East to West, West to East

 

 

Tournaments bring some intriguing inter-league play

Early returns as we head into October play ... For all of the other 46 U-Sports teams, it is ‘reassuring’ to see that the Carleton Ravens appear to be back to familiar territory. (13 of the last 15 National titles have been won by Carleton!)  The Ravens, despite a scare in their Friday opener with Concordia (82-79 last 2 minute win), did sweep 3 games in the Guy Vetrie Memorial in Victoria.

Javon Masters, UNB, ‘Fillin’ it up’! photo – UNB Athletics

There are challengers, of course, and we will have to let more games play out this month before we anoint the Blackbirds.  In thee AUS … UNB wins their own Eric Garland Tournament over Saint Marys, UQAM, and Cape Breton, with the highlight being Javon Masters’ 45 point outburst vs the Capers.  Atlantic observers suggest it may be St. FX taking a run this season, but it’s usually a free-for-all, so we hold fire for a few weeks.

Ryerson Rams ace, Ammanuel Diressa

In the OUA and other points East, for detailed analysis readers would be best served by referencing Mark Wacyck’s excellent coverage in his  CanHoops.ca      Ottawa looks good in an 85-70 road win over Bishops,  while both Ryerson and Brock are poised to show their strength, and Windsor has a fair string of wins going.  In the ‘Q’ , Laval may be right in the mix, as they start well in a pair of road wins in Ontario (at Laurier, McMaster).  The Stingers followed their tight loss to Carleton with strong wins over both Guelph and Victoria McGill plays in Calgary this week, and they must be regarded as the Q favourites until someone knocks them off.

Now for Canada WestLethbridge is a 101-71 winner at home vs UNBC,

Dejon Burdeaux, Lethbridge lead guard

and the ‘Horns are sporting a ‘post-free’ line-up with some fresh new talent to make them one of the teams to watch in Canada West.  The Timberwolves played 3 games on the weekend, with a split at Mt. Royal on Fri/Saturday.

One of the biggest stories in the West has to be the changing roster for the Saskatchewan Huskies.  The ‘Dogs hammer Briercrest College in their traditional warm-up last Thursday, but they do not have ‘All-League’ star Shane Osayande, guard Chan De Ciman, forward Mack Burns, nor swingman, Jaylan Morgan.  More to come … (we still await the release of team rosters for many of the 17 teams.)

4th year guard, Jordan Charles, is back for the Vikes.

UBC-O had a close one at McMaster, then not so much with Toronto and WesternWinnipeg lost 2 competitive games at Lakehead, but the Wesmen have a core of solid returnees.  The UVic Vikes have a number of new faces, but they are a ‘work in progress’, as are most Canada West teams over the next few weeks.  Too early to tell, but Alberta, UBC, Calgary, and Lethbridge appear to be the most obvious contenders.

 

 

The schedule this week-  What a great weekend  of inter-League play ! 

Calgary Dinos host Acadia, McGill, and McMaster this weekend in one of several inter-league tournaments.

Thursday, Oct 5  –    Calgary Cup starts at UC –  Dinos vs McGill, McMaster vs Acadia  … also Saskatchewan at Toronto, Bishops at Victoria, Laurentian at Brandon, NAIT at Thompson Rivers

Friday, Oct 6      –  Calgary Cup … Calgary Acadia,  McMaster  McGill

Lethbridge at Medicine Hat Coll, at U of M … Manitoba  Algoma, Winnipeg Laurentian,  at UBC Invitational …  UBC  Bishops, Alberta Waterloo

Concordia hosts in Montreal … Stingers vs Regina,  York Dalhousie

Cape Breton’s Fall Classic – Capers vs St. FX, UPEI   SAIT (Calgary)

Saturday  , Oct 7 –   at UC …  Calgary  McMaster, Acadia McGill , at UBC … T-Birds  Waterloo,  Alberta  Bishops, in Winnipeg … Wesmen  Algoma , Manitoba  Laurentian,  in Montreal … Concordia  Dalhousie, Regina  York. at Cape Breton … Capers  UPEI , St. FX  SAIT  ,   Also … Saskatchewan at Ryerson  ,  Lethbridge vs Medicine Hat,  Trinity Western and UBC-O

Sunday , Oct 8 –   Victoria vs Waterloo,   at CBU … Capers  SAIT, St. FX  UPEI,  at Concordia … Stingers  York,  Regina  Dalhousie

T’Wolves Working to Climb the Ladder

 

Who can step up for the Timberwolves?

Every team graduates top players, and UNBC will be looking for the leadership and 16 ppg which left with Rhys Elliott, the Aussie sniper.  Another loss is the injury absence of forward Austin Chandler, who could have been expected to play solid minutes.

Coach Todd Jordan knows it’s a challenge to compete in a “ tough Canada West League”.  “Many teams have had significant changes, but we are always working to move ahead”, says the 8 year head

Veteran forward Vaggelis Loukas, photo  UNBC Athletics

man. “I think we have some ‘old school’ inside men with some experience, who are joining us this season. We think we’ll be more combative, and tougher to play against.”

