Long Road for 1st Round Play-off Teams

 

 

 4  Competitive Series in 1st Round of Playoffs

              … Thursday start for ‘Play-in’ series’ in Canada West

As the top 4 seeds, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and UBC rest-up, heal, and prepare, there is no slow-down for the 8 teams heading into the ‘Play-in’ series this weekend.  Games start at Manitoba and Winnipeg on Thursday night in two of the best of 3 sets, with Brandon and Lethbridge hosting series’ to begin on Friday.

Here are the match-ups –

Keith Omoerah contributes to the Bisons offense in many ways.      Photo – J. Miller, UM Sports

#12 Regina Cougars at # 5 Manitoba Bisons –  If we look at the past history between these teams, we might be tempted to call this a lock for the Herd.  Manitoba has beaten Regina in 15 of the most recent 16 meetings, including a January sweep at Regina (84-75, and 93-81).  But the Bisons have not been as convincing over the past month, with a couple of losses at Brandon, then close calls with UNBC, and both nights last weekend against Mt. Royal. Regina comes off a solid weekend at home, where they swept the TRU Wolf Pack.

The Cougars and Bisons are both laden with experience;  Regina features guards Alex Igual (14.7 ppg/ 4.6 rebs/ 3.3 assts), Brandon Tull (13.5 ppg/ 4.5 rebs) and rookie, Johneil Johnson (12.2 ppg/ 3.7 rebs). Forwards, Brian Ofori (13 ppg/ 6.3 rebs) and  Travis Sylvestre (9 ppg/ 3.6 rebs) have played well of late.

Manitoba have a strong, veteran group, with Justus Alleyn their top scorer at 17.4 ppg/3.6 rebs, and the all-around play of Keith Omoerah (13.2 ppg/ 8.7 rebs).  AJ Basi (13.3 ppg) and Ilarion Bonhomme are dangerous back-court threats.  James Wagner, a big rookie can give the Bisons a boost inside, along with veteran post, Brett Jewell .  The question remains, ‘Which team can pull together and win 2 games this weekend?’  The home court favours Manitoba, and UBC awaits the winner .  (Central) 7:30 pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if a 3rd game is necessary)

Winnipeg’s William Sesay will be a key factor vs Fraser Valley.

#10  Fraser Valley Cascades at #7  Winnipeg Wesmen –  This is the other Thursday start, and we have two guard – oriented teams facing off after both just had road trip weekends.  The Cascades have the quick turnaround from a bus-trip up and back on the icy, snow-packed Coquihalla Highway to Kelowna last weekend.  Wash the uniforms, pack the bags, attend a brief 2 days of classes, and off they go to Winnipeg.  The Wesmen come off a 2 loss weekend in Victoria, and somehow have to ‘right the ship’ , and win the home series vs a UFV squad that has won 4 straight to finish the season.

5th year Cascades back-court shooters, Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon against  Winnipeg’s Denzel Lynch-Blair, Sean Tarver, and rookie,  Narcisse Ambanza. The much improved Fraser Valley post man, Nav Bains, battling with the Ws’ big Aussie import, Ryan Oirbans.  Talented complimentary players like the Wesmen’s William Sesay and Jamar Farley  vs Fraser Valley’s Denver Sparks-Guest, Mark Johnson, and Andrew Morris.

The Cascades have won 5 of the past 7 meetings, but the Wesmen have home court.  This is looking like a 3 game series.  Note the different game times (Central) –  Thursday at 7 pm, Friday at 3 pm, and Sat. , if necessary, again at 3 pm.  The Saskatchewan Huskies will host the winner in the quarter-finals. 

UVic’s Grant Sitton will be a focus for ‘Horns defenders this weekend.        photo – UVic Athletics

#11 Victoria Vikes at #6 Lethbridge Pronghorns –  Prior to last weekend’s play, the Vikes were literally hanging by a thread, and needing a home sweep of a good Winnipeg team to make the post-season.  They got that sweep, and now are in S. Alberta to face the ‘Horns, who own 2 League wins over the Vikes in January at Victoria.

The Pronghorns are the clear favourites with their guard leader, Dejon Burdeaux (17.1 ppg/ 5.4 rebs/ 4,5 asst/ 3.6 steals) , taking the team on his back, and leading them to key wins.  3 of Burdeaux’s main ‘wing men’ are the sharp-shooting British import, Elliott Sentance (17.6 ppg/ 7 rebs/ 40% from 3 pt),  Mike Pierzchala (11 ppg/ 6 rebs), a threat to ‘run the table’, and 6-8 Zac Overwater (11.6 ppg/ 4.3 rebs.

The Vikes have leaned very heavily on 6-8 Grant Sitton, who’s surely a Canada West all-star, with his 20 ppg/ 6.8 rebs/ and 1.2 steals.  UVic’s only other double digit scorer is rookie import guard Scott Kellum (13.2 ppg), who hits 44% from 3 pt range, and chalks -up 2.4 asst per game.  Justin Kinnear is close to 10 ppg at forward, and he will need help from  Jake Newman and Hassan Abdullahi on the glass, if the Vikes are to stay with the ‘Horns.

We like Lethbridge as the home team here;  Victoria will have to make another jump forward if they hope to get the wins.  Game times are (Mountain) 7 pm on both Friday and Saturday, and 3 pm for a Sunday game, if it’s needed.  The winner here travels to Edmonton to play the Bears in the quarter-finals.

#9 Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack   at  #8  Brandon Bobcats –  The Bobcats host their 1st play-off series since 2009 in the old gym  ( SI Director Matt Packwood tells us).  This is the 1st one in their new ‘Healthy Living Centre’.  These teams have only played 9 times, ever, with the most recent a BU home win over TRU in January of 2014, so we can’t rely on trends!

We will watch a compelling battle of the big men, as the ‘Pack bring 5th year, 6-7  import, Volodymyr Iegorov, along with 6-5 Luke Morris, and 6-5 Joe Davis, who are all double digit scorers , with Iegorov among the League’s top rebounders at 9.1 rpg. Brandon responds with high-scoring Earl Thompson Jr (16.2 ppg/ 8.6 rebs), 6-5 Chris Stanhope, and a surging giant in 6-11 John Paul from St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean.  Brandon’s guards are led by shooter, Tyvon Cooper, while TRU has wing man, Michael Rouault, and import guard, Derek Rhodes.

There will be some new-found excitement surrounding this Bobcats team at home, and, if they can limit their turnovers and continue their improved shooting, they may pull this off.  The ‘Pack played in the CW Final last year, and this young team are looking to take another crack at it.  Only improved guard play and team defense will get them to the next round.  It may take 3 games to sort this out.  Winner goes to Calgary to face the Dinos in quarter-finals. 

 

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Overtime –

  • UBC Coach, Kevin Hanson, with comments about the RPI system, whereby his 19-1 T-Birds finished as the  4th play-off seed,  “Overall, it’s frustrating but we have known that it’s been coming for a few weeks,” said Hanson.   “It is out of our control and we’re not whining about it. Our players are long over the shock. We are getting prepped to play whomever is put in front of us.  (From  Howard Tsumura’s ‘Varsity Letters’ blog  )
  • In that same ‘Varsity Letters’ posting from last weekend, Hanson reports that Conor Morgan has an ankle injury, but is expected to be ‘shooting by the end of the week.’  Guard Phil Jalalpoor is also getting treatment for an ankle injury. UBC has a bye as a top 4 team this week, and will be at home vs the winner of the Manitoba – Regina series Feb . 23-25.

