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 

FISU Games Team Tips Off Sunday

 

Team Canada Poised For FISU Tip-off

Coach Kevin Hanson, FISU volunteer, Tina Wu, and T’Birds star, Conor Morgan. (Dinos in the background …)

Coach Kevin Hanson (UBC)  and his U-Sports Team Canada will tip-off their FISU Games on Sunday vs Norway.  This is the first of 5 Group games in the 24 team event, with Canada vying for one of 2 spots in the quarter-finals out of their 6 team group.  Here is the game schedule for 1st round play –

Sunday, August 20th  vs. Norway 2:30 AM Pacific

Monday, August 21st vs. Finland  7:00 PM Sunday  Pacific

Tuesday, August 22nd vs. Hong Kong 5:00 AM Pacific

Thursday, August 24th vs. Japan  5:00 AM Pacific

Friday, August 25th vs. Germany 12:00 Midnight Pacific

(The 9 – 13 hour time difference  to Taiwan makes live viewing a challenge for Canadian fans.   For media coverage –   CBCsports.ca  has a daily highlight package at 8 am Pacific each day.   We do not seem to have any luck with the FISU Games TV site ….)

Calgary Dinos David Kapinga and Mambi Diawara; proud Canadians at the opening ceremonies.

 

Team news … The National Player of the Year from last season, Carleton’s Connor Wood, should be set for at least limited duty vs Norway, as he recovers from an ankle sprain. Wood played about 10 minutes in Canada’s 99-63 exhibition win over Mexico.  The USA team, represented by Purdue University, blitzed Norway 81-49 in another prep game in Taipei.  The USA had a couple of much tighter wins over Canada down in Indiana last week.

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Overtime –

Canada’s Senior National Team has 2 U-Sports coaches directing the FIBA America’s entry, which will compete in the tournament in Argentina. Head Coach, Roy Rana (Ryerson U.) has UVIc Coach, Craig Beaucamp, as his top Assistant.   Training camp starts Saturday in Toronto.

 

  • UBC-O  Coach Peter Guarasci adds 3 new recruits, including ex- MRU guard Aloysius Callaghan (Calgary), 6-6 Kyrin Cybenko (Saskatoon), who was a top rebounder for Lakeland College in the ACAC, and 6-7 Gurman Bhangu (Surrey, Panorama Ridge) who is a very promising high school star.   Details in this Kelowna Capital News story.

 

  •  UBC T-Birds, without Coach Kevin Hanson and 5th year star, Conor Morgan, are in Costa Rica.   UBC drops a close one to Texas – El Paso 78-73 Friday. They meet Nevada-Reno  on Saturday and Sunday.     On Wednesday, The Trinity Western Spartans were beaten 101-64 by St. Martin’s University (WA) in a game played in Langley, BC.
  • More U-Sports – NCAA scores …   James Madison 67  Carleton 59, Carleton 81  Vanderbilt 74, Carleton 89  N. Colorado 79  …  McGill 86 UTEP 82 OT, McGill 56  UTEP 54 … N. Colorado 81  Brock 74, Vanderbilt 104  Brock 90.