The 2 Hottest Teams in Canada West

 

 

 

Thunderbirds and Bisons both on a roll in League play 

5th year defensive stopper, Will Ondrik and his T’Birds teammates move to 15-1 on the season.   photo – Richard Lam  ,  UBC Athletics

The 2 hottest teams in Canada West continued to reel off the wins this past weekend. The UBC Thunderbirds, as expected, swept their 2 game set with the Brandon Bobcats in Vancouver, and the ‘Birds are now 7 wins in a row, 2nd only to the Manitoba Bisons in winning streaks, with the Herd up to 8.  Manitoba got a scare on Friday at home against the UNBC T’Wolves , but pulled it out, and won more easily on Saturday.

But, in this ‘Year of the RPI Monster’, both teams lost ground in the ‘order of finish’ race.  Last week the T’Birds stood at .6559 , but dropped .109, still in the top spot for the moment.  The Herd, after their 2 wins, fell 149 points from last week’s .5842.  (I guess you just play your best, and let the chips fall …. ).  UBC looks to be destined for the 3rd or 4th play-off seed, even at 19-1, while Manitoba are likely 5th in the RPI ordered seeding list.

Both these teams will be ‘tough outs’ in the post-season , and may be good picks for the Final Four.  Our best guess for the hosts may be either the Alberta Golden Bears or the Saskatchewan Huskies, who seem to rise to the top spot as we try various guesses for the results of remaining League games.  The Dogs and GBs meet in saskatoon this coming weekend to decide the issue.

Who else is going well?  The Lethbridge Pronghorns have won 4 straight, and locked up a play-off spot, and have a bye week to marshal their forces before their final week’s appointment vs the Bears in Edmonton.

 

15 League All-Stars will be tough to decide

Shane Osayande, Huskies          photo – Huskies Athletics

Coaches across Canada West are nominating top players for all-star consideration at season’s end.  They have 15 players to select, and we thought we’d look at an expanded number of possible candidates.

Keith Omoerah, Justus Alleyn of Manitoba  … Denzel Lynch-Blair- Winnipeg … Earl Thompson Jr – Brandon … Brandon Tull – Regina … Shane Osayande, Matt Forbes – Saskatchewan … Dejon Burdeaux, Elliott Sentance – Lethbridge … Brett Layton, Josh Ross – Mt. Royal  …  Thomas Cooper, David Kapinga – Calgary … Brody Clarke, Austin Waddoups, Mamadou Gueye, Alberta … Thadius Galvez – MacEwan … Rhys Elliott – UNBC … Volodymyr Iegorov – Thompson Rivers …  Aldrich Berrios – UBC-Okanagan … Patrick Vandervelden – Trinity Western … Manny Dulay – Fraser Valley … Conor Morgan , Jordan Jensen-Whyte – UBC … Grant Sitton – Victoria

So, there are 25 of the best.  We know we could form a play-off team with 10 who we left off this list, but this is a pretty good crop from which to select.

Top 10 Rookies –

Scott Kellum, UVic import guard

Narcisse Ambanza – Wesmen,   James Wagner – Bisons,  Johneil Johnson –  Reg. Cougars,  Max Eisle – Dinos, Scott Kellum –  Vikes,  Brett Warren  – Pronghorns, Craig Martin- MRU Cougars, Trent Monkman – Wolf Pack, Isaiah Familia – T’Birds, Matt Lafontaine – Heat

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92 Years of Refereeing Experience

Richard Schear (L) and Art Unsworth (R) team up at a recent high school tourney .

Richard Schear, who lives in Redcliff, AB, began officiating basketball (and, eventually, football) after he had completed his Education degree at University. The 72 year old has been active as a ref now for 48 years, while his taller, much younger side-kick, the irrepressible Art Unsworth, has been a ‘zebra’ for 44 years.  Schear explains why he enjoys officiating …  First, the camaraderie  with the other officials.  Second, it forces him to keep in good physical shape.  Third, being a referee in high school sports, gives Richard a chance to  interact with the youth of today.  “By and large those young people who play high school sports are great kids, they will be the leaders of tomorrow,” says Schear.  Unsworth, a farmer-rancher near Maple Creek, SK, has 2 sons,  Clint (6-10) and Chris (6-8) who both graduated from U. Saskatchewan, having won a Canada West and CIS Championship with the Huskies in 2010.

As well as cheering his boys through high school (Medicine Hat, AB)  and university ball, Art, has been a mentor for many young refs in the latter part of his career. We congratulate these two fine gentlemen on their amazing contribution to the game over the years.

