Volume 93, Issue 87
Wednesday, March 15, 2000
Mustangs get wild card honours
CAN'T NOBODY HOLD US BACK. UHH UHH, UHH UHH. The Western men's basketball team was granted one of two CIAU wild card spots, despite losing in the OUA West division finals.
By Wes Brown
The men's basketball team's prayers were answered this week, when they were granted one of two wild card spots for this weekend's Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union finals in Halifax.
After falling in the Ontario University Athletics West division championships against the McMaster Marauders last week, the then number two nationally ranked Mustangs have remained in playoff limbo awaiting the decision of the CIAU coaches association.
"Final standings, playoff performance, CIAU rank, number of weeks ranked and games versus other conference champions and wild card contenders are some of the factors taken into account when looking at wild card applicants," said Mark Barschat, communications manager for the CIAU. "Without winning your division you have to apply for a wild card. If you do not apply you cannot be granted a spot."
Head coach Craig Boydell said he got the news at approximately 9 p.m. Sunday night. "The meeting started at 7 p.m. so needless to say there was a lot of discussion over the matter," he said about the selection.
This season, both the first and second seeds lost in their division finals the University of Lethbridge and Western, respectively. As a result, Lethbridge was also granted a wild card spot and will be seeded second, two spots ahead of Western.
Boydell said the wild card system worked out this time, but explained in previous years the coaches association chose to take teams for marketing purposes. "The criteria seems to change from year to year, there's been years in the past where we should have got it and were denied in the end," he said. "We both lost in our championships, but it's still not surprising we remained so high in the rankings."
Bartschat said this year was a tough one in terms of the quality of applications which were submitted as well as other circumstances. "Ryerson [University] and St. Mary's [University] were both in the running and it's also difficult when number one and two lose."
Western guard Matt Tweedie said he and the rest of the team were all in coach Boydell's office when they received the news and although he was expecting the Mustangs to get the spot, it came as a relief.
"We were all very anxious just to get the news. I'm not surprised we dropped to fourth ever since the Mac loss we've been focusing on the things we had been doing wrong of late," Tweedie said.
"In many ways, it was a wake up call for us. We've been running over the offence trying to make it cleaner hopefully we can correct these things before the CIs."
Western will square off against the fifth ranked Laurentian University in the first round of the national finals and Boydell said one good thing is that they know them relatively well. "They're a team we've seen play. We've got the film from the last two weekends against McMaster and Queen's [University]."
Western begins the CIAU's version of the "Road to the Final Four" this weekend in Halifax. Tip-off is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m..
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