The Thomas Report

The Sheridan College Bruins are making their usual late charge up the OCAA West Division standings challenging conference arch-rival Humber and Fanshawe College down the home stretch in conference play.

Under veteran Coach Jim Flack, the Bruins are the highest scoring team in the OCAA with an average close to 90pts a game. The Bruins under Flack have always been a defense-first unit but have some outstanding shooters on this years squad that can score from anywhere. This team is still relatively young with many freshmen and sophomores dotting the roster.

They are improving defensively every game and could improve enough to get out of the always tough OCAA to the national tournament in March.

Former Father Henry Carr point guard Rodel Grenaway has resurfaced at NAIT in Edmonton, Alberta. Grenaway had led the team to a number one CCAA ranking in late November but they have since faded to the backend of the ranking in late January.

Grenaway has been out of school for two years since graduating in 2007. He was a top ranked point guard in his graduating year but he did not get the call from Division I schools he hoped for. At 6’1″ 185lbs, Rodel would be a great fit for many CIS schools if he still wants to go the university route in this country.

He and Adrian Tomlinson of St. Lawrence College in Kingston are the best point guard prospects in the entire CCAA who could graduate to the CIS level next year and be impact players.

Former Guelph Gryphon All Star RJ Bailey has resurfaced this year at Humber College at the age of 27. After getting an accounting degree at Guelph, Bailey has enrolled at Humber in a journalism course and is in his final year of eligibility.

He has brought maturity, experience and a strong inside presence to the perennial strong Hawks team which is always a title threat in the strong OCAA league.

The best player in the OCAA this year is Jovain Wilson, a 6’2″ shooting guard from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough. The talented Wilson, who can score from anywhere, is averaging 25ppg and looks like a first team CCAA All-Canadian in March.

The Fleming team has a great chance to win the OCAA East Division this year over conference rivals Algonquin and St. Lawrence.

OUA

As the OUA season heads to the wire in February, two of the OUA East preseason favourites are headed in opposite directions. The senior-laden Toronto Blues have struggled mightily in January falling out of the CIS Top Ten after residing there all season and are now fourth in the conference standings.

They have been beset by injuries to 6’7″ post Nick Snow and other players on their roster. With four starting seniors in their line up they need to get healthy fast. This could be Toronto’s last hurrah as one of the elite OUA East teams as heavy graduation losses will push them back to the middle of the pack next year.

The Ottawa Gee-Gee’s have crawled from being totally unranked in October to a nationally top five team in late January. Ottawa is getting it done with stellar defense and the outstanding play of Josh Gibson-Bascombe, a strong All-Canadian candidate and super sophomore Warren Ward, who should make the all league team this year.

Ottawa will lose some excellent senior talent in the spring but have the depth on their squad to remain at the top of the tough OUA standings.

The Queen’s Golden Gaels may have their first All-Canadian candidate in almost twenty years in fourth-year forward Mitch Leger 6’6″, who is at the top of the leaderboard in OUA scoring and rebounding. The Gaels who are currently third in the OUA East, would be much farther down the standings without Leger’s outstanding season. Coming off a serious knee injury last year, the talented small forward could be OUA East MVP as well as a CIS All-Canadian when March rolls around.

Scott Morrison, the Lakehead Thunderwolves young coach, should get some strong consideration for CIS Coach of the Year.

The Thunderwolves who have gone from last place a year ago to first in the tough OUA West in early February, are the most improved team in the country and have done it with a very young roster. I don’t know anyone in the country who is more deserving at this point in the season.

THE RECRUITING TRAIL

The dynamic backcourt at Oakville Loyola HS is drawing a lot of interest from OUA schools. Adam Pressuti, the 6’6″ off-guard is being heavily recruited by Toronto, McMaster and other OUA schools may come out this year.

Mike L’Africain 5’10”, Loyola’s talented point guard may return for a fifth year. If both young men opt to go to the same university, they have the ability to make that school a national contender.

The most improved player in Peel Region high school ball this year is Peter Boateng, a 6’4″ forward at d’Youville H.S. in Brampton. Boateng plays Robin to his more talented Batman teammate Manny Sahota. Together they should ensure d’Youville gets out of the demolition derby which characterizes the Peel Region playoffs and on to Quad “A” OFSAA.

