Saturday, October 23, 2010

'Wolves FInish 4-4 in CIS Non Conference Pre-Season

After playing 8 CIS non-conference games in 15 days, the Lakehead Thunderwolves men's basketball team will get a weekend off from competition and look to re-engergize and re-focus on the upcoming OUA interlock schedule beginning November 5th. The team sits at 4-4 with a very tough road schedule behind them as they faced 5 potential top ten teams, in their own gyms, during the course of their 10 day east coast swing.
The players were given an extra day off this week and some of the 'Wolves have been on the sidelines "licking their wounds" in order to be at full strength for the key month of the first semester. The team will open conference play in the GTA with road games against an always tough Varsity Blues squad from U of Toronto and a very strong and athletic Ryerson Rams team - both out to start their seasons on a high note.
The team stays in game shape with a scrimmage against Vermillion C.C. in Ely, Minnesota on October 31. Vermillion is the alma mater of current Thunderwolf, Venzal Russell.

Coach Morrison on the completion of the CIS Non-Conference portion of the schedule:
"While we would obviously prefer to have had a stronger record out east, the final results of that trip will not be known until we find out just how much we learned from that trip.... If the mistakes we made in losses to Acadia, SMU, or Dalhousie can help us learn how to better have a chance to beat teams in our conference later this month, then it will have been a succesful venture."

Coach Morrison on the next two weeks for the team:
"Like every team the next two weeks represent a chance to get our houses in order before the big games start in November. For us, that entails getting our team defense and rebounding up to the standard we expect this season. We need to be sure we get something out of every drill in practice, maximizing our opportunity for improvement to start the OUA schedule."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Acadia Tops 'Wolves At Buzzer 72-70

3rd year forward Justin Boutilier hit a baseline runner with 2 seconds left to break a 70-70 tie and ice the homecoming win for the Axemen.
Lakehead held a 4 point lead entering the 4th but went cold on the offensive end including three point blank lay-ups missed against the Acadia 2-3 zone.
Acadia earned themselves 3 second chance scorees on offensive rebounds from the perimeter in the final quarter that proved to be crucial in Acadia pulling ahead.
Acadia's front court dominated the game as Boutilier had 16 and 12 rebounds while 6'10 Owen Klassen had 14 and 10 boards.
Venzal Russell had 20 points but also 5 turnovers while Matt Schmidt put forth the team's best individual effort with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Free throws were even tonight but Acadia won the rebounding battle 13-9 which proved to be a deciding factor late in the game along with Lakehead's missed "bunnies".

"We are obviously not playing our best basketball right now. We had chances to win tonight's game and could not capitalize to finish it off. Last year we would have converted late chances and not given up key 4th quarter O boards and that was why we were able to win so many games late."

"We have to work some things out but in general we need our veteran players to start executing simple plays and get back to the grinding effort that made us successful last season."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

'Wolves Ripped Apart by Tigers

The Dalhousie Tigers took advantage of some soft first half defense from the Lakehead Thunderwolves to jump out to a 24-16 1st quarter and 47-30 half-time lead. Joe Schow led the Tigers in the first half shooting 9-9 from the field for 20 first half points.
Lakehead came out strong in the 3rd quarter for their only good defensive quarter of the game and brought the score to 60-52 at the beginning of the final frame. In crunch time transfer guard Juleous Grant turned it on and hit 3 tough baskets from different areas on the court to keep the Tigers comfortably ahead.
Schow was the game's high scorer with 24 points 11 rebounds while Grant added 20 points on 7-14 shooting from the field. William Yengue had 14 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes of play for the Tigers.
Venzal Russell had 18, Ryan Thomson 12 and Matthew Schmidt 10. The Thunderwolves shot 11-30 from three point range to Dalhousie's 4-9. However the story for the second straight game was Lakehead's inability to cut down on deep penetration leading to opponent's free throws. Dalhousie was 18-40 from the FT line to Lakehead's 4-11. In two losses on this trip L.U. has been out shot 58-90 to 15-31 from the FT line.