 

 

Play-off Probabilities – 1 Game Left

 

With a win by the favoured Golden Bears 

Will Dejon Burdeaux and the ‘Horns upset the Bears?                   photo- UL Athletics

We present 2 possibilities for play-off seeding, with just the 1 game remaining in regular season play.  The first, shown below, has the Bears winning tonight’s home game / Senior Night vs Lethbridge. You see the results, as calculated using the Rating Percentage Index to order the 12 playoff teams.  (Mt. Royal was tied in Won -Loss with Thompson Rivers, but lose in a tie-breaker.  TRU won a game over Manitoba, while MRU had 2 close losses). The Cougars and Wolf-Pack did not meet in the regular season.

 

The RPI re-shuffles the standings based on the relative strength of schedules.  Teams play very different slates of games, and this is a ‘common’ way of recognizing the inequity of various schedules. (As confusing and frustrating as it might be for some teams and fans).

  • UBC is 19-1, but their schedule was among the ‘softest’ when the stats are in. So the T-Birds drop to the 4 seed
  • Alberta’s schedule is among the toughest, and they get a boost, with a 15-5 record, up to the #1 seed.
  • You’ll also note the 11-9 Fraser Valley Cascades, are 10th seed, while the 8-12 TRU Wolf-Pack are 9, and Brandon, at 9-11 finish way up in 7th.   (RPI folks !)

But, what if, for some reason, Lethbridge wins vs Alberta tonight ?

Then, we have some changes, and not only at the top.  We still have the same 12 play-off teams, but with some re-shuffling with RPI tweaks for every team.

  • Calgary jumps over Alberta to the #1 seed, and the Bears drop to #3, with Saskatchewan bumping up to #4.
  • Winnipeg moves into the #7 position, and Brandon to #8.

All this means that we get some different play-off match-ups in some cases.  It also means that the Dinos have the inside -track to hosting the Final 4, assuming they can win a quarter-final series.   Here’s the new play-off grid, if the ‘Horns knock off the Bears in tonight’s final League contest. (*** Note –  Lethbridge will be the #6 seed, regardless of tonights result).

There’s all sorts of intrigue with these possible match-ups, and the site for the Final 4 can, of course, be crucial to the outcome.

 

 

The Mathematicians Take Over !

 

 

What just happened ?      

Calgary Dinos Coach, Dan Vanhooren

 UBC wins big 2 nights running, and are 17-1 … their RPI index, however, falls from .6450 to         .6172.  Tragique ! 

Saskatchewan and Alberta split their big series, and they both drop slightly.  Calgary wins 2 on the road against a pretty good TRU team, and the Dinos tumble to 4th spot, as the RPI dips by 72 points.   Ugh !

Manitoba loses both games at Brandon, but remains (forever, apparently) in 5th.  Winnipeg wins 2 at home, and go to 6th, up 62 points.  Nice !  Lethbridge was just sitting around , watching the heavy snowfall, and go up a few points, and into 7th.

Brandon made the biggest news, in many ways.  Coach Gil Cheung and his boys come from 3-7 at the Christmas break, to win 6 games and grab a play-off spot at 9-11.  This includes a group of 10 players back from a team that went 1-19 in the previous season.  Well-done, lads .

 

Fraser Valley got the sweep over UVic, and have vaulted themselves into the post-season, while putting the Vikes’ chances in jeopardy.  Victoria comes home to play Winnipeg, and need 2 wins to guarantee a spot, and 1 to have any chance.  MRU,  Regina, Victoria, and MacEwan  are all in dire need of at least that 1 win.  Then the mathematicians take over.

 

What we think we know – 

Martin Timmerman, ‘The man, the myth, the legend’ !

Thanks to Martin Timmerman’s  U-Sports  RPI ‘what-if’ tool for all of this ‘clarity’ in examining the possibilities.  Alberta, Calgary, Saskatchewan, and UBC will be the top 4 seeds.  But not necessarily in that order.  The Huskies or Dinos could be #1, but Alberta has the inside track, especially if they sweep Lethbridge up in Edmonton this week.  The (presumably) 19-1 UBC T’Birds will not be the top seed.

Manitoba will be the 5th seed.  (Even losing 2 to MRU)

From here it gets ‘somewhat jumbled’, as each series is factored in.   Lethbridge can be 6th – 8th, Winnipeg from 6th to 9th.  Brandon are in, with 9 wins, and can be 7th to 9th.

Despite a strong possibility of finishing at 11-9, the UFV Cascades are likely to be 9-10-11-12, but they look to be a lock for the post-season.

That leaves Thompson Rivers  (7th to out !) , Mt Royal, Regina, Victoria, and MacEwan hanging not only by the results of their own games, but of all the other series.  A foreseeable scenario has 2 or more of these teams tied for the final play-off spot(s).  If this is the case, we get the Canada West tie-breakers in play.

CW Tie-breaking rules –          Two Teams Tied:

1. Win/Loss record in head to head competition.

2. Win/Loss record versus common opponents.

3. Each teams RPI ranking.

There are others, but the RPI should sort it out, if necessary.

Three or More Teams Tied:   Use the same procedure as a two‐teams tied. Once one team has been separated from the tied group, go back to step one with the remaining tied team(s).

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Jamar Farley is hot for the Wesmen on Saturday –  photo – Kelly Morton

5 Top Performers from Last Weekend –

Manny Dulay’s 36 point night on Friday for UFV vs Victoria

Conor Morgan matches that on Friday for UBC vs UNBC

Brandon’s Earl Thompson  Jr 40 pts/22 rebs  and  John Paul  30 pts/ 27 boards, as the ‘Cats take a pair from Manitoba

Thadius Galvez hits for 25 pts/ 8 rebs in Senior Night win over UBC-O

Jamar Farley also has a big Senior Night with 22 pts with 6 treys vs Regina

 

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Overtime – 

  • Fraser Valley’s high scoring senior guard , Manny Dulay after the weekend’s wins over UVic, “Usually seniors would be like, ‘OK, it’s my night to shine,’ but I took the approach of, ‘I want to focus on the win,’” Dulay said. “I felt like I had to move the ball because I knew they were going to be extra-aggressive on me, and guys started stepping up – from Denver (Sparks-Guest) to Andrew (Morris) to Mark (Johnson) to Vijay (Dhillon). It was a whole different game from yesterday. Guys were ready to shoot, guys were ready to attack. It was amazing to see.”  From Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
  • This is serious ….

  • With all the ‘foo-fa-rah’ about the final RPI seedings, we thought we’d  point out that ‘everybody has problems’.  A shout-out to our golf buddies who are renting places on Vancouver Island, so they can escape the winter and play a few rounds in January, February, and March.   ‘What’s with the snow on our golf course !’  Talk about hard-ship !

