Volleyballers' death by U of T comes quickly
U of T edges Western
Destiny in male ballers' hands
Purple ready to mad-den march
Destiny in male ballers' hands
By Joel Brown
The math is simple. Two wins equal a trip to Halifax.
The Guelph Gryphons will be the first squad Western's men's basketball team will face, 7 p.m. tonight at Alumni Hall, in its quest to join the Final Eight at the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletics Union Championships next month in the Nova Scotia capital.
A win would advance the Mustangs to the Ontario University Athletics West division finals and allow them a chance to guarantee themselves a dancecard at the national championships.
While two at-large wild card spots are available for Halifax, a loss against Guelph could prove to be disastrous for Western. Despite being ranked No. 2 in the country, the OUA West is likely to have to compete with the OUA East for one wild card berth since, the tournament selection committee traditionally does not like to give both open spots to Ontario teams.
If No. 4-ranked Carleton Ravens, were not able to win the East outright, it would become a toss up between the Ravens and the Mustangs, something Western would obviously like to avoid.
Nonetheless Western's focus is now on the Gryphons, a team Western has beaten three times this season in what was a tightly contested game.
"There's no doubt they're a tough defensive team," said Western head coach Craig Boydell, whose team got a bye to the semi-finals. "We're really going to have to be sharp and it's going to be a matter of who executes best."
The Gryphons convincingly beat Lakehead, a strong offensive team, 80-56 in the quarter-finals.
Leading the charge for Guelph is the veteran triple-guard attack of Shane Bascoe, Geoff MacNeil and Koven Padayachee, all are good penetrators and able to create opportunities by breaking down defences.
"All three of our guards are going to have to really pick up the defensive pressure full court," said Guelph head coach Chris O'Rourke. "They're going to have to play really well, offensively and defensively."
Look for Western to pound the ball inside to power forward Andy Kwiatkowski and centre Chris Brown, where they have a considerable size and experience advantage over the Gryphons.
"We've got young forwards and we're going to need for them to step it up and especially play well on the defensive boards," O'Rourke said.
Though Guelph has lost three times to Western this season, O'Rourke is confident his team has a chance to advance.
"In the three games we've played against them, we've been beaten in the last five minutes. We haven't made the plays needed to give ourselves a chance to win.
"We know we can compete with Western we've done that this year. It just takes one game" he said. "We're confident we're in a position to win. Everyone in the country thinks Western is going to win. We're probably the exception."
Boydell expects to stay with his regular rotation, which runs nine men deep. The coach has been pleased with the play of his bench, especially with rookies like forward Nick Salomons.
"I can't wait I'm pumped to play," Salomons said. "I'm a little nervous but it's more because I'm excited to play [rather] than how I'll play."
Brock will travel to Hamilton to face McMaster in the other semi-final match.