Monday, 5 October 2009

Sunday (Monday) Musings

As we move toward the Thanksgiving weekend, teams are finalizing rosters to prepare for a full month of pre-season action after which coaches hope to have a solid view of their rotations going into the start of regular season play in early November... The Brock Badgers are in Year Two of their re-engineering after their senior-laden group brought home the program's second-ever CIS National championship in 2008. Head Coach Ken Murray welcomes back six players from last year's roster, most noteable being 2009 CIS Rookie-of-the-Year 6'1" Didi Mukendi as well as reliable 5'11" point guard Joel Whitty to a young but high-potential backcourt. Murray had another tremendous recruiting class including a late addition who, if his OCAA career with the Humber Hawks is any indication, will be impactful immediately as a quality wing athlete: 6'1" Mike Cruickshank who played high school at Toronto Newtonbrook with ex-York Lion Eylon Zemer and then three seasons with the Hawks under Darrell Glenn. Cruickshank loves to get out, run and attack the glass and will benefit from the presence of the pass-first guard Whitty and the athletic Mukendi. Cruickshank had 16 points in Brock's recent intra-squad game. 6'4" freshman Clinton Springer-Williams led all scorers in the game with 23 points. Look for Brock to go with a very young starting lineup consisting of Mukendi (2nd), Whitty (2nd), Springer-Williams (FR), 6'9" freshman Brian Nahimana and 6'6" Mark Gibson (transfer/2nd Year/former Henry Carr Crusader). NOTE ON CRUICKSHANK (with thanks to Barry Hayes of Hoopstars Canada): He played for Humber in 2005-06 (7.8 ppg), spent a year away from the court, then transferred to Cape Breton and played the 2007-08 year there (conference stats: 4.4 ppg in 12.4 mpg). He was a second semester addition to Humber last year for his third year of eligibility... Word out of Southern Ontario is that 6'9" Terry Licorish, who played half of one season at McMaster in 2007-08 before sitting out last season, is back in school, practicing and, pending completing some academic requirements, looks to play for the Marauders in January. With 6'8" Mouchtar Diaby out until at least Christmas due to injury, the return of both of these quality bigs could help Mac down the stretch... As Windsor coach Chris Oliver prepares his group for a tough three-game swing through B.C. next weekend (UBC, Simon Fraser, Fraser Valley - three of at least 5 teams with playoff aspirations in the very tough Canada West Pacific Division), the Lancers roster has been finalized with a couple of updates, most noteable being the addition of 6'0" guard Jameel Williamson, a walk-on from Pickering High School, described as an athletic guard who impressed the Windsor staff in tryouts with how hard he played, especially on the defensive end. As well, 6'10" Blake Pauls decided to take some time off to focus on his adjustment to university and is not listed on the Windsor roster. In addition, a pair of former OUA All-stars join the Lancer coaching staff: Ryan Steer, who is teaching at Windsor Brennan and Geoff Stead, a second year grad student finishing his masters in education after eight years travelling the world. Many fans should remember Stead from the 90's when he led the country in rebounding, playing for Coach Mike Havey... One score that we neglected to report over the weekend was a decisive win for Coach Barry Smith and his St. Lawrence Kingston Vikings (OCAA/CCAA), who defeated visiting Concordia Stingers 81-62 after leading by 11 at halftime. The Stingers, who have had a large turnover in personnel from last season, finished their trip to Kingston 1-2 after defeating RMC on Saturday night and hope to have projected rotation players Decee Krah, Vali Lazarescu and Sasha Louis back soon from injury... Despite going only 1-2 on their trip through Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec this past weekend, Laval Head Coach Jacques Paiement Jr. was very pleased overall with his Rouge et Or. On Friday against Ottawa, Laval trailed by only one at 70-69 with 5 minutes remaining before some questionable decisions, turnovers and several Gee-Gees second chance points and big shots helped Ottawa finish the game on a 23-3 run to win by 21. Against Ottawa, Paiement singled out Gee-Gees Warren Ward as the difference maker. Paiement described Saturday's overtime thriller against Queen's as "very exciting with tons of lead changes". Although Paiement was pleased with his team's defense overall, the Gaels ability to exploit even the smallest missed rotation for open 3's hurt his side. Laval seemed to take out their frustration on RMC on Sunday with a 60 point win. According to Paiement, two rookies really stepped up in the rotation as 5'8" J.P. Renaud showed he can provide a real spark off the bench especially with his ability to guard the ball and 5'8" Richard Addaï who showed flashes of potential to be a solid CIS point guard even with his diminutive size. Overall, Paiement feels that playing the weekend without 6'3" J.F. Beaulieu-Mahieux will help Laval down the road as others got a chance to play significant minutes and the group competed against quality opponents without their star. Beaulieu-Mahieux continues to work through his injury and his status for Laval's trip to B.C. in a couple of weeks is still uncertain.

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