 

 

Huskies Grind Out a Split With the Bears

 

Alberta makes it close, but the Huskies grind-out a big win

at # 9 Saskatchewan  68  # 7  Alberta  65 –   Facing a 43-28 half-time deficit, Alberta charged back to tie it, then lead it several times in the 4th quarter.  Saskatchewan (12-6) finally wins it on free throws in the last seconds, and get a crucial split.  Defense over-shadows offense in this one, as both squads settle for 39% FG shooting. Shayne Osayande has another notable outing for the Huskies with 23 pts/ 11 rebounds , while Seniors, Matt Forbes (14 pts/ 7 rebs) and Trevor Severinski (12 pts/ 5 boards) are also difference-makers.  Alberta are now 13-5, as they get 19 pts/ 6 rebs from Brody Clarke, and both Austin Waddoups  and Mamadou Gueye scoring 17 each.   Box Score    

at Brandon  92  Manitoba  77  –   This is a banner weekend for the Bobcats , as they clip their provincial rivals, Manitoba, twice, and on Saturday they fashion as good a game as they’ve had all season. The ‘Cats out-shoot (44%-38%), out-rebound (58-40) the Bisons, while beating UM to the ball on most chances.  Earl Thompson Jr racks up 27 points/ 12 rebounds to lead the way, and Tyvon Cooper is good for 22 points, including 12/12 from the line. BU’s 6-11 post man, John Paul, is a force, with 18 points/ 15 boards and 4 blocks. Manitoba have Justus Alleyn with 26 points/ 6 rebs, but they never real threaten as the Bobcats build on their lead in the 4th quarter.   Box Score  

at  Winnipeg 87 Regina  81 –    Replicating their late surge for a Friday win, the Wesmen

come-from-behind for the sweep with a 26-19 4th quarter.  The senior guard, Jamar Farley goes 6/10 from deep, and leads Winnipeg scorers with 22.  Sean Tarver has a strong finish and tallies 20 points, as the Ws move up to 12-6, and in good shape to claim a home play-off start. Regina (7-11) may be on the outside after these 2 losses, as the Cougars just could not finish either game. They get 18 points each from Alex Igual (5 asst/ 5 steals)  and Johneil Johnson (9 rebs)  Box Score

Calgary 76 at Thompson Rivers 60 –   The Dinos have control of this one with a dominating 24-10 spread in the 3rd quarter.  Despite an unusually cold weekend for 3 point range, UC gets a valuable sweep, and move  up to 14-4.  Thomas Cooper has 19 pts/ 8 rebs to lead the way, with David Kapinga tacking on 17 points/ 5 rebs/ 6 assists/ 5 steals. Buzz-saw.  Calgary is aided by an aggressive defense, forcing 24 TRU turnovers to only 11 for the Dinos.  Volodymyr Iegorov notches 16 pts/ 8 boards in his final home game for the Orange, while rookie Trent Monkman pours in several late hoops to post 15 pts.  The Wolf-Pack are now 8-10, and still having to scrap for a post-season next weekend.  Box Score 

 

at  MacEwan  93  UBC-Okanagan  64 –    A decisive win for MacEwan on their Senior Night, as they  improve to  7-11, with a chance of a play-off berth still alive.  51 points in the 2nd half presses the issue, as GMU shoots 52% from the floor, getting 25 points/ 8 rebs from Thadius Galvez.  5th year wing, Denzel James, adds 22 pts/ 4 rebs/ 3 blks, and Keith Gerdes has 18 pts.   UBC-O (2-16) are led by Aldrich Berrios’ 21 points, and 19 pts/ 8 boards by rookie Triston MatthewsBox Score

Trinity Western  71 at  Mt. Royal  54   –  It’s 48-18 TWU in the final 20 minutes, as the visitors grab a satisfying split after a dispiriting loss Friday.  The Cougars, overall, seemed listless in this one, with 28 turnovers providing Trinity all the extra chances they needed. Max Vitala, scores 21 points/ 5 rebs/ 5 steals, while the Spartans also get 17 points and 10 big rebounds from Patrick Vandervelden Pogos Trunyan looks steady at the point for TWU, and ge records 16 pts/ 5 rebs/5 steals, and his team gets to 3-15 in the standings.  MRU (8-10) shoot just 37%, with Josh Ross grabbing 16 rebounds to go with 8 points, and the 2 graduating players, Derek Wolf and Brett Layton (9 boards)  hit 11 and 10 points respectively.   Box Score  

logo UFV

at Fraser Valley  89  Victoria  79 –   A sweep for the Cascades, raising their play-off chances , at 9-9, and dimming UVic’s with their drop to 7-11.  UFV ring up 8 points in the final 20 minutes to pull away, as 5 Cascades go for double digits on the score-sheet. Denver Sparks-Guest has a good outing off the bench, with 19 pts/ 6 rebs, while 5th year guard, Vijay Dhillon, scores 17/ 6 rebs/ 4 assts, and Nav Bains records an 11 point/ 11 rebound double. The Vikes’ Justin Kinnear stands out with a 24 point/ 5 rebound game, and rookie Scott Kellum hits 17 pts/ 4 assts.  Box Score   

 at   UBC  109  UNBC  61   –   It may have been a slow start for the Thunderbirds, but they got rolling to the tune of 72 points in the 2nd half !  UBC are now 17-1 heading into the final week of League play, while the T’ Wolves fall to 4-14. Jordan Jensen-Whyte scores 24/ 5 rebs for the ‘Birds, and Conor Morgan tosses in 20 pts/ 6 boards, as the whole line-up is utilized in this blow-out.  Rhys Elliott has a good one for UNBC with 23 points, and Vaggelis Loukas adds 16 pts/ 9 rebounds.  Box Score   

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Scores from the East –

Atlantic –  at #10 Dalhousie 91 Memorial  69, UNB 107 at UPEI  92 , at Acadia 114 Cape Breton 99

Quebec – # 8 McGill 87 at Bishops 59 , Concordia 57 at Laval  55

In the OUA …  at # 4 Brock 71 W. Laurier 58, Waterloo 83 at McMaster 62 , at Lakehead 68  Nipissing  57,  Western 86 at Algoma 75,  at Laurentian 79 Guelph 50 , at Toronto  85 Queens  77

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Overtime –

  • Why didn’t Manny Dulay and Nav Bains of UFV start vs UVic  in Friday’s big game?  Here’s the story from Dan Kinvig, Fraser Valley Communications Coordinator, ‘ With the Lower Mainland of B.C. buffeted by a rare snowstorm  … Dulay and teammate Nav Bains, traveling from their hometown of Surrey to UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre, were stuck  … and the clock ticked ever-closer to game time. We’ll let Dulay pick up the story from here.’  “We were in the left lane (headed eastbound), and the right lane opened up,” he began. “As we switched, Nav’s car started swerving and we actually did a 360 (degree spin) in both lanes. We ended up in the left lane, but now we’re facing these cars (going in the same direction). Luckily, no one was coming right behind us, and everyone went around us. We didn’t end up in the ditch, and no car hit us.  We didn’t want to tell anyone (when we got to the gym), but we actually almost died.”
  • Jamar Farlay, Winnipeg’s 5th year guard, knows how to celebrate Senior Night, as he buries 6 treys for the Wesmen, and breaks away for a buzzer-beating flush to finish the 3rd quarter.  His efforts pace the W’s to a sweep, and well on the way to a good play-off seed.  And how about the final home appearance for Brandon’s Earl Thompson Jr, who goes for 27 points/ 12 rebounds  in the ‘Cats 2nd consecutive win over Manitoba.
  • Not sure why it would be a violation for several players to leap up off the bench and cheer the efforts of teammates on the floor.  Enthusiasm, joy, congratulations.  If it’s not ‘excessive’ , why create an unnecessary rule conflict ?
  • Fitting congratulations from Trinity Western Coach, Aaron Muhic, for his troops after their fine effort in a win at Mt. Royal, “It was a good win for our guys tonight,” said  .. Muhic. “I’m very proud of our toughness and willingness to compete. We finally had a game where we put the little things together and we attacked for most of the game. It was a great overall team effort.”  (From TWU’s Mark Janzen). 

