2016-17 Canada West Basketball Previews –
Our season previews start with a pair of teams who both figure to make a hard run at the March 2017 Canada West Final 4. Despite being early in Fall camp, both the Calgary Dinos and the Manitoba Bisons will be looking ahead to their meeting in Calgary for the opening weekend of play in November.
– 2016 Canada West champions – 17 wins 3 losses
Returnees – 5th years – 6-5,Thomas Cooper, 6-7, Dallas Karch, 6-5, Jasdeep Gill … 4th years- 6-0, Jhony Verrone, 6-7, Mitch Ligertwood, 6-6, Connor Foreman, 6-7, Sunvir Johal … 3rd years – 5-11, David Kapinga, 6-7, Lars Schleuter, 6-7, Matt Ellis.
New faces – Mambi Diawara, 4th yr, 6-5 wing, Montreal (Lamar State C.C. TX) , Aloysius Calaghan, 4th yr, 6-0 guard, Calgary (MRU), Max Eisle, 1st yr, 6-4 guard, Ulm, Germany, Jeff Rodehutskors, 1st yr, 6-8 fwd, Chestermere, AB, Sasha Pojuzina, 1st yr, 6-6 wing, Regina, Jake Neilsen, 1st yr, 6-3 guard, Cochrane, AB, Ethan Scott, 1st yr, 6-2 guard, Vancouver, (Orangeville Prep, ON)
The Dinos went all the way to the CIS Final last March, where they lost decisively to the mighty Carleton Ravens. The temptation is to focus on how you can return to the Final 8 next Spring and win the ‘Cup’ next time. But, that was then … this is now.
This Fall U. Calgary appears deep, experienced, big, with good team quickness. But, even in their opening series of the ’16-’17 season on November 4/5, the Dinos face a formidable foe in the Manitoba Bisons. Coach Dan Vanhooren says, “We’re excited about this group of guys”, but knows it is a long road through a rugged League schedule.
UC returns 71.8 ppg in scoring, lead by last year’s top CW sniper, Thomas Cooper, (25.8), and tall wing man,Lars Schleuter (12.5). The explosive quickness of David Kapinga and Jhony Verrone lead the back-court defense, and both are opportunistic scorers. That guard experience and the growing confidence of forwards Matt Ellis and Mitch Ligertwood should make up for the loss of Josh Owen-Thomas and Matt Letkeman, last year’s senior leaders.
Both Jadeep Gill and Dallas Karch are veteran players with size and toughness, with Gill a big offensive threat, and Karch with his speed and quick jumping ability. Connor Foreman will provide post depth, as will rookie, Jeff Rodehutskors, an extremely athletic big man.
Newcomers Max Eisle, a lead guard with experience in the German League, and Mambi Diawara, a dynamic wing transfer from his Texas JUCO, will be in the playing rotation. Sasha Pojuzina is a high school recruit with size and skill.
Schedule – Nov/Dec – vs Manitoba, at Victoria, home/home with Lethbridge, h/h with Mt. Royal … Jan/Feb – h/h with Alberta, vs Fraser Valley, vs Saskatchewan, at Regina, at Thompson Rivers, vs MacEwan. Prediction – Top 3 team
’15-’16 – Lost to Calgary and UBC in CW Final 4 – 15 wins 5 losses
Returnees – 5th years – 5-11, Amarjit (AJ) Basi, 6-0, Ilarion Bonhomme, 6-6, Jonathan Alexander , 6-7, Brett Jewell … 4th years – 6-5, Keith Omoerah, 6-3, Justus Alleyn, 6-5, Malik Irwin, 6-4, Keenan Benarroch , 6-5, Joey Nitychoruk … 3rd year- 6-7, Osahon Eghosa … 1st years (after red-shirting), 6-5, Dharmjit Dhillon , 6-6, Raj Sidhu , 6-0 Keiran Zziwa
New faces – (all 1st years) James Wagner, 6 – 7 fwd, John Taylor (Winnipeg) , Zach Giesbrecht, 6-1 guard, John Taylor, Cam O’Hara, 6-7 forward, St. Paul’s HS (Winnipeg), Joel Adu Quaye, 6-6 forward, St. Paul’s (Winnipeg), David Mugugu, 6-5 forward , Kildonan-East Collegiate (Winnipeg).
