Here's a stab at keeping track of where the Top 10 teams are during the holidays:
  • As the University Cup host, No. 7 Lakehead is apparently trying to deduce quite a bit from its holiday tournament, where they'll play No. 3 Saskatchewan in the final tonight after beating the Huskies 5-4 in a shootout this evening.

    Five-foot-7 centre Mark Soares got the shootout winner for Lakehead. There were 21 power-play opportunities, which one can take to mean some bad blood has developed between the teams for the rematch.

    One game between non-conference teams doesn't prove everything. However, Lakehead did win without key defenceman Kalvin Sagert (best last name in the CIS!). Apparently, when Sagert made it back to campus from his home in B.C., his equipment did not.

    Something that has not got a lot of attention -- it's only Dec. 30 -- is that, according to a the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Canada West only has one entry in the University Cup this season. Is that right? Alberta won last season, so why does the defending champion's conference only get to send a single team?
  • Earlier yesterday in Thunder Bay, No. 5 Laurier was upended 7-3 by Manitoba. Who knows, that might be a game you can excuse.
  • Speaking of Alberta, it plays Regina and a college team, the host SAIT Trojans, at a tournament in Calgary this weekend.
  • No. 4 UNB has its much-anticipated two-game series vs. Boston College on Friday and Saturday
  • No. 9 Waterloo actually is playing three games in Switzerland and Italy this week. There, uh, might be some trouble tracking down scores from those games
This post will be updated after Tuesday's final.
The questions about former Syracuse point guard Josh Wright (pictured) playing for Ottawa are swirling like snowflakes.

One can only wonder what has led to Wright, who played for the Gee-Gees for the first time Sunday and scoring 20 points in 21 minutes in an 82-67 win over Saskatchewan at the Wesmen Classic in Winnipeg, ended up at the U of O. One can only wonder what the fallout might be from bringing in a U.S. import who has a lot of baggage.

Wright, who played three seasons at Syracuse, was a much-ballyhooed recruit out of Utica. Long story short, he never lived up to the massive expectations that were placed on him and with the 'Cuse in its post-Carmelo Anthony malaise, he became a bit of a whipping boy among the fans and media. He eventually left the team under a cloud in December 2007 and since then, has had to deal with a legal matter after an arrest in August after police said he stole a credit card from a vehicle.

That is journalistic dynamite, especially given the status the rival Carleton Ravens enjoy in Ottawa as the team who wins the right way. There is something to be said for second chances, especially considering that Division 1 basketball players are among the most exploited athletes in North America.

Ottawa coach Dave DeAveiro, has worked with Canada Basketball the past few summers and, as you know, national team coach Leo Rautins' son, Andy, is a guard at Syracuse. There might have been some connection there. From a pure basketball standpoint, Wright makes a youngish, thinnish Gee-Gees teams significantly better, no question.
Pleasse take a moment to spare a thought for the family and friends of Brennan Jarrett .The 19-year-old Saskatchewan Huskies shooting guard died Monday during emergency surgery, 13 months after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

As Kevin Mitchell at the Saskatoon StarPhoenix details, Jarrett collapsed during a pickup game Sunday. He was only a couple months removed from open-heart surgery that resulted from complications related to the cancer.

Count yourself lucky if you have nothing in your background that could even let you relate to what this must be like for the Huskie hoops family. Jarrett, an engineering major and a graduate of Holy Cross right in Saskatoon, was projected to become one the Huskies' floor leaders in the years to come, and he had some pretty impressive outings early on his freshman year before the cancer diagnosis.

As recently as a few weeks ago, according to the National Post piece linked below, he was talking to his coaches about perhaps returning to game action at the Wesmen Classic.

