First up: the Windsor Lancers.
Record: 5-2 conference (1st, OUA West), 7-3 overall, +12.5 SRS (3rd in CIS)
Offensive/Defensive Efficiency (CIS Rank): 99.4 ORtg (20th), 90.3 DRtg (10th)
First half highlights:
- THEY BEAT CARLETON. THEY BEAT CARLETON. THEY BEAT CARLETON.
- Held Warren Ward to 0/5 shooting in a solid win over Ottawa.
- Dismissed an improved Queen's team 118-82 in a game where they shot 53% on 34 threes and had an ORtg of 127.2.
What makes them good: Despite a shaky start to the season on offence, Windsor has weathered the OUA East storm better than any of their West counterparts thanks to a solid defence. In the season-opening shocker against Carleton, they held the super-powered Ravens offence to 36.4% shooting. They then held Ottawa to 35% the next night. The Lancers have regressed defending their own bucket slightly since then, but have guarded their bucket well enough to do what no other OUA West team did in the first semester: win more games than they lost. Josh Collins has been very solid for the Lancers, shooting the ball very well from three and posting a PER of 23.0, while Lien Phillip continues to be a big body in the paint that most teams just don't have an answer for, gobbling up rebounds and getting to the free throw line with regularity.
What they need to improve on: So far, Windsor has had trouble scoring for an elite team. Their 99.4 points per 100 possessions is just 20th in the league, and they've been too reliant on Collins creating and Phillip creating havoc in the paint to score. One potential antidote for the lacklustre offence could be former Guelph guard Mike Petrella, who had been quiet this season until exploding for 20 points on eight shots in the win against Queen's. A CIS coach once described Petrella to me as "that guy who gets anywhere on the court he wants to go," so look for the Lancers to use the speedy, crafty guard for some instant offence off the bench. In any case, the Lancers' offensive numbers should improve with more games against the West.
Goals/Outlooks/Scenarios: Windsor has plenty of talent, so expect the offensive numbers to balance out when they get to play some of their lesser OUA West opponents. If they can keep playing the defence that won the games against Carleton and Ottawa, a record in the neighbourhood of 18-3 would net them the top spot in the OUA West and a legitimate shot at returning to the Final 8.