Well, I was planning to put this edition of Five For Pondering up Thursday night so to include the excellent crop of midweek games this week, but work got in the way. Thus, this one will feature the top five games to consider from last weekend through Thursday. I'll run another edition on Monday or Tuesday looking at the best games from this weekend.

Game of the past week:
Women's basketball: Queen's 53, Carleton 52 (my Queen's Journal story is here, my blog posts are here and here), and the Queen's Athletics recap (now with video!) is here).

Why it's notable: The most unusual ending I've ever seen in any basketball game.

The setup: This looked like a bit of a mismatch coming in. Carleton was 10-4 coming in, while Queen's was 6-9 and had just lost 71-50 to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees on the previous night. In the Ottawa game, Queen's hit just 25 per cent of their field goal attempts and 10 per cent of their three-point attempts, and OUA-leading scorer Brittany Moore was held to just five points and one field goal. It was a performance head coach Dave Wilson described as "brain-dead", and it certainly didn't suggest that the Gaels would put up a fight Saturday.

Meanwhile, Carleton was rolling. They had cleaned up in their previous three games, beating Laurentian 63-51, York 64-31 and RMC 71-35. They needed a win to keep pace with Ottawa and Toronto, though, so beating a lesser light such as Queen's was rather important.

The game: Don't believe the OUA box score: it's actually flipped, as the first and second quarters on there represent the third and fourth quarters. The night started as an incredible defensive efforts on both parts, and the first quarter ended with the score tied at 7. Queen's picked it up in the second and took a 24-18 lead into halftime. Carleton fought back in the second half, closing the gap to three by the end of the third quarter and setting the stage for the zany ending. With 36 seconds left and the score tied at 48, Carleton coach Taffe Charles called his final time out and drew up a perfect play to isolate Kelly Killoran, who knocked down an open three-ball to give Carleton a 51-48 lead with 29 seconds left.

On the Gaels' next possession, Kendra Walker-Roche responded with a quick drive and layup to cut the deficit to one. The Gaels then fouled Carleton star Tanya Perry, who hit one of two to restore a two-point lead for the Ravens with 15 seconds left. Queen's head coach Dave Wilson called a time out, and the Gaels came out with an unusual play. Despite being only down by two, they got the ball to Moore and she launched a three-ball with six seconds left that hit nothing but air. However, Carleton was called for a shooting foul on the play and Moore was sent to the line with three shots. Both coaches called their players over while Moore was shooting, which isn't unusual.

What came next was bizarre, though. Moore missed the first shot and hit the second. However, Charles lost track of how many shots she'd taken and didn't send his players back before the ref gave Moore the ball for a third shot. Wilson caught on and held his own players back to avoid a lane violation, while assistant coach Tim Orpin yelled at Moore to miss. The Ravens realized what was going on and started back, but it was much too late. Moore missed the shot, grabbed her rebound and hit a wide-open layup with no defender within 15 feet, giving Queen's a 53-52 lead. Carleton tried a last-second buzzer-beater, but it fell short and the Gaels hung on for the unusual win. Their 53 points were a season-low at that point, but the victory was all that mattered.

After the game, Charles told me, Mike Koreen of the Kingston Whig-Standard and Mike Grobe of Queen's Athletics that he took full responsibility for the loss. "It was totally my mistake," he said. "We didn’t have any timeouts left so I thought I’d get a timeout in without actually having a timeout. I lost count of how many shots were being taken. When I realized the third shot was being taken, I was like ‘Oh, we are in trouble.’"

Wilson said it was the most unusual ending he'd ever seen, which is quite something considering his years of coaching. "In 28 years, I’ve never seen that kind of a finish to a game," he said. "Do I want to win that way? No. Do I want to win? Yes, so I’ll take it."

The star: The key player here was Moore, and not just for her late-game heroics. She rebounded nicely from her forgettable outing against Ottawa on the previous night, hitting nine of 20 field-goal attempts and putting up 21 points to lead the Gaels. Alaina Porter also had a good game for Queen's with 10 points on five-of-eight shooting and five rebounds.

The aftermath: The effects of this one weren't far-reaching. Carleton rebounded to beat the Gee-Gees 62-53 [OUA box score] in the Capital Hoops Classic on Wednesday, while the Gaels fell 48-46 to Ryerson [Chris Thompson, Queen's Athletics] yesterday and continued their Friday night winless streak. Still, this may be a crucial game when it comes down to deciding playoff seedings in the tight OUA East [OUA standings].

The four honorable mentions:

Women's hockey: St. Francis Xavier 3, Moncton 2 (shootout) [Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information]

Why it's notable: It took 16 shooters for the No. 7 X-Women (#5 in RPI) to beat the No. 6 Aigles Bleus (#1 in RPI), and this one could very well be a preview of the AUS final. Both of these teams have already clinched playoff spots and may wind up battling again down the stretch. Moncton has the first and third top scorers in the AUS in Marieve Provost and Kristine Labrie while X has the other two of the top four in Brayden Ferguson and Christina Davis.

Men's basketball: Trinity Western 73, SFU 72 [Scott McLean, SFU Athletics]

Why it's notable: A Thursday night clash of two of the top teams in the Canada West conference saw the Spartans (#10 in the coaches' poll, #4 in RPI) come away with a win over the Clan (unranked by the coaches, #9 in RPI) on the road off a last-second buzzer beater by Jacob Doerksen, their leading scorer who saw limited time due to injury but still put up 11 points, 11 boards, four assists and three steals [Neate's Top 10 Tracker, this blog]. Trinity fell 92-74 to the Clan the next night at home, but the Spartans' Louis Hurd put up 55 points across the two nights. He's one to watch.

Men's volleyball: Brandon Bobcats 3, Calgary Dinos 0 (set scores: 25-15, 25-16, 25-18) [Jeremy Sawatzky, Brandon Sports Information]

Why it's notable: The 6-6 Bobcats had lost three straight matches by lopsided scores but were still ranked 9th in both the coaches' poll and the RPI. The 11-3 Dinos were ranked third by the coaches and had won six straight matches, but Rob's RPI had them at seventh. That perhaps proved prophetic, as the Bobcats demolished them in straight sets. The impact's reduced slightly by Brandon playing at home, but it's still quite an upset. Player of the match has to be Brandon
All-Canadian left-side hitter Paul Sanderson, who put up 12 kills and five service aces. This one shows that the top teams in Canada West are all pretty close, which will make the playoffs very interesting.

Men's basketball: Carleton 87, Ottawa 72 [Carleton Athletics, also see Neate's excellent live blog]

Why it's notable: It's not often that you get to see the number-one and number-two teams clash in the regular season, and that's made even more special when they play at a venue like Scotiabank Place and the match is shown live on The Score. (By the way, huge props to The Score for showing the women's game as well: many TV and radio stations would not have bothered). Carleton proved that they're still the class of CIS basketball with a strong, consistent performance. The starting lineups weren't that different, but the Ravens showed their impressive depth off. They were fresher down the stretch and outscored Ottawa 28-18 in the fourth quarter. Stu Turnbull, Aaron Doornekamp and Kevin McCleery all had huge games for the Ravens, putting up 29, 21 and 21 points respectively. Former Syracuse player Josh Wright and Josh Gibson-Bascombe each had 18 for the Gee-Gees. This one showed that everyone else still has some catching up to do against the Ravens.
The YouTubeage of Queen's Brittany Moore's ultimate uncontested layup vs. Carleton has surfaced, via gogaelsgo.com.

Andrew covered this last Saturday. Each team went to the bench — Carleton was out of timeouts — while Moore took three free throws with Queen's down by two points. The Ravens didn't realize when Moore was on her final shot, and when she missed (after splitting the first two), she laid in the rebound for the winning basket.

It was argued on Dale Stevens' Canadian University Basketball Discussion List about what responsibility falls on the officials in such a situation:
"The question therefore arises if the referees realizing a mistake is about to be made should have blown a whistle and indicated it was time for Carletonand/or Queen's to get in place (if they wished to) for the third and final foul shot.
The reader mentioned a long-time official who "often gently called a player's attention to something that he could have called before starting to call it. In effect he gave a player a chance to alter his/her ways before enforcing an infraction."

No disrespect, but that doesn't hold water. It is true that referees, when dealing with younger athletes, will often explain a rule to coaches and players to tell them what they're doing wrong. You see it in rugby, especially.

Before Canada went to FIBA rules, referees would indicate to players to "come in" to the lane before a player's final free throw, because — key point here — that was the rule. It isn't anymore, and the coaches and players are skilled and smart enough not to expect a bailout. After that game, Carleton coach Taffe Charles put it on himself, because he realized he and his team erred by not being aware of the situation.

(Thanks to Queen's SID Michael Grobe for the hook-up. Cross-posted to Out of Left Field.)
Carleton will have a junior football program in Ontario's top league playing on its campus this fall.

The indispensable Capital Region Football Blog notes the Ottawa Sooners have been accepted into the Ontario Football Conference. There is an event notification on Facebook for the Aug. 28 season opener vs. the Burlington Braves. The Sooners play at Ravens' Field on the Carleton campus. This is bound to increase speculation of Carleton reviving the football program it folded 10 years ago this March.

