White saves best performance for big stage at nationals

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs men's basketball

Jon Purdy

THERE'S A REASON WHY THEY CALL IT THE "AXE EFFECT." Western guard Jason Milliquet threw his hands up in the air during Western's 75-70 win over the Saint Mary's Huskies.

This year’s winner of the Jack Donohue Award for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship tournament MVP was Brock Badgers forward Owen White.

The 6’7” Port Hope native made a strong case for the hardware after a breakout performance, averaging 19.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game " statistics that certainly assisted in his being named to the tourney all-star team as well.

“Owen played tremendously from start to finish,” Brock head coach Ken Murray remarked when asked about White’s tournament performance. “He was very active. He did some good things rebounding-wise and changing shots. He did a wonderful job for us.”

Jokingly referred to by teammates as the “Mayor of Port Hope,” the mild-mannered White shrugged off the moniker and dispersed any speculation of possible political aspirations.

“It’s alright,” he said. “It’s a new nickname, and I’ll take it as it comes, but no, I don’t really have any interest in politics.”

It’s too bad he doesn’t, because if he maintains the poise and aggression he showed at the CIS tournament, his Ontario University Athletics West division rivals will have their hands full trying to contain him next year.

Despite weighing only 190 lbs " stringy for a 6’7” forward " White is a tenacious rebounder whose willingness to take punishment has earned him the respect of his peers.

Second-team All-Canadian and fifth-year Badger guard Brad Rootes had plenty to say about his teammate.

“Owen was great [at this tournament],” he said. “He’s playing like we always thought he could. I said he could be the player of the year next year and an All-Canadian if he can step up like he has. He was our x-factor this weekend for sure.”

White’s play in the CIS finale also drew the ire of opposition coaches, who simply could not shut him down.

“White hurt us on the inside for sure,” Mustangs head coach Brad Campbell said, following his team’s semi-final loss to the Badgers. “We lost the battles on the glass, and it hurt us.”

With his long dreadlocks and Horace Grant-style goggles, White looks like a veritable wild man on the court, yet his approach to playing in big games is anything but reckless.

“I try to keep my mind blank so I can do what needs to be done,” he revealed. “If I have too many thoughts in my head, I’m going to make mistakes, so I stay blank.”

This weekend’s performance has been the culmination of four years of hard work for White, who attributes his success to those around him.

“The entire team, the coaches, the staff, the players, they all work us hard everyday,” he said. “I’ve improved a lot in the last couple years because of them.”

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