The RESQ is trying something unique and new this year instead of having the normal playoff where you have quarterfinals and then semis like the rest of the CIS used; they decided to adopt a final four format. The new format will have the two winners of the two semi-finals games play each other in the finals to see who will represent RESQ in the final eight at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa next weekend.
The RESQ tournament starts Saturday afternoon and ends on Sunday afternoon with the finals. All games will be taking place at Laval University, PEPS center. The schools that have made it to the first annual final four tournament are Concordia, Laval, McGill (defending champs) and Bishops. My only problem with this new format is that it won’t be played at a neutral site like the final four in NCAA. McGill is the odds on favorite to win the RESQ and advance to CIS Final 8.
Concordia Stinger vs. Bishop Gaiters
The first semi-final game has the Concordia Stingers playing the Bishop Gaiters. Concordia had an up and down season, as they struggled at the beginning with 0-3 record. The early struggles were expected as Concordia looks to rebuild this season as they lost two big stars in Kyle Desmarais and Evens Laroche this year. Concordia did have a six game winning streak from late November to mid January. One of their victories during this stretch was a big victory over McGill. The Stingers ended the season, the same way they started it with a two-game losing streak. Concordia‘s losses came from Bishops and then their last home game of the season against McGill. In the game against the Redmen they had the lead for three-quarters but blew it in the fourth-quarter with a couple turnovers and missed shots.
The Gaiters had a great start to the season as they started with a three-game winning streak. Bishops did end the season with a loss to Laval. The Gaiters were success against everyone in the RESQ this year except for McGill. They entered the playoffs with a 9-7 record, good enough for them to be a two seed this year while the Stingers finished with an 8-8 (.500) and locked up the third seed.
The last time these two teams played each other it was a thrilling game that ended-up being a two-point victory for the Gaiters. Stinger forward, Mukiya Post, (former Gaiters) scored 31 points while Gaiters point guard Onex Blackwood scored 19 points. The Gaiters have beaten the Stingers in every dual this season and including last years RESQ playoffs. The Gaiters eliminated the Stingers which stopped a streak of the Stingers winning three straight RESQ championships. Expect Concordia to be extra motivate to win the game on Saturday.
Keys to victory
If the Stingers are going to find a way to win there will have to play smart basketball by not creating turnovers. They also have to find a way to stop to limit the Gaiters ranked offense from getting scoring, Bishops is ranked second in the conference in scoring. My advice is to guard Onex Blackwood and Mike Andrews. Andrews was named first team all-star all conference on Thursday. Stingers also have to get Adam Chmielewski scoring who has been on a cold streak over the last two weeks. Adam was recently named to first team all-star and could be the difference maker. He also finished eighth in scoring. I believe for the Gaiters to win, they will have to find a way to cool down Mukiya Post. The Redmen did end up shutting him down in the last game of the season. Post after two great weeks, lead the RSEQ in scoring.
Bishops will also have to find a way to out-rebound the Stingers as they finished in second place in that category. The Gaiters will have to find a way to stop Zach Brisebois; the Stingers big man who won defensive player of the year honors this week .Brisebois averaged 6.9 rebounds per a game, and could prove to be handful downlow. Concordia’s graduating class which features Brisebois, Taylor Garner and Jean-Andre Moussigniac is one of the most decorated in programs history with three RESQ championships under their belt. Regardless this will be a close game and the Stingers should prevail over the Gaiters.
Laval Rouge et Or vs. Mcgill Redmen
The second semi-final has the number one seed, McGill Redmen hosting the Laval Rouge et Or. McGill have been the best team in the RESQ since the start of the season. They finished with a record of 14 wins and only two losses to Concordia and Laval which were back-to-back defeats.
The Redmen have dominated in every category this year in the RESQ, from scoring to rebounding. They have a balance attack led by this year, RESQ MVP, Vince Durfort who averaged 13 PPG this year. They also had seven rookies who stepped up to the occasion at different points this season. One of those freshmen was this year RESQ rookie of the year, Dele Ogundokun. Ogudokum led the RESQ in steals with 42 while averaging about 2.6 robberies per a game. He also had the highest 3pt FG%. The next key member of this Redmen team is Francois Bourque. Bourque is another member of the great freshman class that was recruited by Head Coach Dave DeaVeiro
He has been the Redmen’s most trusted big big men all year finishing second in RESQ rebounding race with 126 boards, 83 of them coming on defensive rebounds. Bourque has the skill to be a great player in the RESQ with more development and could even win Defensive Player of the year or MVP down the road.
Laval did not have a great season as they finished with a record of 4-9 but made the tournament because they had two more wins than UQAM, they enter the Final Four with two straight wins to end the season beating UQAM and Bishops. The Rouge et Or have two great players in Boris Hadzimuratovic, a fourth-year player and a native of Bosnia Herzegovina who finished fourth in rebounding and seventh in scoring. Sophomore Karl Demers-Bélangerr was one of the few highlights for Rouge et Or this year as he led the RESQ in assists with 86 helpers, good for 5.4 average per a game. He also finished 6th in scoring and was named first team all-star in the RESQ, he could be a key factor once he develops further eventually becoming a contender for conference MVP in the upcoming years.
In their last meeting, McGill won the battle, 79-53 as the Redme’s Thomas Lacy came off the bench and scored 30 points in the victory. Bourque had ten rebounds in the win. Laval’s secret weapon,Thibaud Dezutter had a double-double scoring 22 points combined with 12 rebounds.
Keys to victory
For Laval to have a remote chance of an upset, they will have to force McGill to committed turnovers. In their win over the Redmen January, McGill committed 20 turnovers in the loss. They will also have to figure out how to stop the balance attack of Dufort and Ogudokum. Laval’s last step for victory is to beat McGill at the rebounding game by stopping Bourque on the glass. McGill on the other hand will have to just to play their game, rebound and keep their balance attack going which will confuse the Rouge et Or as to whom to cover.
The RESQ finals will be Concordia vs. McGill. with the Redmen wining back-to-back championship. McGill, Concordia and Bishops all have chance a to win the championship but McGill has been the dominant team all year and are riding a nine game winning streak into the Final Four.