Volume 96, Issue 61
Friday, January 17, 2003

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From both sides of the fence
Is the men's b-ball team unlucky or bad?

Bell Tolls
Jordan Bell
Sports Editor

Alumni Hall hasn't seen this much losing since "Stand by me" was a hit song.

The Western Mustangs men's basketball team is suffering through tough times.

However, looks can be deceiving. The boys in purple aren't a bad team this season, they're just a team who really pissed off "lady luck."

If you really want to pinpoint the moment it started to go awry, you would have to go back to 2001 when promising sophomore forward Nick Salomons went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. The injury has followed Salomons like a ball bunny on a baller's... well, balls.

Head coach Craig Boydell, or quite possibly "Doc" Boydell, has spent the past season (last season as well) dealing with injured backs, knees, feet and probably any other body part you can think of.

Let's be honest, the Mustangs' number three national ranking at the start of the season was predicated mostly on their success at the CIS Championship in Halifax last season, but obviously coaches around the country saw something in this team.

In addition to the seemingly endless injuries, the Mustangs have had to deal with the departure of Andy Kwiatkowski, Chris Brown and Chedo Ndur, the nucleus of the dominant squad of the past four years. Replacing those three guys is comparable to retooling the Chicago Bulls for a championship run after Michael and Scottie left the "Windy City."

Nothing is wrong with this team; they just need a few bounces to go their way

Furthermore, the Mustangs are a very adept shooting team, one that tends to live and die beyond the arc. Therefore, if they're on, they could really throw a monkey wrench into the playoff picture, in the same way shooting teams have done in the NCAA Final Four Tournament.

If I'm the opposition in the OUA, the Mustangs aren't a team I want to face in the playoffs when lady luck gets back on their side.
Shooting from the Hick
Ryan Hickman
Sports Editor

The pieces are falling into place and the king is being surrounded – checkmate is imminent.

Those rooks, bishops and even the pawns are surrounding last year's king of Ontario University Athletics men's basketball, the Western Mustangs, and things aren't looking good.

Everybody knows the Western ballers lost the best university player in Canada last year in Andy Kwiatkowski, but the loss of Chris Brown and Chedo Ndur are also being felt on a nightly basis.

The tally is now six straight losses for Western, who sit behind pawns like Lakehead and Brock at sixth in the OUA West. The Mustangs are a group this year that are good, but will never dominate another team, and need to work and scrap every night to come away with a "W."

At the start of this year, Western was ranked as high as third nationally, but the Canadian Interuniversity Sport works like the Supreme Court and sets their polls based on precedence from the previous season, and this year's team is far from last year's squad. Early on, Western was coming up with wins based on experience and grit, and needed to play near-perfect ball and hope nothing went wrong to win.

Well, it has gone wrong.

The bench that ran a mile-long last season has been diminished and the key players are starting to ache. The glimmer of hope was supposed to come from the triumphant return of last year's Kwiatkowski understudy, Nick Salomons, but his knee may force him to call it a career.

Kelsey Green is a quality big man, but without Kwiatkowski and Brown to help him out down-low against a big front line, he looks overwhelmed – like an old lady walking out of the grocery store with too many bags in her hand.

The injury bug has ripped through the team like the Norwalk virus and heaven forbid, the crown prince of Western basketball, Jim Grozelle goes down. Jimmy G is the ladle that stirs the chili and, after this season, his fabulous run at Western will come to an end and the massive back pain he has endured this year from carrying the team will cease.

The real pain will come next year when the irreplaceable Grozelle is forced to watch Western, instead of leading Western, and Craig Boydell searches for another floor general.


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