Jarrett is survived by his parents, Rita and Pat, and two younger sisters, Natalie and Rachel. The Jarretts issued a statement on Tuesday:
"Beej was extremely proud to wear #14 for the past two seasons with the Huskies Men's Basketball team. Over the last year, Beej faced tremendous adversity as he battled cancer and other health related challenges. However, with the support of his family and friends, he handled each day with unbelievable courage, strength, patience, hope and humour. Just three weeks ago, he was given a clean bill of health and was so looking forward to playing with the Huskies in a tournament in Winnipeg after Christmas. Although it will certainly be difficult for our family to attend Huskies games and not see Beej on the court or bench, you will see us out again! We do find comfort in knowing that Beej's ultimate "slam-dunk" is arriving in Heaven - and because of his great faith and the way he chose to live his life, being named to God's All-Star Team!"
The Huskies are scheduled to play Ottawa on Sunday at the Wesmen Classic in Winnipeg.

He was a honourable mention in the recently published Best American Sports Writing 2008. He will probably be able to handle this story in greater and richer detail in tomorrow's editions.

In lieu of flowers the Jarrett family has asked that donations be made to the Huskie Men's Basketball Foundation. Donations can be sent to:
Huskie Men's Basketball Foundation
Huskie Athletics
87 Campus Dr.
Saskatoon, Sask.
S7N 5B2
Huskie Athletics will be renaming the Huskies Play For the Cure initiative in Jarrett's honour.

(Thanks to Huskie assistant coach Nathan Schellenberg for the link.)

University basketball player dies after pickup game (Kevin Mitchell, Saskatoon StarPhoenix)
University basketball player dies (Sarah Millar, Posted Sports)
Brennan Jarrett, Huskie guard, passes away (
The stance here all along is that Toronto was best off with Greg DeLaval as head football coach, and as of this morning, they have made it official.

DeLaval will have his work cut out for him, as will the other coach who has had the interim tag removed, Mount Allison's Kelly Jeffrey. Your guess is as good as anyone as to what St. Francis Xavier is going to do with its coaching situation.

Note to readers: It is a quiet time on the university sports front, but around Dec. 28, yours truly will be back on the blog-horse. There are plenty of holiday tournaments.
Alberta's Shrine Bowl-bound offensive lineman, Simeon Rottier, was profiled earlier this week by Citytv in Edmonton.

That's one-time Queen's Golden Gaels (and Ottawa Gee-Gees, too) play-by-play man Richard Zussman doing the reporting.

A star in the making (Richard Zussman, Citytv)
Howard Tsumura out at the Vancouver Province has a nice feature on UBC men's basketball captain Matt Rachar. The forward on the No. 2-ranked Thunderbirds is a philosophy major -- fairly rare for an athlete.
" 'I was reading some Albert Camus the other day,' continued Rachar of the French philosopher, author and Nobel Prize winner. 'He was one of our deepest thinkers on morality and ethics and he said some stuff that really boggled my mind. He said that everything you learn about the duty of man and ethics, you learn from sports. Group dynamics, what it means to owe somebody, to have a duty and an obligation. He said that you'll never get that more clearly than with a sports team.' "
As Tsumura details, Rachar has played in 130 straight games, which is no mean feat.

