Sunday, January 15, 2012

Men's basketball: Top 10 tracker: X-Men drop both, Lakehead/Laurier split

This week's results for the top 10 teams. Records and rankings are entering this week.

  1. Carleton (10-0, RPI: #4, SRS: +24.8) — W 87-56 at Ryerson, W 98-64 at Toronto

    Only won by 31 on Friday. Probably because, according to the boxscore, that was the "Carelton Ravens", the lovable collection of similarly-named alter-egos Dave Smart runs out there now and then to amuse himself and give the boys a day off (you know, Tysin Honz, Coel Hobin, all those dudes). Ryerson didn't take advantage of this alternate universe and, of course, shot 34%, their worst of the year so far.

    Saturday, they won by 34 to finish their Toronto trip with much success. Varsity shot an effective 40%, one of the best performances against the Ravens anyone's had this year. Still, Carleton had no problem. Thomas Scrubb went 8/11 for 21 points, one behind his brother Phillip. Rebounds were 13 to 19 on Carleton's offensive glass, and 39 to 5 at the other end. 39 to 5!

  2. StFX (7-0, RPI: #1, SRS: +13.4) — L 88-101 at Cape Breton, L 76-100 at UPEI

    Yes, Wednesday night saw the first loss for X this year, but it's worth pointing out that they've been close to an L before. Against Acadia, they were outshot 55% to 48% on effective field-goal percentage, and outrebounded, and of course went to OT; against Dalhousie, same deal, minus the extra period; against SMU, again. Granted, you can find close wins with every team (that doesn't play OUA East teams for the entire 2012 portion of the schedule) but the X-Men seem a tad overdue.

    And hey, what do you know, they lost to UPEI too, who went 14/30 on threes. This loss (by 24 points? really?) was enough to move St. F-X out of the top spot in our RPI, now enjoyed by Alberta. Only seven X-Men got into this game, not including Bol Kong, who played just eight in Wednesday's loss to CBU. We are assuming an injury. (UPDATE: Mark Wacyk has written that the seven players who did not play were "serving a team-imposed, one-game suspension for violation of team rules.")

  3. Lakehead (9-1, RPI: #14, SRS: +11.4) — W 88-83 at Laurier, L 89-92 at Laurier

    Meant to watch this one, since with how the OUA playoffs are set up now, Laurier and Lakehead may not meet again after this weekend. Also note that the RPI rankings of the OUA West teams are deflated right now because they haven't played each other yet, so 14th will not be 14th in the end for the Great Group of Teammates.

    Lakehead took a close one here, with a second-half comeback surged by [ERROR: INFORMATION NOT AVAILABLE; NO SECOND-HALF BOXSCORE EXISTS] along with [SORRY, YOU'LL HAVE TO ADD UP THE TOTALS YOURSELVES]. Yoosrie Salhia's 11 rebounds couldn't have helped his MUBL owner (who started what turned out to be Victor Raso's 29 Wednesday night points instead) but the 9 of 28 shooting wouldn't have helped anyway.

    Saturday, it was an even better game I did not watch. The 'Wolves ran a short bench out there both days (their starters played 75-80% of the game both times) but it seems like they had to rely more on the top guys Saturday.

    Gratuitous joke: Lakehead averaged one shot per 29.6 seconds on Friday, including the time they didn't have possession. In the NCAA, teams are just about starting to formulate a plan after 29.6 seconds of possession, and might actually commit an act of basketball at some point soon.

  4. Saskatchewan (6-3, RPI: #3, SRS: +13.2) — L 83-79 at Calgary, W 90-83 at Calgary

    Jamelle Barrett's mission to take over and successfully run Saskatoon has hit another snag (no wonder he brought in reinforcements). The Huskies lost to Calgary and Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, who may be able to help bring the Dinos out of the lower tier of the Smythe Division, or whatever they're calling it this year. Barrett was merely 4 of 11, and as we can learn from the Department of Obvious Correlations, Sasky are 4-0 when Barrett shoots above 50% and 0-4 when he doesn't. Wayne Thomas said it was strange that Michael Lieffers has never been named a Canada West all-star, and it's hard to disagree. 18 points on 13 shots, seven offensive rebounds, and seven assists for him that night.

