Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Men's Basketball: National Top Ten Recap

Each Tuesday, we'll take a look at the CIS men's hoops rankings and analyze the movement of the nation's best teams.

(Official CIS rankings; RPI standings)


MOVING UP:

No. 4 Trinity Western: After a 14-game winning streak, the Spartans have made it a trio of Canada West teams pursuing Carleton as the CIS' top dogs. And this weekend's matchup with the Saskatchewan Huskies will be a huge factor in figuring out which of them are the real challengers and which are the underdogs.

No. 6 Cape Breton Capers: This, I do not get. They defeated three top-10 teams in a week. They came back from 19-down in their biggest rival's barn to win in the best game of the CIS season so far. They are 1st in the RPI with the toughest strength of schedule. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, they moved up just two spots and trail a team they just beat for the second time this year. That's right, they're not even the highest-ranked team in their division despite dominating it. They trail no. 5 St. FX by one spot, despite thoroughly beating them in late November and then beating them again in last week's thriller in Antigonish. I am officially making 'Haters gon' hate' the CBU team slogan.

No. 9 Lakehead Thunderwolves: If I'm Scott Morrison (and I am surely not), this is about right where I want to be: ranked high enough just to get noticed, but playing so well that some team is going to have a 'holy crap' moment when they run into this blue-and-gold buzzsaw. I got a pair of up-close looks at the team this weekend when they beat McMaster twice; to me, they seem to be pretty streaky and fairly dependent on outside shooting, but extremely deep with a few very dynamic athletes.

No. 10 Laurier Golden Hawks: In the crowded, brutal OUA West, success can be short-lived. But Laurier's shown consistently this year, the ability to stay afloat above the crowd, and at 10-4 are one game back of the lead. The Max Allin point guard project has worked well, Pat Donnelly is having a wonder-rookie year, and Kale Harrison is as dangerous a scorer as anyone in the conference.


GOING DOWN:

No. 5 St. FX X-Men: I've already expressed my skepticism about this being a top-5 team this year. But now I just don't get it. Is X's preseason victory in early October somehow worth more than the two times the Capers have beaten them recently? Does coach Steve Konchalksi have the other coaches in his pocket? Someone explain this one to me.

No. 8 Laval Rouge et Or: I guess there has to be one Quebec team in here, right? The division has been so shaky, but if I'm betting, I'm liking Laval to get their act together and still separate themselves from suddenly-sagging Concordia and a resurgent McGill team.

NR - Toronto Varsity Blues: Back-to-back weekends with losses to divisional opponents will drop you out of the top-10. Especially when one of those teams had two wins coming in and beats you on your own floor.

NR - Concordia: This was a great story - Concordia coming back from a brutal 2009-10 to contend behind an amazing season from Kyle Desmarais. But losses to McGill in each of the last two weeks and a pair of ankle injuries to Evens LaRoche will make the continuation of that story a little more difficult.


CHECKING IN:

In commemoration of Lakehead returning to the Top-10, it's time to revisit the time Kiraan Posey called the Thunderwolves the "great group of dudes," or GGODs, if you like.

Jacob Doerksen and the TWU Spartans made an appearance in the Langley Times.

This one's outside the top-10 (sort of), but Monty Mosher of the Chronicle Herald tells how Joey "King Handles" Haywood scored half his team's points and they still lost.

The Charlatan will have a liveblog of tomorrow's Capital Hoops Classic, in addition to The Fulcrum's, though the game may not be so classic this year with Ottawa sitting at just 6-8.


THE "I'M NOT JUSTIN BIEBER" PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK:
Going with Laurier for the second week in a row: Golden Hawk Kale Harrison, who hails from Stratford, went for 38 points on 12-20 shooting with nine rebounds and four assists in an 87-75 win over Guelph. Yes, I know Haywood scored 46. SMU lost by 14.

THE "GOING, GOING, GOING... KUON" LINE TO FORGET OF THE WEEK:
Windsor's Isaac Kuon, who put up a 1-for-15 gem in a bad 62-60 loss to Brock. Yikes.


THE UPPER DECK TOP 10
  1. Carleton - Undefeated season, anyone? It's a long way to go, but it seems within reach now.
  2. UBC - Get a bit of a test for a change with 10-6 Regina this week.
  3. Saskatchewan - This weekend at Trinity Western is huge. Nothing else to say about it.
  4. Cape Breton - Haters gon' hate. See? it's catching on!
  5. Trinity Western - See no. 3.
  6. Windsor - This weekend at Lakehead is also, you know, pretty big.
  7. Lakehead - The GGOD are rollin'.
  8. Laurier - The second-best team named after a bird in the top-10.
  9. St. FX - Need to prove they can win the tough ones, not just beat up on bottom-feeders.
  10. Laval - I think - I hope - they'll squash resurgent McGill in their next two games.

3 comments:

  1. From the Lakehead article:

    “I love it here,” Posey said. “It's a great group of dudes [teammates]. Everybody jokes with one another. Everybody's a comedian. We just blend together.”

    How, in the three years since this was published, did I forget that the Globe inserted that "[teammates]" bit?

    Forget Great Group of Dudes. From now on they're the GGOD[T]s.

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  2. I agree that it's a joke that X is ranked ahead of Cape Breton, but X has the credentials to be high on this list with wins over Lakehead, Guelph, Ottawa, UQAM, and Concordia, plus their win at the Shoveller last month. I know the AUS gets no respect, but this year really the top 4 teams in the conference (CBU, X, DAL, SMU) would compete anywhere in the country, imo.

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  3. @DaveSteib: no doubt AUS has been competitive, and highly entertaining too. That said, I think X are getting a lot of credit for stuff they did in the non-conference season, even though it's apparent (to me, at least) that they're not the same team they were then.

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