From the desk and mind of Lakehead SID Hugh "Thesaurus" Mullally (RIP Biggie Smalls)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thunderwolves to Battle Trinity Western Spartans in First Round at Final 8 March 9, 2011 THUNDER BAY, ON
After winning their first Wilson Cup in history in Hamilton last week versus #1 nationally ranked Carleton, the Lakehead men's basketball team is poised to take to the floor at the CIS Final 8 tournament in Halifax, colloquially known as 'The Big Dance' in Canadian university basketball talk. First on their dance card are the Trinity Western Spartans, from Langley, B.C., who finished 3rd in the Canada West division, and were awarded the Wild Card selection to the Final 8.
This will be Lakehead's second consecutive trip to the CIS Final 8, although this time it will be hosted by the Halifax Metro Center after having been held in Ottawa the past three years. Last year's campaign did not go as planned for LU, as they lost both their games, vs. UBC (first round) and Cape Breton (consolation). It certainly promises to be an emotional home coming of sorts, for both the tournament as a whole, and for LU head coach Scott Morrison, who last stepped onto the floor at the Metro Center as a player for UPEI during the Atlantic University Sports basketball playoffs in the late 90's.
For the Spartans, this is their first trip to the Final 8 tournament, and have only been in the CIS league for 11 years since joining in the 1999-2000 season. But they have impressed many throughout the year, and have sat in the #3 or #4 spot in national rankings for most of the 2010-11 season.
The Spartans finished with an overall 25-5 record against Canadian competition during the 2010-11 campaign, but have limited game experience against any Canadian teams east of the Manitoba border (90-76 win against Laurentian in October of 2010). They are led in scoring by Jacob Doerkson (Abbotsford B.C.) with 21.6 PPG (in 30 minutes per game) and led in rebounding by Tyrell Mara (White Rock, B.C.), with 8.9 per game. Trystan Smith (Los Angeles, CA) runs the point and has averaged 4.4 assists per game.
As is the case with many Canada West teams, the Spartan's key to victory is to out-shoot an opponent flat-out, and not so much on getting defensive stops. They have scored 100+ points in 8 games this season, and 90+ points in 9 other games. Their season scoring average is 92.4 PPG, while their opposition has averaged 75.4 PPG. This is contrasted with the Lakehead Thunderwolves, who have predicated their path to success on grinding defense and keeping their opponent's score under the 70 point mark (Overall opponents average: 70.47), as they have averaged 78.3 PPG during their 25-11 season overall (exhibition, season and playoffs). The Thunderwolves have proven that they are capable of getting defensive stops against high-octane offenses, as they held the Carleton Ravens to 62 points in the Wilson Cup final (and 75 points in their regular season match up), a team that has averaged 91.6 PPG in their regular season.
Coach Morrison's Message:
"It is a tough turnaround this week but we have departed to Halifax with a more focused approach than we did Ottawa last year. We have a tough match-up in Trintity Western that seem to out-size us by 3-4 inches and 25 pounds at each position. We will have to play the ultimate team game to advance Friday afternoon and we are confident we have the personnel needed to accomplish this next goal."