 

 

Bears Hang Up a Big W at Saskatchewan

 

 

Bears outside shooting shocks the Huskies on Friday in Saskatoon

Mamadou Gueye and the Golden Bears claim a huge road W in Saskatoon. photo – U of A Athletics

 # 7  Alberta 80 at # 9 Saskatchewan 67 –  The Bears engage their top weapon, the 3 pt shot, with 13/27 – 48% from outside, and pull away in the closing minutes fo the big road win.  Alberta defense limited the Huskies to 38% from the floor, and the visitor’s sharp ball-handling gave them a 4-14 advantage in the turnover column.  6 points was as close as U of S got in the final frame, and Mamadou  Gueye’s 2 treys in the last 2 minutes iced the cake, and Alberta moves to 13-4.

The Bears get 22 pts from import guard, Austin Waddoups, as he cashes 4/6 from beyond the arc, and  Gueye finishes with 21 and 5 boards.  The Huskies (11-6) have 4 starters in double figures, with a 12 point/13 rebound game from Shane Osayande, and 16 pts/ 8 boards by Matt Forbes before he left with 5 fouls late in the 4th.  Box Score     8 pm Central again on Saturday

at Brandon 79  Manitoba  68 –   The Bobcats (8-11) poke a stick in the Bisons’ spokes,

Tyvon Cooper scores 21 as Brandon derails Manitoba in game 1.  Photo –   Bobcats Athletics

with some aggressive team defense and shut-out rebounding.  Manitoba can hit just 30% from the floor in dropping their 1st game in the last 9 League efforts.  Tyvon Cooper shines for the ‘Cats in this upset , with 21 pts/ 7 rebs/ 4 steals, and he gets lots of help.  Big men, John Paul (12 pts/ 13 boards) and Earl Thompson Jr  (13 pts/ 10 rebs), both record handy double-doubles, and Pookie Saunders deals out 8 helpers.  The frustrated Herd (10-7) have Ilarion Bonhomme, the ex-Brandon point man, collect 14 points/ 6 rebs/ 7 assists as their top man.  Keith Omoerah totals 13 pts/ 11 rebs for his double, but there’s not enough offense on the night for the visitors.   Box Score    7 pm  Central  on Saturday

 

 

at  Winnipeg 102  Regina 93 –  Regina (7-10) looked like their hot shooting would get them a road win, but their defense allows 57 points in the 2nd half to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.  It’s ‘very rare’ to shoot 58.5% from the floor (50% from 3 !) and manage to lose.  20 turnovers, and a +10 for the Ws from the foul line certainly aided the charging home side. Winnipeg (11-6) have 6 players in double digits, with Sean Tarver the leader, scoring 21, Denzel Lynch-Blair 18, and big Ryan Oirbans recording a double of 14 pts/ 10 assists/ 8 rebs.  The Cougars get 25 points/ 5 rebs/ 4 assts from the explosive Brian Ofori, and both Brandon Tull and Alex Igual drop 21 pts for the visitors.    Box Score         7 pm  Central on Saturday

# 6 Calgary 84 at Thompson Rivers 76 –  A 21-11 final frame gets Calgary to the road win, after they trail for most of the opening 30 minutes.  The Dinos overtake the Wolves despite a decided 3 point shooting edge for TRU (10-5), but Calgary makes more trips to the line (25/34 vs 14/18) .  The Dinos move up to 13-4, while the ‘Pack fall to 8-9, after a closely contested match.  Thomas Cooper helped UC finish strong, as he collects 22 pts/ 11 rebounds, and got help from Mambi Diawara, who was good for 14 pts.  4 TRU players hit double figures, with Derek Rhodes cashing 16 pts, and Volodymyr Iegorov scoring 14 plus 10 rebs/ 9 assts.  Box Score          7 pm Pacific  again Saturday

 

at  MacEwan 74   UBC-Okanagan  62  –   A big 2nd quarter gets the Griffins a clear lead, and they are even from there for their 7th win vs 11 losses on the season. GMU out-shoots (47% to 35%) and out-rebounds (43-33) the visiting Heat, who are now 2-15. Denzel James leads Mac with 15 pts/ 7 rebs/ 4 assts, while forward Ryan Coleman is off the bench for 14 pts/ 8 boards, and Keith Gerdes chips in with 13 pts/ 8 rebs. Both Austin Penrose (7 rebs) and Aldrich Berrios tally 16 points apiece for UBC-O.  Box Score                 7 pm Mountain  on Saturday

 at  Mt. Royal 96  Trinity Western 66 –  The Cougars open up a 51-30 half-time lead, and cruise to their 8th win, with 5 players hitting double figures.  TWU have offensive troubles stemming from 27 big turnovers, and they shoot only 3/5 free throws vs 19/25 for the home side.  Josh Ross paces MRU with his 16 pts/ 8 rebs/ 6 assts, while Brett Layton adds 14 pts/ 8 boards.  Max Vitala tallies 18 pts for Trinity, as they are now 2-15.  Box Score               6 pm Mountain on Saturday

Manny Dulay leads UFV to a come-from-behind win photo- UFV Athletics

at Fraser Valley 87 Victoria 83 –  A somewhat unexpected offensive explosion in Abbotsford, as the Vikes (7-10)  post 33 points to grab a 73-65 lead at the 3/4 mark, only to see the Cascades win the 4th by a 22-10 count for the come-back victory.  Manny Dulay’s 36 points for UFV (8-9) continue a personal hot streak, but none hotter than Friday.  Dulay splashes 8/11 from 3 pt range and adds 7 assists, while Andrew Morris helps with 14 pts.  as Fraser Valley shoots 51% from the floor.  The Vikes are 50% from outside on 14/28, but their offense stalls out in the 4th.  Grant Sitton scores 26 for the visitors on 4/8 from beyond the arc, and he adds 9 rebounds/ 5 assts.  Box Score        7 pm  Pacific  on Saturday

 

 at   UBC 123  UNBC 75  –  Up 56-37 at the break, the T’Birds top that with 67 points in the final 20 minutes to post a most lop-sided win.  Cruel and unusual ….  Conor Morgan pours in 36 pts for UBC, with 13 rebounds, while Taylor Browne notches 20 pts off the bench, as the Thunderbirds shoot 67% from the field.  UNBC  has 14 pts/ 5 assts/ 4 steals from James Agyeman Box Score              7 pm  Pacific on Saturday

 

Lethbridge has the bye this week

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Scores from the East –

Atlantic -at #10 Dalhousie 88 Memorial  63, at UPEI 92  UNB 77 , St. FX 85 at Saint Marys 83, at Acadia 101 Cape Breton  88

Thursday in Quebec  … at Concordia 68 Laval 54,  at #8 McGill 79  Bishops 62

In the OUA … #1 Carleton 74 # 3 Ottawa 61, at Toronto 79 York 58, at #5 Ryerson  70 Queens 59 ,  at Laurentian 73   Lakehead 67,  Western 79 at Algoma 67, at Nipissing 79  Guelph 69

 

Overtime –

  • Congratulations to Howard Tsumura, long-time Vancouver Province columnist and blogger, on his new website  ‘Varsity Letters’ . http://varsityletters.ca    This impressive site continues Howard’s amazing coverage of school sports, from high school to university.  He provides thoughtful profiles on individual athletes,  covers the progress of teams, leagues, and championships, with a very keen focus on British Columbia specifically.  It is great to see this popular writer continuing to  lead the way in covering so many amateur sports and athletes.
  • UVic vs UFV coaches’ thoughts going in to a pivotal weekend series,  “We know they can score and they have had some very good results in the second half of the year, knocking off Alberta and playing Calgary really tough,” Vikes Coach Craig Beaucamp said of the Cascades. “We are going to have our hands full, we have to play well on the defensive side of the ball for sure.”    The Cascades head man, Adam Friesen says, “UVic tries to grind it out and games like that come down to a possession here or there. Whoever wins the battles in the paint gives themselves a better chance to win.”   (From a story by   MARIO ANNICCHIARICO in the Victoria  TIMES COLONIST.)