Each Ottawa daily has been on this story from the beginning, so it's fair to keep this short and let them give it its due. The Sooners had been in the Quebec Junior Football League for the past several seasons (it has two other teams in the Ottawa region). This will be good for football in Ottawa, and if it leads to having two CIS teams in the nation's capital again, so much the better.

(And if Carleton comes back, does the OUA run with 11 teams, or does someone leave?)

Sooners accomplish their goal! (Capital Region Football Blog)

(Cross-posted to Out of Left Field.)
"We can make the argument, if you have a team in Prince George, there’s a whole northern population here that hasn’t traditionally produced (basketball players). There has been some people from the north that have gone and played Canada West, but I think you could produce that many more, and another big population in the north is First Nations. Basketball is a big sport amongst First Nations, so I think that by them coming into the north, they now have 350,000 or 400,000 people. Hopefully basketball is going to be profiled higher and we can actually produce more players."
— Len McNamara, UNBC athletic director
It certainly is a creative tack for UNBC to frame its pitch in terms of taking the CIS product to an untapped corner of the country. There always is that urban/rural divide in Canada.

UNBC is only going for affiliate membership in Canada West so it can play basketball in the university league. If they've done their homework and can sell people on why Prince George would support it, why not let them in.

UNBC set to take next step in bid for CIS berth (Alistair McInnis, Prince George Free Press)

Breaking down the potential new CIS members (Oct. 10, 2008)
It is not too early to start piling up some Final 8 storylines. Trinity Western guard Brian Banman has a helluva story, which Howard Tsumura tells very well.

TWU's Banman navigates road to senior finale with dedication, tenacity (Howard Tsumura, Little Man on Campus, )
Wanted to say hello and introduce myself.  My name is Richard Zussman.  I am going to be chipping in with what is going on in the Can West.  I am a reporter for City TV in Edmonton.  I have been out west only for a couple of months now - before moving here I was the play-by-play voice for the Ottawa Gee Gees football team last fall.  Before that I was the voice of the Queen's Golden Gaels for 2 and a half years.  I am a huge fan of the CIS and the importance of sports to a university community.  I spent a year in Syracuse, New York as a student at Syracuse University, so I understand a little about what it means for a school to rally behind it's sports teams.  The passion and excitement around the games there is incredible.  

I am really excited about helping out on the blog because I feel the Can West needs some coverage.  Getting exposure to university athletes is the only way that a US style excitement around teams can happen.  If any of you out there have some ideas of covering the Can West let me know.  Fire me off an email to rfzussman@gmail.com

I look forward to contributed to what is already a great blog,

Thursday was a good news day, not just because there was something close to closure in Ottawa's transit strike (52 days). Guelph Mercury beat writer Greg Layson is back up and blogging over at Big Man on Campus after a hiatus over the past two months.

The Halifax Herald, Regina Leader-Post and Vancouver Province each have their universities reporter doing some of her/his reportage online, and there will be more to come sooner rather than later.

Layson also has tee-ups for both Guelph Gryphons basketball and hockey teams in today's Merc.
"... It kind of made me sick to my stomach. This player didn't know what he was really risking and we didn’t either. It kind of got me thinking along the lines that we should really communicate with these players, 'This is why you really need to sit out and make sure that you’re okay before you get back in there because we’re talking about paralysis, or even death with second-hit, second-concussion syndrome when your brain is bruised or even bleeding.' " — The Queen's Journal
Concussions in hockey are not peculiar to one league, which is why it hasn't felt right to comment. It bears noting, since it is such a major issue. Anecdotal evidence suggests it might be a bigger issue in girls and women's hockey as well.

(It's also a chance to point people toward what Bucholtz does when he's not posting here or at Sporting Madness.)

The psychology behind why people conceal or downplay an injury is complicated, and no should pretend to have all the answers. Good on McCauley for convincing people to seek them out, though.

The school of hard knocks; Queen’s assistant coach Alyn McCauley is passionate about raising concussion awareness (Andrew Bucholtz, The Queen's Journal)
Concussions in girls' hockey worry Minnesota coaches (Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Jan. 27)
"UBC Athletics continues to hold talks with the NCAA. (Athletic director Bob) Philip recently returned from the league's AGM and he said he would attend NCAA hockey meetings in April. Div. 2 has opened the door to Canadian members, and UBC and Simon Fraser University continue to debate the move internally. The department would like to keep some sports in Canada, at least in the short term. CIS officials will discuss dual membership in April."
— Marc Weber, Vancouver Province
The gut reaction is to write, let's hope that's a short discussion. Some people might feel if UBC and Simon Fraser are going, it should be all the way. You can't be a little bit pregnant.

It's not bad, though, since it might be a precedent for future moves. One would have to believe other schools with a Cadillac program, such as UNB in men's hockey, McGill in women's hockey or Laval in football, might be interested in looking into NCAA membership if the entire varsity program didn't have to go. It's always fun to wonder how those teams might do playing a NCAA schedule (notwithstanding the question of how the school would pay for it). Who knows, we could learn sooner rather than later.
"Being positive about what you do is important, whether you're making $16,000 living in Regina or exponentially more living in Atlanta.

"You must also be passionate about your work. Embrace it and enjoy the journey because you’ll never get that time back. Lastly, you must persevere through all the tough times because there’s a light at the end. There are many times in our lives when we feel like we’re at a standstill. I've been fortunate to move along and achieve my career goals, but I know that if I hadn’t persevered, I wouldn’t be in the spot I am now. And let me tell you, it’s an incredible place to be." — Thomas Dimitroff
Those seems like some good words to live by from Dimitroff, the newly minted Sporting News NFL executive of the year, and former Guelph Gryphons defensive back. Much larger media outlets have already done a better job telling the story of his football odyssey, but it would have been remiss not to give some acknowledgement.

The Canadian Press has athlete and team of the year awards. Dimitroff, who spent his formative years in Canada, is a pretty good argument for having one for the best Canadian sports executive.

Falcons GM Dimitroff is SN's NFL executive of the year (SportingNews.com)
Bishop's tailback Jamall Lee is once again breaking some new ground for Canadian university footballers.

Lee is the first CIS player selected to play in the Texas vs. the Nation post-season all-star game in El Paso (Jan. 31, 3 p.m. ET, CSTV, which is available on most digital packages, you might have a free trial depending on your carrier).

Some pretty good players have played in the game, including two players on the Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl roster, tailback Tim Hightower and guard Brandon Keith. It's sort of a game for unplucked gems, with a heavy concentration of players from FCS (formerly Division 1-AA) and Divison 2 schools who are looking to be either a late-round NFL pick or an free-agent invitee to training camp.

Lee should have a good showing there. Considering that the NFL is really starting to look to the Québec conference, with Sam Giguère out of Sherbrooke on the Indianapolis Colts practice roster and safety Sébastien Sejean from Laval working out with the St. Louis Rams. Giguere's competition for a roster spot in Indianapolis includes wideout Pierre Garcon, a Division 3 player who had a punt-return touchdown in the Texas vs. the Nation game. It can help a player's stock.
Coming up at 6 p.m. Eastern!

The past usually helps inform the present, so one way to tee up No. 1 vs. No. 2, Carleton vs. Ottawa in the MBNA Capital Hoops Classic, is to run through their recent history. Here's a quick primer on the men's game (8 p.m., The Score/SSN Canada):

X factor for Ottawa: Lead guard Josh Gibson-Bascombe has Josh Wright to divert defenders' attention out on the wing. Gibson-Bascombe was nails in Ottawa's regular-season wins in '06-07, but the Ravens have treated him to some long nights since: Two-for-15 in the '08 OUA East final; 3-of-11 in the 2007 Final 8 semi and 5-of-16 in the OUA East final that season.

Rob Saunders is Carleton's best perimeter defender and fifth-year wing Stu Turnbull can play physically. One matchup question for Carleton is who takes 6-foot-5 Gee-Gees freshman forward Warren Ward (10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who's quick off the bounce and can shoot the three. He's the type of player whom the since-graduated Manny Jean-Marie used to take.

X factor for Carleton: When they're going to make their run, enough said. It usually comes in the second or third quarter. A couple turnovers on defence, some tic-tac-toe ball movement to get them a look at a three, and they're off.

It goes without saying that Ottawa's best big, Dax Dessureault, can't afford foul trouble; he's the only one strong and savvy enough to stay with Aaron Doornekamp. He picked up two early in last year's Classic and Carleton went on a game-turning 19-5 run, with Doornekamp tallying 20 points and 10 rebounds on the night.

Ottawa's bench: Ottawa will work in 6-foot-3 guard Donnie Gibson, a 47% three-point shooter. Nemanja Baletic (7.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who's a bit of 'tweener at either the 4 or 5 spot, gives them good minutes. He'll be on standby, since power forward David Labentowicz tweaked his back and was held out of the last two games.

Carleton's bench: Coach Dave Smart's first two options off the bench are 6-foot-6 Cole Hobin and 6-foot-4 Elliott Thompson, both in their second season. In Smart's system, players tend to be brought along slowly until one day they just blossom.

So ... prediction? Gut says Carleton by five points.

