Volume 91, Issue 63

Wednesday, January 21, 1998

grape vine


Working out the kinks

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
WATCH OUT FOR THE BANANA PEEL!! Matt Tweedie [25] and the men's basketball team may have slipped up on Saturday against Guelph, but both Mustang basketball teams plan to play with good balance as they take on the Marauders of McMaster tonight.

By Ian Ross

Gazette Staff

Challenge. Mystery. Competition. What may sound like a Club Med vacation commercial is in fact the motivation for both of Western's basketball teams as they head to Ontario's getaway hotspot, Hamilton, to take on the McMaster Marauders today.

The seventh-ranked Mustang men's team will need to reach back for a little extra today as they take on their second nationally-ranked team over the past five days. After losing a tight battle with sixth-ranked Guelph, Mac, who sits third in the nation, should prove to be another formidable roadblock.

"We are working hard going into McMaster," Mustang men's head coach Craig Boydell said. "It was a tough loss [against Guelph], but we learned what we could from it and put it in the past."

According to Boydell, the Marauders will be a much bigger challenge for his team.

"Every team is different. Guelph was more like us with inside players, while McMaster has the best guard front in the country," he said.

Leading the perimetre game will be fifth-year Marauder Titus Channer, a 6'2" guard who became his school's all-time leading scorer on Saturday against Windsor. While Channer boasts some of the best skills in the country, Boydell feels the addition of two other guards, Simon Fraser transfer Steve Mega and rookie Rodney Baptiste, fortifies McMaster's outside game. "They can make a big difference in the game and were the team's biggest addition."

While Western is concerned about containing Mac's guard attack, McMaster head coach Joe Raso has different concerns if he hopes to continue to coach his team to an undefeated record.

"The key for us to win will be how well we play in the post," Raso added. "Western doesn't beat themselves. They have great ball movement and in order for us to be successful, we have to stall them."

For the women's team, which holds a 3-0 record, the Marauders pose a lesser threat – holding only a single victory on the season. Although their record may not speak volumes, Mustang head coach Bob Delaney is cautious about underestimating Mac's capabilities.

"They're not having a good season, which is hard to believe. They have the players, they're just not using them right," he said.

The biggest factor to consider when heading to McMaster may be the distance from the comforts of home court. Factoring in the negative energy from the crowds and the unfamiliar surroundings, Delaney believes the visiting team starts the game with a seven to eight-point deficit.

"We are not really familiar with their court because we only play there once a year and they don't hold any tournaments that we attend," Delaney said, adding that Mac historically has played tough at home.

One area of familiarity for the Mustangs will be the name of Vesprini in the game program. Unfortunately, it will not be preceded by the name Michelle, who broke the OUA West scoring record while attending Western. Instead, her youngest sister Carla, a fifth-year guard for Mac, will be one of the chief concerns for Delaney's squad. Carla poured in a total of 30 points over two games last week, impressive enough to be named female basketball player of the week.

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998