3 Top Upset Threats – ‘Pack, Bobcats, Cougars

 

Manitoba, Winnipeg, and Calgary have to ‘take care of business’ … 

Manitoba (10-6) at Brandon (7-11) –  Can the Bisons keep on winning?  Yes, but they travel to Brandon, where history suggests the ‘Cats have a chance to break the 8 game run for the Herd.  Yes, Manitoba swept Brandon last season at BU, but that was the 1st time that had happened since 1975 !   And, the ‘Cats will be fired up for their Seniors,  Earl Thompson Jr, Denham Buchanan, and Esmat Atem, who play their final games in Brandon.   Coach Gil Cheung’s team also has their eye on a play-off spot, and this weekend is that chance, as they wrap up their schedule and wait.  The ‘oddsmakers’ would say no, but these teams are fierce rivals, and no quarter will be given.     8 pm / 7 pm  Central

Regina (7-9)  at  Winnipeg (10-6) –   The Green Cougars are fresh from a euphoric Saturday win over the highly regarded Calgary Dinos, and that momentum should give them a lift as they challenge the Wesmen.  Both these teams are scrambling for play-off position, and we have them both making it in.  They are evenly matched at the  guard spot; Regina’s Brandon Tull, Alex Igual, and young Johneil Johnson ready to tussle with Winnipeg’s Denzel Lynch-Blair, William Sesay, and Sean Tarver.  The Ws have home court, but Regina have won 5 of the last 7 meetings.  8 pm / 7 pm  Central

Calgary (12-4)  at Thompson Rivers (8-8) –    As they have for quite a number of weeks now, the Dinos are being described as “  … a very talented team,”  by TRU head coach Scott Clark. “They are big and fast and athletic.”   Well yes, but the #6 Dinos have lost games on the past 2 Saturdays, and have suffered some ‘uneven play’ for a team meant to be a championship contender.  The Senior celebration in Kamloops for 5th year all-star, Volodymyr Iegorov, will be emotional, and could be a big catalyst for extra focus by the Wolf Pack.  TRU is coming on with a young group, and are on home turf.   7 pm Pacific  both nights

 

Can the home favourites prevail in these remaining 4 series? 

UBC-Okanagan (2-14)  at  MacEwan (5-11) – The Griffins last game was an impressive win over Winnipeg on Saturday, and they have beaten UBC-O in 7 of the last 8 meetings.  Heat mainstay, Mitch Goodwin has been hurt, and UBC-O are not in the play-off mix.  Okanagan have lost 4 games this season by 5 points or less;  they can play well at times, but not well enough to come out on top.  The GMU seniors should get a good send-off in this final home set.   8 pm / 7 pm Mountain

 

Trinity Western (2-14)  at  Mt. Royal (7-9) –  The Blue Cougars are within reach of a play-off spot, while the Spartans are out.   Guard play is so critical, and MRU has it with Derek Wolf, Glen Yang,  Craig Martin, and the combo G-F, Josh Ross, their assist leader with 3.7 apg.  TWU have rookie, Josiah Meppelink, stepping in, but they are just not as cohesive a group as they need to be.  Good match-up with Patrick Vandervelden of Trinity facing Brett Layton of  Mt. Royal.   8 pm /  6 pm Mountain

 

Victoria (7-9) at Fraser Valley (7-9) –  We might have placed this game in the ‘chance of an upset’ group, but the Cascades really aren’t decided favourites here.  UFV has played well against some tough teams, but lost a home game on Saturday to TRU.  The Fraser Valley big men should be up to defending against UVic,  and the guard strength for the home side is there.  The last home games for Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon may drive the ‘Trees’ to a sweep, but Victoria wants to nail down a play-off berth. The Vikes defense looks to be coming around, and role players have a shot at stepping up their minutes.   8 pm /  7 pm  Pacific

UNBC (4-10)  at   UBC  (15-1)–  The Timberwolves, with Marcus MacKay, Rhys Elliott, and Vaggelis Loukas, can be a tenacious group, even on the road (ask Manitoba or Fraser Valley!).  However, after 6 straight League losses since Christmas to ‘mere mortals’, they must be prohibitive underdogs against the mighty Thunderbirds.  (‘The Ubyssey’  student news may not have enough flattering adjectives to describe the UBC domination.)  Not the final home games for Jordan Jensen -Whyte and Will Ondrik, but they will be feted on Senior Night, Saturday.            8 pm  /  7 pm  Pacific

Lethbridge has this week as a bye

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Scores from the East –

In the OUA … Brock  66  Waterloo 63,  Ryerson 79  York 53

Upcoming – The Big news is the Saturday ‘repechage’ with #1 Carleton hosting  #3 Ottawa in the Capital Hoops Classic

Quebec Thursday … at Concordia  Laval ,  at #8 McGill   Bishops 

Atlantic – Memorial  at #10 Dalhousie , UNB at UPEI, St. FX at Saint Marys, Cape Breton at Acadia 

also in the OUA –  York at Toronto, at #5 Ryerson  Queens,  Lakehead at Laurentian,  Western at Algoma, Guelph at Nipissing, 

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Overtime –  Here are excerpts from a great article on 5th year star, Volodymyr Iegorov,

Volodymyr Iegorov, 5th year import at TRU     – photo  TRU Athletics

who came from donetsk, in the war-torn Ukraine to finish school with 2 years  at Thompson Rivers,  by TRU Sports Information  Officer, Scott Stewart.   (Coach Scott) “Clark says that Iegorov has been a ‘breath of fresh’ air in the way he conducts himself and he has been a treat to coach.  Contrary to what some might believe, Iegorov says taking a Masters in Business in his second language (English) wasn’t difficult. ‘It was good I came two months before school started so I had time to adjust.  My teammates helped me so I didn’t feel so far away from home as well. I still feel that way.’ ”

Iegorov – ‘We have a young team and we lost our veterans. I am getting more rebounds than last year.  And my responsibility has increased. I just try to work hard.’

“That work ethic is something that has impressed many people, not only Clark, who says Iegorov has embraced being a good community citizen. ‘One of the first things I did with Vlad was I took him to Salmon Arm to help run a basketball camp.  He came with me and was really good with the kids. He is a bright guy and his adaptability is remarkable. He comes from a different country and two days later some guy is taking him to Salmon Arm to run a camp in another language.’