Here's the recent history of the rivalry:
  • March 1, 2008: Carleton 75, Ottawa 56 (OUA East final) — The Ravens wrote the story of this one in the third quarter, putting together 10-0 and 10-3 runs to stretch out a one-point halftime lead. Doornekamp had 19 for Carleton,
  • Feb. 16, 2008: Carleton 75, Ottawa 73 — Gee-Gees coach Dave DeAveiro probably did one of his best coaching jobs getting a young, nicked-up team to within a game of the CIS Final 8 last season, where it lost to Brock in the play-in game (and now you know the rest of the story).

    Ottawa was written off, but with four players accounting for virtually all their offence, including Gibson with 15 points (three threes among them), they hung in. Turnbull went off for a 27-point, 12-rebound, six-steal night, as Gibson-Bascombe sat out with a knee injury.
  • Jan. 27, 2008: Carleton 70, Ottawa 66 (Capital Hoops Classic) — Ottawa started well, but Dessureault and Labentowicz each got in foul trouble, and Carleton got control of the game.
  • March 3, 2007: Carleton 65, Ottawa 63 (OUA East final) — Both teams shot in the mid-30s, as it was a grind all night. Carleton, which has always been good at getting to the foul line, took 32 free throws to Ottawa's 12, which made the difference on a night when every basket was hard-won.
  • Feb. 18, 2007: Ottawa 77, Carleton 71 — The Gee-Gees led almost wire-to-wire, with Gibson-Bascombe scoring 19 points as Ottawa put up an effective field-goal percentage of 54.6 and held off Carleton in the final minutes. The current Ottawa team has a good sixth man in Gibson; on that night, their sixth man, Curtis Shakespeare, had 21 points.
  • Jan. 23, 2007: Ottawa 64, Carleton 62 — The first Capital Hoops Classic cemented JGB as the go-to Gee-Gee. The then-sophomore, who missed both '05-06 regular-season games vs. Carleton due to a wrist injury, hit a game-winning jumper from the elbow with less than five seconds to go. The shot mooted a great comeback by Carleton, who were down 12 with 16 minutes to play and by six with two minutes left.

    Gibson-Bascombe was man of the match for Ottawa. It's less remembered that Turnbull had one of his first great games and helped bring Carleton back in the closing minutes. He also played with fire, coming up with a big steal when he was playing with four fouls during Carleton's 6-0 run that prefaced Gibson-Bascombe's late heroics.

    Someone will step up like that tonight.
On the women's side (6 p.m., The Score/SSN Canada) ... here's quick primer.
  • Carleton, under second-year coach Taffe Charles, seems to have been made over in the image of the men's team: Defence, rebounding and three-point shootings.

    The Ravens lead the CIS in scoring (52.0 ppg) and field-goal (32.5%) defence. They are the only team in the OUA to have made at least 100 threes (wing Kelly Killoran, with 34, has accounted for exactly one-third of their total). They do the new math, trying to score by threes instead of ones and twos.

    Ines Jelic and Tanya Perry tend to be everywhere on the floor. Carleton is undersized, with no regular taller than 5-foot-11, but usually come out ahead on the boards thanks to two Eastern Ontario products, Kendall McLeod and Ashleigh Cleary.
  • Ottawa goes nine deep, with three second-year players, guard Emilie Morasse and 6-footers Courtney Berquist and Hannah Sunley-Paisley in the frontcourt, playing major roles. They have four fourth- or fifth-year players with Kaitlin Long, Katie Laurie and Kyrie Love and guard Allison Forbes.

    Like Charles, first-year Ottawa coach Andy Sparks makes his teams all about defence, although Ottawa's more likely to put up a total in the 70s.
  • Carleton is coming off a last-second loss to Queen's on an extremely weird play. It does no good to speculate how or even if that affects them tonight. They'll have the answer by 7:45 p.m.
  • The OUA East will be decided the Feb. 6-7 weekend when Carleton and Ottawa visit Toronto. Even the loser tonight will still be alive if they run the table and get the split with U of T, or if the Blues get upset (mostly likely by Queen's).
It's the latest 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 notes:
  • We now have full exhibition results for volleyball, for more or less every team in the top 10. The dominance of the Université de Montréal women's team, who have an incredible .643 rating, is quite clear.
  • Dave Smart's boys are slightly behind UBC, possibly because Carleton's strength-of-schedule rating took a hit after playing RMC. But the difference between first and second is very small. Also, Western tied Windsor after beating them this week.
  • Very little change in women's basketball. We're at the point now where any one game won't affect a team's rankings much, unless you suffer a really big upset (or, apparently, if you play RMC). In other words, most people would put more weight on recent games than RPI does.
  • I just noticed this now, but the University of Alberta appears on five of the six Top 10s. No school is present on all six.

1. UBC (20-2), .613
2. Carleton (22-1), .610
3. Victoria (16-6), .587
4. Trinity Western (15-5), .577
5. StFX (18-4), .572
6. Ottawa (22-3), .568
t-7. Windsor (13-6), .557
t-7. Western (14-6), .557
9. Simon Fraser (12-8), .546
10. Toronto (13-8), .544

1. Saskatchewan (19-4), .616
2. Windsor (23-2), .607
3. Simon Fraser (21-1), .600
4. Alberta (24-6), .585
5. Victoria (15-7), .584
t-6. Regina (21-8), .561
t-6. Memorial (13-5), .561
8. Laval (11-5), .554
9. Toronto (16-9), .551
10. Dalhousie (14-4), .550

1. UNB, .575
2. Laurier, .559
3. Alberta, .558
4. Lakehead, .555
5. Moncton, .552
6. Saint Mary's, .548
7. Western, .544
8. UQTR, .538
t-9. Waterloo, .536
t-9. Saskatchewan, .536

WOMEN'S HOCKEY (no pre-season results)
1. Moncton, .586
t-2. McGill, .584
t-2. Laurier, .584
4. Manitoba, .565
5. StFX, .562
6. Alberta, .544
7. Guelph, .524
8. St. Thomas, .523
9. Toronto, .521
10. Saskatchewan, .513

MEN'S VOLLEYBALL (now with exhibition results)
1. Alberta (22-1), .610
2. Laval (23-0), .587
3. Dalhousie (20-4), .585
4. McMaster (22-5), .575
t-5. Trinity Western (10-10), .560
t-5. Queen's (21-9), .560
7. Calgary (18-8), .557
8. Western (22-9), .536
9. Brandon (10-9), .529
10. UBC (10-8), .528

WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL (now with exhibition results)
1. Montreal (28-0), .643
2. Western (19-7), .579
3. Laval (17-9), .577
t-4. York (25-2), .574
t-4. McGill (19-13), .574
6. Calgary (14-9), .572
7. Trinity Western (15-6), .564
8. Sherbrooke (11-13), .560
9. Alberta (21-7), .545
10. Manitoba (23-10), .542
Trinity Western might have picked up a few subway alumni this weekend after taking down Calgary on its home floor, whiles Nos. 4, 6, 7 and 10 each had at least one loss this week. Rob's RPI is in parentheses:
  1. Carleton (1) — Hit a hundred in both games, 118-71 over RMC and 100-75 over Queen's. The Kingston trio of Stu Turnbull (23 points), Aaron Doornekamp (21, with only nine field-goal attempts) and Rob Saunders (11) each put up solid totals in the Queen's game, their last game in their hometown.

    Carleton had an uncharacteristic 27-point defensive quarter in the second vs. the Golden Gaels, once they had built up a bit of a lead. That's something to draw a circle around ahead of the Capital Hoops Classic next Wednesday vs. No. 2 Ottawa (6 p.m. ET, The Score/SSN Canada). It will take the full 40 minutes vs. Ottawa.

  2. Ottawa (4) — It went pretty much as expected in Kingston for the Gee-Gees, who beat Queen's (73-58) and RMC (89-36) in their final games before the Capital Hoops Classic. Gee-Gees sixth man Donnie Gibson had 19 points in 17 minutes vs. the Paladins, capping off his own Kingston homecoming.

    Ottawa sat guard Josh Wright and forward David Labentowicz due to sore backs. The word from uOttawa sports information is that each will be good to go on Wednesday .
  3. UBC (2) — Swept Fraser Valley, 88-65 and, 86-67. Nathan Yu was instant offence for the deep and talented Thunderbirds, putting up 15 points in just 19 minutes Saturday, all via the three-ball.

    Josh Whyte (20 points on 9-of-12) and Chris Dyck (16 on 6-of-10) each had good nights Friday.
  4. Calgary (11) — Their 83-79 loss to Trinity Western might have been foretold by Rob's RPI, which had the Spartans fifth. Brian Banman led a balanced effort with 17 points, including four triples. Trinity Western, which has to be ranked next week, was outrebounded but just made more shots, with an effective field-goal percentage of 54.8%.

    Henry Bekkering topped the Dinos with 17. Tyler Fidler had 16 points in the Dinos' 70-42 win over Simon Fraser on Friday, where they held the Clan to 23% shooting.

    Simon Fraser's point guard, Sean Burke (concussion), didn't play, so it was part Dinos defence, part Clan confusion.
  5. St. Francis Xavier (6) — Four beats two for the X-Men, who beat Saint Mary's 71-70 Sunday in Antigonish, giving them leg up to be top seed at AUS Final 6 in about six weeks. (It's in Halifax.)

