Mustangs ready to take on nation's best

Team excited to play in first national tourney since 2002

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The seeding is in, and the Western Mustangs men’s basketball team will be playing in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship tournament as the sixth seed.

The Mustangs find themselves ranked ahead of their Ontario University Athletics West division rival Brock Badgers, who gained entry to the tournament after defeating the Ottawa Gee Gees in the OUA bronze medal game this past weekend.

The tourney will kick off this Friday in Ottawa, as the Mustangs take on the third-seed Atlantic University Sport champion St. Mary’s University at 11:30 a.m. at Scotiabank Place.

It will be the second meeting between the Mustangs and the St. Mary’s Huskies this year, having previously played a season-opening exhibition game on Oct. 19 during a tournament hosted by the University of New Brunswick.

In that contest, the Mustangs gave up a 17-point lead and ended up losing 71-70 after the Huskies drained a buzzer beater at the last second.

Despite a loose familiarity with the Huskies, 6’8” Western forward Alan Paron doesn’t anticipate the coaching staff will be basing its defensive strategy on the previous meeting.

“October was long ago and each team has evolved so much over the year so we’ll just go over some film, go over their stuff and approach it as if they were any other team.”

One team Western will be more familiar with, having played them last weekend in the OUA Wilson Cup final, is the five-time defending CIS champion Carleton Ravens. The ’Stangs kept pace with the Ravens for three quarters before falling behind in the fourth and losing by 16 points.

Though the Mustangs weren’t able to match the Ravens offence, head coach Brad Campbell felt the experience gained by playing the top-ranked team in the nation will serve them well this weekend.

“Taking away the experience and information of what it’s going to take to beat Carleton [is important].”

“We saw a little bit of what that’s going to take to win a national championship and the teams going into this tournament are the best in Canada, so we have a little bit of a taste of that this [past] weekend.”

This weekend will mark the first time since the 2001-02 season that Western has advanced to the national finals.

Western’s postseason run has been a story of upsets, pulling off consecutive wins over the top two teams in the OUA West, the Windsor Lancers and Brock, to earn themselves a berth in the CIS tournament.

The Mustangs will find themselves in a unique position of having played against three of the seven other teams in the tournament.

In anticipation of the CIS championships, The Gazette

Carleton Ravens (25-0)
Player to watch: Aaron Doornkamp, OUA East MVP

University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (24-5)
Player to watch: Chris Dyck, Canada West second team all-star

St. Mary’s Huskies (17-6)
Player to watch: Mark McLaughlin, Atlantic University Sport first team all-star

Laval Rouge et Or (15-3)
Player to watch: Jean-Philippe Morin, Quebec Student Sport Federation MVP

Acadia Axemen (19-3)
Player to watch: Leonel Saintil, AUS MVP

Western Mustangs (15-10)
Player to watch: Brad Smith, team leader in scoring

Brock Badgers (18-7)
Player to watch: Brad Rootes, OUA West co-MVP

Alberta Golden Bears (19-10)
Player to watch: Alex Steele, Canada West MVP

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