Monday, 30 November 2009 Top 10 1 December 2009

Parity reigns supreme in CIS men's basketball as only one team remains undefeated, UBC Thunderbirds, and they should be a unanimous choice for #1 team going into the exam break. Beyond that, every team has at least one loss and there have been numerous upsets. Here are my choices for the Top 10 and honourable mention.

#1 UBC (10-0, 7-0) (LW #2) With a pair of resounding wins on the road in Winnipeg against second-division teams, the T-Birds maintained their perfect record against CIS teams. 6'6" Kyle Watson shot a perfect 9 for 9 from the floor in the first half in the win against Winnipeg played before about 1,200 fans at the Duckworth Center. UBC's deep roster allowed the Birds to not skip a beat despite not having regulars 6'5" Brent Malish and 6'3" three-point sharpshooter Blaine Labranche for spells during the first term. UBC still have not had the chance to show they can win some big games away from home - only 4 of their games in the first half were on the road - all wins - against teams with a combined record of 3-23.

#2 Carleton (13-1, 7-1) (LW #1) The Ravens continue their struggles on the road, losing at Lakehead and coming back to beat Mac in Hamilton on Saturday. 6'8" Kevin McCleery showed on Saturday that, when right, he is the top overall pure post player in the nation with a 30 point effort despite encountering foul trouble all evening. While Carleton plays like the #1 team in the friendly confines of the Raven's Nest, Dave Smart's youngest edition in many years has some room to improve as a road team. Carleton will take their annual trip to Florida for a training camp after Christmas before starting OUA East play in January.

#3 St. FX (11-2, 5-0) (LW: #5) The X-Men ride a six-game winning streak into the exam break and came away with a pair of resounding wins at home against Acadia, handing the Axemen their first loss in AUS regular season play, and then finishing a home-and-home sweep of then-#6 Dalhousie. X's guard tandem of 5'9" Will Silver and 5'10" Christian Upshaw allow coach Steve Konchalski to use a variety of presses and to get out in transition for easy scores. Still, X has not defeated a team currently in the Top 10, losing to McMaster and Guelph and will not play a game west of Nova Scotia for the remainder of the regular season and AUS playoffs. The X-Men will participate in the Rod Shovellor Memorial tournament at Dal in the New Year prior to resuming AUS play.

#4 Calgary (11-2, 8-2) (LW #4) Playing without 6'8" Ross Bekkering, the Dinos could not complete the road sweep on the weekend, losing at #7 SFU after a solid victory at Trinity Western on Friday night. Dinos guard play, which was projected to be an issue at the beginning of the season, has been a strength as 5'11" Jarrod Jackson, a freshman from Winnipeg, has handled the lead guard spot with the maturity of a veteran and is clearly one of the top first-year players in Canada, playing the most difficult position on the floor for a nationals contender.

#5 Cape Breton (9-2, 4-1) (LW #7) Two dominating performances in which the Capers pressure "d" and quality depth created numerous turnovers and easy scores, Cape Breton may have the most talent top to bottom on their roster this side of Vancouver. Consistency remains an issue but expect the Capers to ride their formidable pair of U.S. imports 6'3" Paris Carter and 6'2" Jimmy Dorsey plus their 6'4" man-child Phil Nkrumah.

#6 Windsor (8-3, 6-2) (LW: #HM) Two more large road wins, including a come-from-behind victory at Toronto this past Friday, adds to the resume of big road wins for the Lancers. Windsor has won at #7 Simon Fraser, at #9 Toronto and at HM Ottawa. Although the Lancers welcomed probably the deepest recruiting class in the CIS this side of Brock, it is their veterans who continue to pave the way defensively and down the stretch of games. Windsor's pressure "d" was on display this past weekend, in contrast to the inconsistencies the weekend prior.

#7 Simon Fraser (8-2, 6-1) (LW: #8) It may have been a case of looking ahead as the Clan was upset at home on Friday night by Lethbridge or this ranking could have been #4 or #5. SFU recovered the following night to claim an important victory over Calgary that further legitimizes the Clan as a Pacific Division title contender. 6'4" starting wing Matt Kuzminski missed both games on the weekend.

#8 Lakehead (9-2, 7-1) (LW: #9) In what could be a season-defining win breaking Carleton's 34 game undefeated streak against CIS competition, the T-Wolves proceeded to lose convincingly to Ottawa the following night. Still, the Wolves are defending as a group better than any Lakehead team in recent memory and led by 5'10" Greg Carter are much more organized offensively. Despite the loss to Ottawa, the T-Wolves are worthy of a Top 10 ranking.

#9 Toronto (11-4, 5-3) (LW #10) The second-half dismantling of a very good Western Mustangs team, led by their first-team all-star candidate Andrew Wedemire, was enough to keep the Blues, with wins at Ottawa, Cape Breton (neutral) and at McMaster, in the Top 10. Varsity Head Coach Mike Katz claims his team executed in the second half against Western "as well as any team I've coached" in front of an audience that included Raptors Head Coach Jay Triano. 6'8" fifth-year forward Nick Snow had a career-high 30 points in dominating the inside offensively as the 'Stangs decided to generally stay home on U of T perimeter shooters.

