Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

Although there were some surprises, much of the weekend went the way most figured it might starting in Ottawa where Carleton Ravens won their 10th consecutive House-Laughton tournament title by defeating McGill comfortably, Windsor reasonably comfortably and then getting a bit of a push from Vic on Sunday (Vikes had it to within one in third quarter) before the Ravens won going away.  6'5" tournament all-star Cole Hobin again showed why he is regarded as arguably the top overall defender in Canada, locking up McGill's freshman sensation Simon Bibeau on the first night (Bibeau then scored 26 and 30 points in subsequent games, earning a tournament all-star) and then doing the same to Isaac Kuon of Windsor on Saturday.  Tournament MVP Tyson Hinz tore up Vic on Sunday.  Other all-stars were Windsor's 6'8" sophomore center Liam Philip, who scorched Vic for 26 points and 20 rebounds on Friday night and Victoria's versatile 6'4" swingman Ryan MacKinnon.  Ravens will face another formidable challenge this coming weekend at the Rouge et Or tournament at Laval against Saint Mary's, a much-improved UNB Varsity Reds team and the hosts.  Meanwhile, Windsor plays at a DII tournament in Ohio, McGill hosts their own Redbird Classic with Western, Queen's and UPEI while Vic opens up their expanded Canada West regular season, hosting last season's CW finalist Calgary Dinos at home.  Also, a pair of CIS alumni from Carleton and Calgary hooked up in the Dutch professional league recently as Nijmegan (3-2), supported by Kevin McCleery's 8 points and 7 rebounds defeated Rotterdam (0-4) 76-68.  Calgary Dino grad Robbie Sihota had 10 points and 12 boards for Rotterdam.
Speaking of Laval, as expected the veteran Rouge et Or captured the Naismith Classic over the weekend with the biggest upset of the weekend being MUN's victory over the host Waterloo Warriors, who went 0 for 3 on the weekend.  The Warriors did lose 4 fifth-year players who were in the rotation but do return an all-conference candidate in 6'3" Cam McIntyre plus veteran fifth-year rotation players 6'8" Alan Goodhoofd, 6'5" Tim Rossy, 6'1" Jordan Hannah and 6'1" starting point Luke Kieswetter so a loss on the first day of their own tournament had to be very disappointing.  Unfortunately for long time Warrior Head Coach Tom Kieswetter, next season may even be more challenging after this season's 4 seniors graduate as, outside of McIntyre, the roster is dotted with 1st and 2nd year players.  McIntyre hurt his shoulder early in Sunday's game against Ryerson just after the Warriors jumped out to a 12-2 lead but had to leave the game and did not return.  Ryerson Rams continue to come together as a group that when they really understand how to defend as a group should give teams difficulty and get some easy scores.  Waterloo is at Bishop's this weekend while Ryerson is off for a couple of weeks, next playing Humber College Hawks, coached by Shawn Collins, father of Windsor's dynamic young point guard Josh Collins, during the last weekend in October. 

Concordia Stingers are off to a nice start after last season's roll over and 6'2" Kyle Desmarais is the biggest reason.  Desmarais was named tournament MVP of this past weekend's Hawk Challenge at Laurier with a great performance on Friday night against the hosts when the Stingers rallied from a big third quarter deficit and a 7 point deficit with under 2 minutes to play.  The main recipient of Desmarais strong decision making skills has been 6'3" Decee Krah, who also was instrumental in the pair of wins that gave the Stingers the tournament title.  Laurier gets another shot at the Stingers this coming weekend at the Voyageur Challenge at Laurentian in Sudbury.  Stingers also meet the hosts while the Hawks will play the very strong Dalhousie Tigers at Cambrian College on Saturday.  Laurier saw the emergence of their touted newcomer 6'6" Patrick Donnelly who was a load against Cape Breton and was named a tournament allstar, along with Jordan Tew [McMaster], Tremaine Fraser [CBU], Evens Laroche [Concordia] & MVP Desmarais MVP [Concordia].  Speaking of the young Marauders, they got a tremendous performance from one of their few veterans Scott Laws on Sunday against Lake Erie College.  6'8" Scott Brittain, who has battled concussions throughout his career, was stung again in practice recently and was able to play one of the two games this past weekend, on Friday against Cape Breton.  6'3" Victor Raso, another of the fine young players under first year coach Amos Connolly, returned to action on Saturday against Concordia after an ankle injury had kept him on the shelf.  6'6" Cam Michaud is the veteran scoring threat on Mac while Laws remains one of the top defenders in the conference.  Mac will go as far as their young guards take them; they host Acadia on Friday night this coming weekend.

In addition to the very good Calgary at Victoria matchup that kicks off the Canada West regular season, the Saskatchewan at UBC Friday and Saturday games promise to be among the best maybe all season given how strong both teams are and the rivalry that is building between these two programs.  The backcourt matchup of Jamelle Barrett and Rejean Chabot against Josh Whyte, Alex Murphy, Nathan Yu and Co. should be tremendous and there will be athleticism galour up front with Kamar Burke of UBC and Michael Lieffers of the Huskies among others.  Expect close to sell out crowds for both games in Vancouver which should be broadcast on UBC web TV on both nights, allowing the entire country to watch this key matchup live.  Lethbridge starts their Canada West regular season this coming weekend against Trinity Western Spartans, one of the favorites for CW title and unfortunately for the Horns they may be without 6'1" reserve shooting guard Quinn Van Gaalen who has an injured ankle.

York Lions recovered to win a pair of games at UPEI and against Brock after stumbling against the improving UNB V-Reds.  The Lions have a recent history of starting seasons very slowly but usually get it together in time for a playoff run as they did last year with an upset victory at U of T followed by a solid showing in an OUA East semi-final loss at Carleton.  The exciting Lions have plenty of athletic talent and are deep both up front with their pair of 6'10" forwards Dejan Kravic and Stefan Haynes plus slick guard David Tyndale and sharpshooting 6'3" Ostap Chioly who emerged into one of the top freshmen in Ontario toward the end of last season.  The young Brock Badgers are also a work-in-progress who should be getting two of their main cogs back in the lineup as 6'2" Didi Mukendi and 5'11" Joel Whitty should be returning to a lineup that offensively has a pair of new catalysts in 6'2" Mike Cruickshank and 6'1" Andrew Kraus.  Cruickshank was instrumental in Brock's successful 2-1 weekend in PEI, scoring a tournament-high 33 points in the ten point loss to York after a 32 point effort in the Badgers with over the host Panthers.  Kraus provides tremendous experience and savvy as a fifth-year point guard who ironically ran the point against current Brock Head Coach Brad Rootes three seasons ago in the CIS championship game when the Badgers captured their second title.  Brock faces RMC and Acadia at home in non-conference games this coming weekend while York has scheduled the Guelph Phoenix men's team at home this weekend.  Stay tuned for reports on UNB (which is in the Laval tournament this coming weekend) and UPEI (in the Redbird Classic at McGill this weekend).

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