Men’s basketball Hurricanes look to outrun Cheetahs on Thursday
March 13, 2014
By Geordie Carragher, Sports Journalism at Centennial College, Toronto, Ontario. Journalism alumni at Holland College. @gecarragher on Twitter.
The men’s basketball Hurricanes are ready to begin their second straight CCAA championship appearance in Squamish, B.C.
The two-time ACAA champions will look to build off a silver-medal performance at the 2012-13 CCAA championships in Montreal.
Just like last season, Holland College is seeded fifth this week, and they open their tournament against the fourth-seeded Vanier Cheetahs, the RSEQ champions.
The Cheetahs got to Squamish by defeating the Dawson Blues to win their first RSEQ championship since 2011, when the Montreal-based squad also won the CCAA title.
Holland College comes in playing some of its best basketball of the season, becoming the first team in recent memory to win the ACAA championship without having a bye into the semifinal.
The Hurricanes are once again quarterbacked by Alvin Parker, a first-team all-star at the 2013 CCAA tournament. The Baltimore, Md., native seems to step up when it matters most, averaging 19.3 points per game in the ACAA Championship, including a 28-point performance against Crandall in the final to lead the way.
He’s also one of the country’s best ball distributors, averaging about seven assists per game this season.
However, a team can’t win without a strong supporting cast, and the Hurricanes certainly have the requisite depth, starting with Parker’s running mate, newly-minted CCAA All-Canadian Chase Bowden. A Second-Team Tournament All-Star in 2013, Bowden led the Hurricanes in scoring (19.6 PPG) and rebounds (10 RPG) this season.
Orlando Palmer (15.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG) and Jake Kendrick (14.5 PPG) are also solid scoring options, while former UKC Blue Devil and 2012 CCAA All-Canadian Eamon Morrissy (10.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.1 APG) has given the Hurricanes a spark since debuting in January.
On the boards, the Hurricanes boast six players (Bowden, Morrissy, Palmer, Parker, Aaron Evans, and Jacob Simmons) who have posted 10 or more rebounds in a game this season, highlighted by Bowden’s 21 against Mount Allison in January, which may serve them well against a Vanier team that was slightly outrebounded by its opponents this season.
Vanier typically starts the game slower, scoring more points with each passing quarter.
The Cheetahs will need to turn in a strong defensive effort early in the game to prevent the Hurricanes from breaking it open, as they’ve done so many times in the past two seasons.
Even though they’re the only team at the CCAA tournament to concede fewer than 70 points per game in the regular season, they play in a defensive-minded conference where their 69.2 points against per game was actually the second-worst in the RSEQ, ahead of only the 2-16 Nomades de Montmorency.
The cumulative points-per-game average of the eight teams in Squamish is 89.7, so Vanier will have to step up offensively, as they only scored 90 points or more in four games in their regular season.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have advantages in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free throw shooting percentage coming into the game.
Vanier’s biggest offensive weapon is undoubtedly third-year point guard Tevonn Walker, who is committed to Valparaiso University in the NCAA for next season. Like Bowden, Walker was also named a CCAA All-Canadian. He averaged 20.8 points per game in the regular season, leading the Cheetahs in scoring in 12 out of 18 games.
After Walker, six-foot-seven third-year forward Justin Kinnear is the next biggest offensive threat, averaging just over 11 points per game. After that, there are three more players averaging eight points per game or more, including guard Max Joseph who, like Walker, is headed to Valparaiso next season.
Down low, forwards Schneiders Suffrard and Abdul Kamané were the only two Cheetahs to eclipse 100 rebounds this season, while the six-foot-one Joseph was next with 94.
The winner of this game will face either the Langara Falcons or the Concordia University College Thunder on Friday, meaning there is a possibility of a rematch of last year’s semifinal between the Hurricanes and Falcons in Montreal. Holland College won that game 87-86 after a second half featuring 17 lead changes. If that matchup materializes, it’s sure to be a barn-burner.
For now, tune in at 5 p.m. Atlantic Time to see if the Hurricanes can outrun the Cheetahs and book a spot in the CCAA semifinals.
For media inquiries please contact:
Athletics Development and Communications Coordinator
Department of Athletics and Recreation