#10 McMaster (12-3, 5-3) (LW #3) An increasing dependency of 6'6" Keenan Jeppessen as the focal point of Mac's offense and an inability to win games at home against top competition, among other things, necessitates this drop in the rankings. The absence of 6'3" freshman Victor Raso in the final minutes against Ottawa and vs. Carleton was certainly a factor, but the Marauders need to find some consistent secondary scoring from another source. Also, free throw shooting has been an issue as has an inability to clear the defensive glass - Mac's last 6 opponents have had double digit offensive rebounding totals (almost 14 "o" boards per game by opponents in that span) including an incredible 24 second-chances for Ottawa.

Ottawa (10-5, 6-2) (LW: NR) Winners of four in a row and six of their last seven, the Gee-Gees are one of Canada's hotest teams and many already regard them as a Top 10 team given their success this weekend winning in OT at Mac and then hammering Lakehead in Thunder Bay. 6'4" Josh Gibson-Bascombe is enjoying another All-Canadian season while 6'6" emerging sophomore Warren Ward, when in a groove, is as good a young scorer as there is in the CIS. Ottawa's switching "d" has been air-tight over the past 2 weeks. However, as has been the case in past seasons, consistency remains an issue and with 3 home losses (Toronto, Cape Breton, Windsor) and a loss at Brock, the Gee-Gees need to keep winning to move into the Top 10.

Saskatchewan (9-5, 4-4) (LW: HM) One of the top teams in Canada West has endured an extremely difficult schedule with road games at UBC, Victoria and Alberta (twice) plus a pair of home games against Calgary. Led by a dynamic backcourt that includes 5'10" Moser candidate Showron Glover and a physical, athletic front line, expect the Huskies to compete for top spot in Priarie Division when all is said and done.

NR Dalhousie (10-4, 3-3) (LW #6) Two more losses in which the Tigers were comfortably defeated, running their losing streak to three games - all double digit losses - have exposed some chinks in the armour, primarily transition "d" and some uncomfort playing at higher speeds.


Anonymous said...

How can SFX be ranked in the top ten . Haven't beat a top ten team and haven't played CB yet . Ottawa loses (two in over time ) and two in regulation were to top 10 teams . Their loss to Brock was by two ( first league game) Brock would probably be a very good team in the Atlantic division . Ottawa also has beaten two top ten teams. Why are they not ranked in this poll?

Mista Cee said...

These are such valid points .. it is just farcical to see X at #3!!! And I agree, Brock would probably be a very good team in the AUS. The league is pretty weak right now with the likes of MUN, UNB, UPEI, even St. Mary's and Acadia are not as strong as in recent years. Ottawa deserves to be in the top 10 based solely on their recent play, I agree. Any OUA teams in the Shoveller? Let's see what happens when they play X ... like losing by 30 to Mac is not indicative of a #3 status to me, preseason/away game/whatever. ... Speaking of Mac, they're still at #6 which is also a joke. They are so overrated - they basically played 1 on 5 this weekend. Without Jeppesen, they are highly mediocre.

Anonymous said...

As the last unbeaten team in the CIS, there is no choice but to rank UBC #!.
However, look closely at UBC's schedule.
Compared to Carleton, UBC's road schedule was a walk in the park.
Even so, the Birds had a scare put in them by TRU in their first game.
TRU shouldn't be putting a scare in anybody, let alone a team like UBC.
Also, Carleton and UBC have had four common oddity, for sure.
UBC has beaten Sask, Windsor and Alberta at home by 7 points each and Waterloo, also at home by 6 for a total of 27 points combined.
By comparison, Carleton trashed Waterloo by 27 and Windsor by 33 at home, and beat Sask at home by 19 at the H-L tourney.
And on the road in Victoria, the Ravens easily handled Alberta by 20.
So against those same four teams UBC beat by an average of just under 7 points, the Ravens crushed them by a whopping cumulative margin of 99 points or just under 25 points per game.
As far as I am concerned, that makes for a compelling argument that Carleton merits at least some first place votes despite their loss to Lakehead.
After all, it's easy to stay unbeaten when you haven't really played anybody....sorry, TWU.

Anonymous said...

What is a man-child?

Logan said...

Though I am naturally biased towards Calgary, I was at the game at SFU on Saturday night and was also in attendance at both Canada West and National finals last year and can say with some degree of accuracy that SFU isn't close to being strong enough to challenge UBC for the CW-Pacific title let alone a national title (though I suppose time will tell as always).

Would have loved to see Sasky up there in the top 10 instead of SFU as they are a legitimate hard working team that will challenge the best teams in the country if they keep playing as they have been and stay healthy/injury free.