Thursday, 12 March 2009

Wayne Kondro's Team Capsules in the Ottawa Citizen

Wayne Kondro's Team Capsules from the Ottawa Citizen

CIS men’s basketball nationals capsules

By Wayne Kondro, Canwest News ServiceMarch 12, 2009 6:02 PM

OTTAWA — A closer look at the great eight competing at this weekend’s CIS men’s basketball championship in Ottawa, in order of seeding:

1. Carleton

Qualified: OUA champ

Record: 33-1

Starters: 6-7 Aaron Doornekamp; 6-2 Stuart Turnbull; 6-3 Rob Saunders; 6-8 Kevin McCleery; 6-0 Mike Kenny

Coach: Dave Smart

Last appearance: 2008

Titles: 5 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007)

The skinny: Of late, the Ravens have taken their trademark floor-burn defence and refined it into something otherworldly. Turnbull has had a Moser-worthy (MVP) season. Doornekamp is an ex-Moser winner. McCleery has evolved into more of a post threat than Doornekamp, which presents foes with a major challenge because they usually don’t have two quality post defenders. Kenny is the best three-point shooter in the country. Saunders is the best defender in the country.

2. Calgary

Qualified: Canada West champ

Record: 25-6

Starters: 6-6 Henry Bekkering, 6-8 Ross Bekkering, 6-6 Robbie Sihota, 6-9 Tyler Fidler, 6-0 Jamie McLeod

Coach: Dan Vanhooren

Last appearance: 2004

Titles: none

The skinny: Without question, the largest team in the draw, whose size will present matchup problems for most foes. Not only are the Dinos tall, their front-line weighs in at 240, 240 and 235. But while all that size and athleticism makes them a strong rebounding and pound-it-inside sort of team, the bigs are inclined to think of themselves as European, so they often roam out to the perimeter and jack treys. The Dinos rely almost exclusively on a 2-3 zone defence, so if foes don’t know how to attack it, they can find themselves facing a long, arduous night.

3. UBC

Qualified: Canada West runner-up

Record: 29-3

Starters: 6-3 Chris Dyck; 6-8 Bryson Kool; 6-7 Matt Rachar; 6-4 Blain Labranche; 6-3 Josh Whyte

Coach: Kevin Hanson

Last appearance: 2008

Titles: 2 (1970, 1972)

The skinny: There really should be a mercy rule that gives a coach a bye into the semis if his team suffers five consecutive losses to lower seeds in five consecutive nationals. If anyone deserves a win, it’s Hanson, who’s one of the best coaches in the country but just seems jinxed. This year’s edition of the T-birds has exceptional depth and deadly shooters who can put up big numbers in a big hurry. The Birds’ evolution towards a more physical, defensive unit capable of playing Eastern bruiser ball also appears on track as UBC improved its team defence by an average 8.6 points per game in league play.

4. Western

Qualified: OUA West champ

Record: 24-7

Starters: 6-1 Matthew Curtis; 6-6 Bradley Smith; 6-3 Alex Brzozowicz; 6-7 Keenan Jeppesen; 6-7 Garrett Olexiuk

Coach: Brad Campbell

Last appearance: 2008

Titles: 1 (1991)

The skinny: What’s not to like? The Mustangs are big, quick, athletic and experienced. They also have considerable depth, including former starters Colin LaForme and savvy catch-and-shooter Jason Milliquet. Jeppesen is a high flyer and creative scorer. The Mustangs are capable of defending like they’re Carleton clones, although their defensive rotations can occasionally be found wanting. Of late, they imposed their will against pretty much everyone except Carleton.

5. Ottawa

Qualified: OUA bronze

Record: 30-6

Starters: 6-9 Dax Dessureault; 6-4 Josh Gibson-Bascombe; 6-3 Donnie Gibson; 6-5 David Labentowicz; 6-1 Josh Wright

Coach: David DeAveiro

Last appearance: 2007

Titles: none

The skinny: Easily the most unpredictable unit in the draw. The Gee-Gees have the athleticism to be world-beaters and cause opponents fits. Yet, they’re also capable of shutting down their game, almost as if they aren’t enjoying themselves if they’re unchallenged. Dessureault is a force in the paint but can only defend one post at a time, so the Gee-Gees struggle against teams with powerful front lines. DeAveiro shifted Gibson-Bascombe into a gunner’s role early in the year and he has blossomed as a consequence of not having to make all playmaking decisions.

6. Dalhousie

Qualified: Atlantic champ

Record: 24-10

Starters: 6-2 Simon Farine; 6-0 Andrew Sullivan; 6-4 Josh Beattie; 6-7 Sandy Veit; 6-6 Germain Bendegue

Coach: John Campbell

Last appearance: 1996

Titles: none

The skinny: Dalhousie looked ready to fold its tent in mid-February while delivering undisciplined and soft performances in a pair of blowout road losses to Cape Breton. But the Tigers returned home and had one of those proverbial fireside chats. They promptly reeled off seven straight wins to qualify for nationals. Was the Atlantic conference that weak or the heart-to-heart conversation that inspirational? The CIS results will tell the tale. Foes say the Tigers are fundamentally solid, crash the offensive glass and are much improved defensively. Farine is a stud and as he goes, the Tigers go.

7. Concordia

Qualified: Quebec champ

Record: 19-4

Starters: 6-3 Dwayne Buckley; 6-1 Damian Buckley; 6-7 Jamal Gallier; 6-3 Sebastien Martin; 5-10 Pierre Thompson

Coach: John Dore

Last appearance: 2007

Titles: 1 (1990)

The skinny: Dore’s teams always seem mirror images of previous editions of the Stingers. They’re cat-quick, athletic and can usually jump out of the gym, compensating for their relative lack of size. That’s about an accurate a description as possible about the Buckley brothers. Gallier can be handful in the post but has a tendency to disappear. Rivals, though, say the Stingers have difficulty scoring in halfcourt sets, are streaky shooters and prone to inexplicable lapses in concentration, often squandering big leads by becoming indifferent to their duties.

8. St. Francis Xavier

Qualified: wild card

Record: 25-7

Starters: 5-10 Christian Upshaw; 6-3 Dwayne Johnson; 6-5 Terrence Taylor; 6-9 Alberto Rodriguez; 6-2 Tyler Richards

Coach: Steve Konchalski

Last appearance: 2006

Titles: 3 (1993, 2000, 2001)

The skinny: The X-Men feature an explosive offence that led the country in scoring (87.75 points per game), field goal percentage (48.14 per cent) and steals (12.1 per game). Because of their quickness, it’s tough to get good looks against St. FX. They’re led by Atlantic player of the year Christian Upshaw and guard Tyler Richards, one of three X-Men charged with assault following an incident outside a bar three weeks ago. Richards provides composure and when he’s not on the floor, the X-Men have a tendency to lose their wits.

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