The Majority go Down in Flames, Few Remain
Follow Jovan Brkic on Twitter @JBrkic
With the NCAA Tournament in full swing, Canadian fans had a lot to cheer for, as several teams boasted Canadian talent, and looked to take their chances at winning a national championship. The madness started with 20 Canadian representatives, but after a whirlwind weekend, the only ones left standing are Junior Cadougan of Toronto, and Francis-Cedric Martel of Montreal, Quebec. Let’s take a look at what happened this past weekend.
TULSA , OKLA – The Texas Longhorns endured a bitter letdown in their game against the Arizona Wildcats on Sunday. The squad, boasting Canadian stars Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, had competed in one of the tournament’s most entertaining games against the high-octane Wildcats. After trailing for practically the entire game, the Longhorns found themselves up by two with 14.5 seconds left in the game. A controversial five-second inbound call against Joseph changed the momentum of the game, and Arizona executed a three point play with nine seconds left to seal the deal. Arizona won 70-69.
Despite the controversy, both Canadians demonstrated maturity and class. “Congrats to Arizona for advancing to the sweet 16. Good luck to my bro Momo Jones,” said Thompson via Twitter, referring to Lamont Jones of Arizona.
“Great season Longhorn nation. Too bad we weren’t able to take yall to the sweet 16. Time to get back in the gym and get ready for next season.”
Thompson and Joseph both struggled, with Thompson contributing 3 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks, while being double-teamed for a majority of the match. Joseph collected 6 points and 4 assists. It should be noted that both played tough defence every minute of the game.
The Longhorns started the tournament off with a win against Oakland on Thursday, 85-81. Thompson was phenomenal, putting up 17 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocks. Joseph anchored the Longhorns’ backcourt with his steady play, by contributing 11 points and 3 assists. Unfortunately for this young Texas team, their run at a championship was stopped short, thanks in part to a call that will be hotly debated for the rest of the tournament.
With 14.5 second left in the game, Joseph looked to inbound the ball from under his basket following a timeout. When he couldn’t find an open man, Joseph yelled for a timeout. Shockingly, his request was ignored, and the referee blew his whistle for a 5 second violation immediately afterward. Replays showed that Joseph had actually called for a timeout at least one second before the referee made his call. Regardless, Arizona got the ball back. The rest, as they say, is history.
“That’s a tough one…But life goes on and I’ve gotta turn the page and open up a new chapter,” Joseph stated via Twitter.
Denver, CO – Following an impressive opening round victory, the #11-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs looked to parlay their success by upsetting #3 seed BYU in the NCAA Tournament’s second round on Saturday night. The upset wasn’t in the cards, however. After trouncing #6 seed St. John’s 86-71 on Thursday, the Bulldogs looked like they had some momentum in their favour. With Canadians Robert Sacre, (Vancouver, BC) Kelly Olynyk, (Kamloops, BC) and Manny Arop (Edmonton, AB) on the squad, the Bulldogs represented a large Canadian contingent in the tournament. Sacre pitched in with 9 points and 9 rebounds in the win, with Olynyk chipping in 6 points as well.
(Rob Sacre, Gonzaga Bulldogs)
BYU proved to be too much to handle in the end. Gonzaga was blown out 89-67, despite Sacre’s impressive performance. He recorded 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks in the losing effort. In the end, the BYU Cougars stole the show, led by superstar point guard Jimmer Fredette’s 34 points.
Sacre stood out in both games. Averaging 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks for the tournament, his hustle and hard work in the post helped ignite his team in pulling off the first round upset. At 7 feet and 260 pounds, the Bulldogs needed every bit of his ability, and they couldn’t have been disappointed by what they got.
PHOTO COURTESY: FIBA
CLEVLAND, OH – On Sunday night, Syracuse and Marquette went head-to-head in a physical grudge match. With Montreal native Kris Joseph on Syracuse, and Toronto’s own Junior Cadougan on Marquette, Canadians had reasons to cheer for both teams.
After taking a 34-31 lead into the half, #11-ranked Marquette fell behind by five points late in the second half, only to come roaring back and steal a win from #3-ranked Syracuse. Cadougan played 25 minutes for Marquette, and contributed 9 points and 3 assists. Joseph had 12 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort for Syracuse. This was following a solid performance Friday night where he had 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists for Syracuse.
Meanwhile, buried behind all the headlines and hype of the weekend were the upstart Richmond Spiders, who strolled into the Sweet 16 after upsetting Vanderbilt, 69-66 in their first game, and then following that up with a 65-48 trouncing of Morehead State. Montreal native Francis-Cedric Martel has provided a helping hand to Richmond by averaging 8 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in his team’s two tournament games. A 6’6 junior, Martel is a solid piece of the puzzle for this talented team.
The Marquette Golden Eagles and Richmond Spiders now carry the last-remaining Canucks in the NCAA tournament. Junior Cadougan and Marquette will have their hands full against the North Carolina Tar Heels on Friday night, as many have pegged the Tar Heels as possible champions. With a good outing and a little luck, however, Marquette could find itself on its way to the Elite 8. Richmond, meanwhile, is a long shot to beat Kansas, but don’t let that get your hopes down. Kansas was a #1 seed last year as well, but was still upset by #9-ranked Northern Iowa.
PHOTO COURTESY: GETTY IMAGES
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