Rachar both ironman and Renaissance man with UBC's hoop 'Birds (Howard Tsumura, Little Man on Campus)
Jesse Sazant, a former Carleton Ravens coach who now works in the UK, was kind enough to send along a rundown of CIS alumni playing in Europe:
  • Ex-UBC star Casey Archibald is leading Wels of Austria in scoring, averaging 16.6 points and a team-high 2.6 assists, along with 5.7 rebounds per game. The team is also in first place in the country's top league.
  • Carleton's two-time Moser Trophy winner, Oz Jeanty, is averaging 14.2 points for the Noerdlingen in Germany's top division. He's leading the league in three-pointers made, shooting 44% from beyond the arc.
  • Jeanty's long-time backcourt running mate, Ryan Bell, is averaging 5.7 points and 3.2 points for Schalke in Germany's second league. He's playing 29 minutes a game, very good for a rookie.
  • Ryan Steer, the former Windsor point guard, is averaging 9.9 points and 2.6 assists in just 22 minutes per game for Franken Hexer in Germany's third league.
  • Simon Mitchell is playing for the Kent Crusaders in England's EBL2 (which, as those of you follow soccer know, is actually the third league). Mitchell's team has only played seven games, but he's first in the league in assists (5.6) and second in 3-point shooting at even 50%. He's averaging 6.0 points.
  • Another former OUA East player is also an assists leader in England. Brody Bishop, who played at Laurentian, is averaging 10.7 points and 6.0 assists for the Bristol Academy Flyers of EBL1.
  • Another former Carleton player, Daron Leonard, is averaging 2.1 points in 14 minutes per game for Lugano in Switzerland's top league.
  • Samuel Audet-Sow (Laval) is averaging a team-high 17.1 points for Roche-La-Moliere in France's third league and is among the loop's top 10 scorers.
  • Neil McDonald (St. FX) is averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds (team high) for Longwy, in the same league.
  • In Germany, Eric Breland (Cape Breton) has helped Wulfen (fourth league) get off to a 12-3 start. One level down from him, Brandon alum O'Neil Gordon is leading SV Hagen-Haspe 70 with 23.7 points per game, while rookie centre Achuil Lual, who led Acadia to the CIS title game last March, is averaging 9.6 points per game.
  • Ex-Ottawa Gee-Gee Ali Mahmoud is averaging 9.7 points, enough to have helped Al Riyadi get off to a 3-0 start in Lebanon's top league.

Thanks again to Jesse Sazant for furnishing this list.
It is worth noting that the London Free Press, which is one of the biggest boosters of university sports among Ontario papers, is ceasing to be a seven-day-a-week paper.

Toronto Sun Family noted that the Freep is chopping its Sunday edition. It will change the nature of their comprehensive Mustangs coverage, which I do look forward to reading (my reasons are my own) each Sunday.

Not having a Sunday paper should not hurt the paper product. Mike Koreen at the Kingston Whig-Standard and Jim Wallace at the St. Catharines Standard, to name two sportswriters at dailies with no Sunday edition, are very good about filing for the web while covering weekend games. It's just another step in the changing media landscape.
Former Ottawa Gee-Gees captain Naim El-Far has reaffirmed that offensive linemen are the smartest guys in the locker room.

El-Far is a partner in the start-up, Lightspeed Studios, won a $500,000 prize on Dragon's Den this week. It probably isn't a huge shock he would be involved in something this creative (as he explains over at the mothership, this is Ron Allen and David Babineau's baby.

Two seasons ago, El-Far won the TSN Russ Jackson Award for academic and athletic excellence in 2006 and was working on his doctorate in computer science while playing football, so it's not a surprise that he might end up being involved with something of this nature.

From the uOttawa press release:
"First Memories builds next-generation photography kiosks that are placed in maternity wards in hospitals and allows families and friends of newborns to take pictures with the baby, share these pictures online and via email and also walk away with a colour photo, all for free. The firm earns profit from sponsorships and advertising.

" 'They reviewed our books and reviewed our technology,' said El-Far, 28, whose brother Fayez also works at the start-up.

" 'They made sure that everything that was said on set was actually true.'

"First Memories is currently in use in eight Canadian hospitals, with rapid growth planned in 2009."
Nice. Not to shill, but it sounds pretty neat.
C'est la vie for a football fan in Canada.

Mike Hogan on The FAN 590 in Toronto always plays up CIS football. Today, during the trivia portion of his show, The Bullpen, one of questions was, "Who is the former Guelph Gryphons linebacker who is now general manager of the Atlanta Falcons?"

None of the three contestants were able to name Tom Dimitroff.

Granted, in the NFL, the coach is about 10 times more visible than the GM. However, they are only 32 of them and only one who played university football in Canada.
Duane Rollins has details in full over at Out of Left Field about the CIS meeting Laval's conditions for hosting the next two editions of our national championship.

