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Volume 90, Issue 86

Friday, March 07, 1997



Praying mantis on the court

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE SOMEBODY'S TOUCHING ME. . . Mustang Chris Webber got the deluxe package from a Lakehead player during the season. The team plays Guelph tonight.

By Nick Lewis
Gazette Staff

Life's looking pretty good right about now for Chris Webber.

The six-foot-nine power forward for the Mustang basketball team has muscled his way into respectability among his teammates, his coach and himself.

The former OUAA East rookie of the year for the Carleton Ravens transferred to Western in his second year because he felt he did not belong in Ottawa.

"I never really felt like I was part of a team when I was there," he said. "Everyone there was just an acquaintance, they had their own group and I wasn't made welcome."

It was in the summer before his second year when he found he had troubles with his heart. While playing some ball in the University Community Centre, he passed out in the middle of the gym. He had a problem that entire summer with exhaustion and a speedy heart rate, but when he arrived at the hospital, he was told it was far more serious than fatigue.

"It turned out to be a disease called Wolf-Parkinson's that I've had all along," he said. "It would just come out in certain circumstances of physical exertion. So I was playing one day, I got tired and dizzy and I passed out. About an hour later I walked over to the hospital and they hooked me up to machines. My heart rate was 226 beats-per-minute an hour later."

Webber had to sit out the next six months awaiting surgery and decided to transfer to Winnipeg. There he was made welcome by the coaches and players, but felt far away from his family and friends. The move back to Western was the best thing for him, personally and athletically.

His game has shot up to a higher level with the Mustangs – he is the team's leading scorer with 19.4 points per game and 8.5 rebounds. His chemistry with fellow forward Nigel Rawlins is exemplary as the two continually feed off each other's momentum and energy.

"I really like Nigel both on and off the court, it's just all the simple things he does underneath the basket," he said. "Hanging around good people makes you a better person, that's how it is with Nigel."

Rawlins smiles shyly and throws a knowing look over at Webber across the gym.

"I don't think of Chris as a teammate, he's more of a friend," the friendly giant said. "He's a super guy, he's just always there for everyone. On court we always look for each other, always try to help each other out.

"He's the missing link to an already exciting program. He just brings a greater level of intensity on the court."

The two had played together in three-on-three streetball tournaments over the summer and had built up camaraderie heading into the season.

"Chris is a fantastic one-on-one streetball-type player and over this past season he's really developed into a great team player," Rawlins said.

He is an asset coach Craig Boydell is definitely glad to have going into tonight's divisional semifinal against Guelph.

"At this stage of the season he's someone you want on your team – he's our go-to guy," he said. "He's a person who can score from a lot of different locations and is someone you have to pay a lot of attention to."

Webber finally feels at home with the Mustangs.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997