With exams coming to a close and the winter break upon us, it won't be long before many CIS teams are playing in mid-season tournaments and preparing for the stretch drive of the second semester season. But before we start looking ahead to the holiday tournaments and second half games, it's time to make like professors and TAs and start dishing out the first-half grades. How have the teams done in their pursuit of athletic excellence? We'll start with the OUA West and East today, with Canada West and the AUS to follow tomorrow.
Perry King moves us eastward with his look at the haves (perhaps have) and have nots of the OUA East.
The OUA East has become strange territory in the last month or so. The division may be identifiable by the Carleton Ravens at the top, and the abysmal York Lion, RMC Paladins and Queen’s Gaels at the bottom, but the mighty middle has looked mildly mediocre at times in the last month. We have unscientifically graded their performance, and placed expectations adequately.
CARLETON RAVENS (CIS no.1)
Record: 8-0, 16 points; 1st place
What’s going on: The Ravens are great at going about their business and winning when it counts. When the Lakehead Thunderwolves pulled out a victory on them to win the OUA last season, the Ravens shrugged it off to the tune of a national title. Without a hitch, this squad has already sprinted to a four-game lead on the next team. Undefeated, first in many team stats, and winning the games they’re supposed to—including a tight one against the Wolves. Stats and wins are a small indication of what we have come to understand about the Raven’s success, but we do understand that this squad is good in every aspect of the game..
Things to look for next semester: I am, like many, already looking to how the Ravens will fare in the playoffs next spring. I can say this: the OUA West playoff teams will give the Ravens a problem, but not before they beat up on each other.
Record: 4-4, 8 points; 2nd place
What’s going on: It looks like the Gee-gees are doing much better than last season, by comparison with a similar roster. Coach James Derouin’s squad started the 2010-11 season 2–6 before rallying to an 11–11 finish. While the expectation for Carleton’s neighbour is equal win-loss perfection, a relatively young coaching staff has slowly found its legs, with a 4–4 start. While we can’t assume their start will improve next season, this season they’re competitive but I’m still not sold on them. They should have beaten Laurier last week and the Windsor Lancers on Nov. 18—those games were heartbreakers—and their 0–2 start was a bit disenchanting.
Things to look for next semester: The Gee-gees are not faring well with rebounds, they’re 26th in the nation in boards. They need to hustle out there, but expect the numbers to improve against the likes of the Blues, Lions, and Paladins.
U OF T VARSITY BLUES
Record: 3-5, 6 points; 3rd place
What’s going on: This is not how the Blues go about business. When they have won, they have won close. When they have lost, they have been blown out, though with exceptions to losses against very good teams in Lakehead and Laurier the opening weekend. The common thread has been offensive woes. Squads have figured out that if you take away the Blues bombers behind the arc, they become worse at ball handling and they simply are not well-organized. To UofT's credit, they are defensively better than they have been in the past few years, but they need to keep the point totals down. Coach Mike Katz is a man with an impressive resume, and if this squad can win 10 of their last 14 games, that is at least at par with some of Katz’s past squads.
Things to look for next semester: This squad needs their second team to produce. Filling the holes left by vets like Arun Kumar, Justin Holmes, and Drazen Glisic can ensure this squad can stay in games more often.
Record: 3-5, 6 points; 3rd
What’s going on: The Rams are perhaps performing exactly as was predicted. The epitome of the middle of this division, they have played well enough to win against Guelph and Brock—the same Badgers who beat the Blues this season. They have been handed their asses on a few occasions, though.
Things to look for next semester: This squad wants to beat the Blues, they want claim to who rules downtown Toronto. Expect this Jan. 18 contest to be very close.
Record: 2-6, 4 points; 5th
What’s going on: Despite their record, I’m very impressed with this squad. The Voys have the two top scorers in the East this season—Alex Ratte (17.9 ppg) and Isiah Pasquale (16.9 ppg). They have been competitive in all their games, and have been blown out only a couple times so far. They have exceeded my expectations so far.
Things to look for next semester: Watch out for the Voys when they face the third-place squads next semester. I feel like this squad can beat Toronto and Ryerson outright without it being a long shot. They do need to deal with defensive gaffes, but so do the Blues and Rams.
QUEEN’S GOLDEN GAELS
Record: 0-8, 0 points; 6th
What’s going on: Not so golden so far, unfortunately. What’s the most ridiculous stat of their futility so far? They are forty-first in the nation in points per game (60.2)—which include losses by 32 against Lakehead, 26 against Laurier, and 21 against Western.
Things to look for next semester: Hilarity, but if you’re a fan of the squad, defend them. They need the motivation, especially if they want to beat the likes of Toronto, Laurentian, and Queen’s.
Record: 0-8, 0 points; sixth
What’s going on: While we have come to expect this winless performance each season, it still doesn’t excuse the Paladins to be beaten by an average margin of 49.9 points. This upside of ridiculous stat is that their margins of loss have shrunk over the length of the season—including losses by 38 and 41 last weekend.
Things to look for next semester: Expect much of the same, although they do face Queen’s Feb. 3. Can we say first victory since the 2006-2007 season?
Record: 0-8, 0 points; sixth
What’s going on: Simply put, this team is ridiculously lacking in overall experience. They have three fourth-year players—F Justin Bell, G Ken Buchanan and G Dave Tyndale—on a team that was really young last year, too. It’s quite a risk to do this, and a 10–12 finish last season was surprising, so the Lions’ good luck may have run out
Things to look for next semester: This squad will win some games, hope is not lost. Expect the offense to improve a tiny bit—they are 34th in field goals made, 40th in three-pointers made, and 40th in freethrow percentage.