Saturday, 8 January 2011

Thoughts from Friday

In yet another big game, the uOttawa Gee-Gees held a comfortable second-half lead against a Top 10 team and appeared poised to re-catipult themselves back into OUA East home playoff game/first round bye consideration.  Coach James Derouin's troops had been in similar positions in the pre-Holiday portion of the regular season, with nice, second-half cushions at Western, at home vs. Lakehead, vs. Brock and in the game at Windsor.  In all instances, defensive breakdowns and an inability to score and/or make big free throws when it mattered contributed to losses.  That pattern continued last night at home against #10 Toronto as Ottawa led by 8 in the third quarter when the Gee-Gees bench began whooping things up, prematurely as it turned out and Derouin had to burn a timeout to refocus his troops.  Despite Derouin's efforts, many of the same issues that plagued the group in earlier games plus a dominant effort by Blues increasingly-effective post tandem of 6'6" Drazen Glizic and 6'6" Andrew Wasik on 6'9" Louis Gauthier contributed to another disappointing result, dropping the Gee-Gees to 2-7 with an improving Ryerson Rams group in town tonight. The ability of a true strong decision-maker to step up and lead this group going forward could be the key between a team with strong athletes and potential that continues to underachieve and a team that learns to close out games and plays every possession at both ends with the same consistency regardless of score or prior situation... Speaking of the Rams, Roy Rana's crew suffered another terrible set-back as promising 6'7" post Bjorn Michaelsen, a starter from Day One as a freshman this season, has his arm in a cast after breaking a bone in his hand in the second quarter last night driving to the rim against Carleton and is expected to miss at least the next 4 weeks.  Recall that Michaelsen suffered a nasty head injury when he collided violently with teammate Ryan McNeilly on one of the first possessions of his OUA regular season debut in November and missed the rest of the first half.  The Rams stuck around with Carleton for much of the first quarter last night and although the score indicates otherwise, are not that far off, especially defensively when they are in rhythm.  Rye had some crisp defensive possessions that ended in creating turnovers or taking solid charges last night and offensively they have some athletes who can create off the dribble.  Consistency in decision-making and the need for at least a couple more perimeter shooters are the next pieces in the evolution of Rana's young crew... It was another spectacular shooting performance at home by Laval Rouge et Or in front of a jam-packed house at the PEPS and the resulting come-from-behind win over rival Concordia gives Laval a one-game lead in the QUBL where playoff format dictates that finishing first gives teams home games throughout the playoffs.  The way Laval shoots and plays at home plus the tremendous electricity from their fans when the place is jammed places even more merit on capturing the regular season pennant.  Once again, 6'4" Jerome Turcotte showed he is regarded by most as this season's Laval MVP, despite the array of candidates he is surrounded by.  Still, little was settled on the QUBL MVP front last night as 6'2" Kyle Desmarais had another strong game with 21 points and the way things are going, as well as both players are playing, the deciding factor in who ultimately gets named Q MVP will be which team finishes higher in the standings.  The Stingers host the fourth and final meeting between the two teams on Friday, February 11th... No question that Desmarais has been the catalyst in Stingers revival after last season's last place finish.  With Desmarais and others, Stingers have a sound, deep set of guards/wings.  And with the arrival of 6'7" freshman Zack Brisebois and his mature game, Concordia has the makings of a strong front court however Brisebois remains a CIS freshman in a league where it usually takes a couple of seasons for big men to evolve into forces in the paint that demand double teams and can change scouting reports and games.  If the Stingers are to challenge Laval, in the end the ability to win the paint area on the glass (which didn't happen last night) and on the scoresheet must happen and the present group of Concordia bigs is presented that challenge... Carleton Ravens continue to roll along and quietly 6'6" Tyson Hinz is putting together what is quickly should be regarded as an all-conference type season in this just his second season.  After his 28 point performance last night, including 20 in the first half, Hinz is averaging 16.7 ppg while shooting 55% from the field.  Hinz's skill set is making it more and more difficult to scheme against as his range and quick release allow him to step out and knock down shots, his decision-making and improving passing skills set up his dribble drive and he's always had a wide array of crafty post moves with either hand, again with deceiving quickness releasing around the rim and finishing.  Hinz's season-high was 34 against Brock and he also had 23 at Waterloo in addition to last night's gem.  While Carleton has the depth and talent not to have to rely solely on the second year forward from Orleans, ON, Hinz is rapidly emerging as the Ravens next new individual honours candidate.

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