Courtside Seats: Kadre Gray makes a statement to open the season

Courtside Seats: Kadre Gray makes a statement to open the season

Contributed by: Tyler Bennett / College Court Report Canada (@CCR_Canada)

 

The 2018-19 season is in full swing.

As the action in week two ended on Saturday night, fans started to get a better idea as to what their teams were made of this season.

Atop the divisional standings, one will find the usual suspects like the Carleton Ravens and the Ryerson Rams. In the West Division, a retooled McMaster Marauders team is the lone program without a blemish on their record and are coming off a big road win over the Brock Badgers, a team that took part in last year’s national festivities.

Three teams are still without a win in the early part of the season. The Nipissing Lakers are the lone team from the East Division yet to claim a victory, while the Guelph Gryphons and Waterloo Warriors find themselves with 0-4 records in the West. There’s still plenty of time to turn things around before the Christmas break, and each team will be looking to build some positive momentum to get themselves back into the playoff picture.

Here’s what you may have missed over the last week across the OUA.

Kadre Gray has arrived

The Laurentian Voyageurs got their 2018-19 season underway this week after having the first week off in terms of conference play. After starting last season with a 16-2 record, only to drop the last five games of the regular season to derail what was a promising season, the Voyageurs came into the new season looking to make up for lost time.

Leave it to the reigning OUA Player of the Year and U SPORTS Male Student-Athlete of the Year to make the biggest statement of them all for Laurentian.

Third-year guard Kadre Gray (Toronto, ON) is coming off a stellar season in 2017-18, one that saw him average over 24 points per game to earn himself the province’s and country’s top honours at year’s end. Through two games this season, Gray showed no signs of slowing down, and he seems to have taken his game to another level this year.

Laurentian opened their season with a pair of games at home. Up first was a contest against Nipissing, and Gray came out of the gates on a mission. The Voyageurs came away with the 98-76 victory, with Gray posting a triple-double to lead the way for the home side. He went for 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists to complete the triple-double, and he added in three steals for good measure.

Following the win over the Lakers, the Voyageurs welcomed the Lakehead Thunderwolves to town to close out the weekend. As a team, Laurentian topped the 100-point mark, rolling to the 101-81 victory for their second victory of 20+ points on the weekend. Gray didn’t post a triple-double this time out, but he went for a career-high 48 points in the win. He added nine rebounds and five assists for another strong performance on both ends of the court.

Through two wins, Gray is averaging a casual 40.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game. While it’s a small sample size, Gray seems to be playing at a higher level than in his first two years in the OUA with the Voyageurs. It will be a tall order, but if he can sustain this level of play throughout the year, the Voyageurs will be a serious threat to advance to the National Championship tournament.

Laurier makes a statement in Ottawa despite weekend split

After going 1-1 on the weekend in the nation’s capital, the Laurier Golden Hawks made a big statement and showed that they can contend with the OUA’s best teams on any given night.

The Golden Hawks were in Ottawa on Friday and Saturday for back-to-back games against the high-powered Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees. That particular pair of games is never an easy task, especially on the road, but Laurier made the most of their opportunity and had the basketball community talking about the Golden Hawks when all was said and done.

Laurier opened the weekend with a contest inside the Raven’s Nest, arguably the toughest venue to play in as a visiting team across the OUA. The Golden Hawks, however, didn’t look flustered one bit.

Laurier hung with Carleton throughout the first half, keeping the deficit to single-digits as the second half got going. In the third quarter, the Golden Hawks outscored the Ravens by a 29-16 margin to take a 63-57 lead into the final frame. The teams went back and forth down to the final buzzer, but Laurier’s upset bid fell just short as Carleton escaped with an 80-77 win.

Second-year guard Ali Sow (Ottawa, ON) went for 15 points and two rebounds, while Ntore Habimana (Mississauga, ON) led all scorers with 18 points on the night.

After a close contest against the Ravens, the Golden Hawks had to hit the reset button and get ready for another tough challenge to close the weekend against the University of Ottawa. Instead of rolling over and conceding a loss after the emotional ride the night prior, Laurier came ready to play and found themselves in a similar position.

After falling behind by two points after the first quarter, a big second frame saw the Golden Hawks take a six-point lead into the break. Like the night before, Laurier would take a lead into the fourth quarter. Only this time, the ending was different, as the Golden Hawks maintained their lead and earned the 79-71 victory over the Gee-Gees to earn a split over the weekend.

In his hometown of Ottawa, Sow led the way for the Golden Hawks once again, posting 30 points in the win. Kemel Archer (Brampton, ON) recorded a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds off the bench.

After the weekend, the Golden Hawks are sitting at 2-2 on the year, but their performances over the weekend should give the program a heightened level of confidence as they continue their quest for a postseason spot come February.

Tanor Ngom is beginning to heat up for Ryerson

After a strong freshman season in 2017-18, forward Tanor Ngom (Dakar, Senegal) seemed to be in prime position for a breakout year in 2018-19.

In the off-season, Ngom became the first player from a U SPORTS program to earn an invite to the Nike Basketball Academy. Twenty of the top collegiate basketball players earn an invite to the prestigious showcase event, and Ngom put his talents on display for various NBA head coaches, scouts, and league personnel alike.

Last season, Ngom and the Rams earned a silver medal at the National Championships; this year, they have their sights set on returning to the championship game, but with a gold medal finish this time around.

In the season opener against the Toronto Varsity Blues, the 7’2’’ Ngom had a rather quiet night in the Rams’ blowout win. Ngom went for 10 points, five rebounds, and five blocks in the Rams’ 103-51 win over Toronto. He was productive from the floor, finishing the night a perfect 3-of-3 from the field.

That was a sign of things to come, as Ngom flexed his muscle on both ends of the court this week to help guide Ryerson to a pair of big wins.

Ryerson was at home for a pair of games this week, hosting both the Guelph Gryphons and the Algoma Thunderbirds inside the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Against the Gryphons, Ngom posted his first double-double of the season, recording 17 points and 11 rebounds to go along with one block in Ryerson’s 96-59 win.

The next night out, Ngom narrowly missed another double-double, but he stuffed the stat sheet once more in another big win for the Rams. Ngom recorded 27 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks while helping guide Ryerson to the 102-56 win over the Thunderbirds. It was his second game of the year with five swats, giving him 11 blocked shots for the season.

Across the two games, Ngom averaged 20.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocked shots per contest. He shot a combined 17-of-26 (65.4%) from the field and is now 20-of-29 from the field on the season.

After the career of Manny Diressa came to a close after last season, the Rams have their newest star in Ngom, and he looks more than ready for the spotlight in Toronto.