"Credit to a strong Dalhousie team that came out firing on all cylinders and caught us flat footed in the first quarter. We are getting fouls too far away from the basket that is resulting in early bonus situations for the opponent. We have to do a better job keeping our hands off and moving our feet to make the opponent's shots a little tougher than free throws."

"Dalhousie offers a very tough back-court matchup. With Farine and Grant, a top player is always drawing a team's 2nd or 3rd best defender making them tough to match up with. With such a great back court it will be very tough to beat Dal when they have their bigs playing well as they did tonight."

"We have to re-group for another tough one at Acadia tomorrow. Acadia has one of the best young teams in the country and we have to be at our all around best to try and compete for a W down in Wolfville."

- Coach Scott Morrison

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

'Wolves Take in Historic Halifax

Lakehead Thunderwolves Overlook Downtown Halifax

The Thunderwolves took a break from study halls and practices this morning to take in some areas of significance around scenic downtown Halifax. First up on the list was a behind-the-scenes tour of the Halifax Metro Centre, home of the 2011 CIS Final 8. Metro Centre manager Darren Watt took time out of his day to show us the arena itself, the 'under belly' and also broke down the process of switching from a hockey to a basketball venue.
Following the Metro Centre tour the team made the trek up Citadel Hill to check out old "Fort George" and take in the view of the city from its highest natural point. Nova Scotia product Ben Johnson gave an impromptu history lesson on the construction of the fort on Citadel Hill and some of the background. Coach Morrison outlined the story of the great "Halifax Explosion" which took place in the Halifax Harbour in 1917. Some of the players wondered if Coach witnessed it first hand and were curious as to how he survived such as blast.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

X Beats Lakehead in Garland Tournament Final

The St. F.X. X Men topped the Thunderwolves 107-89 in the championship game of the UNB tournament this morning in Fredericton.
The X-Men, who have five 5th year seniors were led by two of them - Christian Upshaw and Dwayne Johnson. Upshaw penetrated into the paint seemingly at will and was a force in transition. He finished with 34 points on 10-24 shooting. Johnson was a beast on the boards earning many more than the 8 rebounds he was credited with and torched the 'Wolves for (potential career high?) 28 points. Lakehead was led by Venzal Russell with 22 points and 3 steals. Greg Carter had 15 and 4 steals while Yoosrie Salhia had 15 points 8 rebounds.
The real story of the game was the fouls and free throw shooting. St. F.X were granted an astounding 50 free throws connecting on 40. Lakehead shot 11-20 from the line.

"St FX outplayed us today in transition and in the half court where they continually beat us middle on penetration and earned extra chances on the O glass. X is a difficult match-up because they are experienced, talented and can present a bigger and/or faster lineup depending on the opponent and situation. "
- Coach Scott Morrison

Lakehead continues its east coast swing this week in Halifax. The team will travel to NS on Monday and set up mini-camp for 3 days. The pre-season portion of their schedule will conclude with games against Dalhousie (Thurs 7pm), Acadia (Fri 7pm), Saint Mary's (Sat 4pm).

"The goal for this road trip remains the same - to improve each night and get ourselves to a positon to be ready to compete when the OUA schedule begins in November. We showed some great flashes this weekend but need to focus on taking better care of the ball and putting forth a better effort to stick to the gameplan on the defensive end."
- Coach Scott Morrison

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lakehead Escapes with 98-86 Victory over Cape Breton