Some recent CIS commitments are Chris McLaughlin of Oakville’s Abbey Park to University of Victoria, Jake Robinett, a 6’7″ forward from Sir John A MacDonald in Waterloo to the University of Waterloo and London Oakridge forward Peter Scholtes 6’5″ to the Western Mustangs.

REDA centre Lucas Nugteren is looking out of province at Trinity Western and St. Francis Xavier and NCAA school Radford.

REDA guard Jehannes Manigat has strong interest from about ten American schools including Maine, New Hamphsire, Elon, Niagara, East Carolina and in Canada, Carleton and St. FX.

REDA forward Troy Joseph has interest from Niagara and New Hampshire while teammate G Ryan Augustine has interest from Mercyhurst, Guelph and Bishop’s.

Stefan Nastic 6’11” from Thornhill HS north of Toronto, recently gave a commitment to Stanford University of the Pacific 10 conference. He and Toronto-area bigman Dwight Powell are the first Canadians to play at Stanford since Hamilton’s Peter Van Elswyk was there in the mid 1990’s. Nastic was considered to be the best centre prospect in Canada for the Class of 2010.

TheHoop-La Team
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The NC-double-Eh Watch

The NC-double-Eh Watch

Tristan Blackwood (Toronto) – Guard – Junior – Central Connecticut – Feb. 12, 15 Blackwood seemed to be in a shooting slump early on in the season, but those slumps are best ended by simply shooting through them.

And that’s what he did last week. Missing only one minute in the Blue Devils’ two wins, Tristan averaged 24 points, 5 rebounds, 3.5 dimes while shooting a blistering 58% from the field going 14 of 24 (making 8 of 14 threes) and a perfect 12 of 12 from the charity stripe helping CCSU clinch the top spot in the Northeast Conference Tournament and the league title.

Majak Kou (Hamilton) – Guard – Senior – Loyola (Ill) – Feb. 14, 17
Majak Kou is doing everything in his power keep his team in the Horizon League Tournament. Over the last week, Kou averaged 16.5 points, 5 off the glass and 3 assists highlighted by the 20 point, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists against in the Ramblers’ win over Eastern Illinois.

Dave Noel (Montreal) – Guard – Senior – Northern Arizona – Feb. 14, 17
Dave Noel had a great week helping his team to a tie for second place in Conference USA. In games against Tulane and Rice, he averaged 15.5 points, 4.5 boards, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals.

That went with his incredible shooting where he only missed two shots from the field (6 of 8) and missing only one free throw out of 17 highlighted by the 11 of 12 from the line in the loss to Tulane. He also was perfect from the arc going 3 of 3.

Apple iTunes

Eugene Kotorobai (Markham, ON) – Forward – Senior – Long Island – Feb. 15, 17 Since his recent insertion into the starting lineup for the Black Birds, Kotorobai has been playing great.

Last week he averaged 14.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists in 34 minutes. His highlight game was against Fairleigh Dickinson where he scored 18 points, grabbed 8 off the glass and added 4 helpers leading the charge to the win.

Andy Rautins (Jamesville, NY) – Guard – Sophomore – Syracuse – Feb. 14, 17
Andy Rautins has had a great week.

He had been coming off the bench of late as Coach Boehiem had opted to start Eric Devendorf but that did not keep younger Rautins from playing well. In his teams’ two wins last week over conference rivals South Florida and Connecticut, he had averaged 14 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.5 steals in about 29 minutes.

NOTES:

With the Madness soon upon us, here is a list of Canadians that have guest list and should to be dancing in March: Ryan Wright (UCLA), Levon Kendall (Pitt), Jimmy Balderson (BYU), Ryan Wetherall (USC), Sheray Thomas (Kentucky), Joel Anthony (UNLV) and Marlon Pompey (Texas A&M) … Line of the Week part 1: Sean Denison, Santa Clara – 18 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks … if these guys’ teams don’t show up at their conferences’ championship tournaments, they could sitting on the bubble:

Andy Rautins (Syracuse), Maurice Joseph (Michigan State), Jevohn Sheppard (Michigan), Dave Noel (Central Florida), Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes (Gonzaga), Max Paulhus-Gosselin, William Archambault (Davidson) and Sean Denison (Santa Clara) … any bets on what school former All Ivy League performer Keenan Jeppeson will end up at? … these guys need to win their conferences to reach the Dance: Majak Kou (Loyola [Ill.]), Tristan Blackwood and Jemino Sobers (Central Connecticut State) and Steve Sir and Kyle Landry (Northern Arizona) …

Line of the Week part 2: Kai Williams, South Dakota State – 20 points, 10 rebounds … Gloucester, ON native Mani Messy has reportedly left Seton Hall. The reason listed is “personal” … it was recently brought to my attention that there was a reader that wondered about why Scott Brittain was not given more pub, and that reader had a point.

