Men's Basketball 2013 Outlook: Lakehead Thunderwolves

The next 2012 recap-slash-2013 preview takes us to the Lakehead Thunderwolves.

Record: 3-4 conference (2nd, OUA West), 13-7 overall, +10.2 SRS (5th in CIS)

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency (CIS Rank): 102.5 ORtg (14th), 101.4 DRtg (19th)

First half highlights:
  • Not much so far.
  • No, really. They closed with two wins over Laurentian and York to rebound from an ugly 1-4 start.

First half recap: They began each of the last two seasons red hot, but Lakehead has slowed down in 2012-13. Nothing has screamed "Final 8 contender" about this team so far, though they've weathered the injury bug and their slow start without losing much ground in the standings. Also, they've had an absurd 13% of their two-point shots blocked so far this year (next highest team is 9%), which you would have to think will even out.

What makes them good: Don't let the 3-4 record fool you, the Great Group of Dudes [GGODs] are still a good team. They've had the toughest Strength of Schedule of any good team (behind Lethbridge and three lower-tier OUA West teams), and played all but the last two games without standout big Ryan Thomson. There's plenty of time left to get back to the form that saw the team go to the Final 8 each of the past two seasons. Fifth-year post Yoosrie Salhia has been a major highlight in Thunder Bay. Despite shouldering the load of the offence (30.4% usage rate, 10 points higher than he had last year), the undersized yet brutally strong Salhia has remained efficient, posting an individual ORtg of 108 and a PER of 29.6. His offensive rebound rate of 19% is the highest of any regular rotation player in the country. Thomson, meanwhile, will be a huge asset for Lakehead when he comes back. His absence played no small part in the Thunderwolves' loss to Ryerson in the Wilson Cup semi-final last year, and they've missed his floor-spacing abilities in Thunder Bay this year.

What they need to improve on: More production on offence from fifth year guards Greg Carter, Ben Johnson and Joseph Jones. Carter is a defensive specialist, but has given them next to nothing on offence this year (35% eFG, lowest of any regular). Johnson is a three-point specialist who has been good but not great (35.9% on 5.6 attempts a game) from deep this season. Jones has posted a below-average 13.4 PER and is shooting 36.7% from the floor. Lakehead will need all three veterans to give them more to return to elite status.

Goals/Outlooks/Scenarios: A win at Winnipeg's Wesmen Classic over the break (which they got in convincing fashion), feasting on lesser OUA West foes and the return of Thomson should all help Lakehead improve in 2013. An 11-3 mark against the West would give them a 14-7 total and a reasonable shot at finding their way into the Wilson Cup Final Four. If they can do more and catch Windsor, however, they'll have a better shot at facing a non-Carleton team in the semi-finals (hello, rematch with Ryerson?) and possibly punching their third fourth straight ticket to the Final 8.
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1 comment:

  1. they have made the past 3 Final 8's.. this season would be the 4th..