The New Year is here, which means the George Brown Huskies will host the 42nd Annual Men's Basketball Tournament. Eight teams are involved in the two-day tournament, with all the action taking place on Friday January 3rd and Saturday 4th at Casa Loma Campus.
Here's a look at the first round matchups.
George Brown vs St. Lawrence College 4pm
George Brown Huskies
The Huskies have not missed a beat under first-year head coach Jason Dawkins. They went into the break tied for first in the East division with a 9-1 record. The Huskies have displayed dominance on both ends of the floor during their nine-game winning streak.
George Brown is the most proficient offensive team in the OCAA shooting a league-best 48.5% from the field. The reason they are so difficult to guard is because of their balance attack and ball movement. Led by second-year forward Christian Tabiri, the team has six players averaging double-digits this season. The unselfish play is displayed with George Brown averaging 22.9 assist per game which ranks second in the province.
As the classic cliché goes, the best offence is a good defence and the Huskies do just that. They hold opponents to a league-best 69.9 points per game. Their aggressive defence is a big reason they are putting up another league-best 16.5 steals per contest.
The Huskies are eager to get back on track after dropping both games at the East-West Challenge at Seneca last week.
St. Lawrence College Vikings
The Vikings are the classic defensive team that frustrates opponents on a nightly basis. They head into the tournament tied for sixth in the East division with a 4-6 record.
St. Lawrence College holds opponents to just 75 points per game, which ranks fifth in the province. Their defence allows them to stay within striking distance, opening the door for the Vikings' deep shooting to play a factor. They lead the province in three-point percentage (37.9%) and threes made (11.3) as well as fourth in threes attempted (29.8). When these two aspects go hand-and-hand, it is a hard combo to stop.
First-year forward Ben Lusk checks all the boxes for a top player. He leads the team with 18.6 points and 9.3 rebounds, but what is more impressive is his efficiency. Lusk is shooting 50% from the field, 42% from three and 88.5% from the free throw line.
Durham vs Mohawk 2pm
Even with a 3-7 record, the Lords are still in the East division playoff mix. The key for them is matching their offensive play with their defence.
Durham's defence is effective, allowing the 10th fewest points per game (80.9) and holding opponents to the fifth lowest field goal percentage in the province (40.5%). What they need is a bit more fire power to make some noise in 2020, more specifically from deep. They rank in the bottom three in all three-point stats. If they can fix that issue, the Lords are a team to keep an eye on not just in this tournament but in the latter part of the season.
Romareo Stephenson is the Lord's top offensive player. The forward has taken a big step in his second season averaging a career-high 16.7 points and seven rebounds.
Mohawk got off to a slow start to the season dropping four of their first six games, but ended the calendar year on a three-game winning streak. The turnaround has allowed the Mountaineers to climb back into playoff contention. The team is 5-4, which is good enough for sixth in the West division.
The offence finding its stride is a key contributor to the turn around. The Mountaineers averaged only 81.6 points in their first six games compared to almost 98 during the three-game winning streak. The difficult part of defending Mohawk is the amount of weapons they contain. Their top three scorers in Cadjoe Masuka, Daniel Graham and Rommel Calura are all averaging over 16 points per game.
A deciding factor in most basketball games are turnovers. The good news for Mohawk is they are the only team in the OCAA that commit under 10 turnovers per game.
Georgian vs St. Clair 6pm
The Grizzlies are a feisty team that grinds games out. At the half way mark of the season, they are fourth in the East division with a 6-4 record.
The unit struggles to put up points consistently, but can be very dangerous from deep. They rank in the top 10 in three-point percentage as well as baskets made and attempted from that range. Georgian also moves the ball very well, averaging 16.6 assist per contest.
The Grizzlies offence runs through forward Tyler Vanessen. The fifth-year player leads the team in almost every offensive category. His well rounded numbers include 17.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
St. Clair Saints
The Saints come into the tournament with the second-best record at 9-2 and similar to the Huskies, they are tied for first in the West division. St. Clair is an offensive juggernaut that teams have difficulty containing. They record the second most points in the province averaging just over 92 per game. This comes down to the volume of shots the Saints take from the field and three-point range, sitting first and second respectively in the OCAA. The squad also dominates on the glass, ranking in the top four in offensive and total rebounds per game.
David Gomez is a player to keep an eye on for the Saints. The first-year guard's 20.8 points ranks sixth in Ontario, plus he holds the best free throw percentage sitting at 91.8%.
The defensive side of the ball has been a struggle for St. Clair this season. They are in the bottom half of the league in points allowed (85.4), opponent field goal percentage (42.1%) and opponent three-point percentage (36.7%).
Lambton vs La Cite 8pm
The Lions are one of those teams that are above average in most aspects. They hold the seventh spot in the West division with a 5-6 record. Do not let their record fool you, five of their six loses were decided by six or fewer points. They also hold a victory over the Sheridan Bruins, who are one of the best teams in the OCAA.
Lambton is led by forward Jason Watts, who is having a career year. The third-year player is averaging 17.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Watts has already recorded six double-doubles in just 11 games this season.
La Cite Coyotes
The Coyotes are hoping this tournament can help them get back on track. After starting the season with three straight wins, La Cite has dropped six of their last seven games. Despite the recent struggles, they are still in the playoff picture holding the sixth spot in the East division.
The biggest problem for the Coyotes is their inability to be consistent offensively. They average the third fewest shot attempts per game at 65, which ultimately translates to just 76.4 points a game. All La Cite needs to do is generate more shots, because the team has the ability to knock them down. They hold the fourth best three-point percentage and are just outside the top 10 in field goal percentage.
La Cite truly relies on the dynamic duo of Harouna Diop and Bigus Bangoura to generate offence. The pair account for over 53% of the team's overall points.