Overtime –  

Coach Steve Burrows         photo –  Regina Leader-Post

  • Regina Cougars head coach Steve Burrows on his team’s effort in topping the Calgary Dinos on Saturday,  “I wish I could say it was something I said or did, but these guys stuck together and they kept on working at it and kept on going,” Burrows said. “A couple of things went our way and we made some shots. It was just that whole thing of believing and trying to stick with what we were doing.”  From a Regina Leader-Post article by Rob Vanstone 
  • Huskies Coach, Barry Rawlyk, celebrated his 100th and 101st Canada West conference wins as head  man for the U of S  team with a two-game sweep at home over the Mount Royal  Cougars. Rawlyk spent the majority of his long coaching career as a high school coach, before taking over at U. Saskatchewan in 2010.  The leading active coach, in his 17th year at UBC is Kevin Hanson with 270 wins in Canada West play.  2nd is Calgary’s Dan Vanhooren, who, over the same 17 years has 201.  3rd – UVic’s Craig Beaucamp with 191 in 13 seasons. 4th – TRU’s Scott Clark, in his 17th year has 179. 5th – Barnaby Craddock of Alberta has 153 in his 12 years at 3 different schools.
  • Derek Wolf plays his final home game at MRU on Saturday.         photo – MRU Athletics

     This , of course, is the time of year for ‘Senior Nights’, as senior players finish their eligibility, and most also finish a degree. The  MRU Cougars graduating players, Brett Layton and Derek Wolf, will be honoured on Saturday night between the 4 pm Women’s game and the 6 pm Men’s contest.  TRU’s big man, Volodymyr Iegorov, plays his last home game this Saturday for the Wolf Pack, and 6 other schools will recognize the accomplishments of their senior grads this weekend.  UFV –  Manny Dulay, and Vijay Dhillon, Winnipeg – Jamar Farley, Brandon – Earl Thompson Jr, Chris Stanhope, Denham Buchanan, and Esmat Atem, MacEwan-  Denzel James, Keith Gerdes, and Thomas Jereniuk,   Saskatchewan – Matt Forbes, and Trevor Severinski,  UBC – Jordan Jensen-Whyte, and Will Ondrik.

 

Student Games Team Announced

 

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Five Canada West Players on National Development Team

Led by the U. Alberta’s Head Coach, Barnaby Craddock, the Canada Basketball Development Team of 12 CIS players, will include 5 from Canada West including UVic’s Chris McLaughlin, the 2015 League MVP.  The other 4 Western reps include 5-9 guard, Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson (Calgary Dinos), 6-7 wing man, Mamadou Gueye (U of A Golden Bears) , 6-6 forward Tommy Nixon (UBC Thunderbirds), and 6-9 forward, Josh Wolfram (Thompson Rivers Wolfpack).

The team will represent Canada in the FISU Games tournament in Gwangju, South Korea, from July 4 – 13.  They will have a pre-tournament training camp at the University of Kansas from June 19-29.  More in this news release from Canada Basketball.

 

 

Sihota Continues Successful Pro Career

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Robbie Sihota in action this Spring for Fribourg, Switzerland.           photo – Ekalavyas

 

 From the Indian basketball website – Ekalavyas, writer Vishnu Ravi Shankar …

This is an excellent article on Robbie Sihota, the former Calgary Dinos forward, who has been playing in Europe for 5 years +. 

Sihota, who played for Coach Dan Vanhooren’s Dinos from 2006-2010, played his high school ‘ball at Lester Pearson HS, Calgary under Coach Bill Mitchell.  His pro career has seen him play  in The Netherlands, first with Rotterdam, where he was the Dutch League’s top rebounder, then in Nijmegen, and a year in Luxembourg. Robbie has just finished his 1st season in Fribourg, Switzerland, where he led the team in rebounding (8.5 rpg), and was 2nd in scoring (15.2 ppg).    (Thanks to our good friend, Art Unsworth, out there in Western Saskatchewan, who tipped us off to this story.)

 

Canada West Recruiting Update –

The latest signees in Canada West include 6-5 guard, Sebastian Eliasen ( Denmark) who  transfers to Trinity Western from Yuba Jr. College (California), and to UNBC  we have  Austin Chandler, a 6-7 transfer from Wenatchee, WA Jr. College.

Preview- Calgary-UFV, TRU-Sask.

Can point man, Manny Dulay, guide his Cascades to another Canada West Final 4?

Can point man, Manny Dulay, guide his Cascades to another Canada West Final 4? Photo – UFV Cascades Athletics

 

Dinos at Cascades  –  2nd Seed  On Home Court

As Fraser Valley Coach Adam Friesen suggests, the Cascades “ … have been pretty good at protecting our home court.” His team is 11-2 vs CIS schools at Abbotsford this season, and the visiting Dinos will be hard-pressed to win twice this weekend.  But, the Dinos come of a 2 game sweep of Manitoba in Calgary last week, and, coincidently, the Cascades lost to Thompson Rivers in their final home League tilt.

