Sunday, 6 March 2011

First Round Thoughts

Look for UBC's 6'5" Kamar Burke and 6'4" Melvin Mayott among others to draw the task of slowing down Acadia's multi-talented 6'9" Owen Klassen.  For those who have not yet seen Acadia, Klassen has three-man skills with range beyond the three point line and is strong enough to score inside with his back-to-the-basket.  Off the top of my head, a favorable comparison for Klassen is Alberta's 6'8" Jordan Baker although Baker has a more versatile perimeter skill set while Klassen is a better low post offensive threat.  Acadia showed they can win without Klassen for short stretches as Klassen fouled out early in the overtime period against Cape Breton and 6'3" Anthony Sears and 6'6" Justin Boutilier picked up the slack.  Boutilier had an injury-plagued second half but appears all the way back after scoring 20 of his team-high 24 points after halftime in the shocking win over the Capers.  Acadia is not very deep or experienced at the guard spots and on paper the Thunderbirds back court featuring 6'1" Alex Murphy, 6'2" Josh Whyte and 6'2" Nathan Yu appears to have an advantage.  But we all thought that the Capers had the same type of advantage also... Expect Carleton to pound the ball inside to 6'6" Tyson Hinz and test Concordia's ability to guard the paint inside:   6'5" James Clark and Co. will be on display defensively and it will be interesting to see how Stingers Coach John Dore chooses to deal defensively when the ball gets into the low post.  Lakehead did a tremendous job with their rotations out of the double down against Hinz on Saturday night - the Wilson Cup tape is likely to be a prized possession for coaches facing the Ravens going forward.  Carleton should expect pressure and are likely to present a form of their own pressure on Concordia's guards as depth can be an issue for the Stingers.  Carleton must keep Evens Laroche and others off the offensive glass and convert in defensive transition.  It would likely be surprising to many if Carleton does not find a way to go back to shooting 20 to 25 3's once again after a weekend in which the Ravens decided to attack off the dribble and try to get to the rim... Dalhousie gets a tough first round matchup in Saskatchewan, arguably the best game on Friday as both teams have tremendous guards and strong front lines.  The Huskies have relied heavily on 6'0" Rejean Chabot and 5'11" Jamelle Barrett for 38-40 minutes each in their biggest games and Coach John Campbell has a big decision to make with respect to who 6'2" defensive lock-down guard Stephen Lopez will check, at least initially.  Chabot, who when right lives on the foul line, uses his body very well getting into the lane and typically tries to overpower defenders getting to the rim while contrastingly Barrett is quick, smooth and crafty, especially in transition getting to the rim or feeding his stable of athletic wings and forwards.  My guess is that Lopez is the better check for Barrett and that 6'1" Simon Farine is strong and intelligent enough to not get overpowered and/or outfoxed consistently by Chabot in a battle of fifth-year seniors.  Up front, the athletic Huskie forwards are likely to have their hands full with 6'9" Joe Schow - expect burly 6'8" Chris Unsworth to play more than the 17 total minutes he logged over two weekend games in the Canada West Final Four.  At the other end of the floor, Schow and 6'7" Sandy Viet will have to contend with how quickly 6'8" Michael Lieffers and 6'6" Nolan Brudehl get out in transition and attack the offensive glass.  Lieffers is arguably the most explosive athlete in the tournament and is a constant threat to crown opposing forwards with spectacular put-backs and transition dunks.  Dal does have a bit more depth in the backcourt and although 6'5" Duncan Jones can handle decision making in a pinch, Huskies do drop off considerably if either Chabot and/or Barrett get saddled with foul trouble... Lakehead's ability to push up on the ball, starting with 5'9" Greg Carter could expose what many feel might be the achilles heel of Trinity Western:  their back court where 6'0" Tristan Smith did have a solid season.  6'0" Dan Horner showed that he has big game abilities with his display against Alberta in the Bronze medal game however Spartans test will be their ability to get the ball below the foul line against Lakehead's ball pressure.  However, once things get inside, Trinity's array of talented bigs are likely to give the Thunderwolves front line trouble if left alone one-on-one.  6'6" Jacob Doerksen and 6'7" Kyle Coston among others are versatile and experienced enough to deal with double teams.  6'3" Calvin Westbrook's ability to knock shots down out of double downs - something he has shown he can do in big spots already this season will be tested.  Naturally, TWU must find the proper check for 6'2" Jamie Searle, coming off his OUA Wilson Cup MVP performance.  Plenty of plot lines and set ups for the weekend... we're just getting started.

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