Thursday 14 October 2010

Laval Rouge et Or Preview

With four of five starters including all their big names back in the fold, expect the Rouge et Or to again make their annual push for the QSSF championship, an honour that eluded them last season after a three point loss to UQAM in the finals in Montreal.  A healthy 6'3" J.F. Beaulieu-Mahieux, something which wasn't consistent last season, would go a long way to seperating Laval from the rest of the pack in Quebec.  But there are several other very good pieces including a deep back court filled with strong, veteran decision makers, positioning Laval as potentially one of Canada's top teams.

A QSSF POY candidate, Beaulieu-Mahieux is one of the finest pure jumper shooters in the CIS with strength and extension on his pull-up jumper which he can make out beyond the three-point line.  6'5" Etienne Labrecque (14.7 ppg/30 mpg) became the go-to guy in the absence of Beaulieu-Mahieux last season and the pair form one of the more dangerous offensive connections in the CIS.  The pair will have to shoulder more of the rebounding/low post load now that underrated 6'5" F.O. Gagnon-Hebert has graduated, the only starter not returning for Laval this season.

Setting the table for the scorers is 5'9" Xavier Barbeau (9 ppg/31 mpg) who leads the break, starts the offense and has had some stellar games knocking shots down with range beyond the perimeter when open off double teams.  6'1" off guard Christian Trottier who has also suffered through some injuries provides steady shooting off the bench in a complementary role.  Laval also received a very strong freshman season in '09-'10 from 5'10" J.P. Renaud who averaged 7.5 ppg in 25 mpg.  Another second-year guard Richard Addai  will be in the rotation (5 ppg/14 mpg).

The player who could put Laval over the top this season is versatile 6'4" Jerome Turcotte, a former CCAA All-Canadian who has excellent overall skills as a big, wing forward.  Turcotte shoots it beyond the three point line, can put it on the floor and rebounds.  He is at his best when he is attacking and making good decisions off the dribble but consistency and foul trouble have plagued him in his career thus far.  A solid season from Turcotte puts Laval in the Nationals discussion.

Also gaining confidence and thus playing time is big Kevin Crevant who adds size and length in the post. 

Head Coach Jacques Paiement Jr. brings in another top recruiting class that includes a pair of experienced international players. Most noteable from Quebec is 6'4" Hughes Ryan from Montmorency CEGEP, where he earned 1st Team All-Star status in the Quebec colleges league last season. Ryan has already had a couple of big games shooting the 3 including a team-leading effort in Laval's recent win at Queen's. Joining Ryan from the CEGEP ranks is 6'0" lead guard Olivier Lefebvre who was one of the top players on Ste-Foy CEGEP provincial championship team last season. Another Quebec native, 6'5" Alex Prophete, a tremendous athlete who played for Paiement Jr. at Ste. Foy before embarking on a post-CEGEP career that included time with the ABA's Quebec City Kebs, comes off a redshirt year last season and will add experience up front especially on the glass.

Laval was able to attract a pair of quality foreign players including 6'3" Marvin Vebobe, a native of France who spent two seasons at INSEP (France's equivalent to Canada's now-cancelled NEDA program). As well, Laval gets 6'6" Jihad Murr, a native of Lebanon who played in the Lebanese professional league.  LATE NOTE:  Murr has signed a professional contract with a team in Dubai and thus will not play for Laval.

With a veteran lineup and at least two solid First-team all-QSSF candidates, Rouge et Or should be regarded as the early favorites to win Quebec.

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