Volume 93, Issue 81
Friday, March 3, 2000
Western vs. McMaster: a classic confrontation
GETTING READY TO SLAM IT HOME. Pivot man Chris Brown and the rest of the Mustangs prepare to face McMaster Saturday in the OUA West final.
By Mike Murphy
Lose and their dream season comes to an end. Win and they'll be one giant step closer to a national championship.
Tomorrow afternoon in Alumni Hall, Western's men's basketball team will have 40 minutes to prove they're the best team in the Ontario University Athletics West Division, when they meet the University of McMaster in the division final at 2 p.m..
"Everyone's confident. Everyone's excited," said Western co-captain Matt Tweedie about the atmosphere at practices this week.
The team which triumphs tomorrow will advance to the conference finals against the winner of the East division. More importantly, a win will guarantee the team a spot in the Canadian finals, scheduled for March 17-19 in Halifax.
"It's a great opportunity for us. It's our ticket back to Halifax," said Tweedie, who reached the nationals but failed to bring home a title with last year's squad.
McMaster finished the regular season with a 12-2 division record and is now ranked seventh in Canada. Not to be outdone, Western compiled a 13-1 division record, where their only loss was at the hands of the Marauders. The Mustangs are currently the number two team in the national rankings.
"These two teams are both national calibre teams," said McMaster head coach Joe Raso. "If both teams play well, it should be a game of lead changes. It should be in question right to the end."
These rivals faced each other twice during the regular season. Western prevailed 102-72 in the first match up, only to have the tables turned on them a week later, when McMaster stung the Mustangs, 82-74.
Western head coach Craig Boydell said his team would have to display solid defence to shut down MacMaster's two first team, all-star guards, Steve Maga and Doug Doyle.
"These guys can both score and they're both outstanding competitors," the Western coach observed. "Those are the two guys that hurt us in both games we played."
Of course, Western's lineup boasts some all-stars of its own. Pivot man Chris Brown and guards Micah Bourdeau and Jim Grozelle were all named to the division all-star team.
Raso predicted these marquee players for each team would figure prominently in the game's outcome. "The five all-stars are gonna be the key guys. These players rise to the occasion. It's a given that they're gonna have to play well."
Comparing the two teams, Boydell said they bring different sets of attributes to the floor. "They're a different style than we are. We are now getting a little bit more balance inside and out, especially with Brown coming on stronger," he said. "They're more of an outside team. They get a lot of points, but they do it with a small, athletic team."
One concern for Western this week was the health of two of its starters, guard/forward Chedo Ndur and Bourdeau, who were both hobbled by injuries in last week's semifinal match against Lakehead University.
The outlook looked good though, Boydell said, adding both were able to participate in a full team practice on Tuesday night.
"They weren't quite playing game speed, but they were certainly out there on the floor and I'm confident that by [tomorrow] they'll be there," he said.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000