10 Wins is the Target for Pioneer

 

 

Can You Count To 10 ?

Can the Bears and Mamadou Gueye de-rail the HUskies shot at the playoffs?

Can the Bears and Mamadou Gueye de-rail the HUskies shot at the playoffs?                                       photo – U. Alberta Athletics

10 is the magic number for entry to the playoffs as a Pioneer Division team,  especially if you’re the Saskatchewan Huskies ! Canada West’s Evan Daum has produced a playoff possibility primer for the fans going into this week’s play, and that’s a great service to those many of us, who are mathematically challenged ! Here’s Evan’s analysis –

Who’s clinched in the Pioneer (seven playoff berths): Calgary, UBC, and Manitoba have all clinched a playoff spot.
Possible clinches this weekend: Calgary can clinch first overall with a sweep of Regina.
Regina can clinch a playoff spot with a win against Calgary,  or a Saskatchewan loss against Alberta … Winnipeg can clinch a playoff spot with a win against Lethbridge
Lethbridge can clinch a playoff spot with a sweep of Winnipeg … Alberta can clinch a playoff spot with a sweep of Saskatchewan.

We are not, however, afraid to go out on a limb by making assumptions based on past performance. so the real key series is Alberta at Saskatchewan.  The Bears are in with a win to get to 10!  Everything hinges on the Huskies record over the next 4 games. 2 at home with the Bears and 2 down the highway in Regina  next week vs the Cougars. The ‘Dogs need to win all 4, or they’re gone, if we assume Lethbridge can win at least 1 of 4 games (and they can and will, as they finish with 2 at home vs Trinity W) .  Winnipeg already has 9 wins, and has the tie-breaker with 2-0 over Saskatchewan.

Victoria Vikes (7-11) get the bye this week.

 In the Explorer –  (three playoff berths):
The analysis from Mr Daum  Thompson Rivers has clinched first …  UFV can clinch a playoff spot with a victory against Thompson Rivers , or a combination of losses by MacEwan against UBCO and Mount Royal against UNBC …  UBCO can clinch a playoff spot with a sweep of MacEwan and one Mount Royal loss.

GriffinsHome copy
Yes, well,  we look at this week’s MacEwan at UBC-O series as the crucial set.  A sweep by either team will get them in is our ‘guesstimate’ … Mac has a useful win over TRU, should they be tied for 3rd.  MRU needs to sweep, then get help from TRU beating Okanagan twice, and UNBC over Mac at least once.   Now the head starts to hurt …. We have to like UBC-O, since they’re at home, but if they split this week, Mac has a shot if they beat UNBC twice to finish.  OK, that’s confusing enough.  Let’s play !

Pioneer-

Thursday / Friday  –  

Calgary's Torrez McKoy and his 'mates have a home series vs Regina this week.

Calgary’s Torrez McKoy and his ‘mates have a home series vs Regina this week.                          photo – David Moll, UC Athletics

Regina at Calgary –  Homers !  That’s what these teams are against each other recently … at Calgary, the Dinos are 5-0 in the last 5 League games vs the Cougars, and at Regina, it’s 6-2 Cougars over the Dinos in that same time frame.  Motivation here is about equal, with Calgary looking to clinch 1st place, and Regina wanting to boost their playoff ranking.  Key match-ups are –  point – UC David Kapinga, Torrez McKoy  vs UR Alex Igual, Aaron McGowan …wing – UC  Thomas Cooper vs UR Jonathan Tull … forwards – UC  Matt Letkeman, Lars Schleuter vs UR  Stephen Shields, Will Tallman.  Big crowds expected … tough, competitive games !  (both at 8 pm Mtn)

Friday / Saturday –  
Lethbridge at Winnipeg –  Does this Lethbridge  zone defense seem explicitly designed to play the Wesmen?  Can the quick, tenacious UW defense slow down the quick-strike ‘Horns attack ?   Do Dejon Burdeaux, Rob Olsen, and Brandon Brine light-up the Ws with their potent offensive power?  Can Denzel Blair-Lynch get enough scoring help to stay with the scoring pace of the Pronghorns?  8 pm Central for both nights. Tune in to Canada West TV for these and other highlights

Alberta at Saskatchewan – This series has had a major impact on Canada West standings for a number of years;  usually it has been in a battle for 1st, 2nd, 3rd , but now it’s for playoff survival.  The ‘Dogs are backed into a corner, and have to fight for a post-season spot with 2 wins this week.  Alberta is coming off a pair of wins last week, and would love to sideline the Huskies. Mamadou Gueye has his game in order for the Bears, and, if their guards can slow down Chan DeCiman , Evan Ostertag and Co. , they may do just that. Both games are at 8 PM Central.

UBC at Brandon –  A few factors in play here … The ‘Birds have bombed the Bobcats 10 straight games  dating back to 2008.  This is not a ‘banner year’ for the ‘Cats (1-15) … the T-Birds are prepping for playoffs that will see them ultimately host the CIS Nationals.  We’re not sure that Brandon’s  D.J. Jordan and Earl Thompson Jr. can, between the 2 of them, score enough to overcome the difference in depth between these teams.  We’ll ‘bravely’ call UBC to sweep.  Games are 8 pm  Fri/ 7 pm Sat – Central.

Manitoba at Trinity Western –  This is a miss-match of one team, Manitoba, working their way to a possible CW title, and another, TWU, fighting for just a bit of respectability.  Manitoba has so many players now ‘running with the Herd’ … A.J Basi, Justus Alleyn, Keith Omoerah, Wyatt Anders, Jonathan Alexander and more.  Trinity usually counts on a hot hand from one or both of Kelvin Smith and Lucas Mannes, and it has not been enough.

A Hot Time in the Okanagan !

The eyes of the ‘Explorers’ are on Kelowna, where the UBC-O Heat try to stay ahead of their primary rivals for 3rd place, the MacEwan Griffins.  In Abbotsford, we see if Fraser Valley can muster up enough fresh bodies to take a serious run at the vicious TRU Wolf Pack, who have been terrorizing the Division for much of the season.  And, over in Prince George, Mt. Royal needs 2 wins over UNBC and their prayers answered elsewhere, if the Cougars have any hope of a post-season appearance.  Games are 8 pm and 7 pm Pacific time for all 3 series in the Explorer. (3 playoff spots at stake).

Mitch Goodwin and the UBC-O Heat have a vital series at home vs MacEwan.

Mitch Goodwin and the UBC-O Heat have a vital series at home vs MacEwan.

MacEwan at UBC-Okanagan –  The Griffs are the masters of the weekend split, having gone 1-1 in 6 of their 9 series to date this season, including the November pair with Okanagan. The Heat have won 3 of their last 4 games, and, when they get scoring from 4 and 5 players, they have beaten everyone in the Explorer.  Neither team, however, has been all that predictable.  So … Mitch Goodwin and Aldrich Berrios vs Denzel James and Thadius Galvez ?  Not really !  The ‘supporting cast is critical for both squads.  Too tough to call this series, but a sweep would be a surprise, either way.

Thompson Rivers at Fraser Valley – It has been the recent habit of the Cascades to win at home and struggle on the road; in late November in Kamloops, UFV were trounced by 14 then 30 by the ‘Pack.  Fraser Valley are 7-1 at home, and have responded to many challenges this season, but Thompson Rivers may be too much to handle, with their size and skill.  Nate Brown needs Kevon Parchment back, and Manny Dulay has to have a hot Vijay Dhillon as an option. It could happen, but the odds are longer than they have been in years.

Mt. Royal  at UNBC  –  The Timberwolves have had a rough go this year, made worse by losing their injured point man Billy Cheng and dropping all 8 of their games since the Christmas break. MRU’s post tandem of James Lefebvre and Brett Layton may give UNBC real trouble, and the guard match-up with MRU’s Glen Yang vs Elliot Rowe for the ‘Wolves may be decisive.  The Cougars have some developing depth, but haven’t proven their ability to win 2 games in a weekend.


 

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The Calgary Dinos climbed another spot this week from 5th to 4th as they win 2 games to extend their winning streak to 10.  UBC jumps over McGill into 7th ranked, and, despite their gaudy 14-2 record, Thompson Rivers stays in 9th spot.

The Ryerson Rams continue to impress at #1, and Ottawa is in 2nd again, just ahead of the defending CIS champs, the Carleton Ravens. In the OUA this week, we see the Ottawa teams travel to SW Ontario  … #2 UO and #3 Carleton take on #6 McMaster and #5 Brock.