Strong outside shooting and some timely defensive rebounding helped the Thunderwolves hold onto an early lead and defeat the University of Cape Breton 98-86 in a shoot-out at the Aitken Centre in round two of the Eric Garland tournament.
The Thunderwolves were hot early and jumped out to a 32-18 1st quarter advantage. Cape Breton stepped up their denial defense and attacked the hoop well on the offensive end to get back into the game and trail by only 3 points to begin the 4th quarter. Lakehead's shooting remained consistent and were able to knock down some 4th quarter 3pt shots and produced their best defensive quarter of the game keeping CBU to 15 points.
Cam Hornby again led the Thunderwolves in scoring with 22 points off the bench on 5-10 3pt shooting. Ryan Thomson had 15 and 9 rebounds to earn Lakehead's player of the game honors. Yoosrie Salhia continues to get back into form after off-season knee surgery and had his best game of this campaign with 10 points and 9 boards against a tough Cape Breton front line.
Phil Nkruma led CBU with 22 points and 10 rebounds while Paris Carter added 20 and 6 but shot 4-18. Lakehead was able to hold Cape Breton's back court to 9-32 FG shooting which proved to be a factor down the stretch.
Lakehead will battle St. F.X in the final game of the tournament tomorrow at 11am.

"We were very excited to get a win against a top calibre program like Cape Breton. I was happy with the composure shown by our players during some of the Capers scoring runs and with how we recovered from our own mistakes by focusing on the next play rather than the last. We need another all-around team effort to give the X-Men a run tomorrow."
-Coach Morrison

Friday, October 8, 2010

'Wolves Beat Hometown Varsity Reds 80-62

The Lakehead Thunderwolves started off their east coast swing with a convincing 80-62 win over the host squad UNB Varsity Reds. Lakehead won the first three quarters before splitting the final frame to close-out an at-times sloppy contest.
The Thunderwolves bench carried the scoring load with Brendan King and Cam Hornby each notching 15 points off the bench on 8-13 combined shooting performance from 3pt land. Hornby was named "Player of the Game" and joined King as the only Thunderwolves in double figures.
Yoosrie Salhia chipped in with 9 points, 8 rebounds. Venzal Russell led the team with 10 rebounds and added 7 points including a 3pt shot to open the 2nd half when UNB went to a possession of 2-3 Zone defence.
Key team stats included Lakehead holding a 42-28 advantage on the boards (11-8 O boards) and shooting 16-39 from 3pt land to UNB's 2-9.
Tomorrow Lakehead tips-off against University of Cape Breton Capers in a rematch of last March's CIS consolation game in Ottawa. Cape Breton lost by 3 points in today's other men's match-up at the hands of St. F.X.

Eric Garland Tournament Opens Today

The Eric Garland Memorial Tournament opens tonight in Fredericton, NB. Lakehead opens up against the host UNB Varsity Reds at 8pm (Atlantic Time). Link for the webcast can be found at the top of this blog via the Varsity Reds website.

Here are links to the Fredericton (UNB) and Sydney (UCB) Eric Garland Tournament previews.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

'Wolves Depart for 10 Day East Coast Swing

The team will depart Thursday PM marking the start of one of the longest road trips in recent history. The Thunderwolves will arrive in the maritimes Thursday night and open up the competitive portion of the trip immedeately with a match-up against the University of New Brunswick at the Aitken Centre in Fredericton, N.B. Friday night October 8th. The game marks the first of 3 tough contests fin the tournament, as Saturday brings a CIS consolation rematch with powerful University of Cape Breton and Sunday St. Francis Xavier featuring the tallest front court in the CIS. It will mark the first time
Following the completion of the Eric Garland tournament at UNB, the Thunderwolves will travel to Halifax where they will set up home base for 6 days. The week will feature practices held at Dalhousie, study halls and some educational sight-seeing. Thursday Oct 14 the team returns to action with the home opening game at Dalhousie vs. the Tigers at 7pm. Friday the 15th Lakehead will battle Acadia and cap off the trip at Saint Mary's at 4pm on Saturday the 16th.
In all the team will play 6 games in 10 days against the best competition the AUS conference has to offer. 4 of those games are against teams who were in the top ten during the 2009-10 season and all opponents are expected to be strong this season. Please see the official Lakehead Preview at