Update: The official press release says the games will be played Nov. 28, 2009 and Nov. 27, 2010. The first date lines up with the OUA schedule, which has the Yates Cup scheduled for one week earlier, Nov. 14.

It is fair to say this has been a bit of a gong show. Rollins has someone who was close to one of the other bids accusing the CIS of "making up the rules on this bid process as they go along," adding that the prospect of pushing the Vanier up a week "screws every school in Canada." It's not clear that it's come to that, but nevertheless.

In that scenario -- it's worth delving into since playing the same weekend as the Grey Cup is clearly not sustainable -- the Atlantic and Quebec conferences would not have much trouble starting a week earlier. Canada West, which has an odd number of teams, started Aug. 22 last season to avoid teams having to play two games in one week. The OUA would have to play the last weekend in August in order to fit in an eight-game schedule with three rounds of playoffs.

This is a mess, but the upshot is Laval, as Duane's source put it, will throw a "hell of a party."

As the athletics people at Dalhousie can tell you, bidding for a national championship can get awfully messy.

Vanier 2009 and 2010 to Laval (Duane Rollins, Out of Left Field)

(This has been revised since first posted.)
The University of Missouri has Chase Daniel, but another U of M, Manitoba, has a new QB who might be nicknamed Chase of yesterday:
"Quarterback Khaleal Williams, with his million-dollar smile and curly, black locks -- making him an easy stand-in for Entourage main character Vincent Chase -- was front and centre at the Bison press conference yesterday, as the Manitoba football program unveiled five local recruits for the 2009 season. -- Winnipeg Sun
The TV reference is an eye-roller. Nevertheless, it's about selling the sizzle (Kramer used that expression in a Seinfeld episode when he started working at a company without being hired first)

Quarterback Nathan Friesen, who's also a Winnipeg Rifles alum, will return for his fifth season, as the article notes.

Bisons bag top gun; Former Rifles star QB brings along his entourage (Sun Media)
This is more for background than anything else, but Regina is researching the possibility of a domed stadium for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Presumably the Regina Rams would be in on that, since they play at Taylor Field (some self-respecting 'Riders fans are actually starting to call is Mosaic Stadium, what do you think about that). A domed stadium in a football hotbed? That would be a perfect Vanier Cup site one of these years.

(Once again, Rider Rumblings is a big go-to for the CFL's version of the hot stove league. It sounds like Jason Clermont might end up in Calgary Stampeders' red and black.)

Regina could be home of the dome (Murray McCormick, Saskatchewan StarPhoenix)
A quick take on the OUA football schedule, released today:
  • Having a Western-Ottawa Yates Cup rematch in Week 1 might help the Gee-Gees with student attendance. For TV purposes, it's a bit of a waste. The Score usually hasn't broadcast games on Labour Day weekend, when most people are away from their TV sets.

  • Having four of the five games on the Thanksgiving weekend on Thursday and Friday is a halfway measure. It's a good halfway measure, since those Saturday games can be a write-off attendance-wise.

    The OUA should try to go all the way and have everyone play on the same night (Queen's-Waterloo is on Saturday, presumably due to lighting issues). It's fair from a competitive standpoint.

    Western will get two more days than Queen's does to prepare for their game on Oct. 17, the following week. Toronto gets two more days than Waterloo does. Is the burden on the league for not going all the way with this, or for the schools for not having adequate lighting?

    (Greg Layson pointed this out during the season, since Western played U of T on a Thursday the week before it played Guelph.)

  • The Score might use that Oct. 10 weekend to go out-of-province for a QUFL game. Queen's-Waterloo won't be that scintillating.

  • Queen's fans should make note that the Gaels finish with Western and a road game vs. Laurier.