    Christian Upshaw (19 points), Terrence Taylor (15), Jeremy Dunn (15 in just 16 minutes) and Tyler Richards (14) carried the X-Men offensively. Saint Mary's got great games out of the IMDB (Iron Men in Da Backcourt), as Joey Haywood, had 29 points and 10 rebounds while Mark McLaughin hooped 17. Neither of them has had a minute's rest in the past three games.

    X has pretty much got through the toughest part in its schedule, notwithstanding a trip to Cape Breton next week and an uncoming home-and-home vs. Acadia. Games like today will loom large when X hosts the AUS Final 6, likely at the No. 1 seed, on the first weekend of March.
  6. Western (7) — It's not often a team has a 40-point swing in one half, but Western did it Saturday in their 99-68 road win at Laurier. The Golden Hawks were actually up by nine at the break and trailed by just six going into the fourth quarter.

    Bradley Smith had 26 points for the 'Stangs, who shot shot 53%, went 9-of-14 on threes (after going 1-for-16 in their loss to Windsor earlier this week) and had just six turnovers.

  7. Concordia (12) — What was that about no one in the Q can possibly like playing home-and-home weekend series? Concordia had its second split in a row, losing 68-61 at UQAM on Saturday. The real story is that Citadins freshmen Adil El Makssound (17 points, three steals) and Gregory St. Amand (17 points, 14 rebounds) had big nights for UQAM, which beat Concordia for the second time this season.

    Damian Buckley had 22- and 23-point outings this weekend. Concordia won 76-59 in the first game Friday night.
  8. UVic (3) — Swept Thompson Rivers, 88-56 and 91-61, to keep pace in one of the country's best divisions. They get Calgary, which is coming off a loss, on their home floor next Friday.

    Tyler Hass needed only 15 shots to score 27 points in the Vikes' win on Friday. That's pretty efficient.
  9. Windsor (9) — Gutted out a 61-57 win Saturday over Brock, as they held their foe to less than 30% shooting for the second straight game. Greg Surmacz outscored Brock's Owen White 21-8 in a matchup of top big men, and the Lancers won despite 22 turnovers, which lays bare their lack of experienced guard play.

    Windsor remains tied with McMaster for second place in the OUA West.
  10. Dalhousie (19) — The Tigers should fall out of the Top 10 after losing twice at UPEI, 75-63 and 78-73. They went cold for long stretches of the second half in both games, including a four-point third quarter on Saturday. Dalhousie, by the numbers, plays great defence. Andrew Black had 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Panthers in the Saturday game.
Outside the top 10:
  • Saint Mary's has now had a pair of two-point wins in the past two weeks, since they beat Acadia 82-80 on Friday. All these close games are leaving the sinking suspicion that the AUS Final 6 will have some serious potential for upsets. After what Acadia did last season, there's a theory that its post-season better prepares teams for nationals than any other conference's. The OUA might want to consider a Final Four, with the No. 1 East seed crossing to play the 2 seed from the West and vice-versa.
Lakehead and Laurier each suffered shutout losses this weekend, while UQTR's loss to Ottawa also jumps out as a major highlight. The Golden Hawks lost both, meaning only two points separate the top three teams in the OUA West with only three weeks left in the season.
  1. Alberta — Swept No. 4 Saskatchewan, 5-2 and 5-4 in overtime (combined attendance at Clare Drake Arena for two games: 5,625). The Chad Klassen-Brian Woolger-Derek Ryan line scored the OT winner in the second game.

    Friday, the Golden Bears' winning margin was accounted for by three power-play goals, including an early one which came after a Huskies too-many-men penalty.
  2. Trois-Rivières — The most remarkable part of Ottawa's 3-2 win Friday over the Patriotes that the Gee-Gees, due to injuries, dressed only 17 skaters, and ended up pulling off their biggest road win all season. Riley Whitlock stopped 33-of-35 shots for the Gee-Gees, while Matthieu Methot scored his 16th goal of the season to help Ottawa.

    UQTR's in no danger of losing the No. 1 playoff seed in the OUA. They beat Concordia 6-3 in their first game of the week.
  3. UNB — Former OHLer Luke Lynes, who joined the Varsity Reds over the exam break, might be finding his form. He had three assists in UNB's 4-2 win over UPEI on Saturday.

    Kevin Henderson had three points for UNB's Friday's 5-0 win over Acadia. The Varsity Reds could trade places with UQTR in next week's poll, but the difference between them is negligible until they actually play each other.
  4. Saskatchewan — The upshot for the Huskies is that their last three series are against Calgary, UBC and Regina, meaning they should not have a problem locking up second spot in Canada West. They also have to like their chances in a playoff series vs. Lethbridge or Manitoba.
  5. Lakehead — It's tough to beat any team twice in a row on the road. The Thunderwolves were blanked 3-0 by Windsor and Jim Watt (31 saves) after winning 4-3 about 18 hours earlier.

    The lost ultimately left Western one point behind conference-leading Laurier. Meantime, Windsor moved closer to qualifying for the playoffs after going 16-38-2 the past two seasons.
  6. Laurier — The cheesy lead-in is Laurier missed a golden opportunity by losing to Waterloo (3-0) and Western (5-4 on Saturday). They remain a point up on Lakehead, whom they have coming in for a two-game series in two weeks that will likely decide who gets the first-round bye.

    The Golden Hawks play five of their last six games in Waterloo, with the lone road trip being a game at Windsor. It's a favourable enough schedule. Jean-Michael Rizk had three points in the Western game, keeping him right behind SMU's Marc Rancourt for the scoring title.

  7. Saint Mary's — Ended up with a split after losing 6-2 at Moncton Saturday. The Huskies were staked to an early two-goal lead, but unravelled in the second period when they took four straight penalties and lost the lead.

    The Huskies might have (stress, might) have been off after needing a huge comeback Friday to beat St. Thomas 6-5 in overtime. The official shots on goal total was 60-15 for the Huskies, who trailed by three goals three times before salvaging a victory.
  8. Moncton — Will likely leap over Saint Mary's and possibly Laurier after knocking off two ranked teams by decisive margins, scoring 12 goals over the first and second periods. Billy Bezeau had a three-point night in the 6-2 romp over Saint Mary's.

    Francis Marchand had four points Friday in a 7-2 blowout over St. FX. Moncton scored six unanswered goals in the first two periods.
  9. Western — Two words: Re-match. The Mustangs beat Laurier 5-4 Saturday in their annual game at the John Labatt Centre. They have a return game against the Golden Hawks next Thursday.

    Friday, Western got a a late goal from Chris Petrow to shade Waterloo 4-3. Basically, the Mustangs, Lakehead and Laurier, in some order, will be seeded 1-3-4 for the playoffs, compliments of the OUA's crazy kooky four-division setup. It's more than likely all 10 teams in the two Far divisions will be in the playoffs, with the two "Mid" champions rounding out the field.

    Please keep in mind that for precedent's sake, McGill went to the University Cup last season after being a No. 3 seed. Winning the division is not an end-all, but it helps.
  10. St. FX — Came home empty-handed from a trip over to New Brunswick, losing 6-2 to Moncton and 5-4 to St. Thomas. That will drop them from next week's poll.

    St. Thomas' shooters scored 10 goals on just 36 shots over the two games. Their goalie, Ben Macfarlane, stopped 88-of-97 shots to help the underdog Tommies have a very nice weekend.
It's worth looking at the playoff picture for some of these teams now...after this weekend, only four games remain for most western teams.

1. Saskatchewan (#3 in the coaches' poll): Matchup of the week is definitely their two-gamer at home against the Pandas. The first one went the Huskies' way: only by eight, but they were 11 of 22 from the line. Alicia Wilson picked up 10 and 7 in just over half a game.

Rematch was Saturday and their first half wasn't pretty. 14 points in 20 minutes? They lost for the first time at home this year, 60-57. The Huskies came back to within a basket with five minutes left, but couldn't tie it up. Tough loss.

2. Windsor (#2): Against Western on Wednesday, Iva Peklovà picked up 16 points on just 11 shots and, in some way, made up for the three shots she missed with three offensive boards. The Lancers' route to the playoffs is probably set, but they're not going to coast completely from here with two in Thunder Bay and one against McMaster still to come. Beat Brock on Saturday, 75-54, with Dranadia Roc (15 points) and Raelyn Prince (13 in 18 minutes, plus 5 boards) pacing the Lancers.

3. Simon Fraser (#1): They may technically be third in RPI, but the difference between them and the U of S is practically nothing and the Saskatchewan Huskies, Lancers, and Clan have been trading the top three spots for most of the year. Whatever rank you assign to them, SFU's Friday game at Calgary was streamed live on NUTV, allowing some of us here in Upper Canada a rare chance to watch the Clan in action. (And a rare chance to hear a school band in the stands; note to every other school without a group of undergrads blasting away on brass: correct that deficiency now.)

It could have been because of the lopsided score at that point (86-52 final), but it certainly seemed like Calgary didn't have the ability to stop anyone in the paint, or work their way past the three-point line. Kate Hole's physical dominance paced the Clan--it seemed like she had no D to contend with at all en route to her 20 points. It's certainly easy to see why SFU averages 80 per game. Carly Graham could have hit a three-ball from Cochrane on Friday, Hole's wingspan is ridiculously large, and double-teaming anyone doesn't work, because they can kick it out better than most.