    Or not. The mission is advancing apace, as Barrett scored 40 on Saturday, along with nine assists and four steals.

  5. UBC (6-2, RPI: #7, SRS: +12.9) — W 83-66 at TRU, W 78-54 at TRU

    "Well, TRU aren't shooting very well, but at least they're compounding it by not passing the ball very well." — C. Charron.

  6. Victoria (9-1, RPI: #5, SRS: +10.6) — L 79-70 vs. UFV, W 91-67 vs. UFV

    One hopes that a certain national basketball editor who happens to be in a certain city this weekend stopped by a certain gym to watch a certain team get upset by a certain other team. Outscored in every quarter except the first, and after having Ryan MacKinnon shoot an effective 14% (ineffective, I suppose), the Vikes will drop in the eyes of some, but perhaps in hindsight (i.e., if the Cascades keep it going all year) this loss won't look so bad.

    The next game, MacKinnon played less and shot less, but with a 12-point lead after one it hardly seems necessary.

  7. Laurier (9-1, RPI: #8, SRS: +11.2) — L 88-83 vs. Lakehead, W 92-89 vs. Lakehead

    I already said I didn't watch this game, but I'm just going to go ahead and infer an change in the Hawks' offensive strategy based on the following:
    • First quarter: 1/6 on three-pointers
    • Second quarter: attempted only one three, and it was with zeroes on the clock
    Overall, they attempted just 14 threes (down from their average of about 26) and even worse, they missed 12 of them. A team that usually shoots 40% will go 2 for 14 (or worse) once every 600 games, so it's not quite random variation. And clearly — again, said tongue-in-cheek due to that whole not-having-seen-the-game thing — the coach noticed something and made a change.

    With the same teams playing again the next day, you'd think a reporter whose beat is university sports would maybe explore this angle (losing by five after having no three-point game). You know, see whether Peter Campbell has anything to say, maybe about Lakehead forcing them to take bad shots from outside. Or any angle, really. But if you're working for The Record, you'll probably just punch out 60 words on the men's game and head for the parking lot.

    And look, in Saturday's game WLU continued their "shoot-fewer-threes" thing, if it is indeed a thing, except this time they earned the split, a not-unexpected outcome of this weekend. (If both games were in Thunder Bay I might have predicted a Lakehead sweep.)

  8. Alberta (6-4, RPI: #2, SRS: +9.9) — W 91-83 vs. Lethbridge, W 85-77 vs. Lethbridge

    23 and 12 out of Dominyc Coward wasn't enough to put the Pronghorns over the Bears; Jordan Baker countered with 25 and 10, and Alberta turned it over only half as often as their opponents to the south. The 'Horns got 39 combined from Coward and Morgan Duce, two of several players identified here previously as CCAA standouts who could make the jump.

    Daniel Ferguson scored 26 on 15 shots to pace Alberta on Saturday, tying a season high for him. He's also leading the country in minutes per game.

  9. Concordia (4-0, RPI: #9, SRS: +6.7) — W 68-63 vs. UQAM

    Undefeated despite shooting 42.7%, putting them in august company such as Guelph, York, and UBC-O, who are decidely not undefeated. It is only four games, though. They shot 42.5% in this game, with Kyle Desmarais making just one field goal. This may not be sustainable.

  10. UFV (6-4, RPI: #15, SRS: +5.4) — W 79-70 at Victoria, L 67-91 at Victoria.

    This isn't the upset of the week but the Cascades' season has been up and down so far and so this was mildly unexpected. They, and Kyle Grewal in particular, took advantage of UVic's lack of capitalization on second chances and came away with the nine-point win. Grewal, Joel Friesen, and Sam Freeman all topped 15.

    The loss certainly isn't going to have long-term effects, given the authority with which the Vikes came back on Saturday. That result also may keep Fraser Valley out of the top 10 for a little while longer.

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