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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Waterloo Forward Fulfills D1 Dream

(Article Courtesy of Barry Hayes)

As the eleventh Canadian to commit to an NCAA Division I program so far this year, Gavin Horne also becomes the first to do so from an American junior college. The 6’8" forward from Waterloo, Ontario committed to Wright State University (Dayton, Ohio). He is currently a sophomore at Santa Fe Community College (Gainesville, Florida).

"I'm just excited for the challenge," says Horne.

"I know I’m going to a school that is rebuilding, but with the new coaches that were brought in, and with the core of players that are still there, I feel that we will have a great chance of excelling."

Head coach Brad Brownell has taken over the Wright State program this year after previous tenure at UNC-Wilmington. The Raiders compete in the Horizon Conference, generally regarded as a mid-major Division I conference. They finished 13-15 overall last year, tying with five other teams for third-place with a conference record of 8-8.

The last Canadian to play for the Wright State program was also from Waterloo – 6’9" forward Thomas Hope (2000-2003) – and there are currently six Canadians active in the conference: Hamilton’s Majak Kou (Loyola-Chicago), Toronto’s Kaylan Anderson & Kevin Massiah (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Hamilton’s Colin Laforme (Youngstown State), Brampton’s Patrick Tatham & Toronto’s Kevin Francis (Cleveland State).

Versatile and athletic, Horne was a Second Team All-Mid-Florida Conference last season at Santa Fe that saw him average 8.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game with a 55.9 field-goal percentage.

"I feel that the Junior College experience has helped me in a couple ways," said Horne when asked how he has become prepared for NCAA Division I basketball.

"It has gotten me used to the speed and athleticism that basketball is played down here. It has also given me the chance to get a lot of playing time against some very good players. I feel better prepared now than when I was coming out of high school."

Horne participated in the nationally televised 2005 adidas All-Canadian High School Game as a senior for Waterloo Collegiate after leading the Vikings to two straight ‘AAAA’ OFSAA Provincial Championship appearances.
Other schools that Horne was considering include Indiana State, Illinois State, Mercer College, American University, Florida International, Wisconsin-Green Bay, and Central Florida.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

CWOSSA "AAA" Pre-Season Rankings - Senior Boys

Unlike AAAA, which is switching to a 6-team, 2 pool tournament for the CWOSSA championship, "AAA" will remain as an 8-team tournament to reflect the extremely large area from which it will draw teams (six districts versus three for "AAAA").

Schools in "AAA" Classification this year:

WCSSAA (District 6/11) - 2 representatives
Elmira
Galt
Glenview Park
Jacob Hespeler
Preston
Southwood
Huron Heights ** junior only

District 8 - 1 representative
Monsignor Doyle
St. David

Brantford (District 5) - 2 representatives
Assumption
Brantford Collegiate
North Park
Paris
Pauline Johnson
St. John's College

District 4 & 10 - 1 representative
Centre Dufferin
St. James (Guelph)
Westside

District 9 - 1 representative
Holy Trinity
Simcoe Composite

District 7 - 1 representative
Grey Highlands
Owen Sound
West Hill

Overall Top Eight
1. Southwood/Cambridge
2. North Park/Brantford
3. St. John's/Brantford
4. Galt/Cambridge
5. St. David/Waterloo
6. Assumption/Brantford
7. Paris
8. Brantford CI

Top Eight (Ranked and By District)
1. Southwood (D 6/11 #1)
2. North Park (D 5 #1)
3. St. John's (D 5 #2)
4. Galt (D 6/11 #2)
5. St. David (D 8 #1)
6. Owen Sound (D 7 #1)
7. Simcoe (D 9 #1)
8. St. James (D 10 #1)

Monday, October 23, 2006

District 8 Senior Boys' Preview (2006-2007)

The recent seasons of District 8 basketball have been some of the more competitive on record (and with some of the better players that have come through the "D8" in a while). With the graduation of stars Jordan Hannah (St. Mary's/University of Waterloo), Alberto Rodrigues (St. Mary's/St. Francis-Xavier University), Chyro Blackwood (Resurrection/Niagara College), Brendan Cato (Monsignor Doyle/Niagara College), and Santo Harun (St. Mary's/Niagara College), this would appear to be a down year for the league as a whole. Despite those departures, a new crop of exciting rookies and veterans that spent time in some shadows are ready to emerge in what should be a competitive and exciting season.