 

 

Regina Roars Back to Dump the Dinos

 

Tull leads Cougars to much-needed home win

Regina’s Brian Ofori flushes one in the Cougars’ win over Calgary.  photo  UR Athletics

 at Regina 82  #5 Calgary  81 –  This may be the game that revives the Cougars (7-9) , as they erase a 20 point 2nd half deficit, and beat the Dinos down the stretch. Brandon Tull  leads the way with 20 points, as Regina shoots 53% from the floor, and deposits 31 in the bank in the final frame. Johneil Johnson comes off the bench for 16 pts, and Brian Ofori is big in the comeback with 14 pts/ 8 rebs/ 6 asst.  The Dinos lose another back half of a series, and surrender 56 points in the 2nd half.  UC’s high scorer is Thomas Cooper with 20 pts/ 7 rebounds, while David Kapinga hits 11 points, as they fall to 12-4.    Box Score

at #9 Saskatchewan  90 Mt. Royal 87 –   The Huskies had to fend off an inspired MRU squad, who are up 6 at the break, but see U of S pile up 52 points in the final 20 minutes. Double-doubles from the forward pair of Shane Osayande (23 pts/ 14 rebounds) and  Matt Forbes (20 pts/ 12 boards) paced the Huskies (12-6) to the win.   Guard Lawrence Moore cashes 10/10 free throws, as Saskatchewan has the home court blessing of 27/30  from the line vs just 9/13 for Mt. Royal.  The Cougars (7-9)  are close in the final 4 minutes, but never catch the Dogs.  Josh Ross scores 21 for MRU, and Brett Layton has 19 pts and 7 rebounds.   Box Score  

at Manitoba  77 UNBC  68 –     The Bisons outshoot the T’Wolves in a fairly evenly contested 2nd game.  Justus Alleyn, who has often been the leading trigger man for the Bisons offense, goes 7/11 for 19 points/4 asst in the 10th UM win, and 6th straight.  Manitoba (10-6), also had Keith Omoerah with 8 pts/  11 boards, and AJ Basi tossing in 12 pts/ 4 asst.  The 4-12 Timberwolves could never nose into a lead, even though they came within 1 and 2 at several stages in the 2nd half. Rhys Elliott scores 19 for the visitors, and Vaggelis Loukas posts a double of 12 pts/ 11 boards.   Box Score   

at MacEwan 77  Winnipeg  62   –  Good Mac defense, and cold Wesmen shooting (33% FG) give Mac a split, with a big win at home.  Out-scoring  Winnipeg 36-25 in the second half, the Griffs team – rebound for a 52-43 edge, and convert 18/28 from the line to Winnipeg’s 9/19. Denzel James scores 15 for Mac  (5-11) and adds 8 boards, with 3 others in double figures – Thadius Galvez 13 pts/ 7 rebs/ 4 asst,  Ryan Coleman 12 pts/ 9 boards, and Keith Gerdes 12 pts/ 8 rebs.   For the Wesmen (10-6), it’s Denzel Lynch-Blair with 20 pts/ 5 rebs, and Narcisse Ambanza scoring 16.     Box Score

The ‘Horns Dejon Burdeaux returns to help earn  a sweep of UBC-O.   photo- UL Athletics

at Lethbridge  83 UBC- Okanagan 61 –  Dejon Burdeaux  returns for the Pronghorns, and leads them with 20 pts and 5 steals. Elliott Sentance keeps pace with 16 pts/9 boards, as UL takes good advantage of 29 Okanagan turnovers, and move up to 12-6. UBC-O  shoots just 35%, with 6 treys vs 11 for the ‘Horns. Lethbridge is better from the line, with 20/23  vs 19/30  for the Heat. Austin Penrose scores 16 for UBC-O  (2-14)    Box Score  

 

 

Thompson Rivers 79  at Fraser Valley 67 –  The Wolf Pack (8-8) use their superior size, and take it to the hoop, forcing Fraser Valley to foul in this B.C show-down series.  Volodymyr Iegorov (14/16), Trent Monkman (9/10), and Joe Davis (5/5)  lead the ‘Pack to a 91% FT night and a 29-9 differential in points from the stripe.  Iegorov with 25 pts/ 12 boards, and Luke Morris with 14 and 10 rebs both record valuable double-doubles for the Orange.  The Cascades  (7-9) have Manny Dulay with 20 points/ 7 rebs, and Vijay Dhillon scoring 14, but they are out-rebounded 49-39 by TRU.    Box Score   

at #2 UBC 87  Brandon 53 –  Again tonight the T’Birds (15-1)  spread the minutes and the scoring, as Conor Morgan hits 21 pts and 19 rebounds, while Jordan Jensen-Whyte adds 16 pts/ 5 rebs/ 4 asst.  26 turnovers spell trouble for the Bobcats, and they shoot just 36% from the floor, while watching UBC hit 19/25 free throws vs BU’s 6/12.  Earl Thompson Jr manages just 11 points as the top scorer for Brandon (7-11) . Box Score   

at Victoria  69   Trinity Western  65 –  With the game tied at 65 with 4 minutes left, the Vikes Grant Sitton scores the only 4 points to finish, and the home team gets the sweep.   Victoria (7-9) have Scott Kellum as their spark-plug, as he goes 8/10 from the floor, including 5/6 from outside for 23 pts/ 4 rebs. Trinity (2-14) can never get un-tracked offensively, as Patrick Vandervelden is their top man with 16 pts/ 13 rebounds.   Box Score    

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Other U-Sports games on Saturday –

AUS – at UNB 84 Acadia 74, St Marys 105  at UPEI 98, Dalhousie 73 at Cape Breton  70

Quebec – Concordia 75  at Bishops 69 , at UQAM 70 Laval  65

Ontario – #1 Carleton 80 at Western Ont. 56, #3 Ottawa 78 at Windsor  64, at #6 Brock 89 at Guelph 62, Nipissing 65  at York  63, Laurentian 85 at Queens 64, Toronto 65 McMaster  57,  Laurier 82   Waterloo 75

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Overtime –        

Howard Tsumura’s major contributions to Post Media amateur sports coverage will be missed.

  • Canada West, B.C. Colleges, and B.C. High Schools will all feel the loss of veteran sports writer, Howard Tsumura, who announced Friday that he is taking his leave from the Vancouver Province newspaper immediately.  Tsumura’s coverage of amateur / school sport in British Columbia was phenomenol, and his week by week features had depth, perspective, and great connections with all the young athletes and their coaches.  Our thanks to Howard for his amazing work.  Good luck on your soon to be announced career move.
  • Mahmoud (Junior) Sesay (Winnipeg)  has left the U. of Lethbridge and the Pronghorns basketball team. The transfer from UVic , who had been away from the League for several years before joining the ‘Horns in January, apparently has some sort of medical issue making it very difficult to continue.

 

 

Winnipeg Teams Eke Out Close Wins

 

 

Manitoba and Winnipeg get wins in tense affairs

AJ Basi is a key man both ways for the streaking Herd.     photo – UM Athletics

at Manitoba 86  UNBC 85 –  The T’Wolves throw a scare into the Bisons, as the visitors lead by 2 after 30 minutes, after tallying 31 in the 3rd quarter. 2 free throws each by AJ Basi and Ilarion Bonhomme allow the Herd to slip by for the win in the final minute.  Basi leads Manitoba (9-6) with 23 points, while Justus Alleyn kicks in with 21.  The home-standing UM shoots 18/26 from the line vs only 6/9 for the visiting UNBC (4-11).  Marcus Mackay is red hot from long range for the ‘Wolves, hitting 8/10 for 28 points.  Box Score  