    The Golden Gaels went out in the first playoff game this season after a three-week stretch of beating a depleted Ottawa team, Waterloo, and having a bye. The season before, they played softies Waterloo and U of T before losing to Western in the quarter-final.
  • The teams who miss each other are Guelph and Windsor, McMaster and Ottawa, Queen's and Toronto, Waterloo and Western and Laurier and York.
  • Early guesses on a University Rush schedule:

    • Week 2: Laurier-Western
    • Week 3: Queen's-Ottawa
    • Week 4: Western-Guelph (over Laurier-McMaster)
    • Week 5: Ottawa-Laurier (over Mac-Western)
    • Week 6: QUFL game on Saturday, but Toronto-McMaster would at least let a couple other teams get on the air, if The Score can air a Thursday game in lieu of a NCAA game
    • Week 7: Western-Queen's
    • Week 8: Queen's-Laurier

    These are merely suggestions. Western should probably get some strong consideration for a fourth regular-season game, since they are the biggest draw and should pull in more casual fans after their Vanier Cup appearance.
Rider Rumblings has a Q&A with Saskatchewan Roughriders GM Eric Tillman, mostly revolving around the possibility of picking up Jason Clermont, who was cut loose Wednesday by the B.C. Lions. Tillman says he has been "clamoured" (new word alert!) about picking up the former Regina Rams star. In Tillman's word, as told to the Regina reporters:
"At this point, everything we talk about is strictly preliminary. But are we interested in talking to him? Yes, we are. I’m sure that we’ll have those discussions. As to whether it will go beyond just the simple discussion stage, I have no idea at this point."
The Riders' Canadian receiving corps include Western alum Andy Fantuz, Rob Bagg (Queen's) and veteran Corey Grant (Laurier). Clermont and Fantuz are each possession receivers, so it's hard to imagine how they would mesh if they were on the field together, especially since CFL teams seem to catching on to the idea of the "small slotback," who's got more of running back's skillset. (Nik Lewis in Calgary and the 'Riders' D.J. Flick come to mind.)
There will be plenty of time to get into the issues surrounding that one event that is unaccounted for, but from this week's me

  • Men's basketball: Will be played in Halifax in 2011 and '12 once the contract with Carleton/Capital Sports in Ottawa is up. (Rob Pettapiece covered this off several weeks ago.) It's really telling that no one else put in a bid.
  • Men's hockey: UNB will host the again for two years, starting in 2011, after the University Cup finishes its
  • Women's hockey: It's perplexing that the standard two-year deal was not followed. The Laurier Golden Hawks will host in 2011, followed by Alberta in 2012.

    The current setup for the women's nationals -- host team, four conference champs and a second team from the conference of the previous season's champion -- makes for a hard road to nationals out of the 10-team OUA (which is adding an 11th team, Ryerson.)
  • Women's rugby: Trent will host in fall 2010 and '11, marking the first time a Canadian university championship has been played at the Peterborough university (and the first time this site has used the Excalibur label.
About the Vanier Cup:

The only editorializing is that it's all well and good for Calgary, Laval, Western, Saint Mary's, the OUA, et al., to put in bids. Anything right now is a Band-Aid until there's a title sponsor located and some decisive action. That's not to say anyone wouldn't do a good job of hosting, but between the perception of a two-tier league (Laval, and all teams not named Laval), the lousy attendance at the Mitchell Bowl, there's a lot of repair work.
It's nice to see that the follow-up on the scary situation involving Brock goalie Kurt Jory focused on both principals in the play.

It's hard to imagine what this has been like for the Windsor forward, Danny Anger, since Jory was cut by his skate blade last Saturday. You have to play hockey with that combination of fear and arrogance that as fast and physical as the game is -- and those skates and sticks aren't padded with foam rubber -- that that kind of injury isn't going to happen. Throw in the fact that this came in the last game before the exam break, when players are balancing hockey with a heavy aca with all the academic obligations, and it's a lot for someone to have on his plate.

Brock goalie recovering from severed jugular vein (Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star)
The NCAA, which classifies CEGEPs as high schools, changed its eligibility rules in August 2007. In a move that somehow eluded CEGEP athletic directors, academic advisers and coaches, the new NCAA rules require CEGEP students to graduate in two years instead of three.

