Monday, 03 June 2019 15:36 Written by Tom Lacher
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2024 NatCon Finals Preview


2024-LON-TOR-NCF
National East powerhouses London and Toronto go to war with a berth in the OBWL Finals on the line.

The 2024-25 seasons NatCon Finals pit two old foes and NatEast division rivals against each other. The 3rd seed Toronto Huskies have bulldozed there way thru the playoffs so far discarding the Manhattan Swing in the 1st Round and sweeping the upstart Vancouver Highlanders in the 2nd. The Northmen seem to be at the top of their game and the exact right time.

The 1st seeded London Knights swept the 8th seed Minnesota Marauders in a tougher-than-it-looked 1st Round series. In Round 2, London was all but eliminated by the 4th seeded Arizona Thunderbirds. Down 3-0, the Knights stormed back to take the final 4 games of the series and advance.

So, are the Huskies the favorite because they are playing their best basketball and have the best player on the planet? Or are the Knights the favorites because they were the NatCon's best team and loaded with stars and seem to have righted the proverbial ship?  Here's the 2024-25 NatCon Finals breakdown:

#1 London Knights (63-17) vs. #3 Toronto Huskies (54-26)

BACKCOURT

Toronto – PG Jonathan Weaver (7.1ppg 8apg 4rpg 2spg) & SG Mathew Cole (18.3ppg 3.8rpg 1.8apg)

London – PG Val Crumley (13.3ppg 6.1rpg 6.6apg 2.8spg) & SG Colby Allan (14.5ppg 4rpg 4.3apg 1.8spg)

Toronto's familiar and veteran backcourt continues to fight off Father Time and produce. Weaver has upped his game in the playoffs. He just continues to run the Huskies' offense flawlessly and get the ball to his teammates in the right spot at the right time. Cole has been better in the playoffs as well. While he's not the unstoppable force he once was he is still a legitimate scoring threat.

The Knights backcourt has switched roles in the playoffs. Crumley is back at PG with Allan sliding back over to SG. It really doesn't matter what position these two are listed at because they are interchangeable. Crumley is a dominant force with or without the ball in his hands and can do everything on both ends. Allan may have slipped a little since his KC Pioneer days but that is also a result of playing a different role in London. The former MVP can still take over offensively.

ADVANTAGE LONDON:  Crumley and Allan are just too talented.

FRONTCOURT

Toronto- SF Motya Kamensky (17.7ppg 6.1rpg 2.4apg), PF Charles Flowers (24.6ppg 10.8rpg 2.2bpg), C Howard McGee (9.8ppg 7.9rpg 2apg 3.2bpg)

London – SF Fredrick Gerard (14.5ppg 5.5rpg 2.6apg), PF Jean Larry (9.7ppg 11.9rpg 1.9apg 6.5bpg),
C Gerald Stubblefield (4.3ppg 5.8rpg 1.8bpg)

The Huskies frontcourt are made up of pieces that perfectly compliment each other. The centerpiece is, of course, Flowers. The most dominant player in the OBWL, he scores, rebounds and plays great D. Kamensky is an excellent 2nd option offensively and he also rebounds and passes well. McGee is the enforcer protecting the rim and he also has a decent scoring touch.

London's frontcourt at first glance seems makeshift. Larry is the best defensive big in league history and he has flashed the ability to score consistently. Gerard, while not a household name, has produced when called upon. He has started 9 of the 11 playoff games His athletic ability helps to cover for his raw, but improving, skillset. Stubblefield has inserted into the starting lineup during the last 4 games of the Arizona series after having not played at all in the playoffs. He is a starter in name only as Jose Owns gets the bulk of the minutes off the bench. Stubblefield has been solid in his minutes.

ADVANTAGE TORONTO: The irresistible force (Flowers) meets the immovable object (Larry). Larry has the ability to shut down Flowers but Flowers has the ability to light up Larry. I think the latter will happen.

BENCH

Toronto – C Chris Castro (5.9ppg 3.7rpg 1.3apg 1.4bpg), SF Darnell Pinard (7.3ppg 2.6rpg 1.2apg), PG Richard Durbin (3.4ppg 4apg 1.1spg)

London – PF Jose Owens (18.5ppg 7.5rpg 2.3apg 2.1bpg), SF Thomas Grundy (7.9ppg 4.8rpg 1.5apg), PG Truman Kaplan (3.5ppg 2.4apg) C Sebastian Calabro (5.9ppg 3.9rpg 1.3bpg)

The Toronto bench has players who come in and try not to mess things up too much. None of the 3 main reserves does anything very special except kill minutes until the starter they replaced is ready to come back in.

The Knights bench on the other hand has a complete game changer in the aforementioned Owens, who is a, for all intent and purposes, a starter. He scores, rebounds, passes and blocks shots. At times, he is the best player on the court. The rest of the London bench brigade can all play and most have started games.

ADANTAGE LONDON:  ...and it's not even a contest.

SERIES OUTLOOK

London wins 2 out of the 3 categories and wins both handily. However, there is always the Huskies trump card, Flowers. Flowers can singlehandedly demolish a team and win a series. Jean Larry is the most dominant post defender and Flowers may still have his way with him.

However, even if Flowers detonates if the Huskies backcourt can't at least come close to matching the Knights then it doesn't matter.

PREDICTION

London in 7 hard fought, possibly instant classic games.

 

 

 

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0 #1 Tom Lacher 2019-06-03 19:50
Sorry should have stated that the stats shown in parentheses are playoff stats
 

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