|The Thomas Report - 02.07.11|
Written by Jim Thomas on Monday, 07 February 2011
CIS fans across the country have to wonder whether anyone can derail the Carleton Ravens juggernaut which appears headed for the Final Eight in Halifax in March undefeated. Carleton is clearly the best team this season by a wide margin especially in Ontario where they have laid waste the competition in league play. Barring any league upsets, the only hope to stop the Ravens may come from the East or West coast of Canada. After an injury- riddled preseason when the Cape Breton Capers struggled mightily they have been on an impressive winning streak including an epic overtime win against main AUS rival St. Francis Xavier about three weeks ago. The Capers have impressive team speed and depth and if healthy will be a huge factor at nationals in March. On the left coast U.B.C. and Trinity Western have been dominant all season. Both squads are veteran teams with impressive depth, size and scoring ability and if they survive the always tough Canada West playoffs they have a good chance to get to the CIS final eight and do some damage. Stay tuned if all four of these teams get through to Halifax which would make for a very dynamic tournament.
I like the idea of holding the OUA final four at McMaster's Burridge gym. This is a bold move by the OUA to generate interest and revenue for their basketball product. As long as they don't over price tickets this event should do well. Hamilton is a basketball town and although the hometown Marauders will likely not be there, the OUA should be able to fill the gym. Let's hope the GTA fans come out to support the excellent product that the OUA puts on the floor.
Are there any better scorers in the CIS than Laurier's Kale Harrison and Waterloo's Cam McIntyre? Both young men are fourth year seniors and have had superb seasons for their respective teams. Both have produced several 30-point plus games in league action and are worth the price of admission by themselves. Waterloo will struggle to make the playoffs in the OUA West this year but Laurier remains a definite threat to make it to Halifax in March if they can knock off either Lakehead or Windsor.
I recently had a chance to see the Lakehead Thunderwolves in action and came away very impressed. The Thunderwolves play excellent defence and are as quick on the perimeter as any team in Canada. They shoot the three ball very well and can break opponents down on offence with their ability to penetrate and knock down outside shots. The Thunderwolves are almost unbeatable in the cozy confines of their own gym and have an excellent chance to finish first in the OUA West if they continue to win on the road.
Is this the year the OCAA finally wins the CCAA national title again? It has been several years since an OCAA team came home with a national title in men's basketball but this may be the year. Ottawa's Algonquin College and Humber College from Toronto are ranked one and two in the latest CCAA rankings and have an excellent chance to win the national championship which will be held in Oshawa in March at Durham College. Both teams have talent and depth with excellent coaching. They are clearly the class of the OCAA but Humber will have to get by the always tough Sheridan Bruins in the OCAA West Division and Algonquin has to vanquish St. Lawrence, Durham and Sir Sandford Fleming College in the OCAA East. Best wishes to both teams in their quest to bring home a national title.
THE HIGH SCHOOL SCENE
Durham Region high school ball has been on the rise for several years now. The population in the Eastern GTA is growing steadily and the OBA club system has established deep roots in the Pickering through Newcastle area. Pickering H.S. has been the dominant team in the area for several years and has several provincial medals to prove it. However, while Pickering H.S. still has good teams the pendulum is swinging further east. The JC Richardson Storm have been the best Quad "A" school in the region the past two years under coach Mike McFetters and Anderson high school from Whitby looks like a very strong gold medal contender this year at the Triple "A" level. Other schools that are very good basketball programs in the area are Pickering, Pine Ridge, Dunbarton and Oshawa's GL Roberts at Double "A". This is not a phenomenon as both Durham Region on the East and Peel Region in the west attract more of Toronto's population to safer communities with more affordable housing. Look for high school basketball to continue to flourish in the suburbs around Toronto at the expense of established programs in the City of Toronto.
THE RECRUITING TRAIL
Whitby Anderson H.S. guard Justin Edwards 6'2", who is arguably the best senior prospect in Ontario has a scholarship offer on the table from the University of Maine and interest from several other U.S. schools like St. Bonaventure, New Mexico State and Detroit Mercy. In Canada, Windsor is working hard to keep him in the CIS. His teammate Dyshawn Pierre 6'6" has to decide whether he will come back for a fifth year of high school ball or look at options on both sides of the border this spring.
Ryerson and Brock are heavily involved with Oakville's Loyola H.S. Rohan Boney who could come out this year. Loyola's premier PG Mike L'Africain has heavy interest from Toronto, Carleton and Western.
Congratulations to L'Africain's backcourt mate Adam Pressuti, prolific score Joe Rocca 6'3" from Sarnia St. Christopher's and JC Richardson SG Aaron Redpath who have all chosen to attend McMaster University next season.
Ottawa big man Ryan Evans 6'11" has chosen to pursue his degree at Ryerson University in Toronto. He was being heavily pursued by Carleton, St. Francis and York.
The Brock coaching staff like Burlington Nelson PG Aaron Campbell who is an excellent defender and scorer.
REDA point guard Grant Mullins who just turned 17 in October 2010 will return to the REDA program next year. He has interest from Columbia, Dartmouth and a host of CIS schools.
Kashrell Lawrence, a 6'2" swingman who has been lighting up the scoreboard in Peel Region high school ball will transfer to REDA for the second semester.
Yours in basketball,
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