Sunday, 12 December 2010

Top CIS Players in the first half

There have been several noteable individual performances in the first half of the CIS season, culminated by 6'6" Jacob Doerksen's 42 point effort for Trinity Western on the final weekend of the first half.  Included in the basket of top efforts are 42 points by Regina's 6'7" Paul Gareau in a home victory over Calgary and a 42 point onslaught by Windsor's 6'3" Isaac Kuon on the opening night of the OUA season at York.  Also on the final night of the first half, Waterloo's 6'3" Cam McIntyre lit up Ryerson for 42 points including a ridiculous 11 three-pointers, a Warriors team record.  With the season about half over, it is a good time to take a look at some individual's who have established themselves as possible honours candidates by year end.  Here is one take on this season's top players in the CIS as of the end of the first half of the season:

In Quebec, there is a virtual 1, 1a battle for Player-of-the-Year brewing between Laval's 6'4" Jerome Turcotte, who has finally shown the consistency and overall versatility that many had pegged for his career, and 6'2" Kyle Desmarais, the exciting, athletic lead guard who has been the driving force in Concordia's resurgence after last season's last place finish in the QUBL.  Turcotte, a fourth-year veteran, averages 19.8 ppg and continues to shine on the glass from his wing spot with 6.4 rebounds per game.  His signature game of the first half was the 29 point effort in Laval's come-from-behind victory at UQAM.  Maybe most impressive is Turcotte's ability to make things happen defensively (averages 4 steals per game) highlighted by his steal in the final minutes of Laval's most recent win at McGill which clinched that particular victory.  Desmarais has also made a significant difference defensively for the Stingers with his great athleticism and instincts.  When counted upon to score, he has done so, averaging 20.6 ppg to lead QUBL while shooting a tidy 52%.  While has 27 turnovers against only 20 assists, Desmarais is making the bulk of the decisions for the Stingers while playing a league-high 36.2 minutes per game for Concordia (4-1), a program winning again, the test upon which all point guards are ultimately judged.

Out east, Cape Breton Capers, after a mediocre pre-season, have reeled off wins in their first 7 games of the regular season to sit comfortably atop the AUS standings, led by their dynamic American import duo of 6'4" Paris Carter (16.6 ppg including 47% from three-point land) and 6'2" Jimmy Dorsey (15.7 ppg/4.7 apg).  Dorsey missed huge parts of the pre-season because of injury while Carter had been inconsistent however both have been instrumental in leading the Capers to their undefeated record... Back for his fifth and final season, Dalhousie's 6'2" Simon Farine has thus far not put up the eye-popping offensive numbers of previous seasons however his output has been solid (15.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 4.2 apg in 38 minutes per game).  In the end, the Tigers are winning and Farine has been the catalyst, continually getting everyone involved and is again leading by example, usually the first one on the floor diving for loose balls and taking charges in addition to handling the bulk of the high-speed decision making... 6'1" Joey Haywood, the league's leading scorer at 27.1 ppg has been a tireless worker offensively, playing virtually every minute of league play (39.4 mpg average) while shooting 58% from the floor.  Haywood had a regular season-high 30 against Acadia and went for 28 and 27 vs. Cape Breton.  However the Huskies have struggled defensively which reflects on their current won/loss record and Haywood's assist to turnover ratio is barely above 1:1 (in his and many others defense, assists are probably the most inconsistent and poorly awarded statistic in the CIS, varying widely depending upon who is scoring the game).  Haywood could be the most offensively talented player in the AUS however it will probably take many more second-half victories for Saint Mary's to give him a consensus AUS POY ranking... St. FX has had a balanced attack and have several contributors who could garner consideration for a short list of top AUS/CIS players.  However, this is Christian T-Bear Upshaw's team and the 5'10" fifth-year guard has battled injury (concussion in pre-season tournament in Ottawa) and some off-court discipline problems (Upshaw was suspended for one game for breaking team rules related to academics), all of which contributed to a loss of momentum by the X-Men toward the latter stages of the first half.  Although the quirky AUS schedule which saw X not play for 13 days also was a factor, Upshaw's leadership and productivity will likely be the determining issue in X's ability to reach the Nationals again.  Upshaw has averaged 18.8 ppg, below his POY production from last season but still among the league leaders.  His 17% field goal percentage from three point land stands out as the statistic that has hurt his line... While UPEI has had a tough start which has left the Panthers currently out of the AUS tournament race if the season were to end today, 6'6" Manock Lual has been 1st team AUS-like in his contribution, scoring at 20.7 ppg while shooting 61% from the field.  Lual has also got it done on the glass at both ends, averaging 8.3 rpg.  His best effort of the season was a 28 point/11 rebound gem at UNB...  Acadia has maintained their spot in the top four of the AUS, primarily on the play of 6'3" guard Anthony Sears (18.8 ppg) and 6'8" sophomore Owen Klassen (17.7 ppg/10.2 rpg).  Klassen has scored inside and out (41% 3's) however needs to improve on his 50% ft shooting percentage.