2005-2006 - A Brief Review
Regular Season Champion: St. Mary's Eagles
Playoff Champion: St. Mary's Eagles (Semi-finals: St. Mary's over St. Benedict, Rockway over Resurrection)
League MVP: Jordan Hannah, St. Mary's

CWOSSA Participants:
“AAAA” - St. Mary's Eagles (#3 seed, lost first round game to Guelph Centennial), Resurrection Phoenix (#8 seed, won wild-card game against Brantford-North Park, lost first round game to Kitchener Collegiate).

“AAA” - St. David Celtics – lost first-round game.

“A” - Rockway Flames – CWOSSA Champions, OFSAA Silver-medalists.

2006-2007 Projected Order of Finish
1. Rockway Flames/Kitchener
2. St. Mary's Eagles/Kitchener
3. Resurrection Phoenix/Kitchener
4. St. David's Celtics/Waterloo
5. St. Benedict Saints/Cambridge
6. Pere Rene De Galinee Chevalières/Cambridge
7. Monsignor Doyle Mustangs/Cambridge

Pre-Season All-Stars

First Team: Troy Barnes (SMHS), Jordan Dixon (RCSS), Colton Hood (RMC), Josh Lance (SMHS), Jon Minkarious (RMC)

Second Team: Evan Del'Aquilla (SBCSS), Kevin Graf (RMC), Marcus Hummel (SDCSS), Jordan MacNeil (SDCSS), Andrew McIntosh (SBCSS), Tim Minkarious (RMC)


Team By Team Previews

Rockway Mennonite Collegiate Flames/Kitchener
Last Season: 3rd District 8 (regular-season), District 8 finalists, CWOSSA "A" Champions, OFSAA "A" Silver Medalists.

Top Returnees: Jon Minkarious (G), Kevin Graf (G) Top Newcomers: Colton Hood (6'5"/C), Tim Minkarious (G), Lucas Friedmann (G), Dan Wismer (G/F)

The Flames have always been known around the District 8 league for solid guard play; this year, however, they add to the mix one of the best big men in the county in 6’5” centre Colton Hood. Hood was dominant last season in the junior ranks and even played a role in their OFSAA silver-medal performance having led the Flames in scoring against #11 Notre Dame (Carleton Place) with 15 points. He boasts a solid drop-step move along with his knack for finding the ball on the offensive glass.

Dan Wismer was an under hyped junior player who was solid on the offensive end and should be able to contribute this season. The other top rookie who will bolster an already strong backcourt will be Tim Minkarious, who (like Hood) also had a solid performance at the OFSAA level last season, pouring in 18 points in Rockway’s semi-final victory.

Top returnees include guards Jon Minkarious and Kevin Graf, who have solid range and the ability to score from numerous areas on the court. Both are solid defenders, a facet of their game that doesn’t gain as much notoriety because of their abilities on the offensive end.

Despite being the smallest school in the county, Rockway appears poised to make the most noise at the provincial level come March. Without question, they will be one of the top-ranked schools at the “A” championship along with traditional powerhouses L’Essor (Windsor) and ACMT (Hamilton). They are also my preseason pick to oust the bigger schools and take home the D8 championship.

St. Mary's High School Eagles/Kitchener

Last Season: District 8 regular-season and playoff champions, CWOSSA #3 seed (lost quarter-final game).
Top Returnees: Josh Lance (PG), Rafal Januszek (G/F), Matt Sutka (F)
Top Newcomers: Troy Barnes (G/F), Mitch Jones (F/C), Nick Hannah (G), Scott McGinley (F)