Some Facts Pertaining to the Trip.
-Lakehead features 3 with Eastern Canadian ties -
Coach Morrison (Morell, PE), Ast. Coach White (Belfast, PE) and Guard Ben Johnson (Pictou, NS)
- Since 2003 Lakehead is 1-5 vs the scheduled opponents on the trip
- Coach Morrison will be taking part in the Basketball New Brunswick coaches clinic on Saturday the 9th. He will be speaking on penetration principles and motion offence.
- This 10 day trip marks the longest journey for Lakehead under Coach Morrison.
Previously the team was hotel bound for 8 days in February 2005 for the end of the OUA regular season and start of play-offs.
- The team's previous appearance to the maritimes was in December 2008 when they spent 8 days in PEI and NS going 4-1 on the trip including a loss at the hands of St. F.X.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thunderwolves Finish 2-0 Vs Cougars with 88-64 Win

The Thunderwolves used a 16-8 2nd quarter to regain the lead for good tonight in front of a capacity crowd, including a packed student's section. Regina led 21-20 after the first stanza on the strength of early 3pt shots by freshman Brendan Herbert and some erratic Lakehead ball control. In the second quarter LU point guard Greg Carter answered with a pair of his own three-balls and the team played it's best defense of the weekend holding Regina to 8 points.
In the second half, Lakehead's big men did a more respectable job on the glass, and the team was able to get some second chance points to build a 3rd quarter lead before a 28 point outburst in the 4th to put the game away.
The team again went 15 deep with Ryan Thomson being the only Wolf held off the score sheet but he led the team with 8 rebounds. Venzal Russell had what the coaching staff hopes will become a typical well-rounded game with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists in 22 minutes. Greg Carter added 13 and 4 steals and Cameron Hornby finished a solid weekend with 12 points, his second straight game in double figures.
Regina's Paul Gareau capped a strong weekend with 15 and 5 rebounds while Darius Mole had 9 on 4-8 shooting.
As a team Lakehead shot 11-31 from 3pt land and out rebounded Regina 49-35 (19-17 Offensive). Lakehead shot better from the line tonight (13-17) but committed 24 turnovers.
*Coach Morrison's note - 24 was at more like 30 with generous stat-keeping

"We are feeling encouraged by our weekend performance but realize we have a long way to go before we are at our best over an extended period of time in a game. We showed good flashes on D this weekend but need overall improvement in rebounding, ball control and many other aspects. Regina played tough and rebounded the ball well all-weekend, I was happy with our second half effort today to out-rebound them in crunch time." -Scott Morrison

Wolves Open Season with 110-89 WIn

The 2010-11 season tipped off on a strong note this evening in the Thunderdome with a 110-89 win over Regina. The coaching staff went 15 deep with 6 'wolves players reaching double figures.
A 15-2 start propelled by back to back threes by Venzal Russell and Jamie Searle helped the team get a small cushion off the tip.
Matthew Schmidt led the team with a career high 19 points off the bench in 16 minutes of play. Five other 'Wolves were in double figures including Joe Jones with 13, Russell, Searle and Cam Hornby with 11 and Ryan Thomson with 10.
Lakehead shot 18-27 from three point land but only 14-32 from the free throw line.
Paul Gareau and Matt Campbell led the Cougars with 22 and 18 respectively in a game that saw some unquestionable lapses in transition defence:

Coach Morrison Quote:
"We did some good things in transition in creating some steals and easy buckets off turnovers. At the same time Regina often made us pay for overplay in the backcourt which led to easy hoops on the other end. Tomorrow we have to try to use our ball pressure without gambling and taking chances. I thought Regina did a better job on the boards than we did and we were bailed out with some good outside shooting."

Tip off in game 2 of the series is Saturday night a 7pm with the Thunderwolves-Nor'Westors alumni game taking place at 530pm.