The New Year is here and that means that the OUA West conference schedule is starting this week. Say goodbye to those pre-Christmas interchange games, and back-to-back Friday/Saturday basketball weekends (well, unless you’re playing Lakehead …or ARE Lakehead), and free up your Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons.
Now the real season begins for teams in the OUA West, taking on their own conference opponents twice in the next 2 months, and jostling for playoff position. With the first batch of games coming up tonight, I thought I’d preview the matchups since it’s been 5 weeks since the regular season broke for the Christmas holidays.
Waterloo (2-6) at Brock (6-2)
The Warriors struggled in the first part of the season, but strong play from 4th year forward Laura Becotte and 2nd year guard Colleen Quinlan are some bright spots to look positively on. I’m not sure they can compete with a strong Badgers squad looking to prove themselves.
Laurier (3-5) at Guelph (1-7)
With the youngest team in recent history, Angela Orton’s Gryphons will have to rely heavily on Jasmine Douglas if they want to stay close with Renata Adamczyk and the Golden Hawks.
Western (7-1) at Windsor (8-0)
An early battle for first place in the OUA West as the Mustangs take on the undefeated Lancers. Both of these teams are definitely for real, and should stay atop the standings all season, but the Lancers are looking to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. There was a great article in the Windsor Star today on the Lancers, and it pointed out that this is a team which has beaten No. 4 Laval twice over the holiday break.
Waterloo (5-3) at Brock (3-5)
With all the buzz focused on the nationally ranked teams in the OUA West, nobody is talking about the Warriors, but remember that this is a team that has beaten U of T twice already, is 11th nationwide in RPI, and is tied for third place with Mac and Western. I expect them to come out strong in this part of the season and rack up some early wins, including this game.
Laurier (3-5) at Guelph (3-5)
The Golden Hawks started the season ranked No. 10 before reality set in, and a sub-.500 record sent them into the Christmas break. The Gryphons are much better than their record suggests, with four losses coming by a cumulative total of 11 points, including a heartbreaking one-point loss to Carleton, and a 3-point loss to Toronto. Jay Mott’s health will be a key to this game, as he has been hobbled by some nagging injuries, but still sits third in the league in scoring.
Western (5-3) vs. Windsor (6-2)
It has appeared to me that the Windsor Lancers, while still ranked nationally (and 4th in RPI), are overrated, despite their record. In a rematch of the 2009 OUA West Final, I expect the Mustangs to prove me right and begin a downward slide for Windsor in the second part of the season.
Obviously, the key matchup on the men’s side is No. 6 McMaster travelling to No. 10 Lakehead on the weekend. I’ve been saying for quite some time now that this Lakehead team is the real deal, and is getting heavily disrespected. This weekend should prove my point.