 

Canada West Pioneer – Nip and Tuck

 

 

Hammer and Tong in the Pioneer Division  Battle –

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The games are fiercely contested, largely competitive, and beginning to take a toll.  More players and teams are ‘sore, lame, hurting, fatigued’, or just flat-out injured, as we talk with coaches around the League. Last week saw leaps forward – by Winnipeg, with their 2 wins at home over Victoria, as the Wesmen hit 7-5;  by Alberta, who are now 7-6 after getting 2 much-needed road wins at Brandon; and by Calgary, who mix up their line-up, and throttle the short-handed TWU Spartans to stay in 1st place at 12-3.
We saw significant wins –  Regina, most notably, who won their 1st-ever game at UBC on Saturday, and sit at a tidy 8-4, in 4th place; Manitoba (9-5) on Saturday, getting a win in Lethbridge, and ‘calming the Herd’ after a disappointing Friday loss. We have to assume the ‘Pronghorns (7-5) were pleased with the Friday home win, but not so much on Saturday.
We have last year’s champs, UVic (7-7), staggering  back home after 2 more losses (at Winnipeg), and trying to steady the ship before the Thunderbirds visit this coming weekend.
And, painfully, we had both Brandon and Trinity Western remain winless, with 2 losses apiece.


Now That We’ve Decided First in the Explorer …

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The whole Division has a bye week  !  This is a  chance to heal, take a few deep breaths, re-tool the game-plans, and prepare for the final 3 weekends.
But the TRU Wolf Pack are getting stronger, and distancing themselves from the fray beneath them … we have to call it at this point. … 2 home wins over MRU, and they are 12-2, with a 3 game lead.


Fraser Valley, at their healthy-best, can still be a playoff factor, but their current run of injuries and illness has taken away some of the confidence and cohesion. A bad loss on Saturday at MacEwan, and now 9-5.
Okanagan (7-7) get 2 road wins and 3rd place on their own, as they clip the UNBC ‘Wolves, who are another crew licking their wounds, falling to a distant 3-11.
MacEwan needed and got a ‘lifeline-win’ on Saturday vs UFV, and the Griffs can still play their way back to 3rd, but time is not on their side.
Mt. Royal loses 2 … they can consider mathematical chances at this stage, with 4 home games left, but the odds are getting a bit to large for the Cougars (5-9), we would guess.


‘Unsung Heroes Week’ –

Jasdeep Gill of Calgary, is one of many Canada West stalwarts who toil mostly unheralded from game to game.

Jasdeep Gill of Calgary, is one of many Canada West stalwarts who toil mostly unheralded from game to game.           photo –  David Moll, UC Athletics

They’re seldom in the headlines, but their impact shows in the games.  These 8 players are representative of so many of the ‘engine room’ kind of players; they are the ones who give their teams an edge just when it makes the difference between winning and losing.  ‘Points off the bench’ …  ‘Teammate in a supporting role’ !

Aaron McGowan, Regina –  This  4th year transfer (UFV) guard would be a sound pick as ‘6th Man of the Year’, if there were such an award.  (Maybe we’ll create one !)  He has been a super addition for the Cougs’ , and he helped last weekend in Vancouver, with his 21 points,  5 assists, and 5 steals  vs UBC.

Mike Pierzchala, Lethbridge –  We’re just starting to see the talents of ’North Side Mike’ emerge, and he looks like a future star for the ’Horns.  A modest 12 points /9 rebs/ 5 Asst vs Manitoba, but he will figure more notably down the stretch for Lethbridge, and certainly in future seasons.

Jasdeep Gill, Calgary –  Here’s an experienced 4 year – veteran who waits for the call, then rolls out his varied skills package to contribute where he’s needed .  A high school point man, he has morphed into a ball-handling ‘3-4’  for this year’s Dinos. Against TWU, he tallied 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists in the 2 lop-sided wins.
William Sesay, Winnipeg – He’s a smooth, quick 25 minute/game rookie, who shoots 46%FG, and scores 9.5 ppg. In the Ws 2 crucial wins over Victoria, the Winnipeg high school product had 13 pt/19 big rebounds/6 assists /3 steals.

Colby Jackson, Alberta – This import guard from Las Vegas is the starting point man, but we don’t think he gets enough credit for his efforts to pull together the GBs’ offensive game.  At Brandon, he led the Bears to 2 victories with 16 assists, 22 points, and 6 rebounds.  All-around excellence !

Gerard Gore, Thompson Rivers –  This 6-5 native of Antigua is coming into his own as a 2-way wing role-player on a team of celebrated stars. He had a strong weekend in 2 wins over Mt. Royal, with his  22 pts/18 rebounds.

Glen Yang , Mt. Royal –  A 2nd year combo-guard (He passes and he shoots?!) , he has recently shown signs of increased confidence in his game.  In 2 games at TRU, he scored 41 points (well above his average) and added 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals.  Chances of stardom here perhaps!
 Keith Gerdes, MacEwan –    A seldom-mentioned, 4th year  from Edmonton, this 6-5  forward is a steady, dependable contributor for the Griffs.  He scored 22 points on Saturday, and that out-burst led Mac to a win over visiting UFV.

Some more noteworthy performances –

Lucas Mannes 39 points Friday vs Calgary … Hot !  Brett Roughead, the Bears 7-1 post man, with 24 rebounds on the weekend against Brandon. UBC’s Conor Morgan has found the range – he totals 51 points in the Regina series for the ‘Birds. Lethbridge’s ‘Batman and Robin’, Rob Olsen and Brandon Brine score 55 and 47 points respectively in the 2 -game set vs Manitoba.  UC’s Thomas Cooper just keeps on scoring, with 49 vs TWU in 2 games.


Overtime –   

  • Lucas Mannes, who scored 39 points last (Friday) night (vs the UC Dinos) was limited in action  Saturday  due to injury…TWU was also down  to three subs as a number of players are out with injuries.  (This is from Scott Stewart, TWU, about as much as we might ever get concerning player health, we guess.)  It hasn’t helped the Spartans’ cause that talented import guard Dean Richey left the team over Christmas break, or that guys like Matt Blackaby are injured.

    Dejon Burdeaux, U of L guard, is one of many players on the injured list.

    Dejon Burdeaux, U of L guard, is one of many players on the injured list.  photo – UL Athletics

  • On that injury front, UBC has been without David Wagner , their ‘go-to’ post man, since the Friday game at Manitoba on January 15.  Dejon Burdeaux of Lethbridge has injuries or ‘issues’ with both legs / ankles / knees, apparently including a painful thigh contusion suffered in the Saskatchewan series.  Fraser Valley has been hit hard, as Mark Johnson, a 3rd year import forward, who had 21 points in a win over Okanagan in early November, has not played significant minutes since then (unspecified). Billy Cheng is gone for the remainder of this, his 5th year for UNBC with a knee injury.  Big Sebastian Denault was out of the line-up for Alberta this past weekend. These are of great consequence to the teams, of course, but they can be even tougher to handle for the young player himself.
  • UBC has signed one of the most sought-after multi-sport athletes in recent memory;  Parker Simson, an all-star quarterback for the Kelowna Owls, will plan to play football for Coach Blake Nill’s defending CIS champs, and basketball for Coach Kevin Hanson’s ‘Birds as well. Says Hanson, “I have always been a big advocate for multi-sport athletes Parker’s court/field vision and awareness has really developed because he has played multiple sports. He has a great package of athleticism and psychological attributes. “   Kelowna is the #1-ranked high school basketball team in B.C., and Simson is averaging 15 ppg/ 6 rebounds, 6 assists/ 6 steals.  From a story by Lorne White in Kelowna Now

Cougars Welcome ‘Pops’ to Regina

 

‘Pops’ Takes it On the Road to Regina

Rawane ‘Pops’ Ndiaye has had an eventful last few weeks;  the 25 year old former University of Tennessee player finished his requirements for a Psychology degree from UT in mid-December, and, late in the month, traveled to Phoenix, AZ to meet his new teammates and coaches with the Regina Cougars, who played 3 games just prior to New Years.

Rawane 'Pops' Ndiaye has starting workouts with the Regina Cougars this week.

Rawane ‘Pops’ Ndiaye has starting workouts with the Regina Cougars this week.

The young man returned to his family home in Raleigh, North Carolina, to pack his things for his trip to, hopefully, a new chapter in his basketball and academic life in Regina, Saskatchewan. Feeling he needs his car to get around in his new town, ‘Pops’ decides to drive from N.C. to Southern Saskatchewan.  Cougars teammate, Brian Ofori, obviously with the right team attitude and adventuresome spirit, volunteers to fly to Raleigh from Phoenix, and accompany ‘Pops’ on the highway journey North.  They pull into Regina on January 4, and Ndiaye is practicing with the team, and getting classes organized this week.

Coach Steve Burrows is counting on ‘Pops’ to “ adapt to a new team, a new group of guys, and a new style of play.”  Burrows says, “He is a great young man; very friendly, confident, and a knowledgeble, and capable player.”  “It’s certainly a risk to bring in someone in January, and we’ll have to see how he progresses (Ndiaye was forced to quit at Tennessee after an ACL knee injury in 2014; UR is hoping he can return to playing form).  But, as Coach Burrows says, “‘Pops’ didn’t get any shorter when he crossed the border!”  He’s 6-10, 270, with skills and the experience of playing in the NCAA Tournament.

With the benefit of a home date this Saturday and Sunday vs Trinity Western, then a bye week following, the big man will get some time to become acclimatized to his new surroundings. Rawane will, everything going as it should, play in his 1st game as a Regina Cougar on February 2 in Vancouver against the UBC Thunderbirds.