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UFV has a veteran group, home court, a tenacious defense, and a handful of guys – Manny Dulay, Kevon Parchment, Jasper Moedt, Dominique Brooks – who can give decisive efforts.  Depth is a question, with big man Nate Brown getting only sparse action over the final 2 weeks of the schedule.  Calgary has a 9-10 deep rotation, with Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson their obvious court leader, aided by Phil Barndt, Dallas Karch, Josh Owen-Thomas, Lars Schleuter, and LJ Hegwood who all log consistent minutes each time out.

Prediction – Who hits the shots?  Who plays better defense?  Who controls the boards?  This may be a 3-game toss-up, although you have to give an edge to UFV for their 1st place finish and overall record.  ( 6 pm Pacific – Fri /Sat )

 

Dadrian Collins is a deadly outside threat for the #1 seeded Huskies.

Dadrian Collins is a deadly outside threat for the #1 seeded Huskies.

Huskies Heavy Favourites Despite Alternate Gym

The Saskatchewan Huskies are very tough to beat on their home court at the PAC (12-1 this season), and they’ve earned that advantage through the playoffs, if they beat Thompson Rivers this weekend.  But wait !  They’ve been bumped (by the CIS V-Ball Tournament … MT!) over to the cozier confines of St. Joseph’s HS gym for games 1 and 2.  Still, it’s Saskatoon (-30 C presently, just to greet the B.C. boys!), and the 15-5 Sled Dogs are anxious to make short work of the visiting Wolf Pack, and stay home for the Final 4. TRU comes in after a 2 game sweep of Winnipeg, and has built some confidence with their last 2 weeks of ‘playoff competition’.

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The Huskies get it inside, shoot more free throws, and have a big rebounding edge; they add quality depth with Mike Scott, Evan Ostertag, and Connor Burns.The ‘Pack can be 9-10 deep, but need exceptional offensive efforts from vets like Brett Parker, and Tallon Milne.  Prediction – TRU will not be over-run, with their defensive effort holding them in, but the Huskies just have more experience and depth.  A two game sweep seems likely.   ( 7 pm Central, Fri/Sat )

 

This Week’s Quarter-Finals Schedule for Canada West –

Thurs –  UNBC at UBC,  Alberta at UVic   both are 7 pm Pacific

Friday – TRU at Saskatchewan – 7pm Central,  Calgary at UFV – 6 pm Pacific

Alberta at UVic – 7 pm Pacific,  UNBC at UBC – 8 pm Pacific

Saturday –  TRU at Saskatchewan – 7pm Central, Calgary at UFV – 6 pm Pacific

If necessary … Alberta at UVic  and  UNBC at UBC – both at 7pm Pacific

Sunday –    if necessary … Calgary at UFV – 2 pm PST, TRU at Saskatchewan – 7pm  CST

 

VG's Ryan Bennett scores 30 on 9/18 from 3 pt range in win over

VG’s Ryan Bennett scores 30 on 9/18 from 3 pt range in win over York.

CIS Scores from the East –

OUA Playoffs – 

Lakehead 69  Guelph 48, W. Laurier 90  Western 82, Windsor 85 Toronto 71, Laurentian 87 York 84

Saturday Q-Finals –

#5 Windsor at #4 McMaster,

Lakehead at #1 Carleton,

Laurentian at #2 Ottawa,

W. Laurier at #3 Ryerson.

 

Overtime –

  • How does U of S’ Ben Baker get to be a 2-time winner of CW Defensive Player of the Year ?  Here’s how, as described by Huskies Coach Barry Rawlyk, “He plays all over the place,” said Rawlyk, “but the major thing with him is he’s been asked to guard every team’s most prolific scorer and he does remarkably well regardless of what position his opponent plays.”  Also, “His ability to rebound the ball, to end defensive possessions, has been key to our success all year,” stressed Rawlyk. From a Star-Phoenix article by Darren Zary.
  •  Canada West champions from the past 15 seasons:  UBC (5) – 2003, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013;  Alberta (3) – 2005, 2012, 2014; Calgary (2) – 2004, 2009;  Victoria (2) – 2001, 2006; Saskatchewan (1) – 2010; Brandon (1) – 2002.  The Vikes lead all-time , with 14 titles, Alberta has 11, UBC 10, Calgary 4, and Lethbridge, Brandon and Saskatchewan 1 each. (Remember that schools like Brandon, Regina, Winnipeg, Manitoba have titles from the Great Plains Conference prior to joining Canada West).
  • Long, tall, and super-dedicated Western Saskatchewan veteran referee, Art
    Art, the cowboy, with sons Chris (L) and Clint ®.

    Art, the cowboy, with sons Chris (L) and Clint ®. Back in the day !

    Unsworth, on his ‘Junior Mentors’ program for encouraging young officials – “The biggest obstacle in development …  is the cities, (who) have enough …. (While)  Without support, development, and evaluation from the urban/provincial associations the rural continues (to struggle) in the bush.” This program has run  for 5 years, with mixed results, with 8 students in the Maple Creek area this season, but other towns might not get much going.  It’s a great cause, Art !  Hopefully others will work along with you.