Thursday, 30 July 2009

Western Looks to rebound; Smith to play in Europe

Mustangs Head Coach Brad Campbell had a break through season in 08-09, riding a stable of seniors who had played together for several years to within a buzzer-beating shot of a spot in the Nationals championship game. Last season's Mustangs showed the value of committing early in their careers to a young, high-on-potential group, living through some early difficult periods and then watching the same group seasons later mature into an experienced, competitive national contender. While Campbell must replace due to graduation five top players including his floor general Matt Curtis, his best pure scorer in Brad Smith, his big man Colin Laforme, top three point shooter Alex Brzozowicz and top wing Keenan Jeppessen, the cupboard is not bare and, supported by some role-players-turned-heavy-minutes guys, at least one top high school recruit and couple of U.S. transfers, the Mustangs will again look to gel in time for another run at the National tournament.

In 6'6" Garrett Olexiuk and 5'11" Ryan Barbeau, the Mustangs have a pair of third year veterans who have participated in a pair of national tournaments, albeit in supporting roles. Olexiuk became more and more dependable on the offensive end toward the end of last season and will be asked to make most of the important decisions in the post this season. Barbeau, maybe the strongest Mustang pound-for-pound, is "ready" according to Campbell to log major minutes and assume key decision-making at the point after splitting team between the 1 and 2 during his first two seasons. Supporting Barbeau will be one of the top point guards in Ontario high school basketball last season, 6'0" Zac Angus (Hamilton St. Mary's). Oft-injured 6'5" Andrew Wedemire has shown potential to dominate from the 3/4 spot and health plus consistency will determine if he can begin to deliver on his all-conference-type skill set. With the graduation of Brzozowicz, 6'1" Jason Milliquet should see more looks from downtown which should continue to help stretch defenses. Adding depth up front will be JDP provincial team member 6'6" Greg Edelsward (Burlington Aldershot), another freshman from high school.

Fortifying the back court for Western will be a couple of D1 transfers in Kenny Perry (San Fransico) and Marcus Barnett (william and Mary) both of who Campbell describes as "athletes who can play". Perry, brother of Fred Perry Jr. who won a pair of CIS national championships with St. FX earlier this decade and son of former Saint Mary's star Fred Perry Sr. from the early 1970s, has already made several stops in his career, starting his high school career at Halifax (N.S.) West followed by a year at Berkmar High in Altanta, Ga. and then Vanier College in Montreal before playing in two games totalling three minutes with University of San Francisco Dons (did you drove 'n did you flew ?) in 2007-8. 6'2" Barnett, a native of Hampton, Va., played sparingly in parts of two seasons with the Tribe and has 3 seasons of eligibility remaining. Campbell also hinted that there may be one more significant recruit in the pipeline for this season.

The Mustangs have again assembled a talented group however compared to last season's CIS semi-finalist team there appears to be a comparative lack of depth up front, a loss of senior/fifth-year leadership and the need to weave together a cohensive group with the expected large quantity of newcomers. Expect some volatility in their play early as Campbell finds the right rotations and a possible view to playing smaller, faster and quicker. While a conference championship at this point sounds like an ambitious target, expect the 'Stangs to comfortably make the playoffs and possibly even host a first round playoff game.

Brad Smith signs to play in Britain Western Mustangs men's basketball's all-time leading scorer Brad Smith signed a professional contract with English league team, the Kent Crusaders (

The Crusaders play in the English Basketball League (EBL) and Smith says he is their one import player for next year.

The contract is for eight months starting Sept. 1 and ending in April, 2010.


sager said...

Great stuff as always, Mark! Going to be a good OUA West this season.

One presumes Milliquet will not play football this season?

ExStang said...

Campbell told Milliquet he had to pick football or basketball and wouldn't be welcome on the team if he played football.