Now, about the block heater for his car ….


Cda West

Canada West Resumes Play This Week –

After a month-long hiatus, Canada West teams will re-engage in regular season games this week. There may be some rust this early in January, but most squads played in tournaments, exhibition games, scrimmages, and/or team practices over that Holiday break.

 

Series of the week – Pioneer Division –

Can UBC's Jordan Jensen-Whyte drive the T-Birds to wins over the visting UL Pronghorns?

Can UBC’s Jordan Jensen-Whyte drive the T-Birds to wins over the visiting UL Pronghorns?      photo – UBC Athletics

Lethbridge Pronghorns 5-1 vs UBC Thunderbirds 6-2 – The ‘Horns start their onerous 2nd semester schedule ‘in the belly of the beast’, at venerable War Memorial Gym on Point Grey, where they are they are 0-12 since the turn of the century.  But, there is fresh hope for ’Horns Nation’, as they shoot it well, rebound it consistently, apply defensive pressure, and have a deep bench.  On the flip side, they are troubled by turnovers, and give up more treys than they make. Brandon Brine up front and Dejon Burdeaux in the back-court are 2 very valuable imports. Local 2nd year wing man,  6-7 Zac Overwater is stepping up his game, and becoming a force on offense.
The Thunderbirds are reputed to have the deepest well of talent in the League, and may be tough to beat, at their very best;  but Coach Kevin Hanson has had moments where he hasn’t been totally convinced.  Conor Morgan can be all-star material on one night ( the 6-9 wing man scored 34 vs Hope Int’l last week in California), then not so much the next.  David Wagner inside and Jordan Jensen-Whyte on the perimeter have been the driving forces for the ‘Birds.  Home court will be big this week, and UBC figures to sweep if they win the  rebounding, and can slow down the U of L attack.

Games Spread from Thursday to Sunday this week –

Thursday –

Winnipeg 3-5  at Brandon 0-6  in game 1 of their home and home –  The Bobcats quite clearly are desperate for a win, but they’re 1-10 vs the Wesmen in the past several years. Winnipeg haven’t yet found their rhythm yet, however, and Brandon’s Earl Thompson Jr., with his tireless rebounding, and the shooting of D.J. Jordan may get the ‘Cats off the schneid.

Friday –

Jasdeep Gill, 4th year wing, and his UC Dinos teammates face the U of S Huskies in Calgary this weekend.

Jasdeep Gill, 4th year wing, and his UC Dinos teammates face the U of S Huskies in Calgary this weekend.                        photo – David Moll, UC Athletics

Saskatchewan 3-5 at Calgary 6-3 – The Huskies are 9-2 over the Dinos in the past 4 seasons, and Calgary has to find the key to beating a scrappy Saskatchewan team that may be under-manned in the post. Both teams are blessed with talented and quick guards, with Thomas Cooper of Calgary leading Canada West scorers (26.7 ppg), and The Dogs scoring more by committee, with Evan Ostertag (15.9 ppg), Chan DeCiman (14.5), and Jacquin Bennett-Boire (13.3).  Rebounding will be key, along with the ability to get more shared scoring by the Dinos.

 Manitoba 6-2 at Victoria  5-3 – In the last 4 seasons, the Vikes are 6-1 over Manitoba, and home court helps UVic here; the  Bisons are as good as they’ve been for many years, however, and they are on a bit of a roll.  Victoria must find a way to gel on offense, and depend on aggressive D to curb the prolific scoring of the Herd (85 ppg).

 And, in the Explorer Division –

Aldrich Berrios leads the Okanagan Heat in a home series vs the TRU 'Pack. photo - Greystoke Photography for UBC-O

2nd year point guard, Aldrich Berrios, leads the Okanagan Heat in a home series vs the 1st place TRU Wolf Pack.                                   photo – Grestoke Photography for UBC-O Athletics

Thompson Rivers  7-1 at UBC-Okanagan 4-4 – The Wolf Pack won 3 of 4 games last season, and they look stronger this time around with Josh Wolfram joined by Ukrainian import, Volodymyr Iegorov, in a heavyweight 1-2 punch in the front court.  Okanagan has improved over past seasons as well, with Heat point man Aldrich Berrios set to give TRU’s Reese Pribilsky a tussle.

Mt. Royal 2-6 at Fraser Valley 5-3 – The Cascades have beaten MRU 4 of the last 5 times they’ve met, and they will not want to give up any more ground to the Wolf Pack in the race for top spot. Kevon Parchment is relentless for UFV, and Vijay Dhillon is now a go-to shooter.  The Cougars need big men James Lefebvre and Brett Layton to win the war inside if they are to stay close.

MacEwan 3-5 at UNBC 3-5 –  The Timberwolves won 3 of 4 from Mac in the Griffins opening season in Canada West, and in the friendly confines of the Northern Sports Centre, the Wolves are hard to handle.  Guards Rhys Elliott and Billy Cheng lead UNBC, so Denzel James and Thadius Galvez will have to respond for the Griffs.

Saturday – 

Trinity Western 0-8 at Regina 5-3 –  The Cougars have won 3 of the last 4 vs the Spartans, and, with the home court advantage, there is little reason that should change this week. Jonathan Tull and company should give the Trinity defense a real test, and TWU has allowed 86 ppg, while scoring just 68 ppg.

Brandon travels to Winnipeg for game 2, Saskatchewan at Calgary, TRU at UBC-O, MRU at UFV, Manitoba at UVic, Mac at UNBC, and Lethbridge at UBC.

Sunday –  Trinity W. at Regina


Overtime –

  • Gil Cheung, Brandon Coach, on leadership (by Robin Wark in the Westman Journal) , “They always say that you can choose your captains, but you can’t choose your leaders,” While captains are chosen for leadership roles, other players often emerge as important leaders as well. For example, Cheung said that first-year player Tyler Anderson has led this season. The 6-foot-7 forward from Langley, B.C. has done so by putting in the extra work, competing, and being one of the team’s hardest workers”, his coach explained.
  • The Calgary Dinos , as one of the fortunate hosts for the Bell NBA All Star NBASplashChallenge, may sell-out Saturday’s Dinos-Huskies  game! The NBA Challenge  is crossing the country as part of the 65th NBA All-Star celebrations to be held in Toronto on Sunday, Feb. 14 at the Air Canada Centre.   On Saturday, January 9, at the Jack Simpson Gym starting at 12 noon, any local b’baller 14 or over can compete (no charge to enter) in skills competitions, 3 point shooting, and/or a dunk contest. Top performers will advance to UC – U of S game time competition for various prizes, including a trip to the game in Toronto and a chance to compete with other winners from across Canada. More details at the Go Dinos website.
  •  Positive comments from  “Pops’  Ndiaye, the 6-10 U. Tennessee transfer,  upon his arrival in Regina for the  Cougars 2nd half of their season in Canada West. “The guys are really friendly, so we’re just kind of building our relationship and getting to know each other,” said Ndiaye,  “Hopefully I’ll be a good fit for them.” From a story in the Regina Leader-Post by Ian Hamilton.

 

Southern Alberta Showdowns

Southern Alberta Teams Host League Leaders

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Thomas Cooper and the UC Dinos are up against the 5-1 UBC Thunderbirds in Calgary on Friday/Saturday.            (photo – from UVic Athletics)

The UBC T-Birds and Victoria Vikes enter the weekend tied at the top of the Pioneer Division at 5-1, and they travel to Southern Alberta to play the Calgary Dinos (4-2) and the Lethbridge Pronghorns (3-1), who are looking to edge closer to that lofty perch.

UBC returns to the Prairies for a 2nd straight week, as they meet the Dinos in Calgary, after having earned 2 wins at Saskatchewan last week.  The Vikes, headed to Lethbridge, are East of the Rockies for the first time this season, after starting the season with 2 road wins at TWU, then 2 wins in their home opening series over Saskatchewan, and split on the Island vs Calgary last week.

Here ’s a quick preview of our Pioneer Division match-ups this week –

 

Thursday/Friday games – Saskatchewan Huskies (1-5) at Trinity Western Spartans   (0-6) –   The Huskies have to be in a foul mood, after 4 straight losses (UVic, UBC), and will see the 0-6 Spartans as ‘easier prey’.  But beware the road games in CW,;  plus Trinity will come together as the season progresses.  The Sparties have so many new faces, and a new coach, and they need time to jell. The Huskies have been close against some good teams, and TWU needs an exceptional effort to prevail here.

 UBC Thunderbirds (5-1) at  Calgary Dinos (4-2) –  UBC lost their home opener to Alberta, then shook it off, and have won 5 in a row since then.  Calgary have 2 losses in road games at Manitoba and Victoria, and Coach Dan Vanhooren believes his guys are ready to compete with the ‘Birds.  UBC is 5-2 vs Calgary in the past 5 seasons.  Both teams have size, and both have good guard play, and veteran leadership.  Go time !