The Clan played #25 Lethbridge on Saturday, possibly clinching first place in the process. Laurelle Weigl had 21 in 20 minutes.

4. Victoria (#6): Never gave up the lead in their first game against last-place TRU. Kayla Dykstra looks like she did her usual: 6-of-8 for 13 in a 71-57 win. Vanessa Forstbauer added 17. This game isn't on the CIS site but it somehow happened anyway. Second game against Thompson Rivers was closer, in fact tied after three, but a 24-point fourth put it away for the Vikes. 25 this time for Dykstra, who hit 11 of 13 and added 11 rebounds. Too bad she missed nine free throws, otherwise she could have topped 30.

5. Alberta (#5): Kristin Jarock and Anneka Bakker led the Pandas in a losing cause against Saskatchewan on Friday, then the Pandas won on Saturday (see above). Looks like they're playing Calgary in the Group of Death playoffs regardless of the next couple of weeks.

6. Memorial (#7): First game against UNB featured a 25-5 fourth quarter that brought the Sea-Hawks from down by nine to win by eleven. Familiar accomplishments from Victoria Thistle: 9 of 13 for 21. Game two is Sunday afternoon.

Incidentally, if there's a reason to keep this 2-point, 4-point system in the AUS--other than to mess with our minds by having Memorial, a 9-1 team at one point, behind an 8-3 team and ahead of another 8-3 team--I'd love to hear it.

7. Regina (#4): Unless my math is totally off, 996 plus Chelsea Cassano's 11 from Friday night tops 1000, so congratulations to her on the round number. However, as any varsity athlete will tell you, all that matters is winning, which the Cougars did. 12 of Brittany Read's 20 came from the line and the Wesmen lost by 9--you think the Winnipeg coach won't be talking about fouls at the next morning practice? Another Regina-Winnipeg game went Saturday. Cassano played only 15 minutes: injury? Even though Regina won by 24, they were only up by eight at the half.

8. Dalhousie (#11): Like Memorial, they had two games scheduled a low-ranked school named after a province and like Memorial, they won the first one. It's a copout to say "there isn't much to say" but there isn't much to say.

t-9. Toronto (NR): Chasing Carleton for first in the OUA East, the Blues had a favourable draw this weekend: first, Laurentian. Some useless trivia from that game: U of T got 30 foul shots off 25 fouls; their opponents, just 18 from 21. Alaine Hutton sank all 12 of hers, and a few others to net 28. Nicki Schutz added 24 of her own, leaving just 17 points for the rest of the roster. (I knew the University of Toronto was competitive, but that's a little much.) Still, though, they only won by 9 and then came York, a seven-point win. That one was helped along by the Lions, who would have had trouble sinking the Edmund Fitzgerald (2 of 17 from long range).

t-9. Laval (NR): No games scheduled. Can somebody introduce hoops to the fine folks at Sherbrooke or UdeM?

Winnipeg (23rd in RPI), Calgary (14), and Western (16) are the other members of the coaches' top 10. The Wesmen have faced the weakest schedule in the country, so I'm not surprised they come in much lower in the RPI than they do in the poll. Calgary's first game is sort-of-recapped above: it wasn't pretty. Western lost to Laurier, of all teams, on Saturday.

Finally, Lakehead isn't in any top 10, but they lost unexpectedly to the Warriors on Saturday. What's more unexpected (or not, depending) is that the boxscore has someone from the men's team playing nine minutes for the Warriors. This also happened in Friday's game, and the game before, and the game before... I don't know how that doesn't get noticed and corrected immediately, but I do know that you can all look forward to another post on misspelled names at the end of this school year. Trust me: it's going to be a gong show.
What happened in Queen's 53-52 women's basketball win over Carleton? Andrew Bucholtz was there covering the game in his capacity as one of the sports editors for The Queen's Journal, so he gets the honour of explaining the strangest ending in Canadian university basketball this season.

Who knows, maybe the basketball gods thought Carleton and Ottawa should go into the Capital Hoops Classic next week with matching 10-5 records.

here. Here's my take on the night's events.

It was a bizarre end to an unusual night. Fresh on the heels of a 71-50 blowout loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees where Queen's coach Dave Wilson described his squad’s play as "brain-dead,," the Gaels came back and beat Carleton. Even stranger than the turnaround was the manner in which it was accomplished, though.

Queen's held a six-point lead at halftime, but the Ravens bounced back and took a three-point lead with 28 seconds left when guard Kelly Killoran drained an open trey off a brilliantly designed play. A hush fell across a close-to-packed Bartlett Gym. Queen's Kendra Walker-Roche hit a quick jumper to pull within one, though, and the Gaels then fouled Carleton’s star guard Tanya Perry. Perry made one of two, giving Carleton a two-point lead with less than 15 seconds left.

On the next play, the Gaels went to OUAscoring leader Brittany Moore despite tight coverage, and she forced up a three-point shot that came nowhere near the basket. Carleton was called for a questionable foul, sending Moore to the line for three shots with six seconds on the clock.

Carleton was out of timeouts, so coach Taffe Charles pulled his team over to the bench while Moore was shooting. Wilson reciprocated. Moore missed the first shot but made the second, giving her a chance to tie the game with her third.

This is where it gets weird. The Ravens were still clustered around Charles and the Gaels around Wilson, but the referee passed the ball to Moore anyway. Assistant coach Tim Orpin shouted at Moore to miss and Wilson yelled at his players to stay close to the bench to avoid a lane violation. The Ravens realized something was amiss and started to hurry back. Moore missed the shot, grabbed the rebound with no other player within at least 15 feet and quickly made a layup, giving Queen’s a one-point lead. Carleton raced down the court and tried a last-second shot, but it caught nothing but air.

Charles took the blame for the mistake after the game in an interview with myself, Mike Koreen of the Kingston Whig-Standard and Michael Grobe of Queen's Athletics. “It was totally my mistake,” he said. “I lost count of how many shots were being taken. When I realized the third shot was being taken, I was like, ‘Oh, we are in trouble.’ … I just totally blanked out and no one was there to rebound.”

Moore, who had a game-high 21 points, said she was amazed.

"That was a ridiculous ending," she said. "I'm shocked."
"Basketball is basketball no matter where you are. The hoops are the same height and the rules are the same. Australia is known for having some great players and it's a basketball country. They have pro leagues, semi-pro leagues and great junior programs with players coming up all the time, so I'm excited to see that."
— Cassandra Carpenter
The all-time CIS women's basketball scoring and rebounding leader is joining the South Adelaide Panthers of the Central Australia Basketball League, whose season starts in March. Wish her well.

Cassandra Carpenter signs pro contract with Australian team (Bruce Heidman, The Sudbury Star)
There are probably a few current or former CIS hockey players taking part in Red Bull Crashed Ice this weekend. Ottawa Gee-Gees forward Corey Thibaudeau, who missed some games last season to compete in the X Games-esque "combination of downhill skating, hockey and boarder-cross" in Quebec City, is back again.

The new women's division includes former Queen's all-Canadian hockey player Liz Chiasson. Liz and my sister, Trina Sager, played minor hockey together in Kingston for many years.

The qualification list is online, for anyone who's interested. Please, wager responsibly.

(The Kingston Whig-Standard has an article on Chiasson today. One of the male racers says, "Now we have women racing? I'm not trying to be sexist, but I hope they don't get hurt." Don't worry, pal, you didn't have to try to be sexist.)
"Two years after the NCAA opened its doors to Canadian schools, at least one — Simon Fraser in Burnaby, British Columbia — is poised to walk in.

The University of British Columbia likewise is weighing a move to join its rival as the NCAA's first international members. Both would join Division II.

"... Simon Fraser administrators have signed off on its move, athletics director David Murphy said, and the university is pursuing U.S. academic accreditation as required by the NCAA. Final clearance still must come from the school's board of governors, which meets March 5."
USA Today
There are few surprises in there; UBC will reportedly make their call in early March as well.

Those who predicted the Great Northwest Athletic Conference losing a football team (Western Washington U.) might increase UBC and and SFU's chances of jumping to that league can probably start limbering up for a victory lap.

Losing two member schools should at least be some cause for some serious self-examination at the conference and national level. It gives the cynics plenty of ammunition. It very might well have been that UBC and SFU could have been guaranteed an automatic berth in every national championship and still would have sought out the NCAA, but that cannot be known for sure.

Whatever side you come down on, you'll get a chuckle out of UBC's hockey team, which could be cut (there is no D-2 hockey and D-1 membership has been capped) being referred to as "Division I-level." If the Thunderbirds, last in Canada West with five wins in 18 games, are Division 1 level, then what are the Alberta Golden Bears?

There will be plenty of time to contemplate the ifs, particularly how this will affect the chances of UNBC, Vancouver Island University and UBC Okanagan being admitted into Canada West.

Simon Fraser, British Columbia considering move to NCAA (Steve Wieberg, USA Today)
Windsor wins to pull into a tie for second place, two games behind Western. Guelph and Laurier (both 5-8) each get home-court wins over teams ahead of them in the standings, moving within 1½ games of fourth-place Waterloo, which hosts Lakehead this weekend:
  • No. 9 Windsor 77, No. 6 Western 68 — The best big in the division, the Lancers' Greg Surmacz, had 20 points, while he and his mates absolutely frustrated Western.

