This past weekend at the annual Redbird Classic, the reigning CIS Rookie-of-the-Year, Miriam Sylla, showed why she has the talent to lead the McGill Martlets to another RSEQ title and a deep post-season run at the CIS National Championships. She led the team in scoring and rebounding over the weekend while the Martlets swept their opponents. Sylla had ample support throughout the tournament as other standouts included junior forward Gabriela Hebert and junior point-guard Diana Ros.
Each year three teams congregate in Montreal over one weekend for a round robin slate of exhibition games held in Love Competition Hall. This year’s lineup included the Memorial Sea-Hawks, Western Mustangs, and Toronto Varsity Blues. Last year’s tournament’s winless showing was disappointing for the squad. However, this year’s team was keen on using the weekend as a launch pad for a successful season.
The Martlets emerged victorious over the Sea-Hawks in the first game with a score of 62-43 on the backs of a stingy defence and balanced scoring. Jennifer Silver, a rookie forward, proved to be an offensive sparkplug off the bench as she made the most of her 13 minutes of playing time by scoring 13 points. Ros, fresh off of her appearance with Team Canada at the Summer Universiade, orchestrated the offence to the tune of six assists, which offset her poor shooting night. McGill’s defence forced 25 turnovers with 12 steals and two blocks. Memorial was consistently forced into bad shots en route to shooting below 30 per cent from the field and a ghastly 35.7 per cent from the free throw line.
The squad’s second game, a tilt against the Western Mustangs, was a tougher challenge, as McGill needed to rally back from an early 11 point deficit to emerge victorious 68-66. The game was tied up in the final minute before rookie guard Carolann Cloutier showed her clutch gene, calmly hitting a jumpshot to give the Martlets the victory. Cloutier was second on the team with 13 points, behind Sylla’s 14. Hebert stuffed the box score with a team leading six assists and eight rebounds while also chipping in with eight points. McGill shot a blistering 51.6 per cent from the field in the second half while holding Western to 33.3 per cent during the same time frame. The Mustangs remained in the game primarily by capitalizing off of McGill’s 26 turnovers and going 13-15 from the charity stripe. However, Western’s inability to score from the field and stop McGill from doing so in the second half ultimately led to their demise.
In the final game, McGill faced off against Toronto in a tight contest that ended with the hosts winning 71-64 behind the efforts of Sylla, Ros and Hebert. McGill had the lead for most of the game, but was never able to stretch the lead to more than 10 points. Ros entered the game shooting 3-19, but was soon able to find her rhythm as she led the Martlets with 16 points. Ros once again showed skill ful control at the reins of the offence by registering seven assists. She also registered six rebounds, the highest figure on the team. Hebert also had 16 points while Silver notched 10 points, making the most of her second straight opportunity to start. McGill once again showed an inability to take care of the ball, as their 27 turnovers point to a weakness that the team must address.
The team now travels to North Andover, Massachusets to play Merrimack College in the NCAA in what should be a difficult test. The team then starts their RSEQ season on Nov. 8 against Laval. If their exhibition record is to prove indicative of their regular season, the Martlets have an excellent opportunity to make their third straight trip to the National Championships.
– Mayaz Alam
The McGill Redmen basketball team hosted its annual Redbird classic tournament at Love Competition Hall this weekend. The fans that came to watch were not disappointed, as the tournament boasted a wealth of talent from the four competing teams. The University of Alberta Bears, Guelph Gryphons, Queens Gaels, and McGill Redmen faced off over three days of round robin action. This year’s tournament comes at a time that is critical for establishing pre-season rankings and fine-tuning skills before the regular season.
McGill, 5-3 in the pre-season, found itself up against an extremely inexperience Guelph team that consisted of nine freshmen. The game looked evenly matched at the outset with the first quarter ending in a slim six-point lead for McGill. However, as the first half advanced, the Redmen exposed Guelph’s inexperience and demonstrated the skill that propelled them to a fifth place finish in last year’s national championships. As the gap on the scoreboard widened, the animosity between the two teams became apparent. Both teams were given technical fouls as the fourth quarter consisted of altercations and shoving matches down low. Fourth-year guard, Simon Bibeau, led McGill with a game high 14 points and third-year forward, Vincent Dufort, added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Redmen Head Coach David DeAverio was pleased overall with the team’s effort.
“I’m happy with the way we competed,” DeAverio said. “It’s so early and there are so many things we need to clean up on the defensive end, but the effort was very good.”
Day two of the tournament saw McGill take on the University of Alberta Bears, the consensus trophy favourite going into the weekend. The matchup got off to a fast-paced start as both teams’ raw athleticism was evident. Everything seemed to click for McGill, as the first quarter ended with a 22-20 lead off of inspired efforts by rookies Francois Bourque and Michael Peterkin. The Alberta coaching staff tightened the screws in the second quarter as the Bears began to fire on all cylinders. Alberta outscored McGill 27-8 in the second quarter, a deficit that proved to be insurmountable for the hosts. Jordan Baker and Joel Friesen led the way for the Bears with 19 and 18 points respectively. The Bears were able to maintain their standing as the team to beat in the tournament, besting McGill by a score of 72-63.
Third year guard Ave Bross commented on McGill’s hopes to make up for their poor showing at CIS Nationals last year.
“[Alberta] is a very strong team and our second quarter simply was not good enough to beat one of the top teams in the country,” said Bross. “We played much tighter in the second half but it was too little too late.”
In the final game of the weekend the Redmen were unable to finish off a determined Queen’s Gaels squad in overtime, and ended up falling 86-78 to an opponent that they had beaten by double digits as recently as last weekend. McGill dug itself into a hole to start the game, trailing nine points at the end of the first quarter. They were able to stay in the game behind the efforts of Bibeau and fellow guard Thomas Lacy who exploded for 19 points. The points were not coming easy for McGill as they shot an anemic 30.6 per cent from the field and 15.8 per cent from three-point range. Bibeau found the basket by getting to the foul line, making 8 of 11 free throws. Despite the disappointing finish for the reigning RSEQ champions, the tournament afforded the coaching staff a good opportunity to test out different lineup combinations and to identify players who will be able to handle a larger role in the upcoming season.
– Joshua Zigler