Of the many first year Canadians playing in the NCAAs Division 1, he may be the one of the top two that had a significant impact on his team. He is currently averaging 6.8 points, 5.6 boards starting 25 of 26 games and has played a very consistent amount of minutes from game to game.

I wouldn’t want to say that he has had a big year, but he definitely has proven that he can play at this level. Scott has had some breakout games over the season but he has also had games that he seemingly disappeared in.

Despite all of that, let’s just squash any ill feelings by saying that Brittain has had a good freshman season putting up modest numbers to this point in his early career on a largely overachieving, under experienced team and that we expect him to build on the positive outcome and return for a better sophomore season …

Toronto vs. Portland Trailblazers Preview

Toronto vs. Portland Trailblazers Preview

The Raptors look to snap a 6-game losing skid against the Trailblazers Friday night at the ACC.

THE TORONTO RAPTORS

Record: 4-11

Last 5 games: 0-5

Last game: 96-73 loss to Boston Wednesday January 18, 2012

Really? SG DeMar DeRozen – 11pts (4-16), 5 turnovers, 0 dimes

Injury Report: PF Andrea Bargnani and PG Jerryd Bayless did not play and are still listed as day-to-day. Centre Aaron Gray made his season debut for Toronto last night after missing the past four weeks with a heart ailment.

Turning Point: The Celtics held Toronto scoreless over a six-minute stretch in the first quarter, as they opened up an early tight 9-8 game with a 13-0 run and never gave up the lead the rest of the game.

Pros: PF Gary Forbes had a team-high 18 points for Toronto off the bench.

Cons: The Raptors dropped a season-low 73 points in the loss and they have now lost six straight games.

Stat Leaders: PF Andrea Bargnani 22.3ppg – PG Jose Calderon 8.7apg – PF Amir Johnson 8.1rpg

Next Game: The Portland Trailblazers in Toronto Friday, January 19th, 2012.

Portland’s Record/Standing: Currently are 8-6 and stand 4th in the Northwest Conference.

Key Matchup: PF LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Toronto’s frontline.

Commentary

No doubt about it the Raptors are missing Andrea Bargnani’s offence. But two players who aren’t stepping up to fill that scoring void and should be are SG DeMar DeRozan and PG Jose Calderon.

DeRozan, in my opinion should be shopped around while his stock is still lukewarm. He just isn’t aggressive enough or skilled enough to be playing the 2 spot in the NBA. Calderon on the other hand just tends to disappear.

Rondo went off on him from the get-go last night scoring 13pts in the first quarter alone and “El Matador” didn’t take up the challenge. In the world of the NBA, if you’re not a good defender, the best defence to a good offence is a better offence. He scored just 9pts last night against Rondo but it’s the 4 dime, 3 board performance that’s really inexcusable.

The Raptors next take on Portland Friday in the Big Smoke. The Trailblazers are coming off a 92-89 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Their roster include the likes of high-flyer 6’7 Gerald Wallace, 44-year old vet Kurt Thomas, PG Jamaal Crawford and All-Star in-the-making LaMarcus Aldridge. Crawford poured in a team-high 22pts for the Blazers last night in the loss against the Hawks with Aldridge collecting a doubledouble with 11 boards and 20pts.

Aldridge is going to be a nightmare for the Raptors down on the blocks Friday. The 6’11”, 5th-year product from Texas is a physical big body that possesses a deadly low-post game.

I expect Toronto head coach Dwayne Casey to double team Aldridge as much as possible or perhaps play zone enticing his teammates to shoot the ball. The only other scorers on the team are Wesley Matthews (who?), Crawford and Wallace.

All three are up and down, streaky players as evident with Wallace & Matthews dropping just 8pts and 10pts respectively last night against Hotlanta.

Marauder Basketball Snags First Recruit of 2012

Marauder Basketball Snags First Recruit of 2012

McMaster men’s basketball coach Amos Connolly believes in the old adage “The early bird gets the worm” and is happy to announce his first recruiting commitment for 2012.