    Lancers power forward Nigel Johnson-Tyghter, who had eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks to help complement Surmacz's efforts, is probably overdue for some attention. Johnson-Tyghter, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Sheridan College, has been playing more minutes since the break. Tonight, he had a big block on Garrett Olexiuk early in the quarter when the Mustangs were looking to make a big run and later had the dunk that iced the game in the final five minutes.

    Two weeks ago against Waterloo, Johnson-Tyghter was one point shy off a double-double despite playing only 18 minutes. Chances to score inside are tough to come by when Greg Surmacz plays the 4 or 5 spot, but every team needs a clean-up man.

    It was an absolutely nightmarish evening for Western. They were held to 19 first-half points and for the game, made just 1-of-16 three-pointers and point guard Matt Curtis, the fulcrum of their offensive attack, played just 20 minutes due to foul trouble. Bradley Smith, the 'Stangs southpaw swingman, had 23 points and 10 rebounds, but it was on 8-of-23 shooting.
  • Guelph 74, Brock 60 — The Gryphons won their second in a row as they finally started to make some shots. Guards Nick Pankerichan (6-for-11, 16 points) and Jay Mott (5-for-8, 13 points) each had three triples on the night.
  • Laurier 84, McMaster 71 — Golden Hawks freshman Travis Berry, a graduate of Governor Simcoe in St. Catharines, had 11 points and eight assists to lead Laurier to a decisive win. (Not to blow smoke, but he would not be the first 5-foot-10 point guard from the fruit belt to have a big impact on the OUA West. There was a guy who played at Brock for the past five seasons...) Laurier had 20 assists on its 25 baskets, which is pretty good even when accounting for a hometown scorekeeper.

    Mouctar Daiby (15 points), Jermaine De Costa (13) and Marko Gacic (14) paced Mac offensively. Frosh swingman Cam Michaud had a tough night, going scoreless in 13 minutes before fouling out.
"According to (UFV women's basketball coach Al) Tuchscherer, his team’s recruiting coups this season are a triumph of niche marketing. Rather than slugging it out with the likes of UBC and (Simon Fraser) for the top high school seniors, the Cascades are finding success by building relationships with elite prospects at a younger age."
It's not often you get an insight like that into how recruiting works, particularly in basketball and volleyball. Others can comment on how recent a phenomenon this is, but as club teams proliferate in basketball and volleyball across the country to serve the more exceptionally talented teenagers, it seems more commonplace. In some cases, by the time a first-year basketball player arrives on campus, he/she might already have experience playing for her/his new university coaches.

For instance, many Carleton Ravens basketball players have played in Dave Smart's Guardsmen program for a couple years by the time they enrol in university. That's not to say that's what Fraser Valley is doing, but it certainly increases understanding of how coaches attract athletes.

Luyken and Hart will play for UFV (Mission City Record)
"Jory did have some good luck on his side. Three 911 calls were placed within moments of the collision, Brock trainer Katie Sawicky did exactly what she needed to do, the paramedics were on the scene within minutes, and Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital was a short drive from the rink.

"It took three hours of emergency surgery to stitch Jory's right pulmonary vein back together, and 12 staples to seal the awful wound." -- National Post
It came in December, but it's welcome to see Ms. Sawicky hailed as lifesaver. The student trainers do not get near enough credit for the effort and hours they put in.

Jory's journey to recovery a long process; Goalie injured in Windsor hopes to return next year (Joe O'Connor, Canwest News Service)
The old about how if it wasn't for bad luck seems to germane for Guelph Gryphons guard Ali Dzikowski, unfortunately.

Dzikowski, a former National Elite Development Agency player, injured her ankle Wednesdany after playing only one minute on the floor in the Gryphs' win over Brock. This came just hours after friend of the blog Greg Layson had written a very nice article for the Guelph Mercury about Dzikowski having come back not only from major knee surgery, but also a blood clot.

It's unfortunate. Dzikowski, an alumna of the KW Lightning travel team which has also produced OUA standouts such as Laurentian's Darrah Bumstead and former Queen's point guard Teddi Firmi, plus University of Vermont standout May Kotsopoulos in NCAA Division 1, had been playing very well since OUA play resumed earlier this month. One hopes for the best.

Greg, the most dedicated and most prolific reporter on the OUA beat, also had articles Wednesday on Gryphons track and swimming. Click through, because you care.

Back in action; Gryphs rookie Dzikowski overcomes knee injury, blood clot (Greg Layson, Guelph Mercury)

(This post has been revised.)
This is the first installment in a new weekly feature I'm going to be posting here every Monday or Tuesday during the major CIS sports' seasons. Rob and Neate have been doing a great job with the RPI and top-ten tracking, so this is intended to supplement those posts with some analysis of interesting games. The idea is to pick five notable games from the past weekend's slate. One will be chosen as the Game of the Week and analyzed in detail; the others will be discussed briefly. Games can be interesting for a wide variety of reasons; big upsets, playoff implications, outstanding individual performances and rivalries are some of the ones I've thought of so far, but feel free to pass along other ideas. Interactivity is encouraged; you can fire me suggestions for future games to feature or other criteria to consider at andrew_bucholtz [at] hotmail.com. Without further ado, here's the first edition of Five For Pondering.

Game of the past week:
Women's volleyball: Trinity Western 3, University of Alberta 1 (set scores 15-25, 25-14, 25-23 and 28-26).

Why it's notable: A clash of two highly-ranked teams goes in a direction many wouldn't have expected.

The setup: This was quite the match [Matt Gutsch, University of Alberta Sports Information Director] at U of A's gym on Friday night. Alberta was 12-2 going in and ranked second in the coaches' poll (fifth in RPI), while the Spartans were 7-5, sixth in the coaches' poll and out of the top 10 in the RPI rankings. Moreover, the Pandas had already clinched a playoff spot and had only lost two league matches all year.

There were perhaps cracks in that impressive facade, though. Both of Alberta's previous losses had come at home, and one was in their previous home game (a five-set loss to the Calgary Dinos on Nov. 22 before the winter break). The Pandas looked dominant in their first two games after the break, however, as they knocked off the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in straight sets twice on back-to-back nights in Saskatoon.

On the other side of the court, Trinity had just come off a home split with the 9-5 Manitoba Bisons. They were sixth in the conference where the top seven teams make the playoffs. Trinity's had a good deal of past success in volleyball, but they didn't make it to nationals last year, and their sixth-national ranking came with the caveat that four other Canada West schools were ranked higher (Alberta, Brandon, Calgary and Manitoba). As such, they were a tough opponent, but nothing to make the Pandas quake in their boots.

The game: The night started very well for Alberta, as they took the first set 25-15. That might have made them overconfident, though. The Spartans stormed back with a dominant 25-14 second-set victory and the game was on. The two sides battled back and fourth throughout the third and fourth sets, but Trinity eventually pulled out 25-23 and 28-26 victories to claim the match.

The star: The key to the Spartans' victory? Fifth-year middle hitter Dayna Jansen Van Doorn, famed for her play with the Canadian national team. Jansen Van Doorn put up one of the more impressive stat lines you'll ever see, recording kills on 12 of her 14 attempts (an outstanding .857 kill percentage). She also added three service aces and four assisted blocks.

The aftermath: Trinity went on to beat the Pandas in four sets again the next night and improve their record to 9-5, while Alberta fell to 12-4. The Spartans moved all the way to third in the coaches poll and cracked the RPI at the #10 slot, while Alberta fell to seventh in RPI and a tie for fourth in the coaches' poll. Their conference positions remained the same, though (the Pandas are first, while the Spartans are still sixth).

The four honorable mentions:

Men's volleyball: University of Saskatchewan 3, UBC 2 (set scores: 33-35, 25-20, 25-18, 16-25, 15-12) [Nicole Betker, University of Saskatchewan Athletics]

Why it's notable: The Huskies picked up their only win of the season to improve to 1-12 over a 5-5 UBC team that was ranked eighth in the coaches' poll and fourth in the RPI. That's quite an upset. However, the world returned to normal the next night when UBC beat U of S in straight sets. Clearly, the Huskies' upset didn't affect too much in the long run: UBC stayed in the coaches' top 10 (but fell to the tenth spot) and the RPI (but fell to sixth). On the individual front, UBC fifth-year outside hitter Steve Gotch put up an astounding 30 kills in the defeat while Huskies' second-year outside hitter Brett Wegner had 20 kills.

Women's hockey: McGill 10, Concordia 0 [Earl Zukerman, McGill Athletics]

Why it's notable: Yes, number-one ranked McGill won their 38th-straight game and beat Concordia for the 24th time in a row. What's more notable about this one was the play of second-year forward Ann-Sophie Bettez, who tied a school record with five goals and another one with seven points. Impressive, to say the least. She has 16 goals and 36 points in only 10 games and is tied with Alberta's Miranda Miller (18 goals, 36 points) for second in the CIS scoring race. Moreover, Miller and teammate Tarin Podolski, who leads all CIS players with a 14-27-41 line, have both played seven more games than Bettez. Bettez has already broken the McGill record for goals in a season and is close to the Quebec record (22 goals, ironically set by Concordia's Corinne Swirsky in 1999-2000). She was the CIS rookie of the year last season with a 15-14-29 campaign and has already bested that; she also played for Team Canada at this past year's world under-22 championships. Keep an eye on her march to the record books.