The Bisons were right on the cusp last season, but just missed a trip to Nationals with 2 losses in the Final 4. They graduated their top rebounder, Wyatt Anders, but still have size with Jonathan Alexander, Brett Jewell, Keith Omoerah, and Osahon Eghosa. (Eghosa suffered through salmonella poisoning in a trip to the U.S. this summer, and will be working his way back to ‘match fitness’ this Fall.) Adding 6-7 rookie, James Wagner, who played on the Canada U-18s this past summer, has Coach Kirby Schepp exclaiming, “He may be our top recruit in the recent history of our program !”.
Canada West all-star, Omoerah (13 ppg), Justus Alleyn (15.6 ppg), and Amarjit Basi (18 ppg) were offensive leaders last season, and the veteran import point man, Ilarion Bonhomme, a former Brandon Bobcat, has proven to be a great addition.
Joey Nitychoruk is a ‘high-energy’ player, who transferred last year from Lakehead, and Schepp expects him to be a solid contributor. A slow start last year may have given the Herd a tougher road at play-off time, but, with so much experience returning, we can expect them to be more ready for this campaign. They had better be, because they have one of the toughest front-end schedules before the Holiday break!
One very impressive stat is that 15 of their 18 roster players are Winnipeg high school products; an amazing pool of home-grown talent! “We are very proud of our ‘Manitoba content’ on our roster”, says Schepp.
Schedule – Nov/Dec – at Calgary, vs Thompson Rivers, at UBC, vs Alberta, h/h with Winnipeg … Jan/Feb – at Regina, at Trinity Western, vs UNBC, at Brandon, vs Mt. Royal Prediction – Top 5 team
New Schedule ‘Not Universally Popular’
What is the RPI, and why will it bother us? Learn more as we examine the shiny new schedule which Canada West has rolled out for the coming season. No more ‘Pioneers’ and ‘Explorers’, as we’re all one big, happy, 17- team Canada West League now! (Actually there may be the odd coach here or there who is a smidge shy of happy.) Because … there are a few oddities to the new format –
> Schools don’t play the same teams. You see, each school has 4 designated ‘traditional rivals’, who they play every year … 8 games … then they play 6 of the remaining 12 teams … 12 games = 20
> So we miss 6 teams each year , but get them the following year.
> Who makes the playoffs ? “ The top 12 teams based on winning percentage at the conclusion of league play … “
> How do we break ties ? Well, here are the first 4 tie breakers in the manual – when Two Teams are Tied:
1. Win/Loss record in head to head competition.
2. Win/Loss record versus common opponents.
3. Each teams RPI ranking.
4. Points difference in head to head competition between the tied teams.
Three or More Teams Tied:
Use the same procedure as a two‐teams tied. Once one team has been separated from the tied group, go back to step one with the remaining tied team(s).
> How are the playoff teams ranked ? “The top 12 teams are then ranked 1 to 12 based on each team’s RPI standing in order to account for the various strength of schedules faced by each team.” Er-ah ?! (The OUA people may get this, but we Westerners are scratching our heads !)
> What is the RPI ? “ Each team’s RPI is based on the following formula: = 25% team winning percentage (WP) adjusted for home and away wins (1.2 for an away win and 0.8 for a home win), 50% opponents’ average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents’ opponent’s average winning percentage (OOWP) . O-h-h-h-h-h-h … now it’s clear. (Actually, could either Tyler from Winnipeg or Martin from Waterloo give us a formula for this ? As always, we need math help !)
- Ex-Calgary Dino, Robbie Sihota, has signed a new one-year
contract with MAFC Budapest of the Hungarian A Division. Last season the 6-6 forward, who heads into his 7th year as a pro, scored 18.5 points per game (3rd in league) and snared 9.3 rebounds per game (4th).
Sihota had previously played in the Dutch League, Switzerland, Germany, and in Edmonton of the IBL.
- Brandon Brine, the Lethbridge Pronghorns’ 5th year Canada West all-star last year signed a pro deal with San Pablo Inmobiliaria Miraflores Burgos in Spain. The 6-7 Aussie will be missed by UL, but is expected to be one of the top players for his club in Miraflores.
- The powerhouse Carleton Ravens landed another big recruit in August in 6-9, Eddie Ekiyor of Ottawa, This was a late switch for the widely recruited Canada Basketball team member, who had originally signed with Xavier (Cincinnati), an NCAA Div 1 school.
- It was great to hear Coach Marc Dobell answer his office phone at Mt. Royal University; the personable 13 year coach of the Cougars returns to Fall practice after some time away recovering from a heart attack. We wish him well, not only with his team, but in a full recovery health wise .