In Ontario, although there were several first-half efforts worthy of note, outside of possibly Laurier's 6'5" Kale Harrison, there is no clear cut dominant player, especially from teams that have won consistently.  After an off-year last season, Harrison has regained his confidence and is clearly stronger physically and mentally, leading the Golden Hawks to 6 wins in 8 tries during the OUA interlock including a career-high 39 points against Carleton, a team which rarely allows individual opponents to go off.  Harrison (23.5 ppg; OUA's leading scorer, 4.3 rpg, 39% 3's) leads the high-powered Golden Hawk front line and is complemented by one of the more underrated contributors in the CIS, 6'6" Maxwell Allin (14.8 ppg/34% 3's, 6.8 rpg, 6.2 apg with only 10 turnovers in 8 games) who entered the league as a wing forward and is now basically running the show as a point forward as the Hawks key decision maker offensively...  Windsor's exciting 6'3" wing Isaac Kuon blasted out of the gates during the first weekend of the season with efforts worthy of an All-Canadian, averaging 32.2 ppg over the first two games including an incredible 42 point effort at York (16-20 shooting, 5-7 from downtown).  Unfortunately, Kuon injured his ankle before a critical two-week home stretch culminating in the Lancers only regular season loss, at home to #1 Carleton, during which Kuon was less than fit.  The fifth-year senior did recover to score 28 at Queen's and, when healthy, Kuon is a definite OUA West POY candidate and in the Moser discussion...  Western's returning All-Canadian, 6'5" Andrew Wedemire continues to post solid numbers and carried the Mustangs toward the end of the first term when their lineup suffered without 6'0" Ryan Barbeau, who was injured in an off-court incident.  Wedemire's numbers (17.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 55% fg) are again worthy of national recognition, despite now-constant double teams and creative defensive ploys designed to make things difficult for him... After missing the playoffs last season with an extremely young group, Brock Badgers were fortunate to have 6'1" Andrew Kraus play his fifth and final season of eligibility in St. Catharines and the Markham, ON native has not disappointed, showing leadership and producing offensively (16.0 ppg, 50% 3's) for 5-3 Brock, one of the early season surprises in the OUA with their up tempo, live-and-die-by-the-"three" style... For one of the few campaigns during their dominant reign of CIS championships, most would offer that the Carleton Ravens do not have that Moser Award calibre candidate of year's past with Osvaldo Jeanty, Aaron Doornekamp and others.  Balance remains a key with this still-young group (only 5'10" Mike Kenny is in his fifth season).  As was described in the Top Freshman piece earlier this week, 6'3" Phil Scrubb leads the Ravens in scoring and has likely been their best over the first half however the team and system are the key reasons why Carleton is #1 so the contributions of 5'11" Willy Manigat (12.4 ppg) and 6'6" Tyson Hinz (15 ppg) cannot be overlooked.  With 6'3" Elliott Thompson (9.0 ppg) having an inconsistent first half and 6'5" defensive whiz Cole Hobin continuing to seek more offensive production, the Ravens appear to have room to improve...  A pair of CIS newcomers with downtown Toronto programs have added their names to potential honours lists as 6'1" freshman guard Jahmal Jones has been Ryerson's top overall offensive player (see also Top Freshman piece) while 6'5" Cornell transfer Alex Hill, after a slow start to the regular season, has come alive as a versatile wing forward who scores (17.9 ppg team-leading), makes perimeter shots (44% 3's), rebounds (5 rpg) and gets out in transition to finish (55% from the floor) and is one of the main reasons why the Varsity Blues are the surprise team in the CIS with a 6-2 record after losing four top fifth-year seniors from their starting lineup...  After such a strong finish to last season, York Lions were expected to push into the upper tier of the OUA East.  The Lions, with a history of peaking toward the end of the season with their usual talent-filled roster, still may push for second place in the East and will need their dynamic pair of 6'10" sophomore Dejan Kravic (17.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 53.5% fg plus 3 blocks per game) and 5'11" third year guard David Tyndale (19.4 ppg) to continue to shoulder the offensive load although Tyndale's starkly contrasting numbers at home and on the road (see further down in story) must level out.

