Thursday, 7 October 2010

Western Mustangs Preview

Led by 6'5" second-team All-Canadian Andrew Wedemire, last season's edition of the Mustangs remained near the top of the OUA West despite heavy graduating losses the season before from a group that made back-to-back CIS Final Eight appearances.  That in of itself is a testament to how far this program has progressed since Brad Campbell took the helm five seasons ago, inheriting a non-playoff team that now has the depth and quality of a contender today along with much young talent coming up the pike.  This season, Campbell must replace graduated 6'1" three-point shooting specialist Jason Milliquet and departed 6'5" rotation forward David Harder, who has returned home to his native Denmark after foreign student fees began piling up.

Wedemire, an explosive post with knees that are finally strong and healthy after multiple operations earlier in his career, is almost impossible to leave one-on-one inside with his quickness and finishing ability and has learned to read and find open teammates out of the double downs.  He also works very hard to get more of his on put backs and running the floor as well as stepping out and facing bigger checks.  Wedemire is an OUA West POY candidate and the key to Western offensively.

5'11" mighty mouse Ryan Barbeau came into his own last season, easily making up for the leadership thought to be lost when Matt Curtis retired.  Barbeau was never afraid to take the big shots but now can put pressure on the "d" off the dribble much more consistently and is strong enough to get to the rim and draw contract while staying under control.  Expect him to push for an OUA West all-star selection.

The Mustangs welcome two of the best newcomers in the conference, led by 6'8" Adam Jespersen, who should provide more space to Wedemire.  Jespersen spent his first post-secondary season at NCAA D1 Hawaii Rainbows and will be a starter from Day One with the Mustangs.  6'5" true freshman Peter Scholtes, a native Londoner, is a rotation-ready three/four man who can present significant matchup problems at both positions with his blend of inside/out skills.

Joining Wedemire, Jespersen and Scholtes on the Mustang front line is 6'7" fourth-year forward Garrett Olexiuk, a 26 minute per game contributor last season who chipped in 13 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.  Olexiuk plays with fire and emotion and has developed into a solid OUA post player but suffered an ACL injury that has sidelined him through the off-season; however he is expected back into the lineup by mid-to-late October.

6'1" Marcus Barnett, a fourth-year wing, who averaged 7.8 ppg in 25 mpg in his first season at Western after transfering from William and Mary (NCAA D1) provides defense, ability to get out in transition and experience.  Another true freshman from London, 6'2" Nathan DiLoreto, should fit into the rotation at the wing spots.

While Barbeau should get the bulk of the minutes at the point as the main decision maker, 6'0" Brett Lawrence, now in his fifth season, provides experience and an able backup for 10-15 minutes per game.  Timmins High point guard Andrew Vincent, a 6'0" freshman who is smart and athletic, will gain valuable experience battling with the two incumbent points and expect Vincent to be in the mix as the point guard of the future.

A pair of very promising youngsters, 6'3" Quinn Henderson, a big freshman guard from Dundas Parkside who can shoot it, and 6'6" second-year forward Greg Edelsward, who played 8 minutes a game last season, provide quality for a team that top to bottom has as much talent and experience as any in the OUA West.  Expect the Mustangs to contend for the race to grab one of two first-round byes in the OUA West playoffs.

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