University of Toronto Varsity Blues
2002-2003 Record: 6-16 (7th OUA East)
2003-2004 Projected Record: 4-18 (8th OUA East)
Last year was extremely disappointing for the Varsity Blues. They entered the 2002 season with lofty expectations, returning all five starters to a squad that made the OUA playoffs the year before. The wheels fell somewhere near the beginning, however, and they never got back on track. 2003-2004 is going to be another tough year on the hard wood for the Blues, who named a new head coach in former assistant Sherwyn Benn. Benn, labelled an interim coach, was named to the position less than a month ago. A coaching change so close to the start of the season does not bode well for any team’s outlook, and this case is no different. The Blues have also lost their entire starting five from last year. Key players Paul Zyla and Matt Sturgeon are gone, and now the Blues will rely on backcourt duo Dayo Baiyewu and Kenny Hilborn. Inside, the team will need rebounding from paint player Michael Williams. With so many question marks heading into the season, and the head coach being put into place so late, the Blues will sit out the OUA playoffs once again.
The best of the rest
IN THE EAST & WEST
University of Guelph Gryphons
2002-2003 Record: 15-7 (2nd OUA West) 2003-2004 Projected Record: 13-9 (2nd OUA West)
The CIS silver medallists and OUA West champions will be looking to repeat their outstanding season of a year ago. Returning starters Kyle Julius, Radhi Knapp, and J.S. Esposito will be the keys to the team. The youth movement of J.M. Irving, Matt Rosar and Taylor Brown will be counted on to provide significant minutes off the bench. Guelph will show a falloff from last season, but they will once again be a tough opponent to play.
University of McMaster Marauders
2002-2003 Record: 18-4 (1st OUA West)2003-2004 Projected Record: 20-2 (1st OUA West and CIS Champions)
Last season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Marauders, but McMaster surprised everyone by winning the OUA West division. The team is young and loaded which is a credit to long time coach Joe Raso. This year, Mac will be led by the big three: Jon Behie, Rob Scully and Adam Guiney. Carleton will pose a challenge, but the Marauders will not only be the class of the OUA in 2003-2004, they’ll go on to be CIS champions.
York University Lions
2002-2003 Record: 17-5 (2nd OUA East) 2003-2004 Projected Record: 18-4 (2nd OUA East)
2002 was a breakout year for York, as they were in the upper echelon of teams in the OUA. This season the Lions will look to repeat their successes. They have all the pieces in place to make a run at both Carleton and McMaster. The Lions will be led by Ryan French and Branislav Misovic. They have also recruited well and have added three talented big men in Matt Parfitt, Mark Prskalo and Darko Trifunovic. York will improve from last season, but they do not have enough to win the OUA East.
Carlton University Ravons
2002-2003 Record: 21-1 (1st OUA East, CIS Champions)2003-2004 Projected Record: 20-2 (1st OUA East)
It is difficult to repeat the season that the Carleton Ravens had last year as they stomped all over the OUA and then proceeded to win the CIS championship. This year, the team is once again deep and packed with veteran players, and the Ravens will count on fifth year forwards Paul Larmand and Josh Poirier. This dynamic duo was unstoppable last season. The Ravens will earn another trip to the CIS finals, but 2004 will have a silver lining for the defending champs.
U of T Varsity Blues
2002-2003 Record: 10-10 (5th OUA East) 2003-2004 Projected Record: 13-7 (2nd OUA East)
2002 was not a banner year for the Varsity Blues, as they often struggled with their consistency. The goal for the squad this season is simple: to reach the OUA playoffs. The team can do it, as they will be a year older and much wiser. This year’s Blues will be led by guard Vanessa Nobrega-who did everything for the team last season-and she will definitely log heavy minutes. Nobrega cannot do it by herself, though, and she will be aided by forwards Jennifer Coens and Stephanie Kolanos. In the off-season U of T once again recruited well and they have added talented paint players in Christine Cho and Angela Hummel. Their development will be key to the team’s success. The Blues will compete for a playoff spot in 2003-2004, and will make for a tough team to play.
The best of the rest
IN THE EAST & WEST
Queen’s Golden Gaels
2002-2003 Record: 12-8 (Tied 2nd OUA East)2003-2004 Projected Record: 15-5 (2nd OUA West)
There is a lot of excitement up in Kingston as the Golden Gaels, led by Erin McDiarmid and Amy Goodday, return eight players from last year’s squad. The health of guard Casey Pratt who is recovering from knee surgery will determine how good this team will be. Queen’s also added some talented recruits in Katherine Middleton and Agnes Herra. The Gaels will once again compete for an OUA title in 2003-2004.
Laurentian University Voyageurs
2002-2003 Record: 20-0 (1st OUA East)
2003-2004 Projected Record: 19-1 (1st OUA East and CIS Champions)
Last season Laurentian went undefeated in regular season play, but they where upset in the OUA playoffs, and are now looking for revenge. The team is led by OUA all-star and All-Canadian candidate Tierney Hoo. She is flanked by Cara Dodsley and talented point guard Erica Johnson. The Lady Vees are also extremely fast and play tough defence. All the elements are in place for a return to the national championship.
Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks
2002-2003 Record: 14-7 (Tied 2nd OUA West)
2003-2004 Projected Record: 17-4 (1st OUA West)
Last season the Golden Hawks quietly put together a good group of players, and in 2003-2004 they should break out from the rest of the OUA West pack. The team is deep and plays extremely tight team defence. The Hawks will rely heavily on second year stars Meaghan McGrath and Rebecca Williams, two of the best guards in the OUA. If other players step up this will be the team to beat in the OUA West.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams begin conference play on Friday, Nov. 7 at McMaster. Their first home games are Friday, Nov. 14 versus Laurier. Women at 6 p.m., men at 8 p.m.