Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Basketball: OUA East - Week 3: Blues, Ravens go 2–0, Gee-Gees break road losing streak

Quietly observing the OUA East in the last couple weeks has been a quiet frustration, on my part. With most of these squads bringing back experienced rosters from last season, I was expecting a few teams—besides the Carleton Ravens—to march onward in the division very quickly. The reality is that the cobwebs are still hanging around. The Ravens are the only undefeated squad in the division, with the Toronto Varsity Blues and Ottawa Gee-Gees (both 3–3) both three full games behind them.

The Blues and Gee-Gees should be wary, the Ravens are beyond parity or any of these losing slumps at this point, but I think both squads are slowly getting their court feet back. The OUA East faced the West in interdivisional play this weekend, and the Blues and GeeGees went 3–1. The rest of the division went 2–8 in their contests combined.

While the Ravens shrugged off the Guelph Gryphons and Lakehead Thunderwolves (98–55 and 88–85 respectively), the Blues kept pace with tough road wins against the Western Mustangs and Windsor Lancers. Their 83–79 win against Western was a doozy, 58–55 after three quarters. The Blues’ ball control (winning the rebound game 42–27) proved to help control the flow of an evenly matched fourth quarter. Veteran C Andrew Wasik had 20 points in the win. The Blues took advantage of the roadtrip momentum, and had five double digit scorers in their 86–81 win over Windsor. Kudos goes to F Alex Hill’s three 3-pointers in the clutch. 

Even though Gee-Gees went 1–1 this weekend—interpretively a shaky start for a team with high expectations—the squad has played four road games. They nipped a potential albatross in the bud by winning their first road game against the Gryphons 83–77. Ottawa had control from the get-go in this one, shooting 46 per cent from the floor. Guard play was much better, with G Warren Ward scoring 28 points, and G Mike L’Africain scoring 16 off the bench. This team has the personnel to go out there and get it done. When this squad scores often, their defence has a better shot down the stretch. Even though they lost to Lakehead 78–72, being outrebounded and turning it over 23 times, they somehow kept it close with their baskets. They will have much to mull over this week.

With six games completed by each East squad, there are plenty of questions to be explored. We will not truly know what kind of parity exists until the divisional matchups go into full throttle in the new year. But, we do know that the West continues to look incredibly dominant over the East so far. In the first three weekends, the West is 32–16 (.667) over the East, up from last year's record (39-25, .610), with only one team (Western) below .500. Against everyone but Carleton, the OUA West teams are 32-10.

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