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CIS Final 8: RSEQ/Quebec struggles continue as McGill fail to advance

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Cis Final 8 Rseq Quebec Struggles Continue Mcgill Fail Advance
Photo: Rich Lam/UBC Athletics

Vancouver, BC – The struggles continue for the Réseau du Sport Etudiant du Québec (RSEQ) Quebec conference at the CIS Final 8 National Championships.

With the No. 5 McGill Redmen dropping a 72-69 nail bitter to the No. 4 seed Calgary Dinos it has now been eleven years (2005) since an RSEQ team has won a quarter-final game at Nationals, and over 18 years since the 1998 Bishop Gaiters lifted the WP. McGee trophy, claiming bragging rights as the best conference in the country.

A lot has changed between 1998 and 2005 when the Concordia Stingers knocked off the St. Mary’s Huskies 87-57 to advance to the national semi-finals. The University game as a whole has improved by leaps and bounds, we’ve seen realignment changes across two conferences, both in the OUA and CanWest divisions, CIS transfer rules have opened-up the floodgates for NCAA transfers to return home without being forced to sit out a mandatory one year, and much more.

But outside of RSEQ teams competing during preseason exhibition against top NCAA teams during August and early September things have been pretty much status quo, for a conference that routinely challenged the rest of the country during the 1990’s.

Majority of the problems with the RSEQ can be traced to the fact it only features five teams in comparison to the rest of the league. The Ontario University Conference (OUA) and the Canada West boast a total of 17 teams across multiple divisions, while the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference only has 8 teams.

UQAM-Kewyn-Blain-Citadins

Kewyn Blain – 2015-2016 RSEQ Player of The Year

The lack competition and expansion has forced Quebec University Basketball teams to play less league games against the same underachieving opponents during the season, resulting in one or two teams finishing above 500% in the standings. Although not factually, it’s valid to argue that the conference is also losing the recruiting battle as most of the top high school players from Ontario, Canada West or Atlantic Canada rarely consider the RSEQ as a conference of choice for championships and exposure. Majority of the rosters across the five teams are filled with local CGEP Quebec talent and a few imports from french speaking nations like France, Belgium, Haiti and few African countries.

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With all these disadvantages and rapid growth of the game across the country, from prep leagues to professional ranks (NBL Canada), the RSEQ still has plenty to offer from high level educational opportunities to top notch coaching and features one of the most diverse provinces Canada has to offer.

For the RSEQ the road to supremacy will require time, funding, strategic thinking, and potential realignments with the OUA and/or CEGEP additions to grow the university/collegiate game throughout the province. Adding more teams will surely make the league more competitive and attractive, improving facilities, scholarship offers and most importantly winning will also help solve some these dilemma’s and hopefully restore the conference as a prime destination and end championship drought.

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Montreal’s Luguentz Dort commits to Arizona State Sun Devils

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Montreals Luguentz Dort Arizona State Sun Devils

Five star Canadian Guard Luguentz Dort has committed to Bobby Hurley and the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Dort a 6-5, 220lbs, product of Montreal, Quebec has been one of the most exciting Canadian Basketball prospects in recent years, combining raw speed, with gifted athletic ability, the the 2018 elite top prospect is expected to boast the Sun Devils credibility in a tough PAC 12 conference.

Dort narrowed down his list of top schools from Baylor, eventually settling with the upstart Sun Devils program that will help him transition from a two-guard to a more accomplished point-guard.  After all, Coach Hurley knows a thing or two about playing the point, having played the position for the Duke Blue Devils  in the early 90’s and over 269 games in the NBA.

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Highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide Return To Canada

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Alabama Crimson Tide Avery Johnson Return To Canada

The Alabama Crimson Tide led by former NBA Head Coach Avery Johnson, a 16-year veteran and NBA champion point-guard during his playing days will bring his highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide to Canada for series of games against Canada’s top university basketball programs.

The Crimson Tide will visit both Montreal and Ottawa for a three-game exhibition schedule against McGill Redmen (Mon Aug 7), Carleton Ravens (Wed Aug 9) and the Ottawa Gee-Gees (Thu Aug 10).

The Tide competed hard last year and took a step in the right direction with a 19-15 record, 10-8 SEC record and have NCAA March Madness tournament aspirations thanks to solid recruiting class which ranks amongst the nations best.

Led by a talented crop of returning guards, Dazon Ingram (10.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG), Riley Norris (9 PPG, 3 RPG), the coaches son Avery Johnson Jr. and forwards Braxton Key the Tide will be a handful for the it’s Canadian opposition.

Key a 6’8″, 220 lbs flirted with the  2017 NBA draft after a stellar freshman season, the Charlotte, NC native led ‘Bama in scoring with 12 point per game and was second in rebounding at 5.7 per game. The Tide will also welcome incoming red-shirt sophomore 6’10”, 240lbs Daniel Giddens to a line-up that returns four starters.

Alabama anchored by current NBA player Alonzo Gee (Denver Nuggets) last visited Canada back in 2007 and finished with a record of 4-1 against the same exact teams, dropping a tight 83-72 decision against the Carleton Ravens who have won seven straight Canadian titles including 13-of the-last-15 championships.

Carleton’s signature win over Alabama was only their second ever against a NCAA division one team after 16-game losing streak from 1999 to 2006. The Ravens current record against NCAA teams in Canada stands at an impressive 26-23 (.531%) record.

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