UNBC has potential leaders like 5th year guard, Marcus MacKay (Terrace, BC), the leading returning scorer at 12.5 ppg and  Jesse Mushiana (Vancouver) is a 4th year, 6-7 forward with some moves inside.  Point man James Agyeman , 4th year (Brampton, ON) is lightning quick, and import forward, Vaggelis Loukas (Athens, Greece) is a 6-5, 4th year battler at forward.

After a red-shirt year in ’16-’17, ‘Vova’ Pluzhnikov, a 6-1  Ukrainian import, is expected to be new floor leader for the ‘Wolves. 6-5, 4th year, Jovan Leamy (Toronto), transfers from Ryerson with the size and  experience to give the T’Wolves a boost. He will be available to play in early November (1 year after leaving the Rams program).

These elements need to all come together if this UNBC team can climb into playoff contention.  Since his days as a player with his hometown team back in the early 2000s, Coach Jordan has been pouring his every effort into building this program. He believes, “We will be more intense, more consistent, and physically tougher .”

Timberwolves last year – 4-16  … a long way up   Prognosis – The ‘Wolves will have to fight to get to .500, but, with so many re-building teams, this may be the year to move up.

 

UNBC has been ‘amazing’ for MacKay

After learning the game from his Dad, Cam, Head Coach at Caledonia High School (Terrace, BC),  Marcus MacKay moved to Prince George to play at UNBC.  Since that freshman year, the 6-4 guard has come into his own, with 28, 26, and 25 point games last season. “Now, I have to get more consistent”, says a determined Mackay. “No more following up with a 5 or 6 point  effort the next night.”

Marcus MacKay, 5th year guard, UNBC     photo – Timberwolves Athletics

Playing at UNBC means you’re ‘the biggest game in town’, and Marcus says “it’s been incredible” to have the big crowds, the enthusiasm, and the support from the Timberwolves faithful. “Many times it’s packed, it’s loud, and it’s a big thrill for us to play in front of our crowd.”  The community gets involved in supporting the team, from hiring players to summer jobs, to sponsoring athletes and the team for travel expenses.

Acknowledging how “5 years has flown by so quickly”, MacKay says, “I’m aiming to be the hardest working, to play more physically, to focus as a team leader, and inspire confidence in my teammates.”  After searching for a ‘perfect major’, Marcus is now aiming at an Education program to finish up at UNBC.  He is excited to now be following in the footsteps of his two parents, who both teach in Terrace. “I’m not sure where I want to teach”, he says. “But that’s what I know I want to do.”

Marcus is wanting to make his final season with the ‘Wolves one to remember, and he just wants to let the game ‘come to him’.  Not so much about firm personal goals, but more focused on the team process, and advancing the common cause.

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Saturday scores – 

In Victoria …  Carleton 99 Victoria 61 ,  Concordia 94  Guelph 61

UNBC  beats  Mt. Royal  , Seattle Mountaineers at Trinity Western,  Lethbridge  110 Lethbridge Coll. 67, Western 116 UBC-O  52 , Windsor 92  Centennial Coll 68, Acadia 101 Holland Coll 73 , McMaster 92  Memorial 77

Saint Marys 79  Cape Breton 60,  UNB 79  UQAM 77  … UNB Tourney

Cougars Aiming Higher

 

Change for MRU  – hunting a play-off berth

As with many Canada West teams this season, the MRU Cougars have undergone significant changes.  Gone is ace big man, Brett Layton, with his 16 ppg/ 9.5 rebounds.  And graduated is solid combo guard, Derek Wolf.

Longtime Assistant Coach Tyler McVicar has also moved on. Coach Marc Dobell, now in his 14th year as the Cougs head man, moved MRU from a National Championship in the CCAA (2009) and eventually into Canada West in 2012.  The program has been competitive, but never quite made the playoff grid in 5 seasons. Dobell suggests that he is looking at changes in a positive light this Fall. “We’ve tried things one way for some time, and I think we can embrace new ideas this season.”

Floor leader, Josh Ross, in his 5th year. photo – MRU Athletics

The Cougars do have 7 players back who were in the rotation last year, including leading scorer, 6-5, 5th year import Josh Ross (16.6 ppg/ 9.9 rebs/3.6 assists/ 1.9 steals) , a ‘point forward’ kind of talent, with multiple skills and a competitive drive.  Glen Yang (Calgary) a 6-3 combo guard who should be a double- digit scorer this year, and 5th year wing, Ryan Cunningham (Calgary), looks ready to up his offensive out-put as well.  Noah Lewis (6-4, guard, Comox, BC) is another 5th year who will be expected to step into a bigger role. Wiande Kher (Calgary), a 6-6 wing man, has also been frustrated with injuries, but, “He is physically sound, and is moving very well”, according to Dobell.  6-7 3rd year, Nick Tancon (Comox, BC) will be  ready to share the load up front.

There is enthusiasm for several new faces, including 4th year wing man, LJ Hegwood, who moves from SAIT, and, at 6-6, has the skill and size to be an impact player for Mt. Royal.  Ben Kapinga, younger brother of David at UC,  is a 5-10 guard who comes in ‘under the radar’. “We are impressed with Ben’s play”, says Dobell. “He is quick, and he makes good decisions with the ball.”   3rd year guard, Quinn Taylor, can shoot the ball, and Coach Dobell is pleased to see his progress after he red-shirted with an injury last year. Kristian Zjak is a skilled and eager Australian import who is expected to get time at the forward spot.

