Day 1 At Dawson Classic – CIS and NCAA Prospects Show Up
Montreal, QC–Preseason gives a good indication of individual talent levels and allows us to gauge the conditioning of prospects across the board, but it says little about where a team will be by mid-season. New teammates have been added to the roster, players are learning plays and chemistry is being built. It was a 12 hour day at Dawson College where the home team hosted Sainte-Foy, John Abbott, Champlain, Algonquin, Sheridan, Humber and Mount Saint Vincent (MSVU) in the Dawson Classic.
The two games of the day featured the hosts in both, and arguably the strongest backcourt in Quebec; which includes Jordan Aquino-Serjue, Cedric Sanago and Brandon Robinson. Dawson first took on MSVU in their first game where they sealed the deal in the last minute and then played a gritty Sheridan squad that had earlier stole one from Champlain 62-59.
Questions surrounding Aquino-Serjue as an NCAA D1 prospect have cleared up, it’s a certainty that he can play at that level, but now it’s about finding the right fit. His ability to make plays for teammates and break down his defenders were on display all day. This crafty guard also strapped up on his defensive assignments and forced many turnovers. What we really enjoyed about Dawson’s starting point guard is that he played both ends of the floor at the highest intensity and without taking plays off. This was refreshing since there were many others in day 1 games that showed poor stamina.
Sanago was also a pest on defense and finished game 1 against MSVU with five steals. At no point in the game did he give the unit from the East Coast a chance to think with the ball in their hands. His on ball defense led to points in transition either for himself or a teammate.
The 6’5 shooting guard Robinson let off rounds from deep and connected often. Despite lacking muscle mass for his wiry frame, he played tough and battled for position, but this will ultimately be the area to work on as the 2014 season begins. Playing with Sanago and Aquino-Serjue over the years, the trio has built familiarity with one another and fluid ball movement and unselfishness is a result of that.
Sheridan came out with two wins on day one, their later one being at the end of the night against Dawson where they were able to neutralize the Dawson Blues offense.
The two GTA teams Sheridan and Humber are the deepest teams in the tournament, both capable of going on 10-15 point runs while stifling their opponents.
Sheridan’s vets Trevor Williams and Roshean Keen lead the offense and Michael Selkridge offers a ton of intensity that rubs off on his teammates and keeps their overall energy levels very high. Guys are coming off of the bench and feeling like they can produce. In the game against Champlain, Keen finished with 15 points and 7 boards and three others from his squad still score in double digits.
Coach Jim Flack comments on the depth of the team and concept surrounding distribution of playing time.
“The Sheridan program doesn’t survive off of Batman, we survive through a bunch of Robins; who aren’t necessarily heavily recruited coming out of high school. When they get in, they learn that the culture is a defense first mentality. All you really need to be is a good athelte, then if you learn the techniques and team defense that we teach you get minutes.
A rebuilding stage for teams is often a good chance to test out freshmen and see what they can do in pre-season. Humber is currently in a rebuild and their new point guard RJ Ramirez is filling in nicely. Ramirez’s overall speed in the open court as well as lateral speed on defense has gone up and he is taking more pride in his defensive efforts.
Arguably Quebec’s best PG, Alex Paquin is in a similar rebuilding stage at Champlain, however he will be looked on to be a big time producer throughout the season. His ability to create good scoring chances for his teammates was a pleasure to watch. On many possessions Paquin drew a double team and either dropped it in to his big man, 6’9 Sebastian Denault or kicked it out to one of his shooters.
While most of the guards in this tournament are pursuing post-secondary scholarships at the NCAA level, one PG currently in his final year at Algonquin is looking at professional opportunities. Njuguna Waiganjo is the engine for Algonquin; a high motor, multi-category contributor that plays at a high level on both ends of the floor.
In both of Algonquin’s games Waiganjo was effective at getting into kill boxes and making the defense collapse on him, where he would then look for his spot up guys on the perimeter, cutters on his wing or finish in traffic.
The stone cold look on his face shows he means business. He finished with 18 points in his two games and kept turnovers to a minimum. For a league like the NBL Canada who is making steps towards growing nationally, he is home product that will thrive and be a positive for whatever team he suits up for.
Day 2 is underway, be sure to follow Elias_NPH for updates!