Huskies and Thunderbirds visit the Alberta Foothills
The Saskatchewan Huskies (8-4) are on the road for the 2nd straight week, again in Southern Alberta, in a ‘throw-down series’ with the Calgary Dinos (10-2) . Surely with added confidence from 2 wins at Lethbridge last week, the ‘Dogs will be looking to their big forwards and team rebounding for an edge here. Guards Jaylan Morgan (Toronto) and Lawrence Moore (Chicago) are working well as a pair, and give good back-court leadership and scoring. Forwards, Shane Osayande and Matt Forbes, are both capable of double-doubles in scoring/ rebounding every night.
Calgary have the higher scoring rate, and use an 11 + rotation to increase the pace at both ends. The Dinos defenders have picked the opponent’s pockets the 2nd most in the League, led by guard David Kapinga, a consummate disruptor. Inside, UC has a 3 1/2 man post crew ( Matt Ellis, Mitch Ligertwood, Connor Foreman, and a bit of rookie Jeff Rodehutskors) , who will work at containing the Huskies stars. 2015-16 CW MVP, Thomas Cooper can score inside or out, and he will demand extra attention from U of S defenders.
It may be the depth of Calgary (Lars Schleuter, Jasdeep Gill, Dallas Karch, Jhony Verrone et al …) , or the inside game of Sask. But, we can also expect foul shooting to play a part as it has done in recent, passionately contested games. The series can put Calgary firmly at the top of the standings, or it could vault Saskatchewan into championship contention. Games at UC – 8 pm Friday, 7 pm Saturday
The 11-1 UBC Thunderbirds, riding a wave after topping the U of A last week in Vancouver, bring an assured squad to S. Calgary for a 2 game set with the Mt. Royal Cougars. Conor Morgan, Jordan Jensen-Whyte, Will Ondrik, and A.J. Holloway lead a deep and experienced crew, who are scoring 88 ppg vs 72 pts for their opposition. Coach Kevin Hanson has more talent at his disposal, with Patrick Simon, Luka Zaharijevic, and Harpreet Randhawa ready on the front line.
The Cougars (7-5), who won 2 last week at UNBC, answer with Josh Ross, Brett Layton, and Nick Tancon at the forward spot, but they will need the perimeter to assist on the boards, where UBC is +5 and MRU at -1 reb/game . The Cougars guards have taken good care of the ball, and the trio of Derek Wolf, Glen Yang, and Ryan Cunningham have been scoring at a more consistent pace. We might, but won’t, call this an up-set possibility. UBC is a heavy ‘over-dog’, but MRU will compete. Fri at 8 pm and an early 6 pm tip on Sat.
Fraser Valley (5-7) are also returning to Alberta, but this time to Edmonton for 2 against the 11-3 Alberta Golden Bears. The Bears, smarting from a 2 game lost weekend in Vancouver, will be determined to get things back on course. That means Mamadou Gueye and Brody Clarke firing away up front, and Austin Waddoups playing his ‘whirling Dervish ‘ style on offense. The Cascades need an exceptional effort both ways, but they do have shooters, in Manny Dulay, and Vijay Dhillon. The UFV defense will be challenged by Alberta’s long-range snipers. Bears a favourite, with a chance of a Cascades upset. Friday at 8 pm Mountain, Sat at 7.
Lethbridge Pronghorns (8-6) fly to the Island, to meet the 5-7 Victoria Vikes on Ken and Kathy Shields Court this Fri/Sat. Two wins could serve to put the ‘Horns back in the top 4 mix, but they lost 2 at home to Saskatchewan last week, and weren’t really near their best on Saturday. The Vikes won 2, and now need to step it up even more against a better opponent in Lethbridge. It’s Grant Sitton and rookie Scott Kellum leading the Vikes, and Dejon Burdeaux with Elliott Sentance called on to shepherd the Pronghorns. We’ll suggest a split . Friday tip at 8 pm / Sat. at 7 pm Pacific
Regina Cougars (6-6) at Brandon Bobcats (5-9 ) – One highlight this week will be to listen in again to the unmistakable colour commentary of ‘Cats coaching legend, Jerry Hemmings. Keep it coming Coach ! Meanwhile, both Coach Steve Burrows (Green Cougars) and Coach Gil Cheung (Bobcats) are losing sleep trying to get their respective sides to ‘put it together for 40 minutes’. Twice. Good match-ups – BU’s Tyvon Cooper vs Reg’s Aaron McGowan. The Cougars’ Brian Ofori working full-out to control Brandon’s ‘Big Cat’, Earl Thompson Jr. Guessing a spirited split, harkening back to the Great Plains rivalry. Friday at 8 pm Central, and Sat. at 7.
Manitoba Bisons (6-6) at Trinity Western Spartans (2-10) – A chance for the Herd to thaw-out in the Fraser Valley. And to duplicate their 2 game sweep of the Spartans at the same venue last February. All the signs point to Keith Omoerah, Justus Alleyn, A.J. Basi and friends extending their unbeaten string to 9 games (including their Wesmen Classic title). But they’ve fooled us before. Trinity come off a bye, and may have their Spartans in a row, with bigs Max Vitala and Patrick Vandervelden becoming more convincing. Guards Pogos Trunyan, and Vartan Tanielian can score; now can Trinity defend well enough to stop a Herd of Bison ? Fri and Sat. at 7 pm Pacific.
Scores from the East – Carleton 81 at Ottawa 40 – And, this was the away game.
A sobering realization for all other U-Sports teams across Canada, as the Ravens pick the bleached bones of the fallen Gee-Gees so meticulously. UO are 9-1 in OUA action, and ranked #2 by coaches; and they are allowed to shoot just 21% !? The utterly commanding Carleton performance spread from shooting to rebounding, and ball-handling to all-out aggression. By half-time, witnesses to the dismantling just wanted to look away. Two periods where the Ponies tallied single digits on the scoreboard. The grey-clad victims were shooting a deathly 7% from the floor for much of that ugly opening 20 minutes. The Blackbirds feed off this kind of physical superiority and mental torture. Ottawa had no 2nd -chance points, according to their own stats crew. Smothering team defense is a given, then Connor Wood shoots, Kaza Kajemi-Keane penetrates, and the duo of Eddie Ekiyor and Ryan Ejim rule the inside for the reigning National Champs. This is what they do, even to their toughest opponents. Again this season. Beware the Raven ! The Official Autopsy
- Are there different rules in the OUA? Was there as much give and take in post offense-defense, or defending the dribble penetration as it appeared in the Carleton-Ottawa ‘bare-knuckler’ last night? We don’t see the same accumulation of bruises and finger-prints on opponents’ bodies after a Canada West game where there are just 23 total fouls called.
- Our best in his recovery to MRU’s Ray Goff, a 6-7 post man (4th, Okotoks, AB), who suffered a head trauma in a recent practice. Goff is expected to return, but is undergoing ‘watchful monitoring’ for concussion symptoms. Already dealing with nagging knee issues, the likeable veteran didn’t need this latest episode.
- When you have success as Carleton has had, in spades, over the past 17 seasons , you tend to attract talent via recruiting. Players want to win. Apparently some want to do that more than they wish to play. Ravens’ redshirts would look pretty good on the active playing rosters of many teams across the country. And, how many more stars from other programs might decide to play year 5 at a ‘winning’ program, rather than graduate in the same colours you’ve worn for the previous 4? (These player decisions are made in other places as well, of course. We just notice them more at Carleton, Ottawa, and some other traditional powers.