Cougars Last year – 8-12  … fall short in too many close games. Prognosis – the roster turnover brings fresh hope, and they should be right in the play-off hunt.

“This is the Year”, vows Lewis

Noah Lewis is now in his 6th year attending Mt. Royal University, and, in his 5th season of eligibility, he and his teammates are determined to make this a play-off year for the Cougars. “We are not content”, says the Vancouver Island ‘import’. “The team dynamic this Fall is really good; we want to make it to the play-offs together.”

5th year guard Noah Lewis. All-in for team break-through.

Lewis wants to help this team as a senior leader, and suggests, “I’ll do what it takes to contribute to the team success,  My role may change within the system, but that’s good with me, and I think we are togther as a team in wanting to move forward.”  The consistent hard work, and the acceptance of change are something Noah embraces in this final year on this team. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time.  I love being a part of the team, and I know I’m going to miss it when it’s over”, he says.

Lewis will leave Mt. Royal with a Health / Phys Ed Degree, and says he wants to ‘work with athletes’.  That may be in strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, or even Sports Medicine. ” It’s been such an amazing time in Calgary, and it’s come to feel more like home. I’ve had so many different teammates and forged long-term relationships with some great people”, he declares. “I’ve loved competing at such a high level, and to associate with such a great bunch of teammates and coaches.”

Noah Lewis will likely not be among the top scorers in Canada West.  But, if the desire he shows for team success in this his final season is any indication, one can expect his Cougars to have a very positive run at a play-off spot come February. “I’m excited for this season with this group of guys”, he says.  Go Cougars !

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Overtime –

at McMaster 72  UBC-Okanagan 68 OT … break out game for transfer Aloysius Callaghan (Calgary) who hangs up 25 points in a good team effort on the road.

at Saskatchewan 105  Briercrest 49  … Lawrence Moore and Emmanuel Akintunde score 20 apiece for the Huskies

at Lakehead 90  Winnipeg 83  … Billy Yaworsky scores 18 pts / 12 rebs for the Wesmen, with Narcisse Ambanza chipping in 15 points.

Friday games – 

Guy Vetrie Memorial  at Victoria … Carleton – Concordia, Vikes vs Guelph

All games on Canada West TV

Winnipeg at Lakehead – on OUA TV

UBC-O at Toronto

UNBC at Mt. Royal

In the East – at McMaster   Laval, Queens at Bishops, Seneca Coll at Nipissing, Memorial at Brock, and in the Eric Garland Tourney in New Brunswick … Cape Breton – UQAM , and Saint Marys – New Brunswick

Heat Working for the Future

 

 

The goal is to bring every player along, and build a competitive team

 Coach Peter Guarasci ‘sees the glass as (at least) half-full’.  Yes, his UBC-O Heat have had a tough transition to Canada West, with wins being few and far-between last season.  But this is now, and, with a new mix of players in Kelowna, Guarasci says, “We are pleased with a group of guys who want to work, and who we feel can develop into a very competitive team.  We’re not going to get worried about wins and losses, but on developing this team, and seeing progress from week to week.”

Aldrich Berrios will be in the middle of the action for UBC-O.  Photo – Heat Athletics

Guarasci, now in his 5th year at Okanagan, has only 5 returnees, 1 of whom is a starter.  Luckily, that is 4th year guard Aldrich Berrios, who led the team with 17.6 ppg/ 4.8 rebs/ 3.3 assists, and 1.4 steals.  The twist is that Berrios is also playing defensive back for the Okanagan Sun Jr. Football team this Fall ! “ I wasn’t going to tell him no”,  says Coach Guarasci, “but I do kind of hold my breath every weekend ….”   A ‘returnee’ after a year away is 3rd year wing man, Cam Servatius (Chilliwack), who is ‘stronger, and will be seeing some key minutes for us’, according to his coach.

 

Tristan Matthews, a 6-4, 2nd year guard from N. Vancouver, is working extremely hard, and turning into a capable rebounder. A key acquisition is 6-7 forward Ben Kornelson (Armstrong, BC), who brings a gritty inside game after a couple of seasons at Briercrest College.  Another big man with a nose for the action is 4th year transfer (Lakeland College), 6-6, Kyrin Cybenko (Saskatoon), who ‘really gets after it’ against bigger opponents.   Another transfer who is impressing coaches with his skills and desire to blend into the team concept is 4th year guard Aloysius Callaghan (Calgary).

The Heat have a big 1st year group, with 6 rookie on the expanded roster. 6-7 Gurman Bhangu (Surrey, BC) is ‘keen on competing right away’, and he has a good scoring touch. Another young big man is 6-9 Owen Keyes (Kelowna) who works extremely hard and is making great progress.  Rookie import, 6-1, Kareem Moussa (Texas) ‘has great instincts’, and can make good decisions as a lead guard.