 'Horns Senior guard, Rob Olsen

‘Horns Senior guard, Rob Olsen

Victoria Vikes (5-1) at Lethbridge Pronghorns (3-1) –  The Vikes fly to Calgary, bus to Lethbridge … not a favourite trip.  UVic will not underestimate the ‘Horns, who are the most veteran – laden team in Canada West. (‘Horns Nation Director, Dave Wells says, “There are NBA teams with younger starting line-ups !”)  However, despite the widely-perceived U of L home court advantage, we must consider the Vikes’ 5 year domination of this series … 8-0 in that stretch.

Regina Cougars (3-1) at  Alberta Golden Bears (2-4)  –  So, you’re Regina, wanting to be ‘in the conversation’ in the Pioneer?  This is where you make a difference … beat the struggling GBs in their own den !   But the Cougars have won just 2 of 10 over the past 5 years, and Alberta has been tough to beat in the Saville Centre.  On paper, the Regina guards have an edge on the Bears back-court, and Alberta may be tougher up front. Now, on the hardwood ….

Manitoba Bisons  (4-2) at Brandon Bobcats (0-4) –  Manitoba might be excused for having a bit of a let-down, after having had a tough  but successful 3 weeks against higher-ranked opponents than the lowly Bobcats.  Brandon is aching for a win (or two), but the ‘Cats have dropped 6 straight to the Herd in the last 2 seasons, and the Bisons may have built some new confidence with their largely home-based talent.

Winnipeg Wesmen (3-3) get this week’s bye … enjoy the Grey Cup !


 

Explorer Division –

“Let’s Get Ready to R-u-u-m-m-b-l-l-e  !”  – Cascades vs ‘Pack !

Volodymyr Iegorov gives the 'Pack more punch, as TRU hosts Fraser Valley this week.

Volodymyr Iegorov gives the ‘Pack more punch, as TRU hosts Fraser Valley this week. photo – Kamloops This Week

 

Fraser Valley Cascades  (5-1) at Thompson R. WolfPack (5-1) – Two teams who could compete in any League in the CIS, and definitely the heavyweights in this grouping of ‘younger Canada West programs’. The WolfPack are at home, and have their ‘Big 3’  (Wolfram, Pribilsky, Iegorov) pacing a potent attack, but the Trees will be ready to engage, with an experienced group, used to, as Coach Adam Friesen suggests, “Find ways to get the job done ….”  Battle Royal !  Hard to see one team winning both nights.

UBC-Okanagan Heat (3-3)  at  MacEwan Griffins (2-4) –   The party must be over in Kelowna by now, surely?  The Heat are 3 straight, but will be cautioned by Coach Guarasci to get ready for a tough Griffins team, who beat TRU in Kamloops last Saturday.  Into chilly Alberta … the Heat guards can play, but will the Mac forwards be too much to handle.  Good match-up here !

UNBC Timberwolves (2-4)  Mt. Royal Cougars  (1-5)  –  Neither of these teams can afford to ‘mark time’ this week.  The ‘Wolves beat UFV last Friday, and have found some team chemistry.  The Cougars are playing like the young team they are, and want to put the pieces together in these last games of the semester  vs a T-Wolves squad that features exceptional veteran guard play, with Billy Cheng and Rhys Elliot.


Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 7.02.38 AM

 


 

Overtime –

  • The thanks of many close CIS followers go out to Dale Stevens, from Ontario, who ran a ‘CIS chat group ‘ on-line for over 20 years.  Subscribers had a chance to hear from many people who were very close to the game, from way out there in the Atlantic to Vancouver Island.  Great job Dale !
  • Brian Ofori, a 3rd year transfer from UPEI, is helping the Regina Cougars play their way into contention in the Pioneer Division of Canada West … More details in this Regina Leader-Post article by Ian Hamilton.

Bisons Bury Bears, UFV Upset

  Bisons Beat Alberta With Big 2nd Half

Keith Omoerah has a big night for Manitoba, as the Bisons get a home win over Alberta. photo - UM Athletics

Keith Omoerah has a big night for Manitoba, as the Bisons get a home win over Alberta.               photo – UM Athletics

 at Manitoba Bisons   90  Alberta Golden Bears  68  –  Manitoba (3-2) takes complete charge in the 2nd half, with a 49-33 blitz, aided by 22 Bears turnovers on the night. Keith Omoerah, in a comeback season after taking a couple of years off, has a huge 29 point night on 11/14 from the floor, dishing out 7 assists, and making 4 steals.  Justus Alleyn is effective for the Herd, with 14 points and 7 assists, and AJ Basi scores 13. The Bisons get 39 rebounds to the U of A’s 29, and they out-shoot the GBs 52% to 47% from the floor. Brody Clarke plays a solid game for the Bears (2-3), scoring 20 points/ 5 rebs. , and both Colby Jackson and Mamadou Gueye total 10 points apiece. Box Score

Lethbridge Pronghorns 83  at Regina Cougars  76 –   Regina go up 43-36 at the half, but come out flat in the decisive 3rd frame, as the Pronghorns paste the Cougs 31-11.  Regina make a bit of a late run, but U of L  hold on for a big road win, improving to 3-0. Lethbridge has 4 in double figures, led by 20 pts from Rob Olsen, 16 points/ 12 rebounds by Brandon Brine, and 15 pts/ 7 boards from Chris Maugham inside. Jonathan Tull is the game high man for the Cougars (2-1) with 23 points, and Travis Sylvester adds 16.  The game is ragged at times, with 26 turnovers by Regina and 23 from Lethbridge.             Box Score

UBC Thunderbirds 81  at Saskatchewan Huskies  72 –  The Huskies are game, but

Jordan Jensen-Whyte leads the T-Birds to a good road win, scoring vvv points vs Saskatchewan.

Jordan Jensen-Whyte leads the T-Birds to a good road win, scoring 22 points vs Saskatchewan.

their execution at the offensive end just isn’t there, as they drop to 1-4.  UBC hits 47% from the floor to  42% for U of S, and 19/30 free throws to 13/24 for the Dogs.  25 points by the ‘Birds off 19 Huskies turnovers cliches the deal.
Jordan Jensen-Whyte is the game high scorer at 22 points, adding 5 assists, while Conor Morgan tallies 13/ 5 rebs/ 4 steals. Saskatchewan are paced by Mack Burns’ 12 points and 5 rebs/ 4 steals, but their 3 starting guards, Evan Ostertag, Shawn Lathan, and Jauquin Bennett-Boire are a combined 7/24 (29%).  The home team draws to within 4 in the final minutes, but UBC finishes with free throws from Morgan, and a trey by Will Ondrik.  Box Score

at Winnipeg Wesmen  85 Trinity Western Spartans  68  –  The Wesmen put up 50 in the opening 20 minutes, and never look back, moving to 3-2 on the season. Denzel Lynch-Blair scores 24 and makes 5 steals, while Ryan Oirbans has 17 points/ 8 boards for Winnipeg. Trinity allow too many points in the paint in the final quarter, and never really threaten. Lucas Mannes leads the Spartans (0-5) with 19 points, Dean Richey adds 17/ 8 rebs/ 7 steals, and Kelvin Smith scores 11 plus grabbing 10 rebounds.   Box Score

  at Victoria Vikes 72 Calgary Dinos  71  –   UVic Coach Craig Beaucamp is quoted earlier in the week saying, “Our defense gives us a chance every game …. “, and that was certainly true tonight, as the Vikes go to 5-0 with a last-second free throw from Mac Roth.  Defense wins for Victoria, who shoot just 38% from the floor, as do the Dinos.  Vic opened up a 3rd quarter lead, but Calgary (3-2) caught them in the final minutes of the 4th.  The Vikes get 2 shots and 2 rebounds, and Roth is sent to the line off a foul call which just beats the buzzer. Mac finishes with 19 points and 5 boards to lead Victoria, while Calgary’s Thomas Cooper is the game’s high scorer with 22/ 8 rebs. Box Score


Explorer Division –

Josh Wolfram scores 20 plus 11 boards to pace the 'Pack to their 5th straight win.

Josh Wolfram scores 20 plus 11 boards to pace the ‘Pack to their 5th straight win.                 photo –  TRU Athletics

 at Thompson R. WolfPack 74  Mac Ewan Griffins   60 – The WolfPack (5-0) wear out their shooting arms, with 34 points in the 3rd quarter, and lead 65-39, then MacEwan comes to life, but are too far back to threaten. Neither team shoots well, but TRU has 4 in double figures scoring – 20 pts/ 11 rebounds for Josh Wolfram, 19 points/ 10 boards for Luke Morris, and another double of 12 pts/ 11 rebs by Volodymyr Iegorov .  The Griffins match the ‘Pack (46-47) on the glass, but 21 turnovers and 35% shooting foil their efforts. Thadius Galvez scores 15 to lead Mac (1-4).  Box Score

Colin Plumb and his UNBC teammates grab a huge home win over UFV on Friday.

