The Gryphs are another program that has been a perennial playoff and nationals contender for the better part of two or three decades but hit some hard times last season, missing the playoffs for the first time ever in the Chris O'Rourke coaching era despite a very good season from their lone fifth-year graduating senior Jay Mott. O'Rourke has always pounded the recruiting trail hard and he has upgraded the talent level for this season by bringing in a pair of solid CCAA transfers plus another OUA transfer among others. In all, at least six returning vets, none of who are entering their fifth season, along with the recruits, provide O'Rourke with a nice blend of athletes and size/strength. Expect Guelph to be right back in the hunt to return back to the post-season.
Without Mott, who took the majority of the big shots and was Guelph's main offensive weapon, the Gryphs will look to another proven scorer, 6'4" Jonathan Moscatelli, entering the fourth season of an injury-plagued career, to take a leadership role and be the feature guy offensively. To support Moscatelli and run the point as a creator, Guelph brings in 6'0" Kareem Malcolm, a long (6'5" wing span), athletic scoring guard who is another in the long line of high-impact talents from Oakville's Sheridan College under long-time mentor Jim Flack. Malcolm should start and log heavy minutes from the get-go, sharing time at the point with 6'0" incumbent point Mike Patrella and likely sliding over to play the two alongside Patrella as well. Patrella, who has had flashes of tremendous offensive efforts in his first three seasons, seeks the type of consistency needed to run a top tier program for 30-35 minutes per game as he enters his fourth season.
6'2" wing Dan McCarthy emerged as an offensive force in his sophomore season in 2009-10, shooting 40% from downtown and playing with the urgency and confidence of a more experienced player. Expect him to get more shots now that Mott has graduated and his ability to play off Malcolm, given Malcolm's ability to create off the dribble, will be a key ingredient for how well the Gryphs score the ball.
Guelph has plenty of depth and talent up front, led by returnees John Brutto (6'8"/second year) and 6'6" Matt Howlett, who can play the three and the four spot. 6'6" Adam Biering also returns and will challenge for time. Three newcomers should push the incumbents, led by 6'8" 230 pound Kevin Cameron, a transfer from Windsor entering his fourth season, who adds experience, strength and an ability to step out and shoot it. 6'8" Duncan Reid, back after one season's absence, is much stronger and confident both facing the basket and backing in.
To add some athleticism to the front line, Guelph brings in 6'5" Jerald Greenidge, a long, high-energy forward who has a quick first and second jump that gives him advantages on the glass - O'Rourke refers to the fourth-year transfer from Sheridan College as his "ex-factor athletically". 6'6" freshman Andrew Beney from Wateloo Bluevale has been a pleasant surprise in training camp as someone who can contribute and grow as a 4/5.
With four solid guards and several complementary bigs, Guelph can easily go nine or ten deep without a noticeable drop off in talent and production. The ability of Moscatelli to stay healthy and indeed maintain the strength required for his knee to take the physical pounding of being the guy opponents key on defensively and the ability of Malcolm to adjust to league with bigger guards are two of the bigger challenges Guelph has. But the talent is there to mount a return to the OUA West playoffs.
The Gryphs host Fraser Valley, Manitoba and UBC, three Canada West teams, this weekend and later take a trip out east for the Stu Aberdeen Classic.