“We know we will have lots of development work to be done with a very young group,” says Coach Guarasci. “We do, however’ have some more mature guys who can ‘float the boat’ competitively while we allow their younger teammates to progress. “

Heat last season 2-18   … Long-range plans  … Prognosis –  May be a year away, but looking for pluses –  Big men may be the key, and the Heat are bigger than ever.

 

Heat Assistant Boosts Youth Program

Landry Ndayitwayeko,  the lead Assistant Coach for the UBC-O Heat,  ‘eats and sleeps’ basketball these days.  After finishing his CIS career for the Heat, and earning an Economics degree in 2014, the Windsor, ON  native dove into the coaching side of the game.

Landry Ndayitwayeko leads the Junior Heat program.

“It’s a full-time job,” says Ndayitwayeko. “Between coaching the university guys and heading up the Junior Club program, I see this as a great opportunity.”   “Pete (Heat Head Coach, Peter Guarasci) is very supportive and flexible, as we divide our time between the varsity team and the youth programs.”  When Landry says ‘we’, he includes Yasine Ghomari and Mitch Goodwin, who are also Heat assistants and active with the youth program.

“We ran 9 teams this past Spring-Summer, from U-12 through U-17”, says Ndayitwayeko.  “This Fall we are running an Academy program, with one night of skills training and one for games. I just love coaching the young players”, he exclaims. “We want to teach the game, and help the kids develop.  Our vision is to see this program grow, and to grow our numbers.  We are working to help these kids take their game as far as they can.”

As far as his own coaching aspirations, Landry suggests, “I’m pretty happy with my combined role right now as an assistant with UBC-O and putting a lot of effort in with Yasine and Mitch in building our youth program.”  Coach Guarasci says, “Landry is a real driver of that Club program, and his energy and vision are amazing.”

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Overtime –

  • The Heat have 3 games in Ontario this weekend.  Coach Guarasci sees this as a huge team-building opportunity;  they have booked a very big house in Toronto, and will make excursions out from there for the games in Hamilton (McMaster), downtown Toronto (U of T), and out West in London (Western ).
  • The UVic ‘Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament’ games are all available on Canada West TV.  Fans should have their subscriptions in place for a whole season’s schedule of games, including these and other pre-season fixtures.
  • The Winnipeg Wesmen games at Lakehead this Friday and Saturday are also available on OUA TV 

Bisons Hit Re-start

 

 

Graduations Leave Manitoba With Young Roster

“We are really young,” exclaims Kirby Schepp, the lead Bison in the Herd.  This is indeed a group of fresh new faces for Manitoba, after seeing the graduation of starters, Keith Omoerah, A.J. Basi, Ilarion Bonhomme, and Brett Jewell, along with strong forward Jonathan Alexander.

Justus Alleyn, Bison’s CW All-star guard.       Photo – Bisons Athletics

The Brown and Gold return Justus Alleyn, a 6-3 guard who led team scoring at 17.4 ppg, and hit 43% from beyond the arc.  But a practice injury has taken veteran forward, Malik Irwin, out for the season, and other troubles have kept several players out of the early season roster.  Can you say, ‘overhaul’?

New challenges for Coach Schepp to be sure, but he is nothing if not enthusiastic. “I’m excited about our freshmen, and couple of red-shirts who can step in now and get in the roatation,”  says the 9 year head coach.

‘We certainly have a fast developing forward in James Wagner,” ( 6-7, 2nd year, Winnipeg), says Schepp, “ but 6-7 red-shirt forward, Cameron O’Hara, is also a  big body inside, and he’s going to help us defensively.”  He also mentions Wyatt Tait, a 6-6 rookie from Winnipeg, and 6-1 Rikki Zimbakov, another local product.  These 2 were rated 1 and 2 in the group of graduating high school players in the province.

The Bisons added Rashawn Browne (Toronto), a point man entering his 3rd year, after playing at both New Mexico State and California U. (Pittsburgh). Browne is expected to be the floor leader on the U of M offense.

Bisons last season 12-8   … Finalists in Canada West … Prognosis –  Tough to match that with so many new recruits –  may have to scramble for a play-off spot.

 

Back to Canada for Bisons new lead guard

U of M transfer, Rashawn Browne, in action at New Mexico State

In high school, Rashawn Browne played at Eastern Commerce in Toronto, then in the GTA Prep League while at Bill Crothers Sr. Secondary in Markham. In a tournament in the U.S. with his club team, he played well against a strong AAU team which included future NBA star, Jamil Okafor,  and  Rashawn was approached by New Mexico State. ‘I red-shirted there, then with injuries and coaching changes I moved on to Pennsylvania, “ says Browne.  Pointing out that he is not a ‘basketball gypsy’, the 3.5 GPA student says, “I was just not happy with the way things were run in the U.S.  It was more like a business, with the coaches trying to protect their jobs. Here at Manitoba, the other players are very friendly; we support each other, and Coach Schepp and his staff are interested in our doing well in our classes as well as on the court.  It’s just more fun here.”

