SARNIA, Ontario — The first week of the 2018-19 OUA men’s basketball season is officially in the books, and what a week it was.
Across the province, fans were treated to some marquee performances from teams and individuals alike. Perennial powerhouse programs flexed their muscle and picked up big wins to open the season on the right foot, while some unsung heroes continued to post some impressive individual stat lines that carried their respective teams to victory.
In Hamilton, Connor Gilmore returned to the lineup for the McMaster Marauders and wasted little time in making an impact. Up in Ottawa, the Carleton Ravens knocked off the Ottawa Gee-Gees to begin their quest for yet another national championship. A pair of double-doubles were posted up in Thunder Bay, ON as two teams earned an opening weekend split.
Here is this week’s Starting Five, a group of five players who had some of the more impressive individual stat lines across the OUA for the week of October 22-28, 2018.
Starting Five – October 22-28, 2018
Jaz Bains – Queen’s Gaels
37 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists in 89-76 win at York
Jaz Bains is one of the top scorers in the OUA that nobody talks about, and his talents were on full display in the Gaels’ season opener against the York Lions. Bains averaged 18.3 points per game last season, good enough for the seventh-best mark across the conference at year’s end. Against the Lions, Bains wasted little time in picking up right where he left off in 2017-18.
The Queen’s Gaels were on the road to open the year against York, and thanks in large part to a strong offensive night from Bains, the Gaels picked up the 89-76 win to open the year 1-0. Bains dropped a game-high 37 points on the evening, shooting 13-of-19 from the floor in the process. He was also 8-of-11 from three-point range in the win. Add in his six rebounds and two assists, and it was an impressive debut for the fifth-year guard from Brampton, Ontario.
Connor Gilmore – McMaster Marauders
28 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists in 93-75 win vs. Waterloo
24 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists in 95-67 win vs. Windsor
After having not played a game for the Marauders since the 2016-17 season, one would have expected Connor Gilmore to have a bit of rust on his game as he made his return this season. Instead, Gilmore was a focal point of the attack for McMaster as they opened the 2018-19 OUA season with a pair of convincing home wins.
In Gilmore’s first regular season game in more than a year, he posted a double-double of 28 points and 12 rebounds in the Marauders’ season-opening win over the Waterloo Warriors, 93-75. Then, just three days later, he went for 24 points and seven rebounds to help guide McMaster to the 95-67 win over the Windsor Lancers. For the weekend, Gilmore averaged 26.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists over his first two regular season games back inside Burridge Gymnasium.
Johneil Simpson – Brock Badgers
27 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist in 84-75 win vs. Laurier
18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists in 102-85 win vs. Guelph
Last season, Johneil Simpson and the Brock Badgers advanced to the 2018 U Sports Final 8 Tournament. After falling short of their ultimate goal of winning the national championship, Simpson and company will be looking to build off last season’s performance and secure at least a podium finish in 2019. With the bulk of their production back, Simpson and the Badgers opened up the new campaign with a pair of home wins to help build positive momentum.
First, the Badgers edged past the Laurier Golden Hawks in their regular season opener, 84-75. Simpson led the Badgers with 27 points and seven rebounds in the win. The next night out, the Badgers topped the 100-point mark in their 102-85 victory over the Guelph Gryphons. Simpson posted 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists for a strong performance on both ends of the court. For the week, Simpson posted 22.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per contest. It was an impressive week for Simpson and the Badgers, a team that has its fair share of offensive weapons.
TJ Lall – Carleton Ravens
31 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals in 87-69 win at Ottawa
The Carleton Ravens may not be the defending national champions for the first time since 2009-10, but they opened up their 2018-19 season with a strong performance against the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the battle for supremacy in Ottawa. Carleton looks like the team to beat across the U Sports landscape this season, and they were looking to kick off the new season with an impressive road win.
Forward TJ Lall did what he could to help secure the win for the Ravens. He went for a game-high 31 points on 13-of-18 shooting from the floor to lead the way for Carleton in their 18-point win. Lall added seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals for an all-round performance in the 2018-19 season opener.
Nathan Riley – Algoma Thunderbirds
13 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists in 71-69 win at Lakehead
21 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists in 90-76 loss at Lakehead
Last season, the Algoma Thunderbirds finished the season with 12 points, posting a record of 6-18 over the course of the regular season. This year, the Thunderbirds have their sights set on a higher finish in the OUA West Division, and they have a veteran group back who are ready to lead the way. At the forefront is Nathan Riley, who wasted little time in making an impact for Algoma in 2018-19.
Algoma was on the road for a pair of games against the Lakehead Thunderwolves, and while the two would split the weekend series, Riley put together two impressive individual performances worth talking about. He posted a pair of double-doubles to lead the way on both ends of the floor for the Thunderbirds, while also dishing out five assists in each game. Over the weekend, Riley averaged 17.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game.
– T. Bennett