Volume 94, Issue 89
Friday, March 9, 2001
One last hurdle - Ballers look to pluck Ravens
I TOLD YOU MAN, CLOTHES STAY ON UNTIL AFTER THE GAME. Mustang forward Matt Tweedie looks to create while McMaster guard Steve Maga plays defence. The Mustangs beat Mac 65-55.
By Jordan Bell
The road to March Madness has been cleared, but one obstacle still awaits the Western Mustangs men's basketball team the Carleton Ravens.
The Mustangs will lace 'em up Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Alumni Hall for the Ontario University Athletics final.
Coming off defensive warfare in last Saturday's 65-55 victory over the McMaster Marauders, Western proved they can pull out a victory even when scoring is scarce.
Mustang head coach Craig Boydell said he believes the idea of Western as an offensive juggernaut is an illusion.
"I think a lot of people see us as a run-and-gun team," Boydell said. "But we are consistently in the top five in the country in offence and defence. Our defence always keeps us in games."
If past experience means anything, the Mustangs have to feel pretty confident. Following a 69-67 loss, the Mustangs blasted the Ravens from their perch, winning 84-61. Mustang forward Andy Kwiatkowski said the team feels extremely confident going into the showdown, but emphasized the Ravens are a much improved squad.
"We go into every game confident that we will win," Kwiatkowski said. "We won't take them for granted though, because they're a different team, and those games were so long ago."
As loud as the Mustangs previous victory speaks, the Mustangs have an ace up their sleeve in Kwiatkowski. The leading scorer in Ontario University Athletics did not play in either of the previous meetings. Sky scraping centre Rich Tamminga was also absent from the second game.
The Ravens bring a very balanced attack. Their three leading scorers are forward Josh Poirier, guard Paul Larmand, and guard Jafeth Maseruka who score a paltry 12, 12, and 10.1 points per game, respectively.
The team is controlled by guard Robert Smart, who leads the Ravens in assists with 100.
It's their outside shooting that worries Boydell though, and he believes this will be the key to stopping the Ravens.
"We have to shut down their three-point shooting," Boydell said. "They shoot at a 40 per cent clip, so limiting those points is key."
Carleton head coach Dave Smart has had the pleasure of coaching some of the Mustang players, and said he understands how frightening the plethora of stars can be.
"They have so many weapons," Smart explained. "Basically, we are just going to try and adjust to how they hurt us."
The nation's No. 2 ranked Mustangs, and the No. 4 ranked Ravens have both secured berths in the national championships in Halifax. This could lessen the importance of Saturday's game, but Kwiatkowski said the electricity will definitely be there.
"The McMaster game was the really important game," he said. "But there will be so many fans, and we have developed quite a rivalry, so the emotion will definitely be there."
The Mustangs have answered every call this year, rebounding from the disastrous two game losing streak at the start of the year, to this most recent victory at McMaster.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000