Volume 93, Issue 47
Tuesday, November 23, 1999
Past meets present in b-ball battle
©Graphic by Colin Butler
By Michael Murphy
Anyone who showed up at Thames Hall on Friday looking for a polite evening of basketball should have left before the tip-off.
It may have only been exhibition action, however, the contest between the Western men's squad and the Coca-Cola Metro Selects club team had all the spirit and intensity of a rabid dog fight.
In the end, the Mustangs prevailed 102-95, but only after they had withstood 40 minutes of intensely physical basketball.
The visitor's roster read like a who's who of former Western hoop stars with six alumni, four of whom played for the national champion 1990-91 Mustangs. Rounding out the Metro Selects 10 man lineup were four more hoopsters who had played ball at various Canadian colleges and universities.
One particularly impressive name on the Metro Select side of the scoresheet was John Stiefelmeyer. Now a sales representative for Coca-Cola, Stiefelmeyer enjoyed an illustrious basketball career at Western, winning all-Canadian honours four times, a national championship in 1990-91 as well as the coveted Mike Moser award, which is presented to the best Canadian university player.
"Stiefelmeyer probably has the best record of anyone who's ever played at Western," said Western head coach Craig Boydell.
After the game, Western co-captain and forward Matt Tweedie commented on the intensity and physical play of his opponents. "They think they've got something to prove. They come in, see that we're the number one ranked team and they just want to lay a beating on us. And that's what they did tonight literally," he said.
As an exercise in tough, hard-nosed basketball, Friday night's game would ultimately be edifying, Tweedie added. "We're going to be playing physical teams all year, so this was a valuable experience. Especially since they came in and [physically] beat the crap out of us."
The fierce competition of the game came as no surprise to Stiefelmeyer. "There's no one on this team that goes out just for fun. Anyone who's played at as high a level as these guys have, is going out to win. If somebody's keeping score, you're trying to win," he said.
In fact, they seemed a half-step faster than the Mustangs in the opening minutes, as they jumped out to an early lead. Though Western pushed ahead and held the lead the rest of the way, Stiefelmeyer and company were rarely more than five points behind.
Boydell said he was generally satisfied with the outcome. "Overall, I'm pleased. What we had this team here for is exactly what we saw tonight. They gave us some very hard matchups." He added the Metro Selects have a powerful inside game and a deadly long range shooting attack, which made them a very good test of the Mustangs' defensive capabilities.
Does a former national champion such as Stiefelmeyer think Western has the horses to bring home a Canadian crown this year? "Anyone can win it," he said. "It comes down to winning five games at the right time of the season, so a team just has to put it all together at the right moment. These guys definitely have the talent to do it."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999