Cambridge native Jason Quiring confirmed with Connolly last week that he will be donning Maroon this fall as a member of the Marauders and signed his CIS letter of intent on Saturday.

Quiring is a 6-foot-6 post, who is attending Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge. His Hespeler Hawks team is one of the favourites from the WCSSAA (Waterloo County) region to qualify for the OFSAA AAA tournament in March.

Ranked among the top 100 graduating high school players in Canada by Hoopstars Canada recruiting service, Quiring spent last year playing for the Regional Elite Development Academy (REDA) that operated out of Hamilton.

He returned to Cambridge and Jacob Hespeler when the REDA program moved its base to Orangeville for this season.

“As a quality post player Jason was a recruiting priority, so we are thrilled that he has decided to become a Marauder,” beamed Coach Connolly. “He gives us another legitimate forward to help inside, but he has some perimeter skills and can knock down shots from range. He reminds me of Cam Michaud.”

Jason becomes the second member of the Quiring family to join the Marauder family, as his sister Rebecca plays for the McMaster women’s basketball team.

Coach Connolly and the Marauder staff continue to work hard on the recruiting trail and expect to announce future commitments in the coming weeks.

“We choose quality vs. quantity when it comes to recruiting – and are in contact with some very exceptional players. Our goal is to clearly demonstrate that McMaster is a great choice for their university experience,” said Connolly.

One On One With Thornhill HS Forward Stefan Nastic

One On One With Thornhill HS Forward Stefan Nastic

The NCAA’s Stanford Cardinals of the high-regarded Pac-10 conference have added another Canadian resident to its recruiting class for next season … when Stefan Nastic, a 6’11” Serbian-born player who currently lives in Thornhill, Ontario, verbally committed to the school two weeks ago.

Nastic played basketball at Thornhill High School during the Fall but trained with the Serbian national team program during the summers. He was a member of the Serbian U16 national team two years ago and then went on to train with the U18 last summer.

Nastic, who possesses a deadly outside game to go along with a well-rounded inside game, joins a recruiting class the California media has dubbed the “Super 6” as he joins Toronto’s 6’10″/212lbs Dwight Powell, Washington’s 6’10″/200lbs John Gage & 5’11″/170lbs Aaron Bright, Cali’s 6’6″/180lbs Anthony Brown and Montana’s 6’7″/200lbs Josh Huestis.

Stanford’s 2010 recruiting class is currently ranked as 13th best nationally by scout.com. Before committing to Stanford, Nastic was being pursued by NCAA Division I powers Georgetown, Duke, Maryland and Virgina among others.

What was the major deciding factor to your decision to going to Stanford?

Stanford was my first choice from the beginning. Stanford’s combination of academic excellence and strong athletic tradition influenced my decision.

In terms of on the court, what are you looking to accomplish in your freshmen season?

I am very excited for the upcoming season, I will continue to work hard and help my team in every way I can.

What are your plans for this off-season? Are you going back to Serbia or down to California for training with the Stanford program?

I work on my skills all year round, especially during the off-season. This includes high quality team training and competitions. At this moment I am focused on school and commitments to my respective HS/Club/AAU basketball teams.

How important was your experience training with the Serbian National Team over the summers?

Serbia is one of the top basketball countries in Europe. Training with the Serbian National team for the past few summers has been extremely beneficial.

I was introduced to the European approach to the game of basketball. Not only was I able to develop as a basketball player, but travelling with the team was great for my personal growth. I was in an unfamiliar environment where everything was different than I am used to.

We would practice twice daily; in the morning on individual skills, while the evening was reserved for the reviewing of the team concepts.

Stepping out of my comfort zone and being in different situations is what made it such an important and unique experience that will assist me with my transition to university life.

Why exactly did you choose to go over to Serbia to train?

Coming from a close-knit family, the summer is the perfect time to visit my grandparents. In Serbia, Basketball is a very popular sport with a great tradition of successful players and coaches.

From a very young age I was involved in some high quality basketball camps. I was noticed by coaches and continuously worked on my skills. The Serbian basketball federation contacted me regarding tryouts for U16 Serbian National Team.

What are your thoughts on playing with what the media has called Stanford’s “Super Six Freshmen”?

I am excited to be a part of a new group of talented and hardworking players. I look forward to helping build a strong basketball program at Stanford for the years to come.

How far do you want to take basketball? What is your ultimate goal?

My goal is to keep working hard, stay focused, and work towards my dream of playing in the NBA one day.