Two key games in OUA basketball Friday night. The first, in Windsor, where the Lancers beat the Carleton Ravens 80-68. Twelve points against the Ravens could, I suppose, be called a blowout. Word I'm receiving is that the Lancers were just more athletic. Not taller, maybe not even smarter in a basketball sense. But more athletic; out-leaping the Ravens for rebounds, using their speed and agility to score.
From an e-mail I received:
Also, it's been noted to me by those in attendance, and now by Mary Caton in the Windsor Star, that the Lancers may found a top-notch point guard in John Woldu. Lancers sweep Carleton, Caton writes.
The Lancers are on top of their game, according to Bob Duff of the Windsor Star.
NOTE TO LANCERS FOOTBALL: See what happens when you have a successful program? The Star sends TWO reporters to the game.
That "other team" from Ottawa, the No. 9 Gee-Gees, had it handed to them by the Western Mustangs, that "other team" in the West Division. Western won 73-53 in London.
Surprisingly, I can't find anything in the London Free Press regarding the game. I'm guessing with the Yates Cup being played Saturday, staffing and space was an issue. So, courtesy of Western SID Andy Watson (one of the best in the OUA) here's a recap of the game from the school's website.
If you don't feel like reading all of it, here's all you need to know: The Big Three got the win for Western.
So, with those two games in the books, I'm wondering if by the end of the season we see a shift in power, from the East to the West. From Carleton and Ottawa to Windsor and Western. No one can deny a message was certainly sent, whether Windsor and Western meant to send one.
That said, Dave Smart is the best coach in Canada, so I'd fully expect his team to peak at just the right time, as always. But, if Carleton loses tonight in London and Ottawa does the same in Windsor, the shift may have started and it may be tough to stop.
And finally, an impression from the man that really matters, Dave Smart. Here's his quick take on the game. He sent it to me via email:
There you have it. Smart all but calling Windsor the best team in Canada.
The football team at the University of Western Ontario isn't the only one with OUA championship hopes this season. While the Mustangs football team plays the Ottawa Gee-Gees for the Yates Cup on Saturday, the basketball team will tip off the regular season against Ottawa on Friday night in London.
Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press write that the Mustangs want to be title contenders.
With a front court of Keenan Jeppesen, Brad Smith and Colin Laforme they already are on paper at least. I can't see many teams in the OUA West matching up with size like that. Jeppesen is 6'7", Smith is 6'7" and Larforme is 6'10".
Western is a little inexperienced at the guard spot, but so is Windsor, which lost Ryan Steer, and Brock, which lost Brad Rootes, and Guelph, which starts second-year player Michael Petrella.
As reported here, Greg DeLaval will officially apply this week for the head football coach position at the University of Toronto.
According to director of athletics Liz Hoffman, it's a national search. Although, she gave DeLaval his dues for snapping Toronto's CIS record 49-game losing streak, going 2-6 and not being eliminated from the post-season until the final week of the season.
Yeah, yeah. I know the OUA completely dropped the ball on the basketball season by allowing two measly games to be played last week (Toronto 92, Ryerson 78 and York 106, Laurentian 97) but the season really gets underway Friday night with all 16 teams playing.
We at the Guelph Mercury already ran our season preview. And, in surfing the net, I see a few other newspapers gave their local teams some ink Thursday.
It seems the Windsor Lancers are reloading, not rebuilding as the cliche goes. They're going to have overcome the losses of Ryan Steer and Kevin Kloostra. I think having Greg Surmacz on the block helps, don't you? The 6-foot-8 centre received more votes as a pre-season all-star than any other player in the OUA.
Way up in Thunder Bay, Kiraan Posey's the key to LU's success this season. Also, it seems Posey is poised to become Lakehead's all-time leading scorer. He needs five points to pass Dan Zapior's 2,339 points (conference, playoffs, exhibition included).
Posey was voted a first-team pre-season all-star by the OUA coaches.