Last year was an extremely entertaining one for the Eagles from St. Mary's. They demonstrated early on that they were capable of big things, losing to eventual #1 OFSAA “AAAA” seed Father Henry Carr by one point in their home gym during the Heinbuch tournament. The Eagles were led by twin-towers Alberto Rodrigues and Santo Harun, who combined with MVP guard Jordan Hannah to lead the Eagles to a D8 title. However, their CWOSSA dreams were crushed in the opening round by an upset-minded team from Guelph Centennial. This season, Rodrigues, Harun, and Hannah have all moved on to post-secondary ball, and veteran Matt Crosdale has transferred. Yet all is not lost for the Eagles as they defend their title. For starters (no pun intended), they return fourth-year guard Josh Lance, one of the better defenders in the league. Lance demonstrated that he is quite capable as a scoring option last season when opposing defenses attempted to cheat either on Hannah or on the interior.

The St. Mary's junior team was the overall D8 champion last season and won their opening round CWOSSA game as a #4 seed (defeating Cameron Heights) before falling to eventual champion Centennial in the semi-final. With several of these key players moving up to senior, they should be able to compete for the league's "AAAA" automatic CWOSSA bid. Of these, the player who will contribute immediately will be guard/forward Troy Barnes. Barnes has a solid mid-range game, explosiveness, and is a tremendous rebounder for a player his size. Forward/Center Mitch Jones (6'4") and guard/forward Scott McGinley will move up along with Jordan Hannah's younger brother, Nick, to provide added depth. All three have solid basketball IQ's; Jones will be called upon especially to provide some much needed interior size. On paper the Eagles do not quite appear to be the top team in the league this season, but they may be able to use their defense, hustle, and experience to claw their way to a second consecutive title.

Resurrection CSS Phoenix/Kitchener

Last Season: 2nd place regular season, lost semi-final to Rockway. CWOSSA wild-card entry, won wild-card game vs. Brantford-North Park. Lost quarter-final game to Kitchener CI.

Top Returnees: Jordan Dixon (G/F), Lali Kamboj (G), O'Neil McFarlane (G), Brian Major (F), Jordan Dobson (F)
Top Newcomers: Adrian Weber (G), Khalid Jama (G/F), Brian Chris (G/F)

Perhaps the most interesting development around the Phoenix camp will be the actual make-up of head coach Matt Kras' team. Forwards Brian Major and Jordan Dobson may forego basketball in search of track and field scholarships to NCAA schools. If that is indeed the case, the Phoenix may have to rely on the very thing that sometimes burned them in games last season---guard play. This time around, the majority of guards seeing court time will have a year of senior ball under their belt, so the Phoenix will be hoping that those "growing pains" they saw last season are indeed a thing of the past. The Phoenix are very athletic, and should be able to run-and-gun their way to numerous league victories.

Top returnee is D8 all-star guard Jordan Dixon, who had a solid double-digit scoring average last season despite playing in the shadow of now-graduated forward Chyro Blackwood. Dixon has the ability to drive and dunk combined with the ability to stop and pop from the outside. The key for his success will be picking his spots effectively, especially with teams keying on him this season. Point guard Lali Kamboj suffered through an injury-riddled season, but was only in grade 10 last year. Kamboj is Resurrection’s top perimeter defender, and one of their top three-point threats. O'Neil McFarlane is another guard expected to see increased court time. McFarlane, a slashing guard, provides a lot of energy to this club. If he can cut his turnovers, I believe he has a chance at making second-team or the honourable mention D8 team.

On the inside, Dobson and Major would be counted on to provide the interior presence; without these two Resurrection does not have any “true” big men and would thus have to adopt a small-ball approach.The rookies are not expected to make an immediate impact, due in part to the fact that they are all guards and will be playing behind the aforementioned players. Adrian Weber was the junior club's top scorer last season and will provide additional athleticism off the bench. Forward Khalid Jama is deceptive on defense with his long reach, and also has the ability to hit from the outside. The other rookie who may see court time is guard/forward Brian Chris, also the starting quarterback on the Phoenix football team. If the Phoenix can find their identity and meld all those pieces together, they may be able to get a home playoff game, and possibly another CWOSSA berth.

