Lien Phillip (left) led OUA in rebounding this season (RM Photo)TORONTO — The role of the big man has changed, but the expectations haven't, so Lien Phillip put the Windsor Lancers' missed opportunities on his shoulders.
Every March in Canadian university basketball, a team which has been in the Top 10 all season gets left out in the cold. The dust gets blown off the same arguments for expanding to from an eight- to a 16-team championship. The counterpoint is that conference playoffs already provide that first culling ahead of the CIS Final 8. The percentage of teams (eight out of 44) who reach the CIS Final 8 is right in line with the NCAA tournament (68 out of 347 Division I men's teams).
So there was urgency Saturday afternoon when Lakehead and Windsor tipped off in the OUA bronze-medal game, only Phillip seemed to project it the most of any Lancer during their 78-64 loss. Having their lead guard Josh Collins limited to 11 minutes over two games after injuring his right ankle in practice last Wednesday was too much for Windsor to overcome. A know-it-all might even say Windsor played like it knew this, but that's presumptuous. Lakehead just made shots and the Lancers were a touch off. No matter how much his team was fading, Phillip was a treat to watch while he tried to not to lose the patient, knifing in for offensive rebounds, getting above the rim for a tip-in putback. The Grenada-born power forward who didn't take up hoops until moving to Toronto in his teens had his usual double-double, 15 points and 13 rebounds. But he shot only 4-of-14 while Lakehead's broad-shouldered bigs, Yoosrie Salhia and Matthew Schmidt, took license with the rules and used their fouls wisely.
If Phillip had gone to a NCAA school instead of Windsor in 2009, this could have been end of this stage of his hoops life. Instead he only went home with a narrative for his fifth season. The wild-card berth is likely to go to No. 5 Acadia. If so, that makes three years in a row that coach Chris Oliver's Lancers have missed the Final 8. Windsor lost a first-round game to eventual national champion Saskatchewan in Phillip's frosh year in 2010.Read More »from Windsor Lancers big man Lien Phillip takes OUA Wilson Cup setback to heart