANKINGS: Unranked in coaches' poll, 15th in RPI.

X FACTOR: G Andrew Sullivan.

TELLING STAT: Fifth in CIS in assist-to-turnover ratio; they're smart with the ball.

THEY'RE ALL ABOUT: The us-against-the-world mentality. The Tigers, led by high-scoring Farine, are playing like a team with nothing to lose. Forward Sandy Veit has shored up Dal's rebounding, while they have five bona fide three-point threats, including Beattie, who made five in a row in the Atlantic final.

STORYLINE: Dalhousie, with its defence and outside shooting and a crafty guard, Farine, has some of the same qualities as Brock, but keep in mind that they are Final 8 first-timers, here for the first time since 1996.


COACH: John Dore.

KEY PLAYERS: G Damian Buckley, G Dwayne Buckley, F Jamal Gallier.

RECORD: 19-4, Quebec champions.


RANKINGS: 7th in coaches' poll, 5th in RPI.

X FACTOR: F Evens Laroche.

TELLING STAT: Worst free-throw shooting team (.643) in the tournament; outrebounded on the season.

THEY'RE ALL ABOUT: Being a tough-minded team which takes its cue from coach Dore and Buckley, who's the best point guard in the country, capable of setting the pace and taking over in the fourth quarter. Guard-oriented Concordia vs. big man-led Calgary is the most intriguing first-round matchup; the survivor has a good shot at playing Sunday.

STORYLINE: The Stingers seek redemption after missing the nationals last season -- when a knee injury cut short Buckley's season -- and being upset in the first round in 2007 in Halifax, when they were the No. 1 seed.


Coach: Steve Konchalski

Key players: G Christian "T-Bear” Upshaw, F Alberto Rodriguez, F Terrence Taylor

Record: 25-7, wild card

vs. Final 8 teams: 1-4

Rankings: Co-No. 5 in coaches’ poll, 9th RPI

X factor: G Dwayne Johnson

Bench strength: G Will Silver, F Jeremy Dunn

Big stat: Highest-scoring team in Canada (87.8 ppg)
They're all about: Getting dribble penetration from Upshaw and Silver – which will be harder to do with the suspension of Richards to set up their drive-and-kick game, which has paid off with 38% three-point shooting. Rodriguez, a 6-foot-9 Cuban, and defensive specialist Dwayne Johnson among others are counted on for rebounding.
Storyline: St. FX’s already tall task of facing Carleton has got that much harder after the suspension of leading scorer Richards, one of three players facing an assault charge in connection with a recent incident at a bar.

NOTE: RPI courtesy Rob Pettapiece,; all records vs. CIS opponents

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