Despite the plethora of off-season coaching changes across the CIS, few would have guessed that one of those changes would cast a pair of former nation's capital foes together in Montreal. But upon reflection, the unlikely pairing of McGill AD Drew Love, the former Carleton athletic director during the hey days of the Ravens/uOttawa Canal Wars, and former Gee-Gees coach Dave DeAveiro, who turned the Ottawa program around from one of the lowest ranked CIS teams to a Nationals contender, seems makes tremendous sense, with DeAveiro being one of the more successful CIS coaches of the past decade and Love used to winning ways at his former home. Despite taking the job very late in the recruiting process, DeAveiro used a combination of his hard work, the arrival to his staff of Montrealer and former Champlain CEGEP coach John Dangelas and players who had already commitment to the previous staff to bring in several young, likely rotation players to help form a solid foundation for the future.
Last season's Redmen were explosive offensively, led by a pair of graduated 6'4" scorers in Quebec POY Matt Thornhill and solid forward Paul Herra. In an effort to replace the majority of McGill's main scoring punch, DeAveiro recruited 6'4" Karim Sy-Morissette, a big guard from Dawson College, who should nicely complement incumbent point guard 5'10" Olivier Bouchard, the reigning QSSF Rookie-of-the-Year after averaging 10 ppg in 26 mpg as a freshman last season. But DeAveiro's best recruit may be 6'2" Simon Bibeau, a long-time star on various Quebec Provincial teams and previously a member of Canada Basketball's now-defunct NEDA program. Bibeau, who spent last season at Champlain College, has tremendous offensive skills putting the ball on the deck to get into the lane under control and can shoot it beyond the three point line. Bibeau should be a starter from Day One.
Incumbent 6'4" forward Michael White, now in his fifth-year, can present matchup problems as he can stick the 3 and also plays inside. The smooth lefty can make a dramatic impact in his final season as he learns to play harder and compete more consistently. 6'6" returning wing Nic Langley is a solid three point shooting big man who needs to expand his game to include more consistent work around the glass rebounding and defending. Longer-term, maybe the best of the returning forwards is 6'5" Nicolas Nishikawa, a third-year reserve originally from Ottawa Colonel By and trained in the Ottawa Guardsmen club program. DeAveiro loves how hard Nishikawa plays and his strong basketball intelligence.
The Redmen also brought in one of Dangelas' better big men from Champlain, the tough, hard-nosed 6'7" forward Tristan Renaud-Tremblay, who redshirted last season at The Citadel, an NCAA Division 1 program. Renaud-Tremblay continues to hone his skill set and brings a competitive streak to the Redmen front line. Also joining McGill up front is a strong, skilled 6'6" freshman forward from Hamilton, ON Cody Mazza-Anthony who brings a workman-like approach to the paint area. Mazza-Anthony will contribute more as he adds to his offensive skill set.
DeAveiro is also happy with the progress of 6'8" second-year forward Greg Gause, one of two Americans who played for McGill last season. The other American is scrappy 6'3" Winn Clark, originally from Kansas who gets alot out of his skill set and should push for time on the wing.
The Redmen also welcome back 6'4" Kyle Bernard, an athletic wing who when healthy allows DeAveiro to defend a bit more aggressively. Bernard, who will be in his second year of eligibility, played his freshman season in 2007-08 and is currently nursing a back injury that has limited his practice time.
Two other freshmen round out the back end of the roster including fundamentally-sound shooter 6'2" David McMurty and 6'7" Charles-Alexandre Lacroix, the MVP of the Quebec CEGEP "AA" championship last season and a wonderful athlete who is also on track for Medical school.
The Redmen open the CIS pre-season portion of their schedule this coming weekend in Ottawa at Carleton's House-Laughton tournament as DeAveiro faces off with his old rival Dave Smart and the Ravens on Friday night at 8 PM. Victoria and Windsor also participate. The following weekend is the annual Redbird Classic at McGill with Western, UPEI and Queen's in the tournament.