The ‘pass-first’ point man suggests he is happy to have Justus Alleyn to pass to, and happy to have James Wagner as a skilled forward.  ‘I’m excited to be part of this program, and to be playing with this group of guys”. Coach Schepp says, “Rashawn is a solid floor leader; he’s the real deal!  He shows a very high basketball IQ, and he’s also got a calm demeanour when the action heats up.  He’s a quality young man, and we think he will be a great addition to our team.”

Pursuing a Business degree and looking forward to wearing the Bisons colours in his first game next week in a home tournament,  Rashawn starts a very new chapter in his young life.  This may well be the classic case of opportunity meeting solid preparation, and the Herd looks to have a most capable new on-court leader.

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UVic hosts the Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament this weekend.

Canada West Pre-season picks up this coming weekend

Teams are ‘breaking the huddle’ and taking to the court against someone other than their own teammates this week.  We build towards the Annual Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament at Victoria, where Coach Craig Beaucamp and the Vikes will host the defending champions of everything, the Carleton Ravens, along with the Guelph Gryphons, and the Concordia Stingers.

The Okanagan Heat make a trip East to  play OUA teams, and Winnipeg have their annual ‘holiday trek’ to Thunder Bay to play a pair with the ‘Wolves. Coach Todd Jordan and his  UNBC T’Wolves make a 3 game swing through S. Alberta.

the schedule –

Thursday, Sept. 28 – UBC-O at McMaster

Briercrest College at Saskatchewan,    Winnipeg at Lakehead

Friday, 29th    – at UVic … Carleton – Concordia, Vikes vs Guelph

Winnipeg at Lakehead,   UBC-O at Toronto,    UNBC at Mt. Royal

Saturday, 30th     – Carleton – Victoria, Guelph-Concordia (at UVic)

UBC-O at Western Ontario,   Seattle Mountaineers at Trinity Western

UNBC at Mt. Royal

Sunday Oct 1  – Victoria vs Concordia, Guelph vs Carleton (UVic)

UNBC at Lethbridge

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Overtime –

Canada West weekend results –   Seattle Mountaineers 77  Fraser Valley 74          UBC-O  94  Vancouver Island U.  88

OUA –  York 107 Centennial Coll. 61, York 80  G. Brown Coll. 64, St. Clair Coll. 85  Western Ont. 73

Golden Bears Want More

 

Bears With Bright Outlook

Alberta were primed for last season’s play-off series, and came away with the Canada West crown.  With 10 returnees, including 5th year stalwarts, Mamadou Gueye, Lyndon Annetts, and Geoff Pippus, the Bears bring playing experience and great depth.  Without doubt, this is a top 3 team in Canada West for the upcoming year.

Brody Clarke                         Photo – Bears Athletics

U of A has Canada West All-stars, Brody Clarke, and Austin Waddoups, as well as Rookie of the Year, Andre Kelly.  Oh, and, very likely their best clutch performer in the 6-7 Gueye, a genuine ‘Prime Time Performer’!   Last season Mamadou led Bears scorers at 15.9 ppg / 6 rebs, with Clarke at 14.4 ppg/ 7.1 rebs, and   Waddoups scoring 13.7 ppg/ 3.7 assists.

Alberta utilizes the 3 point shot most effectively with Waddoups hitting  46.8%, Kelly 44.7%, along with Pippus , Ivan Ikomey  and Gueye all over 40% from downtown during the last campaign. Coach Barnaby Craddock, who has the distinction of taking 3 different teams to the National Championship Tournament ( Brandon, Fraser Valley, Alberta), has the talent to get back to Halifax this coming March.

He has added 2 more players in 6-4 wing, Nolan Woodward (Montreal), a powerful offensive threat, and, from France, Hugo Cluysen, a 6-7, 18 year old  forward with club and international experience. Coach Craddock says, “We do have depth, and we think we’ve added some good contributors, as well as some young guys.”

Bears last season 14-6  … Canada West champs … Prognosis – Could well go 16-17 wins … schedule has Alberta at home for key series’.

 

Gueye – “We want to be the best!”

The Alberta Golden Bears, the 2017 Canada West Champions, are blessed with a strong array of veteran returnees, but none so indispensible as their lynchpin wing-man, 5th year star, Mamadou Gueye.  In successive playoff years, Gueye has produced his best basketball when all the chips are on the table.

Mamadou Gueye – Photo Bears Athletics

Last season, after what he himself suggests was a ‘less than spectacular’ regular campaign, Gueye propelled the Bears to their 12th Canada West title with a stellar 30 pts/ 8 rebs in a semi-final win over Saskatchewan, then  20 pts/ 8 boards in the final vs Manitoba. “ Says Gueye, “I was trying to see where to best fit in with our team system as the season progressed.”  “When it came to the play-offs, I knew it was ‘go-time’, and I was confident and ready to play hard”.

Coming to U of A in 2013 from Cegep Ste. Foy in Quebec, Gueye was Canada West Rookie of the Year, and 5 years later he is poised to get his Bachelor of Arts degree this coming Spring.  When asked why he would come West to play his university ‘ball, Gueye explained, “I was impressed with the team, with Jordan Baker and that group who were at Nationals.  And I wanted to see the rest of Canada.  Alberta has the College St. Jean, which has allowed me to use my French in my studies.”