The past two Moser Award winners for CIS Most Valuable Player, UBC's 6'2" Josh Whyte last season and Trinity Western's 6'6" Jacob Doerksen (2008-09) have come from Canada West and both are making strong cases for a second CIS POY honour in their fifth and final seasons.  As well, both the Thunderbirds and Spartans are among the Top 5 teams in the country. Whyte, a smooth, steady lefty guard, has been key in all tight UBC games and his numbers, while not eye-popping, are excellent at almost 19.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 55% fg, 43% 3's.  Doerksen punctuated his first half with his recent 42 point effort and is simply a matchup nightmare inside, where opponents are forced to send double and triple teams or risk big nights.  However the versatile forward can step outside, face up and knock shots down beyond the arc as well, and he is putting it all together again for the talent-laden Spartans, who won their last 10 games of the first half, usually in convincing fashion.  Unfortunately, Whyte and Doerksen will not meet again head-to-head during the regular season, Whyte's T-Birds taking a pair of road wins in Langley for the Spartans only two regular season losses thus far.  In the head-to-head meetings ultimately dominated by Whyte and the T-Birds with superior guard play, Whyte averaged 22 points while Doerksen averaged 20 in the two games...  Without a doubt, the resurgence of the Alberta Golden Bears under second-year coach Greg Francis accelerated with the arrival of 6'4" Daniel Ferguson, a Canadian who transfered back after three seasons at an NAIA school in Georgia.  Ferguson has proven to be arguably the best pure shooter in the country in the first half, leading Canada West at 25.4 points per game while shooting a sizzling 47% from downtown, 88% from the foul line and 51% overall.  Ferguson has had three games of 30+ points including his season-high 38 at Brandon.  Several observers have suggested that Ferguson is the best pure shooter to enter CW in many years.  Still, the Bears success has ridden heavily on the efforts of 6'7" Jordan Baker, who stuffs the stats sheet on a nightly basis with his array of perimeter skills, strength inside and high basketball IQ.  The lefty sophomore averages a double/double each night at almost 17 points and over 10 rebounds per game.  Baker also orchestrates from the point forward position, making up for a lack of a consistent pure point guard in the Bears lineup, with 4.7 assists per game while shooting 51% overall...  Calgary Dinos have disappointed as injuries have depleted further what was an inexperienced lineup however 6'9" Tyler Fidler, before sustaining an ankle injury himself, held the Dinos together scoring (16.8 ppg) and especially on the glass, where he leads all CW rebounders at 12.3 rebounds per game... Saskatchewan's dynamic backcourt of 5'11" Jamelle Barrett and 6'1" Rejean Chabot are the main reason why many feel the Huskies have a legitimate shot at repeating as CIS champions.  At no time was Barrett's value more noticeable than in Saskatchewan's comeback victory at UBC when he scored 34 points including several big plays down the stretch of that OT win.  Barrett (22.1 ppg/7.0 apg/49% from the floor) had his season-high 36 in a home loss to Fraser Valley.  Chabot has been solid (21.6 ppg) including a pair of 30+ scoring efforts (36 vs. Winnipeg and 34 at Lethbridge)...  Regina's aforementioned Gareau, who returned to theCougars after a year's absence and teams with veteran Kris Heshka to form one of the more imposing front lines in the league, has been a load inside, getting himself to the foul line 75 times in the first 12 games (>6 free throws per game) and averages almost 17 ppg and 5.4 rpg... The resurgence of the Manitoba Bisons has been a balanced effort, with several perimeter threats however the presence of a stable, glue-type point guard in 5'11" Josh Ogden has been the difference in several contests, allowing the Bisons to enter the second half with a solid 7-3 record in Canada West play.  Ogden has set the table for his three point threats (5.8 assists per game) but has also rebounded (almost 5 boards per game) and scored when available (11.5 ppg).  Most striking is his glittering assist-to-turnover ratio of 3:1 (58 assists as against only 19 turnovers) as a first-year CIS player...  With his first-half capping 32 point effort that provided Victoria with an overtime victory at Alberta, 6'4" Ryan MacKinnon showed he is very capable of pushing for Canada West honours.  MacKinnon averaged 15.3 ppg, 4.9 rebounds and shot 43% from beyond the arc in the first half, leading the Vikes to a 7-5 record.

Top 15 CIS Players in the first half (alphabetical order)
(Asterisks denote First Half Conference POY * or co-POYs**)
6'6" Max Allin, Laurier
6'7" Jordan Baker, Alberta
5'11" Jamelle Barrett, Saskatchewan
* 6'4" Paris Carter, Cape Breton (AUS)
** 6'2" Kyle Desmarais, Concordia (QUBL)
** 6'6" Jacob Doerksen, Trinity Western (Canada West)
6'2" Jimmy Dorsey, Cape Breton
6'4" Simon Farine, Dalhousie
6'4" Daniel Ferguson, Alberta
* 6'5" Kale Harrison, Laurier (OUA West)
6'1" Joey Haywood, Saint Mary's
* 6'3" Phil Scrubb, Carleton (OUA East)
** 6'4" Jerome Turcotte, Laval (QUBL)
6'5" Andy Wedemire, Western
** 6'2" Josh Whyte, UBC (Canada West)

Honourable Mention: 
6'1" Rejean Chabot, Saskatchewan; 6'1" Jahmal Jones, Ryerson; 6'1" Andrew Kraus, Brock; 6'10" Dejan Kravic, York; 6'3" Isaac Kuon, Windsor;  5'10" Christian T-Bear Upshaw, St. FX.


Anonymous said...

Carleton isn't as youthful as some make them out to be,
True, Mike Kenny is their only 5th year guy and he doesn't even start anymore.
But they do have four 4th year seniors...starters Elliot Thompson, Aaron Champman, Cole Hobin and Willy Manigat, who sometimes starts but is usually Carleton's 6th man.
The good news is Carleton can return everybody next year except for Kenny.
However, what looms after the 2011-12 season is the graduation of that aforementioned quartet of seniors, so Smart is looking at a massive roster hit in 2012-13.
However, given Smart's track record of seamlessly retooling his team every year despite significant graduation losses, I wouldn't be surprised if the Ravens keep going on their merry way.

Anonymous said...

Tyndale shoulders the offensive load beacause he never passes the ball!!