Many students ... take three years to complete the requirements for a CEGEP diploma. — Montréal Gazette
This has been touched on at the dot-org. Quite understandably, there is a lot of uncertainty over what this means for the aspirations of Québec student-athletes in terms of opportunities to go south vs. playing in Canada. The understanding here is that it might lead to players having to sit out a season, or only having three years of NCAA eligibility instead of four. The image of someone being left high and dry with a half-done degree comes to mind, but that sounds more like fear-mongering.

It's unclear what this might lead to; everyone's got a theory. One would hope it would lead to more Québec athletes playing at Canadian schools, and maybe lead to more parity, especially in football with Laval and women's hockey with McGill.

Update ... a contact who follows the QSSF very closely has provided some clarity, pointing out this might create a "Québec double cohort" over the next couple years, as some athletes in their third year and some in their second might have their desirability to a NCAA school reduced. After this year, everyone should be able to plan accordingly.

CEGEP athletes hit speed bump on road to U.S.; NCAA's new eligibility requirements create barrier for Quebec students in elite sports programs (David Yates, Montréal Gazette, Nov. 27)
It's another weekly edition of The CIS Blog Top 10 for men's and women's basketball, volleyball, and hockey. Rankings are based on RPI and are explained here.

Some notable rankings this week:
  • The Golden Hawks hockey teams are both in first place heading into their exam breaks.
  • SFU's women's basketball team has fallen all the second place. (The Huskies have played a tougher schedule.)
  • In men's basketball, after being swept by Laval, the Redmen basically switched spots with them, falling to 11th in RPI.

MEN'S BASKETBALL (pre- and regular-season results)
1. Carleton (13-1), .632
2. UBC (13-1), .628
3. Victoria (9-5), .601
4. Ottawa (14-2), .579
5. Laval (5-7), .576
6. Windsor (9-4), .558
7. StFX (12-2), .555
t-8. Toronto (9-6), .553
t-8. Calgary (12-1), .553
10. Trinity Western (7-5), .546

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL (pre- and regular-season results)
1. Saskatchewan (12-3), .629
2. Simon Fraser (13-1), .610
3. Alberta (16-3), .591
t-4. Windsor (14-2), .589
t-4. Victoria (8-6), .589
6. Calgary (11-5), .558
t-7. Memorial (6-3), .548
t-7. Dalhousie (8-4), .548
9. UBC (6-11), .547
10. UQAM (8-3), .544

1. Laurier, .580
2. UQTR, .564
3. Alberta, .557
4. Saint Mary's, .543
5. Lakehead, .542
6. UNB, .541
7. Moncton, .535
8. Saskatchewan, .530
9. Waterloo, .528
10. Western, .520

1. Laurier, .600
2. Moncton, .595
3. Manitoba, .570
4. McGill, .560
5. Alberta, .558
6. Guelph, .545
7. StFX, .544
8. Toronto, .526
9. Queen's, .522
10. St. Thomas, .512

1. Alberta (10-0), .650
2. McMaster (10-0), .604
3. UBC (5-3), .582
4. Laval (9-0), .573
5. Queen's (8-2), .564
6. Trinity Western (5-3), .562
7. Western (7-3), .540
8. Dalhousie (7-1), .538
9. Calgary (7-3), .537
10. Waterloo (6-4), .523

1. Montreal (15-0), .627
2. Western (10-1), .625
3. Alberta (10-2), .613
4. York (9-0), .606
5. Calgary (7-3), .603
6. McMaster (8-2), .586
t-7. McGill (11-4), .583
t-7. Laval (11-4), .583
9. Manitoba (8-4), .578
10. Moncton (8-4), .549

There was some demand last week for the complete basketball rankings and those can be found in the comments below. If you'd like to see the complete list for any other sport listed here, send me an e-mail (contact info here).
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