In St. Catharines, the Brock Badgers are turning over a whole lot of roster. Gone from the defending national champs are Brad Rootes, Scott Murray, Mike Kemp, Rohan Steen and Dusty Bianchin. So, it's whole changes for the Badgers.
Bernie Puchalski of the St. Catharines Standard talks about point guard Joel Whitty from Ridley College and shooting guard Didi Mukendi from Denis Morris. But I'm telling you, do not for a second underestimate or forget about Owen White.
Ken Murray told me he likes his team. He's confident. Then again, when isn't he? He and I both picked his team to win the national championship last season. I'm not sure either of us will be making that bold statement this season, but Brock will be in the mix.
It's a massive youth movement at Queen's in Kingston. The Golden Gaels have plenty of new kids on the block. Ten players entering their first or second OUA season.
He's right. The East Division isn't overly strong. Some coaches have told me bluntly "it's weak." There's Carleton, Ottawa and everyone else.
The Guelph Gryphons men's basketball team opens the 2008-09 OUA basketball season Friday against the York Lions at 8 p.m. at the Mitchell Athletics Centre.
In anticipation of the season, the Guelph Mercury ran our now-annual one-page preview of the team.
Here it is in PDF format:
If you're just looking to read the text, the team story can be found here.
And, if you just want the survey highlights, here they are:
Based on a survey of OUA head coaches here are their picks for OUA pre-season all-stars. Number of votes in brackets.
G—Josh Gibson-Bascombe, Ottawa (10)
G—Nick Pankerichan, Guelph (5)
F—Aaron Doornekamp, Carleton (12)
F—Kiraan Posey, Lakehead (8)
C—Greg Surmacz, Windsor (13)
G—Stuart Turnbull, Carleton (4)
G—Kael Harrison, Laurier (2)
F—Keenan Jeppesen, Western (7)
F—Mitch Leger, Queen's (3)
C—Boris Bakovic, Ryerson (3)
NOTE: Coaches could not vote for their own players.
Based on a survey of OUA head coaches here are their picks for OUA division winners and OUA champion. Number of votes in brackets.
Western Mustangs (8)
Windsor Lancers (7)
Waterloo Warriors (1)
Carleton Ravens (15)
Ottawa Gee-Gees (1)
Carleton Ravens (14)
Windsor Lancers (2)
Grant MacDonald was robbed!
The OUA released its 2008 football all-stars this week. A name that wasn't on the list caught more of my attention than the ones that were.
Grant MacDonald, a Guelph Gryphons defensive end, didn't get a first-team nod. A crime.
Queen's locked up both defensive end spots. Osie Ukwuoma and Neil Puffer were both first-teamers.
Ukwuoma is a no brainer. No argument from me. He led the OUA in sacks with 9.5. But Puffer over MacDonald is a shame. Or, better yet, a sham.
MacDonald, arguably the most improved Gryphon - if not player in the OUA - this season had 20.5 tackles, six sacks, five breakups, a forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Puffer, in his fifth and final year (politics anyone?) had 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks. And he didn't even play in every game.
Look, I know guys are double-teamed. That's a measure of a player's talent. Heck, it's sort of the same reason why Sean Riley of Guelph keeps grabbing all-star hardware. No one throws to his side of the field out of respect.
But come on. MacDonald didn't even earned second team honours.
That's a sham. Not a shame. Well, actually, it's both.
Just some newspaper coverage of the Guelph/Boise State game played Saturday in Boise, Idaho.
The Broncos beat the Gryphons 87-42.
First, from the Idaho Press-Tribune, BSU Looks Good in Opener.
And, from the Idaho Statesman, BSU men coast to win.
Neither mention much about the Gryphs, but it's about all the coverage I can find.
I called Guelph coach Chris O'Rourke late Saturday night but he may have been on a plane to Utah where the Gryphs were to play the Weber State Wildcats on Sunday night.