Colin Plumb and his UNBC teammates grab a huge home win over UFV on Friday.     photo – UNBC Athletics

 at UNBC Timberwolves  81  Fraser Valley Cascades  74 –   There was a lot of ‘hooting and hollering’  as the clock wound down on the ‘trap-game’ upset of previously unbeatenUFV by the home-standing Timberwolves.  Big win for UNBC… one of the best you have had in your school’s young Canada West history. The Cascades are up 44-37 at the half, and things were proceeding as might be expected.

The T’Wolves (2-3), however, had other ideas, and, sparked by the 23 points from the consistently sharp Rhys Elliott, they caught and passed the Trees in the 3rd quarter, and increased their margin in the 4th.  48% FG shooting was one edge for the home side, and the 11 treys (3 by Marcus MacKay, and 2 each (off the bench) by Vaggelis Loukas and Elliot Rowe)  provided the necessary momentum.  Oh, and a mere 9 turnovers by a solid guard corps was critical as well; Billy Cheng helped with 15 points/ 3 asst/ 2 steals, and Colin Plum with 13 points/ 9 boards/ 2 steals.  Kevon Parchment scored 25 for the Cascades (4-1), adding  11 boards, while Vijay Dillon had 16 pts. and Manny Dulay 14.
Box Score

at UBC-Okanagan Heat  73  Mt. Royal Cougars  58 –  A solid game for the Heat (2-3), as they build through the 44 point 2nd half to a strong finish.  Okanagan is 46% from the floor to only 37% for MRU, and the Heat score 26 off turnovers to the Cougars’ 14.  Aldrich Berrios has another good night, with 23 points/ 7 rebs, while Dean Johnston hits for 18 points / 5 boards for UBC_O.  Mt. Royal (1-4) have Derek Wolf with 17 and Brett Layton with 16 points   Box Score


 

 

Overtime-

  • Correction !  CW Hoops Editor error ! (Why would we use the Canada West site, when we can go to the CISHoops.ca ‘Bible’ for any stat … Coach Barry Rawlyk of Saskatchewan has a CIS overall winning percentage of 71% in Canada West (League and playoffs), and 74% in CIS play overall. Sorry for short-changing you, coach!  Martin Timmerman – CISHoops editor-  is on the job !
  • UVic Athletics  must be kidding with the goofy horns blaring the whole game with the Vikes – Dinos on Friday.  Not sure why the League would allow this, but it is a ridiculous atmosphere for a game.  Bush League.
  • What else can we learn at this fantastic CIS Hoops info site ? Well, for example … which teams are more often in the CIS Top 10, and which have never made it ? An historical summary of the CIS Top 10, courtesy of Martin Timmerman at cishoops.ca
  • Spanish guard, Alex Igual, is back in action for the Cougars.

    Spanish guard, Alex Igual, is back in action for the Cougars.    photo – UR Athletics

    Good article about Regina’s Spanish import guard, Alex Igual, in the Regina Leader-Post by Ian Hamilton  .  Igual talks about a rough year of re-hab after suffering an early season injury. “Last year was tough because I wasn’t able to help my team,” Igual said. “It’s frustrating when you see how the season is going and you can’t help them.It’s awesome to be with my teammates again and be a part of the team.”

  • More from the U of L’s  ‘Wellsie and the Coach’ –  In this interesting Pronghorns podcast, they talk about how a smaller centre like Lethbridge might overcome the ‘Central Ontario advantage’ , and compete for Canada West and National championships –   “… develop local players,  keep guys together, and bring 1 or 2 import stars to raise the level,” says Coach Hansen. He also  hints at a terrific new import player coming in next season ( Australia ?).   For more of this podcast.

 

 

 

Vikes Hammer Huskies

 

UVic Make a Strong Case

Vic's VVV drives by Saskatchewan's Chan De Ciman.

Vic’s Reiner Theil drives by Saskatchewan’s Chan De Ciman.  photo UVic Athletics

at  Victoria Vikes 83 Saskatchewan Huskies 58 –  The defending CW champs send a clear message that they will be fighting to retain that crown, as they smother  the Huskies offense, yielding just 23 points in the first half. The Vikes shoot 54% from the floor, led by 18 points from Mack Roth, and 15 points/7 rebs by Grant Sitton. Saskatchewan, who are our-rebounded 35-22 by UVic, get 20 points from Jauquin Bennett-Boire.    Vikes are 3-0, and Huskies drop to 1-2.      Box Score

at Manitoba Bisons   96    Calgary Dinos  90   OT –  The Dinos led through the early 4th quarter, but a Bisons rally forced the visitors to score the last 4 pts. in regulation to get to extra time.  Free throws spelled the difference as Manitoba were a strong 23/28, while UC only 14/23;  Wyatt Anders had a monster night on the boards, with 20 for UM.  Justus Alleyn had a career best 27 points and added 9 assists to lead the Buffaloes attack, and Ilarion Bonhomme counted 16. Calgary got another great scoring effort from Thomas Cooper, with 38 points/ 8 rebs/ 4 assts, while Jhony Verrone was the only other Dino in double figures with 11.  Both teams are now 2-1.   Box Score

Winnipeg Wesmen  71 at Alberta Golden Bears  60  –  In a bit of an upset, the visiting Wesmen hold the Bears offense at bay, as they force 21 UA turnovers.  The Ws outscore Alberta 41-26 in the final 20 minutes. Jelane Pryce leads Winnipeg with 21, while Mamadou Gueye notches the same for U of A and adds 11 boards.  Both the Wesmen and the Bears are 1-2.    Box Score

at Lethbridge Pronghorns 85 Brandon Bobcats 75 –  The ‘Horns started slowly, but stormed back with a 48-34 2nd half edge, to grab the home opening win over the 0-3 Bobcats. The 5 Lethbridge starters were all in double figures, led by Brandon Brine with 14, plus 13 rebounds.  Brandon got 27 from DJ Jordan, but shot a mere 4/20 (20%) from the line, but inexplicably  hit 46% from 3 point range.   Box Score

at UBC Thunderbirds 94 Trinity Western Spartans 69  –  The T-Birds establish a 20 point lead at the half, and waltz away with a clear win to go to 2-1.  Trinity is out-shot 49% to 37% from the floor, and out-boarded by a whopping 55-32. Will Ondrik is high for UBC with 18 points, with Patrick Simon coming off the bench for 10 pts/ 10 rebs.  Both Lucas Mannes and Dean Richey score 14 for the Spartans, who are now 0-3. Box Score


 

Explorer Division – 

UFV's Kevon Parchment has another solid game to lead the Cascades.

UFV’s Kevon Parchment has another solid game to lead the Cascades.

at  Fraser Valley Cascades 74 MacEwan Griffins 64 –  A workman-like effort from the Cascades, as their defense forces McEwan into 21 turnovers, and they clean -up at the foul line (18/21 vs 8/11 for Mac). The pair of Kevon Parchment (9 rebs) and Marcus Morgan each knock down 17 points for the 3-0 UFV.  McEwan’s Keith Gerdes is the game-high scorer with 21 pts / 7 rebs     Box Score

Thompson R. WolfPack101 at Mt. Royal Cougars 72 –  The WolfPack fed generously with 58 points in the final 20 minutes, shooting 55% from the floor.  TRU’s Josh Wolfram had a big night , with 35 points and 9 rebounds, while Reese Pribilsky hit 24 pts/ 9 boards/4 assists.  Brett Layton continued to impress in his 1st year with 28 points / 7 rebs for the Cougars.  TRU is 3-0 and Mt. Royal 1-2.  Box Score

UNBC Timberwolves 64  at UBC-Okanagan Heat 48 –  All the numbers favour the T’Wolves (1-2) in this one – UNBC is 45% from the floor / UBC-O only 39%, the Heat are just 1/15 from beyond the arc compared to 5/16 for the Wolves, and UNBC has only 16 turnovers to 22 for the home team. Rhys Elliot, with 15 points, and  Billy Cheng with 14 plus 5 assists, lead the Timberwolves, while Mitch Goodwin has 11 for  0-3 Okanagan.  Box Score


 

Other CIS Mid-week … Memorial sweeps Saint Mary’s in St. John’s,  99-86 on Sunday.  Weds.- Ryerson 84 McMaster 69, Cape Breton 98 St. FX 87, Toronto 91 Waterloo 65 … In Quebec on Thurs.-   UQAM 79  Bishop’s 75

Friday  CIS Scores –

Quebec – Concordia 66 Laval 62

Atlantic – #10 Dalhousie  73 Memorial 60,  Acadia 81 St. FX 71

Ontario –  #1 Ottawa 89  at Lakehead 61 ,  #2 Carleton 85  at Guelph  59,  #7 Western 83 Windsor 63, Queen’s 69 Laurentian 68,  York 81 Nipissing 62

 


 

Overtime – 

Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson starting for Galitos-Tiey in Portugal

Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson starting for Galitos-Tiey in Portugal

  • Euro – Report … Ross Bekkering (UC), playing in The Netherlands for 4-2, 2nd place, Donar Groningen, is scoring 13.5 ppg/ 9 rebs/ 2.5 assts.  Jordan Baker (UA) and Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson (UC) in Portugal, with Galitos-Tiey.  Team is 3-3, tied for 4th … Baker is top scorer with 22 ppg/ 11 rebs, while JO-J is 7.8 ppg/4 rebs/4 assts.   Rob Sihota (UC) in Hungary with last place MAFC Budapest … scoring 13.6 ppg/ 7.3 rebs.  Nick Loewen (MRU), playing now for CB Agustinos-Eras in Leon, Spain (2nd Division (A-B), who are 1-1, and Nick is scoring 11 ppg / 4.5 rebounds.  Chris McLaughlin (UVic), playing for the Gmunden Swans, Austria is at 10.2 ppg / 6.4 rebs.
  • 5th year guard, Billy Cheng, is set to have his career year for the
    UNBC's 5th year guard, Billy Cheng - photo Prince George Citizen.