Gueye cites the ‘family feeling’ surrounding the Golden Bears team. “We get great alumni support, and the atmosphere from the fans in our new gym is something we really love.”  Mamadou, a dynamic, slashing scorer, has fed on this positive climate, especially in the play-offs, where he has, unfailingly produced 4-5 more points per game, and taken more of the leadership role in the team’s fortunes.

In this final season, Gueye, who is likely headed for a pro career (Europe?), has some lofty goals; after 2 Canada West titles with U of A (2014 and 2017), he says, “I plan to play with a chip on my shoulder.  We want to be the best, and we want to play our hardest when it matters the most.”   With an outstanding group of returnees, and with Mamadou Gueye’s play-off preparation, we expect to see the Bears in the middle of a title run again in March 2018.

 

Dinos Lean on Experience , Guard Depth

 

Calgary Dinos Preview – 

Out of obvious necessity Dinos look to be increasingly embracing a ‘small-ball’ approach this coming season.  “We are definitely smaller”, said Coach Dan Vanhooren.  “ But we’re very happy with our good mix of returnees and younger players.”

Mambi Diawara attacks the rim for UC.

Guards David Kapinga and Mambi Diawara will be expected to benefit from their summer with Canada’s Universiade Team, which competed in Taiwan. Kapinga, a two-way leader, topped Canada West 3 pt% shooting last year at 48.1%, and can be expected to raise his numbers (11.5 ppg), as UC tries to cover the 24 ppg they got for 2 years from Thomas Cooper.

Diawara  should be another impact player at both ends, with his quickness and size; the Montreal native is an obvious ‘X-factor’ candidate. Defensive stopper, Jhony Verrone, is one of a pair of 5th year players, along with the hard-working post man, Connor Foreman Lars Schleuter, a 4th year forward, has an effective 3 point shot, and will get more minutes inside as well.

There’s no shortage of young talent on the Dinos, with 2nd year German import guard, Max Eisle,  6-5 wing, Sasha Pojuzina (Regina), and rookies Mason Foreman, a 6-6 forward from Winnipeg, along with Andrew Milner a 6-1 lead guard from Nova Scotia.

Calgary will compete for a top 5 finish in Canada West,  counting on their team defense to negate that size deficit. UC has 6 strong opponents to test their ‘new look’ in pre-season action.

Last year – 16-4 …..  Prognosis – 13-15 wins– size matters quite a bit in the Canada West wars.

 

 

 Foreman  is Positive for Final Season

Connor Foreman, ‘… thought of myself as a basketball player’ as early as his Junior High years in smalltown, Camrose, Alberta. “I was 6-6 going into 10th grade, and, even though I played many other sports, basketball was it for me.’ Despite this initial love for hoops, it was Volleyball that got Foreman to the University of Calgary. “Actually”, says Connor, “it was also being able to see the mountains every day, and having family in the Calgary area.”

Connor Foreman will be in the ‘thick of things’ for the Dinos. Photo – Edmonton Journal

Not a ‘high profile recruit’ in basketball, Connor had former coach, Pat McFeeley, promoting his volleyball skills to Dinos Coach, Rod Durant. But after 2 years of “… not being able to bang into somebody”, the 225 lb Foreman headed to the Basketball team and Coach Dan Vanhooren.  “Connor is such a dedicated, hard-working young man; he has steadily improved each season with us, and we think he will be key this year.”  Connor describes himself as a ‘grinder’, and when you watch him play you see his extra effort in running the floor for both offense and defense.

His physicality on the floor allows him to ‘bang’ with bigger opponents, and this season, Connor is trying to hone some more productive scoring moves inside.  He is still somewhat limited in practice as he finishes up his recovery from a leg injury. “I want to be back in the line-up, and to play big minutes” , says Connor,  and certainly more than  he has seen in his first 2 years. When he started with the Basketball Dinos, he was motivated by the leadership model he saw in post – man, Matt Letkeman. Foreman suggests that the big B.C. native was “always positive, and encouraging other guys to work hard for their success; he promoted a selfless, supportive  attitude amongst teammates.”

The 6-7 Foreman will finish a BSc in Biology next Spring, then plans to ‘include lots of travel’ in his immediate future. “ My older brothers have kind of led me to this drive to see the world.  One has been in China, and the other in France.  Who knows, maybe I can play ‘ball overseas, and see the sights at the same time.”

But first, it’s a 5th year in Canada West, and, the engaging senior hopes he will compete in his 3rd Nationals in 3 seasons of play. If this is to happen for his Dinos, Connor is sure to play a big role, as he is now ‘the’ big man on the roster!

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Overtime –

  • Saturday pre-season games

at Fraser Valley Cascades vs. Seattle Mountaineers, 6 p.m.

UBC-O hosts  Vancouver Island U. in Kelowna

 

Trinity Western in Transition

 

Trinity Western Spartans –  

3rd year Coach Aaron Muhic will be counting on his 7 returning 4th and 5th year players to help his Spartans turn the tide on 2 rough seasons for the Langley, BC crew. 5th year, 6-0 guard, Pogos Trunyan, a 3 point shooting threat from  Sacramento, CA,  led Trinity scorers with 14.7 ppg last year, and 4th year wing, 6-4 Vartan Taniellian (White Rock, BC) was 11.8 ppg / 3.6 rebs. Expect 4th year, 6-5 wing, Max Viitala (Melbourne, Aus) to up his 11 ppg scoring, with his 49% accuracy from the floor.

