- Carleton (12-0 OUA, 18-0 CIS, RPI #3, SRS +25.6) — W 74-34 vs. Ottawa, W 96-64 vs. Queen's, W 120-38 vs. RMC
The only remaining undefeated team is going up against two teams that are winless against everyone but themselves, and are dead last and next-to-dead last in RPI. I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Cole Hobin sees more minutes tonight than in both Queen's/RMC games put together (which almost happened: 25 vs. 27; I should have said Tyson Hinz, who didn't even see the floor vs. RMC). There's got to be a Tom Brady-vs.-the-Broncos principle at play here. Someone get Dave Smart an ugly hoodie with the sleeves cut off. On second thought, don't do that.
Here I thought their first game might actually be a game. Nope. Well, it was, kind of, until the second half. The Gee-Gees shot 25%. Yeah.
Queen's did better* but were outrebounded 22 to 3 on their offensive glass, and nearly outrebounded on Carleton's too (11 to 10). Carleton shot an effective 76%. Who does that?
RMC did worse. Much, much worse. I can't say anything else.
* The Gaels shot an effective 57%? Has anyone shot that well against Carleton? Certainly not this year. Ironically, coach Steph Barrie told Wayne Kondro that they "haven’t shot the ball well all year."
- Lakehead (10-2 OUA, 18-2 CIS, RPI #10, SRS +11.7) — W 83-76 vs. McMaster, W 91-71 vs. McMaster
Lakehead's two losses have been by a combined six points, and were both to top-10 teams. Not bad. They happen to be behind 16-6 Laurier in RPI because their preseason (Brandon, Regina, Winnipeg) didn't feature the quality of teams that Laurier's did (Concordia, CBU, UBC, UFV).
This series is the second of three straight for the GGOD[T]s against the dangerous half of the OUA West. They already hold the tiebreaker over Laurier, and a sweep or a favourable-point-differential split against Mac and Windsor will put them in the driver's seat for good. A more-than-2-to-1 turnover differential in Lakehead's favour helped in this one, as did Lakehead's 52 second-half points to Mac's 36. But what probably got to the Mac coach the most (I'm just guessing here) was his team's eight trips to the line vs. Lakehead's 24 — the 11-point differential there was basically twice the margin of victory.
A 10-of-20 night on threes, with Ben Johnson shooting 4/6 himself, paced the 'Wolves to an easy win Saturday. Two double-doubles on the weekend for Yoosrie Salhia, and 28 on Saturday for Venzal Russell, albeit on 12/26 shooting.
- UBC (8-2 CW, 14-3 CIS, RPI #6, SRS +14.4) — W 93-84 (OT) at Manitoba, W 74-73 at Winnipeg
Close, close weekend for UBC. Just one more basket against them in either game and they're 0-2. Six straight wins, yes, but with at least half an asterisk. Respect for the Wesmen, who nearly beat two top 10 teams.
One of UBC's smaller advantages is their ability to get to the line, and they slipped slightly in that respect in their loss to Lethbridge, who are themselves quite good at it too. This will likely not matter this weekend, though...or it will, because they essentially managed to add a point per every three field-goal attempts (24 FT / 75 FGA), whereas the Bisons only had 10 FT on 79 shots. Kamar Burke scored 15 and added 15 boards, Doug Plumb had 16 and 10 of his own, and Tommy Nixon scored 20 of his own.
- StFX (7-2 AUS, 17-2 CIS, RPI #2, SRS +8.6) — W 79-66 vs. Dal, W 90-71 vs. Cape Breton
According to coach Steve Konchalski, the reason for the seven one-game suspensions on Sunday was that the players "went out":
“They went out on a night three days before the game, and that’s against team rules. We have a team rule that says within three days of a game, you’re not allowed to go out. You’re not allowed to go out to a pub. You’re not allowed to go anywhere.”
Now, the midweek/weekend schedule that is a common part of AUS play means the games are often only three or four days apart. So for anyone who is curious, and assuming we're reading the rule correctly, no St. F-X players are allowed "to go anywhere" from Jan. 3 to Jan. 21, and again from Feb. 8 to Feb. 19. It's not the policy I would adopt, but then again the players presumably knew what they signed up for.
In any case, they won this game, with at least 10 players not going out between Sunday and Wednesday. 22 from Jeremy Dunn led X over Dal, with three others topping 10.
Saturday's rivalry game wasn't really one, with nearly a 30-point lead for the X-Men after three. Although these teams have played three times this year in conference play, each winning at least once, the games haven't exactly come down to the wire. We're spoiled after last year.
- Saskatchewan (7-4 CW, 12-5 CIS, RPI #4, SRS +11.0) — W 96-67 vs. UBC Okanagan, W 92-55 vs. TRU
A pair of absolute blowouts by the Huskies. Maybe they can play Carleton next year at this time instead, and give TRU, UBC-O, RMC, and Queen's a weekend off.
Did you know Michael Lieffers has 2.7 steals per game, more than Jamelle Barrett's 2.5? Lieffers' shooting is down (he led the league last year and is down about six or seven points to 56%), yet I am going to be very interested to see where he lands in this year's PER rankings.
Lieffers only scored eight against UBC-O but then again he only played 22 minutes. The bench got a lot of minutes here, with Saskatchewan leading 52-36 at the half.