Winnipeg 89 at MacEwan 85 – Another game tonight where the favourites are pushed to the limit, as the Griffins pour in 37 points in the 4th quarter to rattle the Wesmen. Mac hits 12 treys to the Ws 5, but Winnipeg (10-5) enjoy a rare visiting team edge in the foul shooting, with 22/29 vs just 7/11 for the chagrined home side.  6 Wesmen in double figures as they shoot 48% as a team;  Denzel Lynch-Blair is their high man with 18 points, while Sean Tarver adds 17. MacEwan (4-11) get 22 points/ 5 rebs from Keith Gerdes, and 21 points/ 7 rebs/ 9 assists by Thadius Galvez.    Box Score  

#9 Saskatchewan  82 Mt. Royal  62 –  A 20-6 advantage in the final 10 minutes allows the Huskies to pull away for their 10th win of the season. Their defense holds the Cougars (7-8) to just 36% from the floor, and U of S dominates the boards 48-21. Matt Forbes has another strong game for the ‘Dogs with 26 pts/ 12 rebounds.  Derek Wolf replies with 21 pts for MRU, but big gun, Brett Layton, is limited to just 6 pts/2 rebs.   Box Score  

#5 Calgary 86 at Regina 70 –  With every Dinos player hitting the score sheet, and the team cashing 14/28 from 3 point range, Calgary stormed to a 69-47 lead after 3/4s, and  waltzed home. Regina hit just 4/21 long range attempts, and that decided the contest. David Kapinga and Mambi Diawara went a combined 8/9 from outside for 16 points apiece to pace the 12-3 Dinos.  Johneil Johnson was the game high scorer for the Cougars (6-9) with 22 points.  Box Score  

UBC-O rookie, Matt Lafontaine, has a big game at Lethbridge.  photo – Heat Athletics

at Lethbridge  75  UBC- Okanagan 71 – No Dejon Burdeaux for Lethbridge , and no Mitch Goodwin or Ryan Morck for the Okanagan Heat.  You have to give the Heat (2-13) great credit for a gutsy effort, where they were thwarted by some unfriendly officiating, as much as by their ‘Horns opponents. UBC-O shoot all of 5/7 from the line to 26-31 for the home side. Incroyable! Heat rookie, Matt Lafontaine scores a game-high 22 pts, with 6/8 made from 3 pt range. Austin Penrose works hard for 10 pts and 11 rebounds, but the visitors come up just short.  The Pronghorns (11-6) survive without their king-pin, Burdeaux, as 4 players hit double figures, topped by the 15 pts/ 8 rebs/ 4 assts  from Elliott Sentance. Box Score  

at Fraser Valley  80 Thompson Rivers 72 –  The Cascades (7-8) shoot it better (46% to 41% FG) , and they take better care of the ball (15 TOs to 20 for TRU).  Erasing a 5 point half-time deficit in the 3rd quarter, UFV finish strong (22-14) in the final 10 to garner the win.  6 Cascades players are in double figures, led by 17 by Andrew Morris off the bench, and 13 each from  Manny Dulay, Mark Johnson, and Anthony Gilchrist.  TRU (7-8) have Joe Davis as their high scorer with 25 pts/ 12 rebounds, with Volodymyr Iegorov tallying  21 points.  Box Score

at #2 UBC  127  Brandon  62 –  The T’Birds go with the ‘scorched earth’ strategy, and they have 4 players off the bench scoring in double digits.  The whole UBC team play 11 or more minutes, as they shoot 54% FG, and rack up an incredible 34/43 from the free throw line.  Jordan Jensen-Whyte is the high man for the Birds (14-1) with 23 pts. , while Earl Thompson Jr. leads the Bobcats (7-10) with 14. Box Score 

at Victoria  72  Trinity Western 63 –  Victoria (6-9) put in a very workman-like effort in winning in almost every category.  Grant Sitton is the top gun for the Vikes yet again, with his 26 points/ 8 rebs, while Scott Kellum manages 17 points off the bench. Patrick Vandervelden scores 19 points for the Spartans (2-13). Box Score  

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Thursday scores from Quebec – Concordia 75  Bishops 55,  UQAM 70 at Laval 66

Other U-Sports games on Friday –

AUS – Acadia 84 at UPEI 68, Saint Marys 93at UNB 80, Dalhousie 85  at Cape Breton 67

Ontario – #1 Carleton 104 at Windsor 54, #3 Ottawa 91 at Western Ont. 55, at #6 Brock 74  #4 Ryerson  65, At Guelph 76  Algoma 58,  Nipissing 93  at Queens 84,  Laurentian  79 at York 58

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  • Overtime –        
  • UFV Cascades Coach Adam Friesen, on his 5th year, guard Manny Dulay, one of the best-ever , 3 point shooters in Canadian University Basketball  “ …  he’s transitioned himself into our starting point guard the last couple of years. He’s a play-maker for us, a shot-maker, and obviously he can still shoot the outside shot. He’s become a leader, too, and especially here in his senior year.”   From a  story in The Now (Newspaper, Surrey, BC)  by Tom Zillich  
  •  Regina Coach Steve Burrows,  lauding his 4th year guard, Brandon Tull, on Tull’s reaching 1000+ points as a Cougar.  “It’s a tribute to him and it didn’t have anything to do with me,’’ Burrows said with a chuckle. “He loves the game and he has a passion for it. He works at it every day. He was in here in the morning and what he’s done is a tribute to how hard he works at it.’’  From a story in the Regina Leader-Post by Murray McCormick.
  • UVic Head Coach Craig Beaucamp, with a coach’s take on Trinity Western,   their 2-12 opponent, … “Trinity scores a lot of points. We need to be better defensively than we were last week against Lethbridge.”  (Editor’s note – TWU also gives up an average of 94 ppg ….)    As far as the Vikes prospects for a playoff spot, the Coach says … “You might look at our record and think we would be well out of it, but actually, we are not,” said  Beaucamp. “We control our own destiny. We have to stay healthy [some Vikes are dinged up physically], remain resilient, stay positive, don’t panic, and keep things simple.”  From the Times-Colonist story by Cleve Dheensaw. 

‘Upon Further Review’ … Not UBC

 

UBC, ‘upon further review’ of the baffling RPI rankings, is not #1 in Canada West

As a legendary Canada West coach used to say, “Assumption is the mother of all ****-ups!”   This is certainly the case with our careless deduction regarding final play-off seedings for Canada West.  Trusting (gullible) souls that we are, we reason that a 19-1 record will give a team a better spot than a 16-4.  Well, not so fast!

In the mysterious world of the RPI, we wrongly assumed that ‘things would eventually ‘balance out’ over the season.  But no ….  There is, in fact, no logical scenario for wins and losses over the final weeks where UBC can finish at #1.  Using the brilliant Canada West Playoff  what-if planning tool , as devised by the incredible Dr. Martin Timmerman as part of his amazing  U-Sports Hoops web-site, we can plot these possibilities.  Go to the site.  Follow the link.  Feed in your game by game predictions, then hit the ‘Press this button to see the overall ….” , and Shazzam !  You get the final RPI ratings using your guesses.

Are the T-Birds on top of the RPI stats, even when they win-out, and have a clear best of 19-1?   No.    Redo it, with some other results;  maybe someone will sweep, or another pair will split.  Do it many times over (using common sense picks, however).  UBC is not #1 in any case we’ve tried.   UBC Coach Kevin Hanson doesn’t want to focus on this, as he says, ” … there are 3 weekends left to play. We all knew the RPI rule was being used with the intent to help balance an unbalanced schedule.  I will reserve to comment until the rest of the league games are completed.”   The #2 ranked team in U-Sports Canada rankings will not, it appears now, have the inside track at hosting the Canada West Final 4.