Men's basketball: St. Mary's 113, UPEI 111 (overtime) [CIS box score]

Why it's notable: One of the higher-scoring games you'll see in CIS basketball. Also, Huskies Ikeobi Uchegbu, Mark McLaughlin, Joey Haywood and Jack Gallinaugh all notched over 20 points, as did Nick Toews, Manock Lual and Gamaliel Rose of UPEI. McLaughlin's performance was particularly impressive, as he notched 25 points, six rebounds, eight assists and five steals. He also shot 56 per cent from the field, made all six of his free throws and picked up the AUS Athlete of the Week honour as well.

Women's volleyball: Thompson Rivers 3, Brandon Bobcats 2 (set scores: 25-20,25-20,23-25,25-15,20-18) [Larry Read, Thompson Rivers Sport Information Officer]

Why it's notable: The 4-9 WolfPack had never beaten a ranked team in their four years in CIS, while the 10-3 Bobcats were ranked third in the coaches' poll. They weren't in the RPI Top 10, though, which suggests that they may not have been as good as their record suggested. Still, a very impressive result for Thompson Rivers. The WolfPack are only four points behind Regina for the final playoff spot, and they could make some noise if they get in there.
A column posted today by the North Bay Nugget notes that "next year’s OUA (men's hockey) schedule might be reduced — more on that to come."

One could read into this as some recession-induced belt-tightening. Reducing the current 28-game schedule to 24, which is what it was in the '90s (it was bumped up to 26 in 1995-96, then bumped up again a few seasons later) would probably save bottom line-minded athletic departments a couple thousand bucks. It will create some scheduling challenges, since Nipissing is due to become the league's 19th team.

By the way, has anyone ever imagined what the OUA alignment would be without the three Quebec schools, who could play in the Atlantic conference?
East — Carleton, Ottawa, Ontario Tech, Queen's, RMC, Ryerson, Toronto, York
West — Brock, Guelph, Lakehead, Laurier, Nipissing, Waterloo, Western, Windsor
Everyone could play a home-and-home within the division, play eight inter-division games and have an extra home-and-home with their rival to make out a 24-game season.

Lakers-Skyhawks deal definitely no loss (Ken Pagan, North Bay Nugget)
This is kind cute. Long-time fans know that Greg Marshall starred at Western and has done very well as a coach. His brother, Blake Marshall, proved to have the more enduring pro career. Blake and his spouse have now taken over a popular bakery that is a landmark in London. Good times.

Making the most of a delicious opportunity (Hank Daniszewski, London Free Press, Jan. 19)
"We're very pleased to extend Neal's relationship with our club. In truth, he's been a Rider since 1980 when he was born here. Growing up in this province, Neal has a unique love for this franchise, and, over the past couple of years, he has certainly developed into one of our best players. Neal is so versatile: he can play both backfield positions, he catches the ball very well, and is one our best special team performers. As such, Neal will be significant factor in our future success."
— Saskatchewan Roughriders GM Eric Tillman
This site will try to make an effort to keep up with the comings and goings of CIS players now in the CFL. Former Regina Rams star Neal Hughes re-signing with Saskatchewan is no big stunner.

Hughes re-signs (Regina Leader-Post)
"It's a fairly significant knee injury. We're preparing for the worst."
— Queen's men's basketball assistant coach Duncan Cowan, in the Kingston Whig-Standard
The third weekend of January has been unkind to Queen's sweet-shooting forward Mitch Leger, who went down Friday in the Golden Gaels' loss to Toronto.

Two seasons ago, at the same point on the schedule, Leger ended up in the hospital with stomach pains only hours after hitting a buzzer-beater to beat Ottawa. It cost him a chance to play against Carleton, the mountain to the Gaels' Sisyphus.

Queen's history prof Geoffrey S. Smith said at that time that the Gaels without Leger was like "Canada without Tim Hortons." That was when he was a freshman, and he's only continued to develop his game since. Talk about rotten luck.

Gaels basketball star suffers knee injury; Season in jeopardy for Kingston-born Leger (Mike Koreen, Kingston Whig-Standard)

Update, 1:49 P.M. Jan. 20: (Andrew) My Queen's Journal colleague Amrit Ahluwalia (of There Is No Original Name For This Sports Blog) spoke to Leger yesterday for an article in today's paper. Here's the key quotes:

“After it first happened, the U of T people thought it was a partially torn MCL,” he said. “The news is better than it could have been. I don’t need surgery. It’s a second degree strain on my MCL. … I’ll be out 4-6 weeks. Best case scenario, I’ll be back for playoffs, but I’ll probably just start training for next year.”

As for the team handling the loss, Leger said the experience of losing starters last year will have prepared the team to pick up without too much concern.

“They’ll be okay,” he said. “We lost Ryan [Hairsine] for the whole season last year so it’s not the first time our starts have been out. This is a really tough weekend to be out, against the top two teams in the country, but the older guys like Ryan and Baris [Ondul] will pick up the load.”

Sounds like the initial suggestions that his season is over might be correct. It will be very tough for the Gaels to do much in the playoffs without Leger, as the offence runs through him. Still, this isn't a long-term crisis, as most of Queen's key players are in their first, second or third years. It sounds like Leger will be fully recovered by next year, and the team should be more of a force then with another year of experience.
It's the latest 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. Anyone with questions about the methodology is encouraged to click that link.

Some notes:

  • The Ottawa men move up to #4 in the hoops rankings. Not quite #2 in this yet.

  • The SFU women fell slightly behind Windsor, but it's worth pointing out that the Clan have typically outscored their opponents by a bit more than the Lancers, and by much more than the U of S. (In fact, by another measure, the top 5 are SFU-Windsor-Alberta-Victoria-Dal.)

  • Some winter tournament scores are now in for men's volleyball; credit to our Andrew Bucholtz for chasing those down.

1. Carleton (20-1), .625
2. UBC (18-2), .611
3. Victoria (14-6), .593
4. Ottawa (20-3), .573
5. Trinity Western (13-5), .566
6. StFX (17-4), .560
7. Western (13-5), .559
8. Toronto (11-8), .556
9. Windsor (11-6), .545
10. Simon Fraser (11-7), .543

1. Saskatchewan (18-3), .620
2. Windsor (21-2), .601
3. Simon Fraser (19-1), .599
4. Victoria (13-7), .595
5. Alberta (23-5), .578
6. Memorial (11-5), .564
7. Regina (19-8), .558
8. Dalhousie (12-4), .553
t-9. Toronto (14-9), .552
t-9. Laval (11-5), .552

1. UNB, .571
2. Laurier, .565
3. Lakehead, .557
4. Saint Mary's, .550
5. Alberta, .544
6. Moncton, .543
7. UQTR, .542
8. Acadia, .534
9. StFX, .533
10. Saskatchewan, .530

WOMEN'S HOCKEY (no pre-season results)
1. Laurier, .590
2. McGill, .582
3. Moncton, .575
4. Manitoba, .574
5. Alberta, .555
6. StFX, .545
7. Guelph, .535
8. Toronto, .525
9. St. Thomas, .508
10. Dalhousie, .507

MEN'S VOLLEYBALL (no pre-season results)
1. Alberta (14-0), .633
2. Laval (17-0), .585
3. Calgary (11-3), .581
4. Dalhousie (15-2), .575
t-5. Trinity Western (7-5), .569
t-5. McMaster (12-3), .569
7. Queen's (16-6), .567
8. UBC (6-6), .549
9. Western (13-6), .538
10. Guelph (9-8), .532

WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL (regular-season results only)
1. Montreal (17-0), .635
2. Western (12-2), .614
3. Calgary (11-3), .594
4. Laval (12-5), .593
5. McMaster (12-2), .579
6. York (13-0), .573
7. Alberta (12-4), .570
8. Manitoba (11-5), .564
9. McGill (11-6), .562
10. Trinity Western (9-5), .551

If you'd like to see the complete list for any sport listed here, send me an e-mail (contact info here).
This week was not without upsets, as the #5 and #7 teams suffered unexpected losses. We also have a pair of personal achievements to note, although one hasn't happened quite yet.

1. Saskatchewan (coaches' #4): Outscored Brandon 18-2 and 26-4 in the first and third quarters, and shot 50% as a team, en route to an easy Friday win. Essentially shot 50% the next day against Regina, hitting 9 of 18 from beyond the arc, but they were only up by 6 at the half so at least it was a closer game for a while. Jill Humbert, one of the few Huskies to have a low-percentage day, still managed 8 assists.

2. Simon Fraser (#1): When one of the best teams meets one of the worst (UFV), what do you expect? 42 total points from Robyn Buna and a double-double from Laurelle Weigl sounds about right.

3. Windsor (#3): Dranadia Roc, despite only shooting 4-of-14 Wednesday night against McMaster, nevertheless scored enough to put her over 1000 points in her career. Windsor only won 54-52, and they were down 42-37 entering the fourth, but Mac has been knocking on the Top 10 door for a while. Saturday night at Laurier was much more one-sided (82-53), Alisa Wulff led with 22 in 29 minutes.