    UNBC’s 5th year guard, Billy Cheng –      photo Prince George Citizen.

    UNBC T’Wolves;  Coach Todd Jordan says, Billy’s been a big piece for us probably since his second or third year. We need a lot from him and the expectations are high.” “I take it as more of a challenge in leading this team that’s young,” said Cheng, who’s double majoring in finance and international business. “Todd has given me confidence in doing so and keeping all of my teammates together.”  details in this Prince George Citizen story by Andrea Johnson. 

  • Manitoba Coach, Kirby Schepp, assessing his Bisons’ chances in Canada West this season, “We’ve got probably one of our more athletic groups certainly since I’ve been here,” Schepp said Thursday. “I think we expect to be a pretty good team. But the way Canada West as a league is, it has such tremendous parity. Every weekend is going to be really, really difficult.” From the Winnipeg Free Press.

 

 

Vikes – Huskies in Feature Series

 

CW … Series of the Week –

Likes Brandon Dunlop drives against Huskies' Chan De Ciman (#1) and Trevor Severinski (#13) in October U of S win.

Vikes Brandon Dunlop drives against Huskies’ Chan De Ciman (#1) and Trevor Severinski (#13) in October U of S win.          photo – UVic Athletics

#9 Saskatchewan Huskies (1-1) at  Victoria Vikes (2-0) – The Victoria Vikes

Mack Roth , Vikes

Mack Roth , Vikes

are having yet another ‘Official Home Opener’ for the their bright new, yellow -themed CARSA Centre, as the Saskatchewan Huskies return for this week’s League series. Fans will remember the October opening for the Guy Vetrie Tournament, when the Sled Dogs won 3 games over ‘heavy-weights’, Fraser Valley, Carleton, and the Vikes … that one was 95-72 !

But … this is now.  UVic is 2-0, and ‘finding a different way to get things done on the court’.  A shaky pre-season brought some doubt, but Mack Roth, Reiner Theil, and Grant Sitton are hoping to lead a quick resurgence for the defending Canada West champs.  They, like the Huskies, will be playing a more guard-oriented game, even though both teams pride themselves in getting the ball into the paint.  It’s just not your classic back to the hoop , Chris McLaughlin – type attack.

  • Key Huskies –  Evan Ostertag, Jauquin Bennett -Boire, Shawn Lathan, Trevor Severinski
  • Key Vikes –  Grant Sitton, Brandon Dunlop, Mack Roth, Reiner Theil.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 5.20.34 PM

One notable match-up is the grizzled  5th year vet, point man Brandon Dunlop (left, above), in his 3rd ‘Tour of Duty’ on the Viking ship, going up against ‘raw rookie’, Jauquin Bennett-Boire (right), the Huskies QB on offense. JB-B is more likely to be a scoring threat, but Dunlop is a cagey and tireless worker, who will give all he has for a Vikes win in both these games.

Dinos rookie guard, Torrez McCoy, returns to Winnipeg with the Dinos.

Dinos rookie guard, Torrez McCoy, returns to Winnipeg with the Dinos.  photo – David Moll – UC

#6 Calgary Dinos (2-0) at Manitoba Bisons (1-1) – Home-opener for the Bisons, who have big dreams, but they’ve dropped 5 of their past 6 meetings with the Dinos, and need to find a way to control the diverse Calgary attack.  The trio  of Wyatt Anders on the boards (#1 in CW at 12.5 rpg), AJ Basi (21 ppg) with the deep treys, and point guard Justus Alleyn (4.5 assts, 9 ppg) are central to the Bisons game plan.  Calgary has a 10-11 deep rotation, led by 4th year import wing, Thomas Cooper, averaging a double/double of 25 ppg/10 rebounds. Dallas Karch (11 ppg, 5 rebs) and Lars Schleuter (10 ppg/ 4.5 rebs) are a pair of 6-7 forwards who got off to a good start in week 1.  Both these games should be nip and tuck, and won in the final few minutes.

Winnipeg Wesmen (0-2) at Alberta Golden Bears (1-1) –  Second prize for the Ws is another weekend in Sunny Alberta !  Tough scheduling start for the Wesmen, who need a bigger dose of offensive flow against a Bears team intent on leading with their aggressive defense. UW’s Jelane Pryce is expected to produce 15+ ppg, and needs a better shooting performance this week. Jamar Farlay (14.5 ppg) looks to be a big cog in the offense, but the Wesmen need more ‘hands on deck’. Alberta are good at home, and had Mamadou Gueye, Sebastian Denault, and 1st year import guard, Colby Jackson, score in double figures vs UBC last week.

Brandon Brine leads the Pronghorns into their home opener vs Brandon.

Brandon Brine leads the Pronghorns into their home opener vs Brandon.

Brandon Bobcats (0-2)  at Lethbridge Pronghorns (0-0) – Opening night for the ‘Horns, who have one of the longer returnee lists in the League.  Guards, Jared Baker, and Rob Olsen, along with forward, Brandon Brine, are ‘prime-time players’, and import guard Dejon Burdeaux (Fresno CC) is a potent back-court addition for U of L . For the revamped Bobcats, DJ Jordan scored19 ppg in Brandon’s 2 losses vs Regina last weekend, and he  gets help from Chris Stanhope (17 ppg) and Earl Thompson Jr., a beast on the boards (10 rpg) who scored 11 ppg .

Trinity Western Spartans (0-2) at UBC Thunderbirds (1-1) – Trinity may encounter  a flock of angry T-Birds this week, after UBC dropped their home opener to Alberta last Friday. Conor Morgan, David Wagner, and Jordan Jensen -Whyte and company figure to do some damage to a TWU squad trying to establish some team cohesion;  Dean Richey (import guard, Spokane, WA) looks like a leader, and Kelvin Smith has the tools; team shooting and rebounding need to pick up.  We note the Spartans improved turnover ratio, as new Coach Aaron Muhic works for a more efficient style.

The 2-0 Regina Cougars get the bye this week.


 

Explorer Division – 

Nate Brown is a strong presence inside for the Cascades.

Nate Brown is a strong presence inside for the Cascades.

MacEwan Griffins (1-1) at  Fraser Valley Cascades  (2-0) –  Another test for the defending Division champions, as they host a veteran-laden Mac team.  UFV may not overwhelm, but they get the job done, with their experience and toughness. Mark Johnson (3rd year tsf from Coll. of the Desert, Palm Springs, CA), is obviously a great addition, and he joins battle-tested vets, like Kevon Parchment and Nate Brown to form another strong Cascades squad. The Griffins will have to earn everything they get; Denzel James and newcomer Thadius Galvez look like a dynamic pair for the Griffs.

5th year guard, Reese Pribilsky, leads a potent 'Pack attack.

5th year guard, Reese Pribilsky, leads a potent ‘Pack attack.  – photo – TRU

Thompson R. WolfPack (2-0) at Mt. Royal Cougars (1-1) –  The ‘Pack come in with an 8-0 record over the pre-season and opening week.  Josh Wolfram, Reese Pribilsky, and  Vololodymyr Iegorov are a ‘wrecking crew’ on offense.  The Cougars respond with new-found size and scoring by 1st year post Brett Layton, a 6-8 returned Mormon missionary, who retained and refined some of his hoops skills last summer. James Lefebvre and Derek Wolfe are seniors that MRU will rely on, if they are to get a win vs the ‘Pack.

UNBC Timberwolves (0-2)  at UBC-Okanagan Heat (0-2) –  Here are 2 teams looking for their first victory of the young season.  Both coaches see these as ‘winnable games’, and a split is a necessity, even on this 2nd weekend. The T-Wolves ride the scoring touch of Aussie guard, Rhys Elliot, and an increasingly confident Billy Cheng, who scored 32 in the first of 2 strong team efforts against TRU last week. Okanagan also came to play on the road at Fraser Valley, and they showed more offensive depth, with Dean Johnston, Mitch Goodwin, Aldrich Berrios, and newcomer, Randall Mosca all averaging double figures.


 

Overtime –

Volodymyr Iegorov, TRU's new 'secret weapon' !

