Men's Basketball: Quarterfinal quotables

HALIFAX — The first day of the men's Final 8 went more or less as most would have predicted, with the three Canada West powerhouses and Carleton advancing to the semi-finals. Here's what went down on Day One from the perspective of some of the players and coaches who took part.

UBC's depth wore down and overwhelmed a short-benched Acadia Axemen team, with the Thunderbirds pulling away in the fourth. Owen Klassen was phenomenal for the Axemen with 22 points, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Thunderbirds' firing-on-all-cylinders offence. UBC shot 62% and was led by Doug Plumb with 20 points.

Thunderbirds coach Kevin Hanson:

- On Acadia's 7-13 AUS record and surprise tournament appearance: "I knew their overall record wasn't an indication of how good they were. I saw some videotape on them and thought they were a very good team and that there was a reason they were here."

- On UBC's depth compared to Acadia's short rotation: "Heading into the game we anticipated [Acadia wearing down]. That's kind of how we've played all year. The first half we get a feel for the game and the guys we play, and in the second half we play a little bit better basketball and start doing the things we like to do."

- On playing four time zones away from normal: "Our motto as a team is 'we begin thinking about the end.' If your goal is to compete for a national championship you have to prepare for these early games. All year long the last two years we've practiced at 10 AM Vancouver time. I thought our guys handled it well, and when you don't bring [the time change] up, you deal with it a long time ago."

The Trinity Western Spartans pulled out to a 20-6 lead early, punishing the undersized Lakehead Thunderwolves with their massive lineup. Though Lakehead would make a few spirited runs to pull within striking distance late, the hole they found themselves in (and dug themselves with poor three point shooting) was too much to overcome. Jacob Doerksen and Kyle Coston led TWU with 20 points apiece.

All-Canadian Spartan forward Doerksen:

-On starting games strongly: "That's been our thing this year: coming out strong and using that lead for the rest of the game. I mean, it's not great for later on in the game, but it kinda puts teams back on their heels at the start and we use it... we let teams know what we're about. We like to score and we like to run, so getting that big lead is big for confidence too."

-On playing UBC tomorrow: "We play them a lot. I've played them the last five years, we know them and we know what to do. We need to get some rest tonight and come out and battle tomorrow."

-On Trinity Western's first ever appearance at the Final 8: "I was here five years ago, but for some of the young guys to have some experience in their first year here is big for our program and big for the years coming up."

On facing former UVic teammate Josh Whyte in tomorrow's semi-final: "Josh is a great player. We were friends at UVic and we're still friends. Playing against him will be fun. He's a great competitor and a great team leader for UBC so it's going to be fun tomorrow.

Spurred by a boisterous home crowd, the Dalhousie Tigers came out hot early and took a one-point lead at halftime over the heavily-favoured Saskatchewan Huskies. But when push came to shove, the Huskies went to their top dog in star guard Jamelle Barrett, who was simply unstoppable down the stretch both shooting the ball and finding his teammates. Teammate and prolific scorer Rejean Chabot fouled out with eight minutes left in the game, putting even more pressure on the California native. Barrett led all scorers with 27 points and added 11 assists, helping Saskatchewan turn on the afterburners and pull away from Dalhousie in a dominant fourth quarter.

All-Canadian guard Barrett:

- On dealing with Dal's fifth-year tandem of Simon Farine and Joe Schow: "We knew if we stopped them, we would be very successful and we did a good job of that tonight."

- On the best aspect of his performance Friday night: "I got my teammates involved and made key plays. That's what coach brought me down here for. I just try to get my teammates involved, and when I can, get my own."

- On taking over after Chabot fouled out: "I had to be way more aggressive in the second half. He's a big part of our offence, and when he went out, I had to be more aggressive offensively."

Huskies coach Barry Rawlyk:

- On Barrett's performance down the stretch: "He took the lion's share of the shots down the stretch, and he's showing why he's, in my mind, the best player in the country."

- On the spirited crowd cheering on Dalhousie: "It's fun, actually. It's a great city for basketball, it's great to see the people here having such a passion for the game and a knowledge of the game - they're very knowledgeable fans."

- On three Canada West teams making the semi-finals: "We've been duking it out with UBC and Trinity Western all year. It's been back-and-forth between the three of us, so it's kind of fitting that we're on the A-side of the draw and hopefully we'll see one of those two teams again.

The no. 2-seeded Carleton Ravens survived a horrible shooting night to put away the Concordia Stingers, reaching their ninth consecutive national semi-final. The Stingers hung around for most of the game, cutting the Carleton lead to just one point late. But Carleton's execution, along with a domination of the offensive glass, carried them through to the narrow win. Concordia's loss ends their worst-to-first campaign, where they went from fifth in the five-team QUBL to being the province's representative at nationals.

Ravens coach Dave Smart:

- On shooting just 6-of-28 (21.4%) from the three point line: "We just shot the ball very poorly. You've got to give Concordia credit. They made it tough on us and fight and work. None of our shots were easy shots; none of them were bad shots, but none of them were easy shots."

- On grabbing 21 offensive rebounds: "That saved us. If we don't work that hard and get to the offensive boards, we have no chance in that game."

- On the three Canada West teams making the semi-finals: "I think it's legit, as I've said from the start. I think they're the three best teams here."

Stingers coach John Dore:

- On the game down the stretch [Dore was upset Carleton wasn't called for an 8-second violation while up three points with about two minutes left]: "I feel we did everything we could do and we had a chance to win down the stretch. There are going to be some good calls, some bad calls... I'll let the cameras be the judge of what was right and what was wrong."

- On his team's turnaround season: "I'm really proud of what this team has accomplished this year. This was a team that people picked to finish fourth in our conference. Nobody thought we'd get out of our conference. Not only did we get out, I think we got better and better as the year went on. I'm really proud of the way the guys have grown, the team has come together and we have a great group of guys and everybody's eligible to be back next year."


For tomorrow's semi-finals, we've got UBC-TWU and Saskatchewan-Carleton.

I think UBC-TWU is going to be a heck of a game, but you can really tell the difference in the way these teams play in what Doerksen and Hanson said. Hanson says his closes; Doerksen says his likes to build a lead and hold on.

If I'm a TWU fan, I'm really concerned with that attitude. They had a chance to put away Saskatchewan in the Canada West semi-final and blew a 10-point lead with four minutes left. Today, they could have stomped out the Thunderwolves with ease and instead let them claw their way back into the game. There's no way they'll get away with that tomorrow against the veteran UBC squad.

As for Carleton-Saskatchewan, the Ravens are simply going to need to shoot better than they did tonight. It's one thing if they make some shots and build some confidence, but tonight (and in the Wilson Cup loss to Lakehead) they looked out of sorts and that won't do against the quick, athletic Husky defence.
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  1. I think that it should be noted that this is the 2nd consecutive year that all 3 CanWest teams advanced to the semifinal. Last year, CW teams only lost to other CW teams: Calgary falling to UBC in the semifinal, and then losing to Sask in the final. Thats's 9 wins for CanWest, so far, in the last 2 years in this championship tournament. Pretty convincing statement about the strenth of the conference.

  2. ...and what you saw from Barrett last night is what you get from him every night.