Volume 93, Issue 79
Wednesday, March 1, 2000
Western silences Thunderwolves
©Gazette file photo
By Michael Murphy
Good teams always find a way to win.
In last Saturday's conference semifinal at Alumni Hall, with two starters hamstrung by injuries, the Western men's basketball team still managed to tame the hungry Lakehead Thunderwolves, 79-74.
With the tip-off approaching, Western's coaching staff had cause for concern. Veteran guard Micah Bourdeau, suffering from back problems, looked as if he would be scratched from the lineup.
Mustang head coach Craig Boydell explained the decision to include Bourdeau's name on the game sheet was made just moments before he submitted it to the scorer's table. "We decided we'd let him give it a shot and see what happened in the first couple minutes," he said.
Boydell would not regret his decision. Bourdeau's ailing back kept him from driving the lane or playing heavy minutes, but the savvy veteran still made his presence felt, connecting on four of six three point attempts to finish the day with 14 points.
"Bourdeau had a phenomenal game, given the situation. He could barely walk unaided in the middle of the week," Boydell said.
The Mustangs played an inspired first half, outscoring the Thunderwolves 44-29, but ran into additional injury trouble when defensive standout Chedo Ndur aggravated his hip. Ndur had to sit out the second half.
"I thought our play was impressive, given the fact that we had our top defender and our top offensive player both incapacitated," Boydell laughed. "I think the other guys really stepped up big."
One of those guys was centre Chris Brown, who led the Mustangs in scoring, with 20 points and rebounding, with 11 boards.
Brown said he was pleased, but not surprised that other players were able to elevate their play. "All year we've had no problems with depth. We've got guys who can step up."
Despite their commanding halftime lead, the Mustangs eventually let Lakehead back into the game. The visitors managed to capture the lead at one point, but Western stayed composed and made the big plays when it mattered to secure the win.
"We just wanted it really badly," Brown said. "We really want to get back to [Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union championship site] Halifax."
Lou Pero, head coach of Lakehead, thought the outcome could have easily been different. "We missed some easy things we should have made," he said. "In the last four or five minutes, [if it were not for] a couple of breaks and missed lay-ups, we could be playing in the conference finals against [McMasterUniversity] next weekend."
At present, it is uncertain whether Bourdeau and Ndur will have a clean bill of health by the finals. However, Boydell seemed confident that, with a week to recover, both would be in the starting lineup this Saturday.
As a side note, Western also received some impressive accolades last week when the Ontario University Athletics all-star teams were announced. Micah Bourdeau was named first team all-star and league MVP, while Chris Brown and point guard Jim Grozelle received second team all-star honours. Also, for the fourth time in five years, Boydell was recognized as OUA West Conference coach of the year.
Western plays McMaster this Saturday at 2 p.m. in Alumni Hall.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000