Both guards rank in Top-10 for assists per game
By José Colorado
The Junior Cadougan – Ashton Smith showdown must wait – if only a couple of weeks.
Rolling into the Kitchener Auditorium on Feb. 23 were the St. John's Edge as they paid a visit to the KW Titans – and with that came the undercard of the league's top two Canadian point guards squaring off.
Unfortunately with KW's Smith retiring after just 19 minutes in his Feb.18 match against the Sudbury Five, the speedster was forced to sit out his club's remaining two games in week 15.
With both gritty guards hailing from the Greater Toronto Area, it certainly would have made for an interesting bout as some familiarity was certain to exist between the pair.
And while Smith may have the slight edge over Cadougan when it comes to rebounds and assists, it's tough to bet against the latter especially considering his caliber of play lately.
KW visits St. John's for a back-to-back on Mar.12 – 13; until then.
1. Jamal Reynolds (Pickering, ONT.)
Team: Cape Breton Highlanders (15-15)
LW RANK: 2
Stats this week: 18 points per game (50 per cent field goal shooting), 10.5 rebounds, one steal, two games played
Season stats: 17.2 points per game (54.8 per cent field goal shooting), nine rebounds, 1.7 assists
The post Bruce Massey era saw Jamal Reynolds come up with strong back-to-back efforts as the forward averaged a double-double for the week with 18 points and 10.5 rebounds on 50 per cent shooting.
Despite the Highlanders' leading scorer, Massey (23.7 points per game), being out of the picture, head coach Bernardo Fitz – Gonzalez elected to keep Reynolds in his usual bench role.
With Massey and Kenny Jones now departed, Reynolds has officially become the team's leading scorer – and by a noticeable margin as Deshaunt Walker comes in at second at 13.3 points per game.
One would think that would signify greater floor time and opportunities for Reynolds moving forward as he is only averaging 25.7 minutes per game and 9.4 field goal attempts in February.
Now whether that will lead to any team success however – as Cape Breton has lost eight of its last nine - remains to be seen.
2. Junior Cadougan (North York, ONT.)
Team: St. John's Edge (17-14)
LW RANK: 3
Stats this week: 16.33 points per game (55 per cent field goal shooting), 3.67 rebounds, three assists, one steal, three games played
Season stats: 14.4 points per game (49.7 per cent field goal shooting), 3.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists
Although Junior Cadougan's 20-game double-digit scoring streak may have ended in week 15, the guard still averaged more than his seasonal marks when it came to points and field goal percentage in a trio of matches.
With the North York-native now serving as the unquestioned floor general following the departure of Maurice Jones Sr., Cadougan has feasted on a steady dose of high pick-and-roll actions that has given opposing defenses fits.
That was best exemplified this past week when the six-foot-two player went to the free throw line nine times (making seven) – his highest total in his past seven matches – en route to 24 points on 53.3 per cent shooting from the floor against the Titans.
And while the Edge has hit its roughest patch of the season by losing six of its past eight matches, Cadougan continues to climb in his statistical production.
He is now a top-30 scorer in the NBLC at 14.4 points per game, top-15 in field goal percentage (49.7 per cent) and top-10 in assists at 4.2 per match.
Not a bad ascension for a player who was averaging four points back in November.
3. Tyrrel Tate (Calgary, ALTA.)
Team: Windsor Express (16-14)
LW RANK: 5
Stats this week: 23 points (60 per cent field goal shooting), three rebounds, one steal, one game played
Season stats: 14.5 points per game (48.9 per cent field goal shooting), 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Tyrrel Tate's best three-game scoring stretch of the season has him moving up a couple spots as the guard poured in 23 points in a 123 – 116 win over the Edge on Feb.20 for his lone week 15 match.
The Express player snapped out of a four-game shooting funk that saw the Albertan go 15-of-43 (35 per cent) by hitting on nine-of-15 (60 per cent) from the floor, including three-of-eight from three-point range.
Despite Tate's overall shooting troubles of late, the former NBA G-Leaguer has found the stroke from long range as he is now shooting 51.5 per cent from downtown in February.
Perhaps more impressive however is the fact that he is attempting a season-high 4.1 three-balls per game in the month - well above his January average of 1.8 tries and his December total of 3.2.
The Calgary product's free-throw efficiency (82.2 per cent) is a given but if he can find his in between game to go along with his newfound long distance touch, the Express could be looking at a 18 points per game scorer.
4. Garrett Williamson (Lower Merion, PA.)
Team: London Lightning (18-16)
LW RANK: 4
Stats this week: Eight points (50 per cent field goal shooting), one rebound, three assists, one game played
Season stats: 15.1 points per game (50.7 per cent field goal shooting), 4.8 rebounds, four assists
A 121 -103 blowout win against the Edge didn't call for too much heavy lifting on the part of Garrett Williamson as the American – Canadian tallied eight points and three assists in 21 minutes.
The game, nonetheless, continued a trend of reduced usage for Williamson as he has now only hit double-digits in scoring in three of the London Lightning's past six games – all of those resulting in wins.
Instead it appears the combo guard has embraced his playmaking duties as he is averaging 4.5 assists to 0.83 turnovers per game during that victorious stretch – an outstanding mark.
Indeed a certain line must be teetered when evaluating Williamson.
On the one hand he should be praised for accepting a reduced role (e.g. only playing over 30 minutes twice in the past six games) should that result in greater team success as basketball, of course, is a team sport.
On the other hand, if Williamson settling into a diminished part is what has at least partly contributed to the Lightning's sudden surge, then what exactly does that say about the player's worth to the club?
Certainly one can't be naïve enough to believe the 30-year-old has been a detriment to his squad but perhaps instead his talents were misplaced at the season's start.
Needless to say it will be interesting to track where the Lightning finishes team wise in correlation with the six-foot-five player's numbers moving forward.
5. Guillaume Boucard (Montreal, QUE.)
Team: Island Storm (5-22)
LW RANK: Unranked
Stats this week: 24.33 points per game (42 per cent field goal shooting), nine rebounds, 4.67 assists, 2.67 steals, three games played
Season stats: 11.86 points per game (40 per cent field goal shooting), 6.48 rebounds, 2.72 assists, 1.1 steals
If taking just Guillaume Boucard's Island Storm stats into account, he may just be the leading candidate for Canadian of the Year.
Unfortunately for him, a 15-game spell with St. John's earlier in the year – in which he averaged 6.3 points and 4.8 rebounds – has all but derailed that possibility as his overall statistical output simply isn't up to snuff.
Nonetheless what the Quebecer has been able to do with the Storm has been nothing short of remarkable.
Case in point: a week 15 stat line of 24.33 points per game, nine rebounds, 4.67 assists and 2.67 steals in a trio of matches.
At first it appeared as though the former Carleton Ravens' tour de force performance came on Feb. 21 when he dropped - a then season-high – 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds (another season-best).
However three nights later the slasher went off for 32 points by charging his way to the free throw line an absurd 23 times, making 18.
While Canadian of the Year honours seems like a stretch at this point simply based on Boucard's first half start, the All – Canadian Team doesn't seem entirely farfetched.
Chris Johnson, Cape Breton Highlanders (North Preston, N.S.)