TWU’s leading scorer, Pogos Trunyan, returns for his 5th year.

Josiah Meppelink, a 2nd year, 6-3 guard from Langley stepped in as a rookie to post a solid 1.5 assist to turnover mark as a 24 mins/game rookie.  Newcomers this Fall include 3rd year transfer (Briercrest, SK), Ethan DaSilva (Calgary), a slick lead guard with an eye for the hoop.

‘Walk-on’ at the forward spot is, Steve Sesink, a 6-8 big body, who Coach Muhic feels, ‘can help us inside’. The Spartans also added 6-7 Daniel Stead from a good program at Langley – Walnut Grove, and 6-6 Aaron Petkau, Ballenas HS, Parksville

Coach Muhic describes himself as a ‘builder’, and he wants to develop a winning program and to graduate his players.  This may be a challenge for one of Canada West’s smaller schools, but Muhic’s track record as one of the NAIA’s winningest coaches while at William Jessup University (CA), suggests that he is up for it. This may be a ‘transitional year’ with as many new faces as returnees.

Last year – 3-17 …..  Prognosis –  Aiming for 10-10, but with a very rugged schedule in 2017-18.

 

Tanielian Trains in Homeland

5th year Trinity Western Spartan, Vartan Tanielian, went ‘home’ for much of this Summer.  In his case ‘home’ is all the way back to childhood, in Lebanon.  The trip was, however, primarily to take advantage of an opportunity to work-out with National Basketball Team players in the country of his birth.

“It was brilliant”, gushes the enthusiastic Tanielian, who made a big enough impression that he made the top 15 on this National squad. “It was a real eye-opener, to see how these pros prepared for competition.  To see how hard they trained, and took care of physical conditioning.  I certainly learned the level of dedication it takes to reach their level, to succeed in the pros, and to stay there over a number of years.”  Vartan was invited to travel to Serbia with the team, and he was part of their training for a series there.

A key returnee for the Spartans in his final season, Vartan believes this overseas experience will help him give more to TWU over the Fall and Winter. Asked to comment on the challenges for Trinity with a very rugged League schedule, the young man said, “I like the tough slate of games. We’ll know where we stand.  I think this can be our year, and I’m looking at 10-12 wins as a team goal.”

Moving from Lebanon to Los Angeles at 6 years old in 2001, Vartan said he had to learn resilience as he faced cultural biases from Americans shortly after 9-11.  “But I found friends, and I discovered how much I loved playing basketball”, he said.  Vartan’s enthusiasm for life and basketball allowed him to get through this traumatic time in his life.

Moving on to B.C., his family settled in White Rock/ Surrey, and he made more friends who were basketball players.  One of these was fellow TWU player, Tyus Allen. “We grew up together”, says Tyus. “He is like a brother to me; I loved playing with him (at White Rock Christian Academy, then on to TWU).

Allen, whose Dad, Scott, coached the Spartans for their 1st 3 years at the school, is a talented point guard, but has, in the past couple of years, had several knee injuries. The latest, he suffered in a game last season (one in which Tyus was headed for a triple -double’ on the stats sheet).  “It’s hard for me to see my friend have to struggle through these injuries”, says Vartan. “He will be a player-coach with us for now, but I realize how hard it is for him to deal with his severe injury.”

Tanielian, who was disappointed in his season last year, suggests, “I am better prepared now, and in much better physical shape.  I’m looking for us to have our bgest season yet.”  If this new-found determination and confidence can be matched by the rest of the Spartans, they just may surprise many observers.

 

‘The Ball Goes Up ….’

 

 Fall Pre-Season Games on Tap This Week

Teams have been busy with their early Fall work-outs, and pre-season games are getting underway starting this weekend.  Laurentian and Algoma start things off this Friday in Sudbury, while Alberta has an Alumni game on Saturday.  UBC-O hosts Vancouver Island , a strong B.C. College League team, also on Saturday in Kelowna.  Laval, Cape Breton, Saskatchewan, York, Nipissing, and Western Ontario also have CCAA opponents lined up over the next 10-12 days.

Coach Peter Guarasci and the Heat are busy in September.

UBC-O travel to Ontario next week, where the Heat will play McMaster, Toronto, and Western Ont. Also beginning the last weekend in September will be UVic’s annual Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament.  The Vikes once again welcome the National Champion Carleton Ravens, along with Concordia Stingers and the Guelph Gryphons.  Winnipeg Wesmen continue their tradition of playing a pair of games in Thunder Bay vs Lakehead on September 28 and 29.

Other games that get our interest …  Memorial visits Brock, McMaster, and York on the 29th-Oct 1. The Eric Garland Tournament at U. New Brunswick has Saint Marys, Cape Breton, and UQAM.

 

NCAA vs U-Sports : 45 – 25

6-8 Eddie Ekiyor and the Carleton Ravens look like championship contenders , even in August.

