Hoops: A quick look at the OUA East

This is the first weekend that all five men's basketball conferences across the country play games that count in the standings, so here's a "Starting Five" of storylines, conference by conference. Presenting: the OUA East.
  1. Rise of the eggheads: Toronto and Queen's are projected for a 2-3 finish in a pre-season coaches' poll conducted by the Ottawa Citizen's estimable basketball writer Wayne Kondro. Coach Mike Katz's Varsity Blues have a game that has a strangely retro feel to it; they're not flashy, but get out there and leave a couple layers of skin on the floor almost every night out. They have a steady hand at the point in fifth-year guard Mike DeGiorgio; teams with that kind of experience tend to be a tough out.

    Toronto has known some winning moments in hoops, particularly in the '80s when Brian Heaney was coach, but it's totally new to Queen's, who is nationally ranked for the first time in school history. Golden Gaels coach Rob Smart's team went 5-1 vs. CIS schools in pre-season despite playing without its best scorer, Mitch Leger, and guard Ryan Hairsine.
  2. Tut, tut: If you live in the GTA and have never seen a CIS game, head out to York and catch the Lions point guard, Tut Ruach, who practically gives his check windburn when he drives to the hoop. With the 24-second shot clock coming in, Ruach should be able to open the throttle. York is a young team overall, and could have some very frustrating nights.
  3. Ravens reloaded: There were a couple cast changes -- Oz Jeanty graduated and is now playing in Germany; lead assistant Taffe Charles took over the Ravens women's team -- but Carleton is back, as good as ever. Their share-the-ball system will be in full effect, although Final 8 MVP Aaron Doornekamp might be looking to score more.
  4. On the step back: The Ottawa Gee-Gees are a bit like the Boston Celtics of the league, with three stars (Dax Dessurealt as the big, Josh Gibson-Bascombe as the light-it-up guard and Sean Peter as the reliable small forward) but not a whole lot of depth. Donnie Gibson is a good glue guy who provides secondary scoring. Last season's national semi-finalists are very much a work-in-progress.
  5. Brotherly love: The final playoff spot will come down to rebuilding Laurentian, now coached by former Euro-league player Shawn Swords, or Ryerson, which features the brothers Igor and Boris Baković. Boris Baković had a great summer playing for Canada at the under-19 worlds in Serbia.
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