Volodymyr Iegorov, TRU’s new ‘secret weapon’ !  photo – TRU Athletics

  • TRU’s Coach Scott Clark appreciates the impact that  Vololodymyr Iegorov  the 6-7, 3rd year  forward, from Donetsk, Ukraine is making on his WolfPack team.  “He scores in a variety of ways, “ Clark explains. “He doesn’t score in your face. He got to the line, he scores in transition. He scores a three or two. He got a couple from the post some from the back cut. He is like a ‘silent assassin.’ He is a good player and that is the way good players go about their business.”  (From News Kamloops ).  Iegorov scored 29 ppg on opening weekend, and he is a huge addition, playing beside TRU’s other ace big man, Josh Wolfram.
  • You are Thompson Rivers, at 8-0 vs CIS and U.S. Colleges, but do you get even a sniff from the CIS Top 10 voters ?  Ah-h-h, NO!  Why you say? Well, it’s obvious that the Canada West Explorer Division is considered a ‘B League’ .  Any team in the Explorer, even the consistently competitive Fraser Valley Cascades, are passed over by this perception. These teams may have to live with that until 2016-17, when Canada West again merges the teams into one almost unfathomable 17 team League.

Season Previews – MRU, UNBC

 

Season Previews – Explorer Division –

Mount Royal Cougars –  Coach Marc Dobell, 12th year

Not unlike the majority of teams in the Explorer Division, the 2015-16 Cougars are, in many ways, a ‘new-look team’, having graduated seniors, Manok Akwl, Awet Abraha, Kyle Wilson, and Deng Awak, all of whom played significant roles on last year’s 10-10 squad.  The ‘Cougs’ do return 6-5 post man, James Lefebvre, and also get back the 6-6 Ray Goff after a year away with a knee injury. Jalen Gardner is the likely floor leader, with the added confidence of a 4th year point man, and shooting guard Derek Wolf will be a bigger factor this campaign, as will the irrepressible Noah Lewis, with his enthusiastic effort.

Coach Marc Dobell will look to improved size up front as a lever to bump MRU into the post season, as he adds a trio of 6-9 forwards in T.T. Thokbuom, a slim, shot-blocker,  Aussie import, Ty Cuperis, who has displayed a good scoring touch, and a large body in Brett Layton, with the maturity of a returned Mormon missionary. “Layton plays both ends of the court, has great hands, and is athletic and pretty quick for a 6-9 player”, says Dobell.

Another impressive rookie is point man Matt Gray, a 5-11 fire-ball from Victoria’s Oak Bay HS. “We love this guy,” says his Coach. “ He has looked great in work-outs so far, and we think he can be a very good point man in our League.”  Tyis Yellowhorn, from nearby Chestermere HS, has the size and shooting ability to make an impact in his 1st season as well. Nate Wall is a 6-7 rookie wing man who has long-range shooting ability, “… and has good ball-handling skills, as a big man”, according to Dobell.

 

James Lefebvre is a 5th year mainstay for Mt. Royal

James Lefebvre is a 5th year mainstay for Mt. Royal

Player Profile –

Mount Royal captain, James Lefebvre, voices a refrain we hear quite often from Canada West veterans entering their 5th and final season – “ I can’t believe how fast this has all happened … suddenly, I’m the more experienced player who other guys are looking to for leadership !”    The rugged forward can lead by example, with his hard-won 13.5 ppg / 8 rebounds last season, and the hard work he’s done in the weight room is evident on a muscular frame, which is still under-sized for the position he plays. The Didsbury, AB native says he sees …“an opportunity for this year’s team to ‘change the culture’ for the better; we can play with heart, play tough, and we have a group with great potential”, says James. 

Within a year’s study of a Sociology degree, Lefebvre says that he’s enjoyed his academic program, and feels he’s learned a lot in his years at MRU. “This last year will be very interesting; we veterans can make a positive difference on and off the court. I’m optimistic that we can make ourselves a contending team with the guys we have”, says Lefebvre.  He will have bigger teammates ‘riding shot-gun’ for him this year, but it’s a good bet that the MRU ‘go-to’ post man will still be this wily 6-5 battler.

MRU Team Roster – 

1 Ty Cuperus   Fwd,  6-9, 1st year, Perth, Aus

2  Ray Goff    F     6-7, 3rd,  Okotoks, AB – Foothills  HS

3  Shay Foggo    G      6-4,  1st,  Calgary- Crescent Hts HS

4  Jalen Gardener    G     6-1,  4th ,  Calgary – Bowness

5  Ryan Cunningham     G     6-2,    3rd,  Calgary – E. Manning

6  Matt Gray      G      5-11,  1st,  Victoria, BC – Oak Bay

7  Neil Phillip   G     6-5,     2nd,  Calgary – Forest Lawn

8 Derek Wolf     G     6-2,  4th,  Penticton, BC – Penticton

9 Tyis Yellowhorn G     6-4,  1st,  Piikani Nation, AB – Chestermere

10 Nate Wall      F     6-7,  1st,  Okotoks, AB – Holy Trinity

11 James Lefebvre    F     6-5,  5th,  Didsbury, AB – Didsbury

12 Noah Lewis     G      6-4,  4th,  Comox, BC- Highlands

13 Glen Yang   G    6-2,  2nd,   Calgary,   Churchill

14 TT Thokbuom    F    6-9,  1st,  Calgary,  Western Canada

15 Brett Layton      F    6-9,  1st,  Calgary,  Churchill

RS  Wiande Kier   G      6-4,  2nd,  Calgary,  Grandin – awaiting knee surgery


 

U. Northern British Columbia –  Coach Todd Jordan, 6th year

UNBC copy

In 2014-15 the 5th year forward pair of Devin McMurtry and Francko Kouagnia accounted for 27 ppg and 18 rebounds for a 12-8, 3rd place Timberwolves team.  The key question for Coach Todd Jordan, “How do you replace that kind of up-front power?”  Well, Coach Jordan, ever the competitor, and one to see the glass at least half-full, feels he has a ‘high potential’ team once again.

Rhys Elliott, T'Wolves top scoring threat.

Rhys Elliott, T’Wolves top scoring threat.  photo – UNBC  Athletics

UNBC’s recruiting, according to Jordan, has to be somewhat “tailored to kids who may come from smaller communities, or players who may be looking for a smaller university where they feel they can make an impact”.

When he signed with the ‘Wolves this summer, 6-7 Austin Chandler from Wenatchee College (WA) , echoed those thoughts, as he described the appeal of UNBC, with a similar feel to the country around his home town in Washington State.  “Austin will be one of our key forwards defensively, he runs the floor well, and we think he’ll develop into a very good player for us”, says Jordan. Another significant addition is 6-5 forward, Anthony Hokanson, a Vancouver (Kitsilano) product who flew a little under the radar due to an injury keeping him off the court for much of his grade 12 year, but with a 210 lb. ‘big body’ and a fine shooting touch, he may get floor time right away.

T’Wolves Returnees –

UNBC point man, Billy Cheng on defense.

UNBC point man, Billy Cheng on defense.               photo from UNBC Sports

Billy Cheng (5th year) 5’8″ G , Richmond, BC  

Rhys Elliott ( 4th ) 6’2″ G , Adelaide, Australia  

Nolan Hanson (4th) 6’0″ G, Prince George  

Gagan Sahota (3rd) –  6’5″  F, Surrey, BC

Colin Plumb ( 5th) 6’5″ F , Pitt Meadows, BC  

Marcus MacKay (3rd) 6’2″ G, Terrace, BC

Elliot Rowe (4th) 5’8″ G , Victoria, BC  

Vaggelis Loukas ( 2nd) – 6’6″ F, Athens, Greece  

New Players –

Haydn Molcak – (1st) 6’5″ F,   Prince George – DP Todd Secondary 

Anthony Hokanson – (1st) 6’5″ G,  Vancouver – Kitsilano Secondary 

Austin Chandler –  ( 3rd) 6’7″ F,   Wenatchee, WA – Wenatchee CC 

Saje Gosal –  (1st)  6’4″  G,  Golden, Golden Secondary

Neal Randhawa – (1st ) 6’3″ G,  Golden, Golden Secondary

Red Shirts –  Sam Zhang, 6-4 wing, Pitt Meadows*  has 2 years of academics left… will play out his 5th and final year next year . James Agyeman – 5’11 PG (Transfer from Wilfred Laurier… will begin his 3rd year in 2016/17)

 

Big Changes for UNBC and Okanagan

 

 

UNBC-Okan2

Okanagan and UNBC will look to Mitch Goodwin (#1-blue)) and ‘Francko’ Kouagnia (#7-white) to lead their respective teams.                                    (photo- UBC-O Athletics)

 

UNBC Adds Talent, Depth

Despite the loss of scorer/rebounder Charles Barton and point man Jibreel Stevens, the UNBC Timberwolves should be “ … far deeper this season than last”, suggests Coach Todd Jordan. With new faces having arrived from the B.C College ranks, the U.S., and Greece, the T’Wolves have re-charged their roster, and Jordan says, “I am very pleased with what I am seeing from our guys so far.”