In 70 games played this past August – early September between U-Sports

In 70 games played this past August – early September between U-Sports schools and NCAA squads, the edge goes to the Americans by a 45 – 25 count.

Overall,  Carleton owned a 9-2 record over NCAA competition, including wins over Alabama, Vanderbilt,  and Northeastern.  McGill, who won all 3 on a trip to the Caribbean,  was just 1-4 in later home games, and had an overall 4-6 mark. Windsor won both their NCAA games in August, then went to The Netherlands and swept a 3 game series against club-pro teams there. Ottawa Gee-Gees were 3-1 with visiting U.S. schools, with their lone loss to Alabama by an 81-71 score.

Out West, it was Alberta with a 1-1 record against Montana State, as they clipped the ‘Cats  97-72 in their 2nd try in Calgary.  UBC took a ‘modified line-up’ (minus Coach Hanson and ace forward, Conor Morgan, among others) to Costa Rica, and lost 3 straight to Texas -El Paso once and 2 to a strong Nevada-Reno Wolf Pack team.   Full details of these results are available on the fine  U-Sports Hoops web-site , which is so well edited by Martin Timmerman in Waterloo.

 

Keith Omoerah is off to play pro in Norway. Photo – Bisons Sports

Overtime –

  • One of a very strong group of graduates leaving the Manitoba Bisons is wing man, Keith Omoerah, who has signed a pro contract with Baerum in Norway.  Omoerah, Amarjit Basi, Ilarion Bonhomme, Brett Jewell, and Jonathan Alexander take a lot of skill and experience away from the U of M roster.   More on Omoerah’s move to Europe in this Bisons Athletics release.

  •  Raptors Train at UVic … In what has become a tradition, the Toronto Raptors will hold training camp in British Columbia for the 4th straight year. UVic’s CARSA Gym will be the site from Sept. 26-29.  While practices will be closed to the public, fans will get a chance to see an   intra-squad game  on Thursday, Sept. 28. Tickets for this intra-squad game “ … were available online and in person at the CARSA membership services counter and were in incredibly high demand,” read the news release from Vikes Athletics as of last Friday.  Actually, the on-line and in- person ticket rush was over in less than 1/2 hour! Sell-out!  There are some standing room seats available closer to game time.

    Canadian Kyle Wiltjer will be one of the new faces in the Toronto line-up this season.

    This is a great tradition by the Raps, who have , in recent years, also had pre-season NBA games in various cities across Canada.  Unfortunately, Victoria will be the only Canadian venue this season.  Toronto has early October games in Honolulu, Portland, Toronto, and Chicago.  More Raptors info

 

 

Basi Latest to Go ‘Euro-Pro’

 

 

AJ Basi to Play Pro in Britain

Bisons’ grad, Amarjit Basi, will play in Newcastle, Britain.

The dream of a very young Amarjit Basi was to play basketball at a high level.  The 5th year graduated captain of the Manitoba Bisons has been moving on to a higher level since he was 9 and 10 years old.  After helping the Bisons, under Coach Kirby Schepp, to the 2017 U-Sport Nationals in Halifax, Basi, a slick ball-handler and deady outside shooter, recently signed with Newcastle in the British Div. 1 professional ranks.  (Story in the Winnipeg Free Press).

He joins many Canada West grads who are continuing their playing days with professional teams in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.  We wish AJ the best in Britain, and the same to UVic’s Grant Sitton (Slovakia), Calgary’s Thomas Cooper (Germany), and  Thompson River’s Josh Wolfram (Czech Republic).

 

New Canada West Campaign Prompts Logo Changes

The ‘New Canada West’ re-brand is yet another change  for what started as the Western Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and this is a whole League promotion to launch a new marketing effort.  The details of this new branding are itemized here at their new web-site.

As the League moves forward, so do several schools, with new logos for their teams.  On our  header you will see the up-dated looks for the Brandon Bobcats and the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.  We have also included the new logos for both the Mt. Royal Cougars and the UNBC Timberwolves in this story.

 

One of the most important things the League and it’s schools can do is to make a yearly effort to increase their appeal to potential fans.  University sports may deserve a bigger presence in mainline media than they currently receive, but it is encumbent upon the League and individual schools to become more active in capturing that market.

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NCAA vs U-Sports Scores   –

Hofstra (Div 1 – NY) 88 at McGill 76, Hofstra 99 at UQAM 87, Hofstra 110

at Bishops  51, Hofstra 85  at UQAM  62,   Siena (NY- Div 1) 79  at McGill 71

St. Francis (Brooklyn -Div 1)  75 at Concordia 66, Carleton 73  Siena  66,

McGill 80  St. Francis 67, Ottawa  80  Ramapo College (Div 3 – NJ)

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 Overtime – 

 

  •  Lethbridge signs highly-rated Edmonton guard, Awak Piom, at 6-5 , (Harry Ainlay High School), he was instrumental in helping the Titans win  back-to-back provincial championships in 2014 and 2015  Details from U of L

 

  • Nice story in the Kenora Miner and News about the U. Winnipeg Women’s Team, on a team-building weekend reaching out to young players in Kenora , Ontario   These community connections are an important part of every Canada West program!