I thought the Heat might go 5-17 this year (when I assumed it was a 22-game schedule) so they'll need to go 4-14 this year, or 2-4 in their remaining games, which won't probably happen (he said, looking at their remaining schedule).
- Laurier (10-2 OUA, 16-6 CIS, RPI #8, SRS +11.0) — W 97-91 at Guelph, W 89-73 at Western
You never want to assume a 10-2 OUA West team will always lose to a 7-5 OUA West team, but Guelph (and 4-8 Western) better have a really friggin' good defensive game plan to keep that from happening, because this WLU side has the best offence (on a per-possession basis as well as per-game) behind the Ravens and they turn the ball over much, much less than anyone else. Much less. If UBC played Laurier, the UBC coaches would be screaming "ball pressure!" more or less continuously throughout the game, instead of more or less continuously throughout 70% of the game.
Guelph didn't really stop Laurier's vaunted offence (27 from Max Allin with 11 boards and six assists, 15 from Kale Harrison on just five field-goal attempts, 9/17 from long range as a team) but they gave them a run anyway. Laurier's 11-point margin in the second quarter was enough for them to hold on in the second half. Sounds like it was a good one in Guelph.
Western, on the other hand, had a first-quarter lead but there's a reason these games are 40 minutes long instead of 10. Of note in this game: (1) Kale Harrison scored just two points and (2) Matt Buckley grabbed 462 rebounds. Or 18. Something like that. (Cam has Buckley in the MUBL, but has never played him. Cam is also in last place in the MUBL. Just sayin'.)
- Victoria (10-2 CW, 11-4 CIS, RPI #5, SRS +10.9) — L 71-75 at Winnipeg, W 101-79 at Manitoba
Third-best offence in the country so far? None other than these Vikes. (Third-worst uniform colours? Well...) It's going to be a really interesting weekend for Manitoba. And of course after focusing on Manitoba, it's Winnipeg who provide the upset. A 60-47 lead with 10 minutes to go is not often in danger, but so it went for UVic.
It went much better on Saturday, with a 22-point win over the not-upsetting-anyone-this-weekend Bisons. Terrell Evans hit a pair of season highs, with 19 points in 26 minutes off the bench. The local paper has a recap written by Ron Rauch, which I read as "Jon Rauch" and I was, understandably, quite terrified.
- Alberta (8-4 CW, 10-5 CIS, RPI #1, SRS +9.9) — W 77-69 vs. TRU, W 87-54 against UBC Okanagan
The other half of the TRU/UBC-O road trip went about as well as the Saskatchewan half did for the B.C. teams.
RPI isn't the final word, especially not in January, but it's really interesting that Alberta, and not Carleton or anyone else, is No. 1. They have a 10-5 record, not as gaudy as others, but they've faced the toughest schedule in the country. Half their scoring comes from Daniel Ferguson and Jordan Baker, and maybe it's that reliance that led to a two-point loss to Manitoba, a one-point loss to Winnipeg, and single-digit losses to UBC and UVic the weekend before last.
They must have heard me, because Rob Dewar led both teams in scoring with 21 against the WolfPack. Baker scored 15 and had 10 rebounds — seven defensive, more than the entire TRU team had on their offensive glass. Justin King did the same thing to the Bears in reverse (13 d-boards vs. 9). Then they shot nearly 60% against the Heat and Matthew Cardoza scored 14, one more than Ferguson.
- Concordia (5-0 RSEQ, 12-4 CIS, RPI #7, SRS +6.1) — W 78-66 at Laval, W 69-61 vs. McGill
Two games in the same week? What is this witchcraft?
Something weird is going on the QUBL so far. Last week I noted that Concordia were shooting rather poorly yet still beating teams, and it seems that's because everyone has forgotten what they're supposed to do with the orange round thing. Quebec teams as a whole are shooting an effective 40%, and are scoring only 86 points per 100 possessions, while turning it over nearly 28% of the time. Collectively, they're basically UBC Okanagan, no offence to the Heat, which means Concordia's opponents are collectively worse than UBC-O.
And look! More of the same. 43 combined turnovers in the Laval game. Concordia shot an effective 45%. Then they shot 38% — and won — against McGill. If explorers were braving the St. Lawrence today, looking for quality men's basketball programs instead of lumber or beaver pelts or whatever, they'd reach what is now the Welland Canal, give up, and head back to the old country, taking Kyle Desmarais with them as proof that the journey wasn't totally fruitless.
- UFV (7-5 CW, 11-5 CIS, RPI #13, SRS +5.2) — W 86-73 at Regina, W 85-75 at Brandon
Another underrated offence here (17th per-game, but 6th per-possession). Their best shooter so far has been transfer Michael James, who was previously a top-100 player with Winnipeg (in '08-09; he was ranked 204th in '09-10), but he's only their fifth-leading scorer. It'll be interesting to see what happens to UFV if he gets more minutes.
Kyle Grewal and Sam Freeman each scored 23 against the reeling Cougars (who dropped five spots in the RPI after last week's sweep at Manitoba and sit dead-last in a division where five of the eight teams are below .500). Grewal had 21 more against Brandon, going to the line 13 times, and Jasper Moedt put up 15 and 15 in the 10-point win that required a 28 to 15 fourth quarter.
In other news...
- Since Windsor's not in the top 10 anymore, we've been missing out on This Week in Chris Oliver, so let's get that in here now. "Keeping people at a distance doesn't allow them to hurt you, but they can not help you either."