OTTAWA,ON–It was a sloppy start for the Lakehead Thunderwolve.
Last years CIS Championship finalists are in rebuilding mode under a new Head Coach in Matt Erdman and a fresh crop of freshman. The T-Wolves made up for a poor -first half in the third and fourth quarter where they were converting from high pressure defensive attacks and kept turnovers low.
Bishop’s Gaiter Mike Andrews was an issue in the first half but was neutralized as Lakehead fought for a tough win 78-70. The Gaiters have a dynamic duo with their bigs 6’10 Mike Andrews and 6’11 Majid Naji from Lunel, France. The RSEQ’s potential top team looked to use the size advantage early on to build their lead. When Coach Rod Gilpin had Andrews and Naji on the floor together this created mismatches and allowed for high percentage shots.
Many things happened in the second half which shifted momentum in the game and revived Lakehead. For one, a key substitution was made by Coach Erdman, adding Joseph Nitychoruk to the line up, which disrupted Andrews from getting a clean entry pass or positioning deep in the lane.
While Nitychoruk was making it tough for Andrews to establish position, at the same time Bishop’s guards also weren’t looking for the big man as much. Turnovers were a major issue at the end of the first half for Lakehead, who went into the locker room with 16 of them, while Bishop’s only had eight.
The tables turned for the rest of the game with Dwayne Harvey setting the tone defensively and was followed by Henry Tan transition buckets. Tan and the T-Wolves forced 13 second half turnovers for Bishop’s.
“We get stops and we’re tough to defend in the open court, we’re real fast. Henry, Dwayne, Jamar, Nolan, all of our guards are really fast. When Henry and Dwayne get out on the break and guys are back peddling on defense that’s to our advantage,” commented Coach Erdman on his team’s defensive efforts.
“These guys are starting to realize how you got to compete everyday; if you don’t compete for four quarters, for 40 minutes, then we’re just not going to beat good teams.”
One thing that I noticed from the Thunderwolves young squad is the level of respect that they had for young head coach Matt Erdman. The eye contact and overall body language was a good indication that they have accepted him as their new leader and believe in his instruction and game plan.
“We have a common ground of what’s going on, Scott (Morrison) did an unbelievable job of transitioning us into the position that we’re in. I’ve always had a lot of say in practice, so a lot of things haven’t really changed that much.”
Moving forward, Bishop’s towers will be key pieces in getting wins in the RSEQ. Their senior guard Onnex Blackwood was very productive for them in the second half but the Gaiter’s will need consistent production for them to hold a top spot in their conference.
As for Lakehead, their first regular season test will be against a fairly young Queens Gaels who were meshing together well at the later part of last season.
NPH Top Performers
- Dwayne Harvey – 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals
- Anthony McIntosh – 14 points, 6 rebounds
- Igor Lebov – 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
- Henry Tan – 10 points, 3 assists
- Onnex Blackwood – 18 points, 9 rebounds
- Jona Bermillo – 16 points, 3 rebounds, 4 steals
- Mike Andrews- 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blks
- Majid Naji – 10 points, 5 rebounds