Big 'Francko' grabs a rebound for the 'Wolves

Big ‘Francko’ grabs a rebound for the ‘Wolves (UBC-O Athletics, photo)

The ‘Wolves return their big man, Franck Olivier Kouagnia, a 4th year, 6-7 rebounding ace, who grabbed 6.2 rpg and scored 13 ppg, and, at times, dominated inside with his energetic style.  He will get help from  Vaggelis Loukas, a 1st year, 6-6 import forward from Athens, Greece, who brings a ‘Euro type’ game, with inside and outside skills, a good handle on the ball, and an ability to score and rebound.

Jordan expects a pair of Surrey, B.C. products, 5th year man, 6-4 Devin McMurtry, who is a work-man on the boards (4.1 rpg), and 3rd year, 6-5 shooter, Gagan Sahota (37% from 3 pt. range), to lend a hand up front.  Colin Plumb, a 6-4 wing from Pitt Meadows, transfers from Capilano U., and has the pedigree and scoring touch to make an impact.

In the back-court, Coach Jordan is excited about the arrival of import point man, Rhys Elliot (Adelaide, Australia, who shone in his lone season at Iowa Central J.C., and “ … is a very, very good, athletic 6-2 player.”

Jeff Chu (Vancouver), a 6-0, 5th year combo guard, will be one of the

Jeff Chu hangs in the lane.

Jeff Chu hangs in the lane.

key leaders, as he adds scoring (9 ppg) and rebounding (4 rpg), while the ‘Wolves will also benefit  from a fully healthy Billy Cheng (Richmond, B.C.), a dynamic ball-handler .

Marcus MacKay (Terrace, B.C.) and Nolan Hanson (Prince George), a pair of 6-2 guards , and Mitchell Howden (Abbotsford), a 6-5 wing return for their 2nd year, ready to make bigger contributions.  Michael Smith, a 6-2, 4th year shooting guard from Toronto, lands in Northern B.C. after stints at Regina and Brandon.

Coach Jordan says, “We are very comfortable with this group of guys; they are working well together, and we think some of our returnees are now ready to step up and play a bigger role for us. We’re bigger, deeper and we’re pretty excited about where we’re going. “

UNBC logoThe ‘Wolves were in Edmonton Oct. 2-4 at the Alberta Basketball Showcase , and now wait for the tough start of Explorer Division season play  as they travel to Kamloops for Nov.7/8 games vs the TRU Wolf Pack, then on the road again on the 14/15th vs Fraser Valley in Abbotsford.  Their 1st home dates are Nov.21/22 against Mt. Royal, then finish the pre-Christmas slate with Okanagan the vistors to Prince George on the 28th-29th.

 

 

 

Youth is Served at Okanagan

Hometown star, Buzz Truss (10) is one of 7 high school recruits for the Heat.

Hometown star, Buzz Truss (10) is one of 7 high school recruits for the Heat.

There are youth movements, then there’s UBC-Okanagan !  Coach Peter Guarasci has 7 rookies; that is fresh-out-of-high school rookies.  They may be shaving, but they hardly have to … these are 17 and 18 year olds competing in a League where 23-24-25 is not entirely uncommon. The ‘vets’ for this Kelowna squad are 4 second-year returnees, and a lone 3rd year, Mitch Goodwin.

Coach Guarasci suggests, “We wanted to go young, and we think these guys have talent, they’re coachable, and they have high basketball IQ’s.  This is my 3rd year at UBC-O, and I inherited a group of players when I arrived.  We’ve recruited some youngsters here who we hope will grow together, and be here for the long run.”

Mitch Goodwin drives to the lane.            (UBC-O photo)

Mitch Goodwin drives to the lane.                  (UBC-O photo)

Goodwin, one of 5 local Kelowna products, is a 6-2 combo guard, who brings many talents to the table;  last season he averaged 11 ppg, 4.5 rebs, and 1.4 steals.  He is an obvious leader, and, if he can improve his assist/turnover ratio, could be among the top players in this Explorer Division.  Ryan Lintell, a 6-4, 2nd year shooter, will be expected to carry a large slice of the scoring load, with his smooth stroke from long range.  David Manshrek is a 2nd year returnee from North Vancouver, who is a strong rebounder at 6-4, and another 6-4 wing, 2nd year Cameron Friesen should step in with his scoring and rebounding abilities as well .

This large rookie class has height, which is something Guarasci, a 6-9 former National team forward, should be able to nurture. 6-9 Ryan Moock (Airdrie, AB), and 6-8 Dean Johnston (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) will get a trial under fire as they jump right into the playing rotation.  6-6 Austin Penrose  (West Vancouver), and 6-5 Noma Obaseki (Vancouver) will both be ‘learning on the fly’ against more experienced, mature match-ups.

The guard-corps has 3 outstanding additions in 6-1 point man, Aldrich Berrios (Notre Dame-Burnaby), a wheeling and dealing passer/scorer with speed and a sharp shooting eye, along with a couple of 6-4 ‘off-guards / wings’ in Cam Servatius (Sardis, Chilliwack, B.C.) and Buzz Truss (Kelowna Sr. Sec), both of whom were chased by several teams in the recruiting process.

UBC-O logoCoach Guarasci has an active roster of 11 B.C. and 2 Alberta grads, with no imports to be seen; “We get no international (tuition) waivers, and, with our academic programs so challenging, we have to recruit guys who can succeed”, says the coach. “A key for us is to have the patience to allow these players to develop, and to teach them, and support them so they can stick with us for 5 years.”

Winning consistently may not happen right away, with so much youth in the line-up, but Guarasci has a bold plan for the Heat program, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out as this group matures.  After 2 decisive losses at Lethbridge this past weekend (90-65, 96-74), UBC-O continues their pre-season on Oct. 17/18 with a pair against Lewis and Clark College in Idaho, then, on the 25th and 26th the Heat are at home to play Laurentian (Sudbury, ON) of the OUA, and Trinity Western.

Okanagan’s Explorer Division League play starts Nov. 7/8 in Kelowna  as they host the early favourites, the Fraser Valley Cascades. They continue their pre-Christmas schedule on the road at Mt. Royal, at home vs new Canada West entry, MacEwan, then finish up at UNBC on the 28/29 vs the T’Wolves.

 

Former Canada West rookie of the year, Ilarion Bonhomme was cut by Brandon this Fall.

Former Canada West rookie of the year, Ilarion Bonhomme was cut from the  Brandon Bobcats team this Fall.

Roster Turnover is Inevitable

As we examine the rosters of Canada West teams every Fall, we are, of course, interested in the new recruits for each team, both the young high school stars, and the transfers and imports from other schools and countries.  But we are also struck by the absence of some key characters from the past season.

Players fail to continue with their teams for a wide variety of reasons;  it may be a decision made by the student-athlete or by the coach, and there are different circumstances that arise in the lives of many young people.  The academic challenges are one of the major factors, and even as athletes generally fare better than the average students, there are still players who don’t meet the required standard.  Injuries can quickly discourage an athlete or even take them right out of competition.

2010-2011 University of Victoria Vikes Basketball

UVic’s Kyle Peterson transfers to Lethbridge after playing a significant role in 2 seasons with the Vikes.

Players may choose to leave one program for another … go back home, leave home, seek ‘greener pastures’, play their last year or 2 at a different place;  transfers are more and more common.   With the wide – spread in ages for competing athletes comes different priorities;  some older athletes just decide to move on, and some younger ones may get discouraged.  Guys go the pros, to work, or some athletes decide they just don’t want to dedicate all that time and effort any more.

Even some of the top players may find that they no longer fit in their team’s plans, or their role will change. This season we note some of the more prominent player absences –  UVic’s Kyle Peterson, Calgary’s Josh Turner, Brandon’s Ilarion Bonhomme, UBC-O’s Greet Gill, Mt. Royal’s Jared Cornish, Regina’s Brendan Hebert, Saskatchewan’s Stephan Lamar, TRU’s Ta’Quan Zimmerman, UNBC’s Jibreel Stevens, UBC’s Isaiah Solomon,  and Trinity Western’s Anthony Ottley.

Continuity is a goal of all programs, but there are so many factors at play which can cause or contribute to a player leaving a team.  Situations rarely stay the same for any length of time.

 

Overtime –

  •   Scores from the past weekend –  Carleton wins all 3 at the UVic – Guy Vetrie Memorial  – 69-52 over Alberta, 80-64 over UVic, and 83-61 over Bishop’s.  Alberta topped the Vikes 80-65. Winnipeg took 2 games at Lakehead – 90-89 then 80-70.  Trinity Western dropped 2 of 3 at the Queen’s Tournament – TWU 69-Queen’s 60, McGill 71 TWU 51, Guelph 73 Trinity 70.
  • We mistakenly reported that Nipissing Lakers were moving from Ontario College competition to the OUA.  Actually, this is their first foray into Men’s Basketball competition at any post-secondary level.
  •   More scores – UFV 88 Van. Island U. 70 , Lethbridge 96-74 and 90-65 over UBC-O, Mt. Royal 82-UNBC 71, Saskatchewan 101-MacEwan 64.