4. Victoria (#9): Kayla Dysktra continued her dominant play: Friday, it was 15 points, 12 boards, and 64% from the field; Saturday, 16-15-67% and 14 of those 15 were defensive rebounds. Granted, these performances came against mid-20 RPI teams (Winnipeg and Manitoba) but one of those teams is actually in the official Top 10. Jane Anholt also stood out with 20 points in just 17 minutes against Winnipeg.

5. Alberta (#4): Not much of a surprise that they beat Brandon, but they suffered their second recent loss, this time in Regina, 77-58. The Cougars' Chelsea Cassano and Jessica Lynch pulled down 10 and 14 rebounds and 16 and 11 points, respectively, and out-rebounded the Pandas 50-37. The U of A only hit 2 of 15 three-point attempts. Then they beat Brandon 81-53. Not much to say there.

6. Toronto (NR): Their only challenge this weekend was against Queen's, whom they beat 75-71 at home and needed a big push at the end to do so. 20 points from Alaine Hutton and 23 from Nicki Schutz helped them out; 17 of those 43 came in the Blues' 23-point fourth. Hutton also had 18 against RMC the next night.

7. Memorial (#7): Upset by the X-Women last night and the rematch goes this afternoon. Chad Lucas has officially bestowed the word "legit" on St. F.X. so maybe their 27 spot in the RPI is a little low. As for Memorial, Victoria Thistle led with 19. Today's game went the Sea-Hawks' way, 65-49, but no stats are available at this time.

8. Regina (#5): See above for the Alberta game. Brittany Read led the team with 18 points in that game and added three blocks. They then gave the Huskies a good first half, but lost by 28 in the end. By way of Tim Switzer, we learn that coach Dave Taylor wasn't too impressed with that game. Cassano added 13 points to her Friday 16, meaning she's only four short of 1000 career as well.

9. Dalhousie (NR): Dal beat UPEI 71-58, then hosted the Capers. Let's go back to Chad Lucas for this one: "The Tigers looked way more in sync than the last time they played Cape Breton; they moved the ball well, recording 18 assists, and they did a great job of going inside where Laurie Girdwood had 26 points. Alex Legge is rounding into form as well after missing the first semester with a knee injury. She had 17 points tonight. This team is starting to click, and is going to be the force that everyone expected down the stretch." Note that Girdwood shows up below on our list of top statistical performers, so Lucas is probably on the nose here.

10. UBC (NR): Let's defer their games to whoever wrote the recaps, since they were actually there. First, Winnipeg: "Neither side was able to get any separation in the early going amid the tough defensive play, and the Wesmen settled for a slim 27-25 lead at halftime. [...] [The 'Birds] went on to outscore the Wesmen 21-13 in the [third], and the defence did the rest, holding Winnipeg to 21.4% field-goal shooting in the second half to prevent any hope of a comeback." And now, Manitoba: "UBC led 27-17 at the break after holding the Bisons to just 27.3% shooting from the floor in the first half. Manitoba responded after half time with a 26-point output but the T-Birds managed to ride out the storm and maintained a two-point lead heading into the final frame. [...] The veteran duo of Leanne Evans and Candace Morriset came up big in the fourth quarter for the T-Birds, combining for 10 points and six rebounds as UBC sealed the victory."

Other teams in the CIS Top 10 include Winnipeg (22nd in RPI), Calgary (11th), and Cape Breton (17th). The Dinos lost to Lethbridge last night, which seems like an upset, but when you play a team four times in two months, it's hard to expect more than three wins.

Top performances of the week against non-Brandon teams (explanation here):
23.8, Ashley Hill (Calgary, 1/16 against Lethbridge)
22.3, Laurie Girdwood (Dalhousie, 1/17 against Cape Breton)
19.4, Bess Lennox (Western, 1/17 against McMaster)
19.1, Victoria Thistle (Memorial, 1/17 against StFX)
19.0, Nathifa Weekes (McGill, 1/17 against Concordia)
Updates from Saturday afternoon in the OUA West. Western, not to any great surprise, gave a young McMaster team some comeuppance with a 26-point win and tightened their hold on top spot in the division, while Windsor did some healing with a win at Laurier.
  1. Carleton (1) — Had few problems beating York (89-72) and Laurentian (110-58).

    This actually happened: Carleton power forward Kevin McCleery and point guard Mike Kenny were the subject of an Ottawa Sun feature this week, and they were high scorers for the Ravens Friday vs. Laurentian, totalling 25 and 16 points. (Yes, Carleton won.)

    Incidentally, Dave Smart will be on The Team 1200 in Ottawa at 10:45 a.m. Eastern on Monday, for anyone who wants to listen.
  2. Ottawa (5) — The OUA East's top rookie, Warren Ward, had 22 points Saturday to help the Gee-Gees pull away for an 83-64 win over Laurentian after leading by just a point at halftime. The Gee-Gees game at Queen's next Friday should give a better idea of how they're straddling the gap between the East's Big Two and (this year, anyway) Little Six.

    Fatigue might have been a factor. A York/Laurentian road trip is no treat for an Eastern Ontario team. The Gee-Gees trip from Toronto (they beat York 86-57 Friday, with Josh Gibson-Bascombe hooping 20) to Sudbury was delayed after the women's game went three overtimes.
  3. UBC (2) — Earned a pair home wins over Winnipeg and Manitoba, with Blain Labranche hooping 25 points Saturday in a 91-64 win over the U of M. It was actually tied 42-all at the half.

    UBC beat Winnipeg 98-58 on Friday. They have a two-game trip to Fraser Valley next weekend before playing Calgary on Jan. 31.
  4. Calgary (13) — Swept Lethbridge (100-82 and 88-75) in their last games before beginning a four-game stretch vs. B.C. opponents, including Simon Fraser and Trinity Western next weekend and a game at UBC on Jan. 31.

    Henry Bekkering returned Friday and scored a game-high 28 points as the Dinos won going away after going into the half down by a bucket. Calgary's bench totalled only 25 points in the two games. That seems a bit low when a Top 5 team is playing a sub-.500 club.
  5. St. Francis Xavier (7) — Swept Memorial, 71-60 and 94-68. They scored 120 points over their last five quarters of basketball. Guard Tyler Richards had 25 points in the first game.
  6. Concordia (9) — They scored 82 points in each game vs. McGill, winning the road game after losing at home Friday. Jamal Gallier responded well with 19 points and 17 rebounds on Saturday, one game after he was taken out early after being outplayed by McGill's Michael White, whom he dwarfs by three inches and 65 pounds.

    McGill, led White's 22 points and 15 boards, played probably its best game so far this season on Friday.

  7. Western (t-11) — Point guard Matthew Curtis had a game-high nine assists to help direct the Mustangs' 81-55 rout of McMaster on Saturday in at London's Alumni Hall. Alex Brzozowicz had 18 points in 20 minutes, sinking 5-of-7 threes. Keenan Jeppeson had a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double as fellow big Colin Laforme was limited to 16 minutes due to foul trouble. Mac has made strides since I saw them in person two months ago, but they're still a WIP.
  8. Windsor (t-11) — All-Canadian candidate Greg Surmacz went off for 27 points in the Lancers' 75-62 win over an overmatched Laurier team Saturday. Windsor shot close to 55% from the field, but went just 4-of-13 from the foul line.

    Windsor's Craig Oliver might have been quoting a line from the season opener of Friday Night Lights: "I need something good to happen," lately. They had something akin to that Saturday.
  9. Dalhousie (19) — The Tigers ran hot and cold all weekend. A nine-point third quarter did them in Saturday in a 65-57 loss to Cape Breton. Their best player, Simon Farine, gutted out a 21-point night, but on 6-of-16 shooting. Granted, when the No. 1 and No. 4 teams in scoring defence are playing, it's not on the shooters.

    One night earlier, a 30-point first quarter helped the Tigers down UPEI 77-61. Farine had a 17-point, eight-rebound, five-assist night.

    In the AUS, three teams are 7-3 Dal, Cape Breton and Saint Mary's. With the four-point games, the Tigers are in second with 20 points.
  10. Victoria (3) — Beat Winnipeg 76-55 on Saturday, with Jeff Spoor (10 points in 17 minutes), Julian Spear Chief-Morris (nine in 14) and Cyril Indome (eight in 15) having good nights coming off the bench.

    It's unclear what to read into the Vikes' 84-80 win over Manitoba Friday (Mitch Gudgeon had 17 points). The Vikes had a 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter before Manitoba, which made 14 three-balls (five each from Nathan Dixon and Chris Pereira) rallied.

    UVic also has a two-game series next week, at Thompson Rivers.
Outside the top 10
  • Saint Mary's 113-111 overtime win over UPEI is an eye-opener. The 224 points topped the output from any NBA game played Saturday and it's testament to how dangerous the Huskies can be. Mark McLaughlin (25 points) and Joey "King Handles" Haywood (24) never left the court each played the entire game, while Ikeobi Uchegbu and Jack Gallinaugh also topped 20.

    Sophomore big man Luke Reynolds also had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench in 16 minutes, which was invaluable.
  • There are plenty of weeks when Ryerson big Boris Bakovic, the CIS scoring leader, could be recognized, but he'll probably get some officially from the OUA after back-to-back 31 points vs. RMC and Queen's. He upped his scoring average to 26.6 points.

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