Saturday, 26 September 2009

7 Footer joins X-Men

Addressing a critical need in the front court, St. FX will have towering 7'2" center Rinne Ngot in the lineup after the Sudanese-born and Calgary-basketball-bred center arrived in Antigonish earlier this month. Ngot, who played high school ball in the Alberta city at St. Mary's and Father Lacombe before beginning a three-program-in-three-year journey in the U.S., returns to Canada at a time when the X-Men have only one other healthy returning big man in 6'8" Alberto Rodriquez. Incumbent starters 6'5" Dwayne Johnson (knee) and 6'6" Terrence Taylor (concussion-like symptoms) are both out indefinitely pending further examination and rehabilitation.

Ngot's journey in the U.S. took him initially to Notre Dame (Ma.) Prep in 2006-07 and then to SUNY Orange, a JUCO in New York State, in '07-'08 where he used up his first of post-secondary eligibility. Ngot then accepted a scholarship at NCAA Division II University of Bridgeport, where fellow Sudanese big man and former NBA shot blocking specialist Manute Bol once played in the 80's. Ngot injured his knee very early in his very first game with Bridgeport last season, which sidelined him for the rest of the year, granting him a medical redshirt season. He arrives at X ready to play immediately with four full seasons of eligbility remaining.

With his length, no doubt Ngot will be an impact player defensively for the get-go and it will be interesting to observe how Coach Steve Konchalski integrates him into the X system, historically predicated on full-court, pressure "d" and transition offense. Konchalski first saw Ngot in high school at the NIKE camp and expects the 7 footer to be able to run the floor well and move into a prominent role almost immediately.

With Ngot joining X, it brings to mind the question of other 7 footers who played in the CIS/CIAU. Two excellent centers in their day were 7'0" Randy Norris, who played at Waterloo in the early 80's (alongside 6'10" former Canadian National team member Steve Atkin, one of the more imposing front lines in CIS/CIAU history) and 7'0" Cord Clemens, who played on several UVic national championship teams in the early/mid 80's. Ngot is the tallest player to play at X in the Konchalski era with only 6'10" former All-Canadian Neil McDonald a comparable impact pure play 5 man.

Ngot and his X teammates begin preparation for their pre-season next Monday, October 5th with a scrimmage against Mount St. Vincent College before travelling to the UNB Eric Garland tournament during the Thanksgiving Day weekend. That tournament will be played at the Galen Center, UNB's hockey facility, which will be equipped with a removable floor and should seat anywhere from 4 to 5,000 for basketball. Good on UNB to bring a big-time facility to their tournament.

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