St. David Celtics/Waterloo
Last Season: Did not make playoffs

Top Returnees: Jordan MacNeil (F), Marcus Hummell (G/F - Injured last season)
Top Newcomers: Sean Bowman (G/F), Mike Breuer (F)

The Celtics' almost got the biggest break of all teams this season with Nova Scotian guard Ben Johnson (and his younger brother) moved to the area and enrolled at St. David. Although Johnson is ineligible, this club should be improved over their performance a year ago. They will be boosted by a healthy Marcus Hummell, who was out for the majority of last season due to injury. Fifth-year forward Jordan MacNeil will be counted on to provide veteran leadership; this former Rockway Flame has an OFSAA gold medal to his credit and has been in big games (D8 championships) before. His size should be an asset against the majority of the league.

Top newcomer from a non-playoff junior team is guard/forward Sean Bowman. To Bowman's credit, the Celtics were not that deep in the junior ranks last season, but he did put together a fine campaign nonetheless. He possesses a solid jumper as well as (from my viewing) a solid ability to adapt to different flows during the game. Mike Breuer is another grade eleven kid who should see some court time for the Celtics. Barring a miracle from Monsignor Doyle, the Celtics will represent the D-8 at CWOSSA "AAA" -- though, with the calibre of opposition in that division this season (Southwood, St. John's, North Park, Galt, etc.) they will be hard pressed to bring some hardware back to St. David.

St. Benedict Saints/Cambridge

Last Season: 4th, lost in Semi-finals to St. Mary's.

Top Returnees: Andrew McIntosh (F), Evan Del'Aquila (G)

I have them ranked 5th entering the season, but the parity in District 8 basketball this season means that the Saints could end up as high (in my opinion) as third place; I would not be surprised to see them upset any of the top several teams in the league. Forward Andrew McIntosh and Evan Del'Aquilla are the Saints' top returnees; they will be receiving limited help from a junior team that placed 4th overall---though their rookies will be called upon to add depth to the backcourt and have the ability to make shots. As such, the Saints have the ability to compete (and even beat) the teams I’ve listed ahead of them if they get hot; however, depth will be an issue.

Pere Rene De Galinee Chevaliers/Cambridge

Last Season: Did Not Play
Top Players: Eric Poulin (PF/C), Colin Sherwood (G/F)

The Chevaliers will be fielding a senior team in the D8 league for the first time, thanks to a crop of juniors moving up to the senior ranks who fared a lot better than former PRDG squads. The junior Chevaliers, in fact, posted league wins over Monsignor Doyle (twice) and St. David (once) to finish at 3-9.

Eric Poulin may have a lot of success this season due in large part to the few actual big men that are playing in the league this season. For the Chevaliers to have success, they will need to slow games down and feed the ball inside. Colin Sherwood will be their other main threat moving up from the junior team.

Although they should struggle this season, I believe that they will be able to pick up one or two wins as they build for what might be a respectable 07-08 campaign.

Monsignor Doyle Mustangs/Cambridge

Last Season: Did not make playoffs
Top Newcomer: Mitchell Thomas

With Brendan Cato’s decision to attend Niagara College, the Mustangs lost their top player and (most likely) a District 8 all-star selection.

For the remaining team members to be competitive, Doyle will need to begin by improving their transition defense, which was sub-par last season and enabled many games to turn quickly into routs.

Although the junior team didn’t hit the win column last season, Mitchell Thomas is a wide body on the inside who may have some success for them. The Mustangs might not go winless like last year, but will find themselves out of the playoff picture come season’s end.

Junior Boys’ 2006-2007 Pre-season Rankings
1. Resurrection Phoenix/Kitchener
2. St. Mary’s Eagles/Kitchener
3. St. David Celtics/Waterloo
4. St. Benedict Saints/Cambridge
5. Rockway Flames/Kitchener
6. Monsignor Doyle Mustangs/Cambridge
7. Pere Rene de Galinee Chevaliers/Cambridge

Monday, October 16, 2006

Greetings.....

Hi all,

I've decided to keep all my postings here (cwossabasketball.blogspot.com) for easy access to all of them.

Feel free to add comments, add questions in case you have something you'd like to see, or whatnot.

Looking forward to a great 06-07 campaign!