JUEL Watch – Jan 8, 2013
Published by Michael Henry on January 8, 2013
Last year’s JUEL season was filled with lots of story lines.
Throughout the regular season, there were a number of upsets. Some teams over achieved while others didn’t live up to expectations. There was an undefeated team in the regular season. Yet a different team altogether ended up winning the championship.
Now that the new year has rolled around, the 2013 JUEL league teams are starting to finally take to the floor to get some preseason/exhibition games under their belts before the start of the league’s third season, which is set to start in just a few short weeks.
A number of the teams from the Greater Toronto Area teams hit the court this past weekend to play a couple of traveling CEGEP teams. Champlain-St Lambert and St Lawrence both of Quebec, were looking to get in some exhibition games of their own because of their long holiday layoff which ran from just before Christmas, and runs until RSEQ league action resumes in the third week in January.
I haven’t been able to see all of the JUEL teams just yet. And, since can’t speak about them all, I will not try to give away too many details, but still try to provide some early insight on how I feel some of the teams are looking.
So, without forcing anyone’s hand, here is my team preview based on the five JUEL teams I took in this past weekend:
Almost as expected, Hamilton Transway looked every bit of the athletic, high IQ team many thought they would be. They have that swagger about them that was backed up with efficient execution. The core of the five time Ontario Cup championship team is set to take on JUEL’s best along with a solid supporting cast. More than 90% of the team is young (Grade 11), but what shouldn’t be discounted at all is the length of time many of them have been together, allowing them to execute their sophisticated plays and intricate presses to go along with their athleticism they have built up on over time.
For right or wrong, the North Toronto Huskies come in to this season with a target on their backs. On one hand, they are the defending JUEL Champions. But, many of the the key components have moved on, rendering this essentially a brand new team. Returning Head Coach, Jason Sealy was able to identify quite a few positives from his team’s first foray together which shows that this team does have fight. Although he wasn’t able to put out what will likely be his starting lineup because of an absence or two, ball movement and the long ball appear likely to be a hallmark of their offense. Finding the best way to make use of their Guards could be the determining factor to this team’s fate.
The Tri-County Thunder looked pretty strong. They looked good in the paint against a strong and physical Champlain St Lambert team, completing FGs at a high rate. They shot well from distance and seem to move the ball well. Their young Guard was given a lot of responsibility in this game and came through quite admirably. Although this was their first game together, Head Coach Charles Kissi likes what he sees and believes the team is laying a proper foundation for a good run this season.
The Advantage Titans looked impressive. Their size, speed and ability will pose a few challenges to opponents this year. They have an interesting addition to their backcourt that will give them a very real scoring threat in driving to the basket, and bigs able to finish should a drive and dish need to be employed. That same back court can defend well with their bigs being able to block shots and clean up on the boards.
The Blues have practically gutted their team compared to last year. They showed that they can move the ball well and will have a fairly balanced attack. They do have some size and some Forwards that have shown that they are willing to attack the basket. They forced a number of turnovers and demonstrated that when given the opportunity, they can score in bunches.
Other JUEL Notes…
The St Clair JUEL team played a number of scrimmages against the Country Day Varsity High School team. The purpose of the scrimmage for St Clair was to maximize playing time for each of the players against strong competition and scores were reset at the end of each quarter. Additional exhibition games against JUEL competition are scheduled for later on this week.
Although the Barrie Royals have yet to play any formal exhibition games so far. They are using the additional time to get used to new team members from outside the Barrie limits. With the Northern Lights not fielding a team this season, the Royals have absorbed a couple of players from the Sudbury area to go along with other players from the surrounding area including Huntsville, Huntsville, Bracebridge, Orillia, Markham, and Newmarket.
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