Coach Campbell’s Stingers Scouting Report – Week 1

It was a short week for the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) and the Edmonton Stingers have only had 1 game so far. It was a narrow victory as they hosted Hamilton, but they probably shouldn’t have let the game get as close as it was.

The first half was near perfection. The Stinger defense was swarming, causing many turnovers and miscues as well as really racking up fast break opportunities. That’s what really stood out to me the most, whether they got the ball off a steal, rebound or inbounds after a score, this offense was looking to run. There’s plenty of dangerous fastbreak weapons on this team too, so it makes sense to play that way.

All GIFs via CEBL+

One thing I didn’t like as much was the 2nd half intensity. The team started to coast a bit, and the execution on both ends of the floor waned. Foul trouble became an issue (Kamba, Peter-McNeilly and Skeens all had to sit on the bench for much of the game) partly due to bad fouls or refs just calling infractions on us because we were up.

Eventually the team’s play during Elam time was enough to get them the victory!

Now we’ll take a look at our 2 new guys. Marlon Johnson Jr. was absolutely the player of the game. He had 27 points including the game winner. He made several mid-range jumpers, and hit a 3 too to keep defenses honest. But everyone’s favourite part of his game was the thunderous dunks he kept throwing down! Here’s a cut to the hoop and an assist from Kamba:

Whether he was slashing in the half court set or the trailer on a fast break, Johnson continued to punish Hamilton (and the rim).

Our other new starter is Brady Skeens. He did sit for quite a bit of the game due to foul trouble. But, the small amount he did play showed us exactly the kind of output he’s going to have.

Skeens had 6 points going perfect from the floor on 3 attempts. Every basket was right at the rim. He’s not going to venture too far out if the key looking for baskets, so expect the high percentage shooting to continue. Here’s his basket during Elam time:

That’s a great find from Johnson to get the ball to a senaky Skeens under the basket.

The Stingers only have 1 game this week as well, they host the Niagara River Lions on Friday, July 2nd. Let’s take a quick look at their opponent.

Niagara is 1-1 and has looked like a Jekyll and Hyde team so far. In their win at Ottawa, they looked like the team that took the floor in 2019. Boucard was racking up steals and points like his Canadian of the Year campaign, Robertson was getting shots from wherever he wanted and Babb-Harrison only missed a single 3 on 9 attempts. If this group shows up in Edmonton it’ll be a tough game to win.

However, in Abbotsford the River Lions were exposed. Lacking a solid point guard (initial signings Bell-Haynes and Scrubb are not currently with the team) their offense was stifled. Boucard and Robertson were held to 0 points. It looked like the awful Summer Series version of Niagara. The lone bright spot was brand new import Xavier Sneed exploded for 35 points.

As long as we can punish them with our guard play, I think the Stingers come out on top in this one.

One other side note, this is the only scheduled meeting between these teams this season. Which is a shame as it has been the best East-West rivalry in the league so far, each match has either been very close or has had quite a bit of animosity and chippiness between the players.

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s game, let’s see how it plays out!

As always, Defend the Hive!

Come from behind victory for Sylvan Lake Gulls

Your Sylvan Lake Gulls are now on a 3-game winning streak. Saturday nights win in Okotoks versus the Dawgs Black required not one but two comebacks to secure the victory. After falling behind 2-0, the Gulls took the lead 3-2 after 3 innings. Headed into the 8th inning, the Gulls were down 8-5 when the offense doubled their output leading the Club to a 10-9 victory!

The 3-spot put up by the Gulls offence in the 3rd was courtesy a 2-run triple by Matt Bondarchuk. Bondarchuk would come in to score on a wild pitch to briefly give the Gulls the lead.

Down 5-2 going into the 6th inning, the Gulls chipped into the lead with a RBI single by Russell Young and a RBI double by Wyatt Schnoor. In the bottom of the 6th, the Dawgs took back their 3-run lead via a solo homer and a bases loaded hit-batter.

Cue the big comeback in the 8th inning. Tyler McWillie (who was pitch run for with Jason Chiu), Jake Lanferman and Young loaded the bases with one out. Schnoor would collect RBI number two of the evening with a single. Bondarchuk would reach via a fielding error that would score two runs which tied the game at 8. Next batter up was Nolan Weger who delivered a 2-run single to put the Gulls up 10-8.

Kyle Froehlich, your first baseman the previous two games, came in to pitch the bottom of the 8th. For fans unfamiliar with the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL), players are not as specialized as they become in the Majors. Many fielders still pitch and vice versa at this level. Froehlich would retire the first four batters he faced, three via strikeout, before running into a little bit of trouble. The Dawgs were able to plate a run but Froehlich would collect the save!

NEXT FLIGHT:

Sunday June 27 in Okotoks Black

Tuesday June 29 back home versus  Edmonton

*feature image via the Gulls Twitter Account*

Len’s Overly Simple Eddies Review: Game One

In 2018, when the “YEG for CPL” movement went into full effect searching high and low for “rally rabbits”, I hopped on board. Previous to the fan movement to resurrect FC Edmonton, the handful of games I attended were more for the tactics of the Supporters Group, whom in 2018 re-branded themselves as the River Valley Vanguard (RVV). The 2020 “Island Games”, the bubble tournament the Canadian Premier League held streamed through One Soccer,  was the first time this fan had to learn to watch a game without the aid of those RVV tactics. Saturday June 26th, my wife and I attended the Eddies season membership event called “Party on the Pitch”.

The result of yesterday’s game was disappointing – a 1-0 loss to Atletico Ottawa. Learned enough to give you a strong tactical report of the happenings yesterday? Nope. Passionate enough to use my couple seasons of fan experience to tell you what I saw? Yup.

With the announcement of the starting lineup, I learned the goal scoring leader of the Club Easton Ongaro would be a sub today as he is recovering from wrist surgery. The only other starting returnees from last season were Connor James, Jeannot Esua, Ramon Soria and Amer Didic.

The only player the broadcast team kept singling out as having an off-night was goaltender James. That said, the goal scored against him was not a reflection of his game. With the timing of the goal coming mere moments after being shown Esau aided off the field clutching his hamstring, the Eddies may still have been a man down when the ball bulged the net. Esau had been his typical dynamic self throughout the match.

In the previous 80 minutes before the goal, FC Edmonton was the better team. The pessimist reads that as blah blah moral victory blah blah been there, done that. You’ve probably been here longer than me, you’re entitled to your opinion but I respectfully disagree.

The combination of Sharly Mabussi and Tobias Warschewski were more potent yesterday than I ever recall stalwart now former Eddies Tomi Ameobi and Hanson Boakai being last season. One has to mention the questionable off-side goal that took a goal off of the board but one will not harp on it – being a linesman is much easier when watching on a screen.

First overall draft pick Thomas Gardner looked like a seasoned pro. Fraser Aird was the presence I believe the Club had hoped they would receive from Keven Aleman. A healthy Didic is simply a step up over any other option that was pressed into service last season (that’s a tip of the cap to Didic, not disrespect to the players trying to fill his shoes). The recently signed Hunter Gorskie seemed to win all his one-on-one battles.

Coach Alan Koch spent an entire off-season preaching the obvious, the Eddies needed to upgrade their talent. Walking out of Clarke Stadium yesterday, one felt like this was accomplished despite the result.

With time-weathered fans already stepping of the bandwagon, a Canada Day poor showing against two-time defending Champion Forge FC would cause a mass exodus. With the compete level we saw yesterday, one hopes Forge FC under-estimates the Eddies. C’mon on you boys in blue!