Mammals best avian opponents

By Cam Cotton-O’Brien

Draining treys isn’t just a cool sports phrase-the University of Saskatchewan Huskies proved this in Saturday night’s semi-final victory over the favourite Carleton University Ravens.

It was largely on the strength of their perimeter game and their ability to shut down their opponents that the Huskies took the exciting victory from the tournament hosts. The first three Huskies’ baskets were all three-pointers, eventually totalling 12 successfully dropped treys for the game. This at the same time their avian opponents only managed to sink the rock from beyond the arc twice through the full 40 minutes. And that was a big part of the game plan.

After the win, Huskies head coach Greg Jockims explained how they learned from their previous loss to the Ravens earlier in the season to effectively neutralize their strength.

“I thought [the perimeter game] was important in two aspects,” said Jockims. “Our defence was able to extend them on their offence, really get them to play farther away from the basket, make them a little bit more uncomfortable. We really tried to focus on taking away their three point shot tonight. We made the decision to single-cover [Kevin] McCleery tonight, and they went to him a number of times and he scored a little bit, but we said we’re not going to get beat by threes, they can score twos and ones all day, but we’re not going to get beat by the three ball tonight.”

This was a hard lesson learned, coming from an October match-up that saw the Ravens drain 13 treys against the Huskies.

“Like coach said, the first time we came here and played them, we were doubling their big guy…and it really freed up their guards for a lot of shots,” said fifth-year guard Michael Linklater. “We made the adjustment not to double and stick with the shooters, and they had some forced shots, some contested shots, and it really worked in our favour.”

Jockims noted that the Huskies’ having two significant point scorers on the night in Linklater and fellow guard Showron Glover was an advantage on the night.

“If you have one guy scoring, any team can shut him down,” said Jockims.

Despite the Ravens being heavy favourites heading into the tournament, Jockims did not feel the Huskies’ win was very strange.

“I don’t know if we’re overachieving,” said Jockims. “We’re one of the best teams in the country, and you know, winning on the road essentially…that’s probably an upset. But there was no aberration here. We’ve played these guys a bunch of times and it’s about fifty-fifty.”

The importance of the decision to guard against the trey was also noted by Ravens head coach Dave Smart.

“We physically didn’t get to a lot of loose balls, there were a lot of opportunities that they got and that’s a credit to them,” said Smart. “Two for 17 from the three…that’s a credit to the way they defend. They were able to cover [McCleery] without a hard double-down, they dug down a little bit, but basically played him one on one, and that made it tough for us to get the normal easy looks for the three that we’re used to.”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

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