TORONTO, ON – We are one round away from the OUA Critelli Cup. The quarter-finals have concluded, and four teams remain, all vying for a chance at the title and a spot in the 2022 U SPORTS Final 8 tournament. Four games took place on Saturday, March 19th, and the teams coming from each of them proved different things, which they will need to take into their semi-final matchup. Let’s look at each semi-final and the two teams competing.
Brock vs Western
Starting in the OUA West, the Brock Badgers host the Western Mustangs. Brock and Western never got to face each other during the season due to their matchups being cancelled because of COVID-19 protocols, so when they meet on the 23rd, the anticipation should be high as the #1 and #2 seeds in the division finally square off.
These two teams excel on the boards; for the Badgers, it’s defensively, and the Mustangs offensively. Limiting the Mustangs’ offensive rebounds will be critical to their success on the Badgers’ end. The guards of the Mustangs, Madalyn Picton and Ariane Saumure put up a lot of shots, mostly from deep, but they get their drives to the lane throughout the game. Once they put up a three, Ariane is often crashing the boards looking for loose rebounds or 50/50 balls, and she wins the Mustangs a lot of second chances with her effort and speed getting to the ball. The Badgers will need to be very aware of where everyone is on the floor when a shot goes up to limit the second chances and effort plays the Mustangs win.
On the Mustangs’ side, their victory will come at the hands of their defence. They have one of the best scoring offences in the OUA, and they’ve had that throughout the season, but what can help them out against the Brock defence that has also been one of the OUA’s best in forcing turnovers. If Western can use their active hands to strip the ball on a drive or intercept a pass, that can turn into transition offence for Madalyn Picton or Ariane, or even outlook passes to Ashley Wheeler or Jess Morris, who like to get out in their lane in transition. Creating extra opportunities through the defence that leads to offence will help the Mustangs counter the Badgers’ defence should they come into trouble shooting or on the boards.
Rams vs Carleton
Rams vs Carleton shows us another matchup between two teams who haven’t seen each other yet this season. There’s no question the Rams have depth. Go down their roster, and you’ll see players who’ve had experience on the biggest stages, and you’ll see contributions in all facets of the game. What will push them over the top against the multi-faceted offence of the Ravens is showing off their depth. Using what they thrived on in 2019, off-ball movement to get each of their scorers open and chances around the paint, and getting the ball moving to get everyone in rhythm, will showcase the strength of the Rams lineup and make the offence almost too much to keep up with for the Ravens.
The Ravens will have to rebound to get second chances and counter the size the Rams have inside the paint to counter the Rams’ depth. Getting as many second chances as possible will help the Ravens have the edge over the Rams, and it’s players like Emma Kiesekamp and Madison Reid who will need to make an impact on the boards and as facilitators to help counter the battle around the rim that Rachel Farwell and Eleanor Jones will bring. The Ravens have speed and contributors throughout their starting five. Taking away some of the chances that the Rams have through focusing on attacking the glass and getting as many rebounds as they can will help the Ravens not feel so much of the depth and constant attack the Rams bring.
Thursday, we’ll know the two teams competing for the Critelli Cup and the OUA representatives for the 2022 U SPORTS Final 8 in Kingston, but before then, four talented rosters take the court. The top two seeds in each division have advanced to the semi-finals and will play each other for the first time this season, with the winner getting a chance at the biggest stage in Canadian University basketball. It should be a fun night of basketball showing some of the best players in Ontario.
Cover Photo: Curtis Martin/Ryerson Rams Athletics