Tuesday, 9 November 2010

CISHoops.ca Top 10 as of 9 November 2010

Trying to come up with this week's Top 10, outside of #1 and probably #2, is a fools game... which is why I'm "in".  As Wayne Thomas showed in his post last night, parity reigns supreme in Canada West and while there are three seemingly dominant teams in the OUA, the AUS currently has X and the rest and the "Q" is a mystery.   Manitoba's loss at Vic which turned out to be a blow-out takes the Bisons out on the periphery, especially with the strong weekends enjoyed by Windsor and Alberta, my two new teams in the Top 10.  This early season has proven to be one of the most difficult to reach a consensus on this ranking in many seasons.

#1 Carleton (9-0, 2-0) (LW #1)   Two wins at home including Saturday's battle with Brock in which the Badgers stayed in the game with some tremendous three-point shooting but imploded with numerous obvious fouls, leading to a skewed free-throw count.  The Ravens were able to maintain their poise in the midst of the foul-fest and 6'5" Tyson Hinz continues to blossom as an all-round scoring forward, whether in the post, in transition or knocking down 3's.  Carleton visits Kitchener-Waterloo next weekend to face Laurier and Waterloo.

#2 St. FX (9-1, 1-0) (LW #5) Sunday's win against Saint Mary's at home further shows that at this point in the season, X is the team to be in the AUS. With only one loss all season, a tough 4 point defeat against the now 7-2 U of T Varsity Blues on a neutral court in Ottawa after a late Saturday night game without Christian "T-Bear" Upshaw for a full half, St. FX deserves this leap from #5. In the quirky AUS schedule, X is now off until November 20th when they host another top AUS team Dalhousie Tigers at home in Antigonish.

#3 Concordia (5-0) (LW #3) The Stingers elevated ranking rewards their undefeated pre-season which includes a pair of wins against Laurier, a team that is grabbing attention with their imposing front line fortified by emerging 6'6" freshman Pat Donnelly.  Stingers have also defeated Winnipeg, Laurentian and McMaster.  Concordia gets an opportunity to substantiate this ranking when they kick off their season next weekend at Laval (Friday) and then the following night with their regular season home opener against UQAM. As mentioned in this space last week, Concordia will have to prove immediately that this elevated ranking is deserved.

#4 UBC (7-2, 4-2) (LW #2)  The T-Birds have already lost more games in Canada West than they did all of last season but the good news is that they have likely already played three of the best teams in the conference.  Still a very formidable team, UBC is getting consistent guard play from 6'1" Alex Murphy and is watching the blossoming of 6'6" freshman wing/forward Tommy Nixon as an emerging star.  The Thunderbirds return home for the next three weekends, finishing the first-half of CW play hosting Winnipeg, Fraser Valley and Lethbridge in their final six games before Christmas.

#5 Trinity Western (5-2, 4-2) (LW #7)  Two hammerings of hapless Thompson Rivers did little to test the talented Spartans, who host Regina next weekend before welcoming Alberta Golden Bears the following weekend to Langley which is now sets up as one of the biggest CW matchups remaining on the schedule.  As has been the case for the past 3 seasons or so, the ability of TWU to get consistent point guard play should dictate their results.

#6 Western (6-1, 1-1) (LW #4) We mentioned that anything less than a pair of solid wins jeopardizes their #4 ranking and while Friday's win at Laurentian against an undermanned Vees group (sharpshooting Manny Pasquale and guard Isaiah Pasquale did not play) was solid, the loss last night to York exposed some chinks in the armour as the Mustangs had difficulties at times dealing with York's faster, up-tempo style and inside against the Lions 6'10" forward Dejan Kravic who had 24 points, 17 rebounds and 6 blocks for York. The good news is that 6'6" Garrett Olexiuk was solid down the stretch of Saturday's game however big, athletic teams could begin to give the Mustangs some challenges. Western faces the athletic Ryerson Rams next weekend in their OUA home opener and then gets the undefeated U of T Varsity Blues the next night.

#7 Windsor (4-2, 2-0) (LW: NR)  Deep and talented, the Lancers are getting the type of season required from their star player Isaac Kuon, at least early in the season, that is required for a sustainable run toward a National championship.  Windsor's losses were at Carleton in a game they were in to virtually the end and then a Sunday early afternoon loss to an energized McGill team.  Last weekend's pair of solid road wins restores confidence that this is a Top 10 team.  Windsor hosts Toronto and Ryerson this coming weekend and then welcomes uOttawa followed by a Saturday night rematch with Carleton the following weekend.

#8 Alberta (4-2, 3-1) (LW: NR) Saturday's bounce back win over UBC at home solidifies Golden Bears place in the Top 10. A young, rapidly maturing group with an experienced scorer in 6'4" Daniel Ferguson and veteran guard in 6'1" C.G. Morrison, expect the Bears under second-year coach Greg Francis to remain in and around these levels or better for several seasons. The Bears travel to Brandon this weekend before being severely tested in their final four games of the first half of their CW schedule at Trinity Western and at home against UVic.
#9 Saskatchewan (8-3, 3-3) (LW: #6)  Not only did the Huskies sustain a pair of home losses in the last two weeks to Victoria and Fraser Valley, the defense has become pourous as opponents are averaging 89 ppg against Saskatchewan.  The only positives holding Huskies Top 10 position are strong road wins at Alberta and at UBC.  Sask finishes the first half of their CW schedule at Lethbridge and then at Winnipeg - anything less than 4-0 threatens their Top 10 ranking.

#10 Laval (5-2) (LW #9)  Rouge et Or get a chance to immediately show where they stand in the QSSF, hosting Concordia this coming Friday.  Laval needs to get more consistent inside play as thus far it has been feast or famine from the perimeter which can be effective (first half vs. Carleton) or not so much (home loss against UNB).  Rouge et Or have always been a difficult team to score on when they are right, pushing up on the ball, getting in the passing lanes and playing with an edge defensively.  This style will have to continue this season with their perimeter-oriented group.

Others considered:   Toronto (7-2, 2-0), Manitoba (6-2, 4-1, LW #8), Dalhousie 4-2, Ryerson (5-2, 1-1), Ottawa (6-3, 1-1, LW #10).

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