Badgers seek shelter in basement
By Nick Lewis
After reeling off its third win in a row, the Western men's basketball team heads to St. Catharines tonight for a showdown against a formidable Brock team one that did not finish far behind the Mustangs in the final rankings last year.
The 3-1 'Stangs are on a roll, having defeated the provincial champion McMaster Marauders and a rival Windsor team handily in their last two games by an average of 11.5 points. Meanwhile the wily Badgers have fallen to 1-3 after an impressive preseason, including a close 70-67 loss to the Mustangs at the Purple and White Tournament three weeks ago.
"We were playing well until Christmas," Brock head coach Ken Murray said. "We just haven't been able to get on track since. We came close to beating Western at the Purple and White, but we haven't been able to repeat that.
"We know there's a corner we have to turn, we just haven't been able to turn it."
Murray feels Western can hurt the young Brock team from the inside specifically with the toughness and agility of veterans Chris Webber and Nigel Rawlins.
"Western is by far one of the best teams in the conference and their strength is the inside game," he said. "We have a lot of respect for Rawlins and Webber and the rest of the team, but if we take away their inside game and don't let them do what they want, then we'll have a tough game.
"We gotta hope our inside players can hold them out."
Webber agrees with Murray's analysis of his team.
"The last time we played Brock I had three fouls in the first minute and I couldn't really do anything the rest of the game," he said. "This game will be different. Nigel and I can punish these young kids from the inside, just like we did with Mac."
Mustang guard Brendan Noonan expects a similar game from the Badgers and knows what to do against them.
"I suspect they'll try to stick to the same game plan," he said. "They'll play a zone. Our last game against them we didn't really execute our zone defence well. This game we'll be better prepared.
"It is sort of unexpected for them to be 1-3 right now," Noonan said. "But we expect them to be really physical out there it always is when you play a team for the second time."
Physical should be the name of the game tonight, with bodies bumping and grinding to gain the inside advantage.
"We hurt most teams that way," Mustang head coach Craig Boydell said. "We've been expecting that strategy to happen and teams have expected it to happen and it hasn't really happened yet. The potential is there to hurt teams with our big men but we haven't been able to access our game as much as we can.
"Our interior and perimeter defence is just awesome, probably the best in the league."
Tipoff is at 8 p.m. tonight.
KUMBAYA MY LORD, KUMBAYA...Western's big men huddle around and lay out their game plan for tonight's game against Brock in St. Catharines.