We have to move on, and talk about the week’s schedule.  If you want to look ahead to play-off probabilities, you can use the ‘Shazam ‘  planning tool at U-Sportshoops.

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The Ravens knocked their Ottawa cousins down a notch, and UBC are back at #2.  Ryerson are unbeaten in OUA action, and will be pointing to their game at McMaster, then on to Brock later in the week. Calgary goes on the road to Regina, and will be ‘circling the wagons’ to try and maintain their clean slate of away wins. A move by the Saskatchewan Huskies into the #9 spot, as they are tougher as the season progresses.  Neither McGill nor Dalhousie demonstrate total confidence in their Quebec and Atlantic races.  Threats to their position from Concordia, Laval in the RSEQ and UNB, Saint Marys, St. FX in the AUS.These are both play-off questions.

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Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-28

UNBC   at Manitoba –  The Timberwolves are clearly the underdogs against the surging Bisons.  UNBC will be scratching to add scoring, and to slow down Justus Alleyn, AJ Basi, Keith Omoerah and the rest of the Herd.   8 pm Central on Fri, the 6 pm Sat.

 

#5 Calgary  at  Regina  –  The Dinos, with their more vigorous and ‘all-in’ defensive effort should frustrate the sputtering Cougars. Calgary will be looking for efficient offense, and more cohesion from their 12 man rotation. Regina is at home, and need a win to help with playoff hopes.  8 pm Central both games.

Josh Ross and the Cougars face a tough task at U of S.

Mount Royal   at  #9 Saskatchewan –  Nobody said it would be easy, and MRU, after 2 losses to UBC, are now at Saskatchewan, the only team to have a win over the Thunderbirds.  Tough indeed.  Brett Layton and Josh Ross will have their hands full with Shane Osayande and Matt Forbes.      8 pm Central for both.

Winnipeg  at MacEwan  –  Is Winnipeg for real?  They are ‘under the radar’, even at 9-5.  Some say ‘easy schedule’, but the Wesmen face road games against an experienced and under-rated Mac crew. Not a runaway here for Ryan Oirbans, Sean Tarver against  Adonis Monfort- Palomino, Keith Gerdes and company.    8 pm Mountain on  Fri, 7 pm Sat

UBC-Okanagan  at  Lethbridge  –  The Pronghorns are motivated by play-off possibilities, while the Heat have to be content to play ‘spoiler’ here.  Dejon Burdeaux and Elliott Sentance vs Aldrich Berrios and Mitch Goodwin  is an interesting match-up.      Games are Friday at 8 pm Mountain, and Sat at 7 pm .

5th year forward, Volodymyr Iegorov , TRU ace

Thompson Rivers at Fraser Valley –  This is the ‘Feature Series of the Week’, and one with so many possibilities.  Old foes dating back to College League days, these two schools have both had success in Canada West .  UFV’s guard play (Manny Dulay, Vijay Dhillon)  make them slim home favourites.  But can the Cascades handle rebounder/scorers Volodymyr Iegorov and Michael Rouault off the Wolf Pack?   Fri – 8 pm and Sat – 7pm Pacific

Brandon   at    #2  UBC  –  Just when the Bobcats were building some momentum, they fly to the Coast for a most demanding test against the League -leaders.  UBC’s Conor Morgan vs Brandon’s Earl Thompson Jr.  Tyvon Cooper for the ‘Cats and Jordan jensen-Whyte of the ‘Birds.  Too much firepower from the Thunderbirds, you would think.     These games are 7 pm Pacific both Friday / Saturday

Trinity Western  at Victoria –  Two ‘must-haves’ for the Vikes.  Grant Sitton welcomes more help;  he has Scott Kellum, Justin Kinnear, now who else will step up?  TWU have a new spirit in their ‘team under construction’.  If their guards can compete, their big men can give UVic some trouble.     Friday at 8 pm Pacific, and Saturday at 7 pm.

Alberta gets the bye this week.

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Overtime –        

  • Canada West corrected their RPI calculations (which, admittedly, can be very tricky), and the Manitoba Bisons are at .5872, the 5th highest in the League.  That makes more sense, since they won 2 games.  Teams can drop, if they play a lower-ranking opponent, as the Herd did with TWU.  The Manitoba drop first reported as .4964, however, seemed far too great. MRU was also corrected to .4964 (not .4704 as originally posted).
  •  If teams are tied for the final playoff spot, the tie breakers will be – 1. Results between the 2 teams  2.  Record vs common opponents 3. RPI rating Once the 12 teams for play-offs have been decided, they will be seeded 1-12 by their RPI ranking.
  • UFV Coach Adam Friesen with his thoughts about TRU this week.  ““We know they’re going to be hard-nosed, they’re going to be tough inside, and they’re going to be throwing a bunch of different defences at us to try to throw us off,” UFV bench boss Adam Friesen said. “Volodymyr Iegorov is one of the best players in our league, if not the country, so we’ve got our hands full with him.”   From Adam Kinvig  , Fraser Valley Athletics
  • From the OUA tonight – #4  Ryerson 99 at McMaster 77

 

 

Thunderbirds On Lofty Perch

 

 

The #3 ranked UBC Thunderbirds are eyeing the rest of the Canada West field as they soar high above, with what looks like a friendly path to a 6-0 finish (at home to Brandon, UNBC, at TWU), and the top spot in the play-off draw. The nuances of the RPI system of ‘fairly balancing’ an un-balanced regular season schedule could throw a curve, but the ‘Birds are #1 now.

Jordan Jensen-Whyte and the UBC T’Birds look like a lock for #1 seed.                                      photo – UBC Athletics Rich Lam

Calgary Dinos didn’t make their lives any easier in losing at home to Saskatchewan on Saturday, and the ratings system may affect them, especially with any more losses. 2 road series at Regina and TRU  will require their full attention. They finish at home vs MacEwan . At 16-4 they should be 2nd .   (*** RPI ?)

Alberta Golden Bears, who also were tripped up on home court by UFV,  need sweeps at Saskatchewan and then home to Lethbridge in their 2 weekends remaining for a shot at 2nd, but the Huskies are re-energized, and the ‘Horns still have their eye on a high finish. U of A – 14-6 ?  Saskatchewan are on home hardwood vs Mt. Royal this coming weekend, then Alberta the following.  The Huskies finish at UNBC, and a  6-0 string could vault them into the 2 or 3 spot at 15-5. Maybe 14-6 with a split vs Alberta?

Can the Wesmen and senior guard, Denzel Lynch-Blair stay ahead of the Manitoba Bisons?                 photo – Wesmen Athletics

Winnipeg were swept by Manitoba, and split with both Saskatchewan and Lethbridge.  The Ws can still finish at 15-5 by sweeping their remaining series’ at MacEwan, home to Regina, and at Victoria.  The odds aren’t entirely rosy, if you look at the difficulty of winning on the road.  Wesmen maybe 14-6 ?   The Bisons are chasing a 6 game win streak, and look determined to complete the string in their remaining games at home vs UNBC, at Brandon, and home to finish vs Mt. Royal.  14-6 ?

Lethbridge Pronghorns have 10 wins, and will host Okanagan this week, then get a bye before traveling to Edmonton to finish up against the Bears.  Best case scenario, we guess 13-7.  The Pronghorns , Manitoba, Winnipeg, and Saskatchewan have a slim chance of becoming mired in an epic tie-breaking calculation.  ( If tied –  Record between the 2 teams, record vs common opponents, then the dreaded RPI)

Can hot-shooter Manny Dulay help the Cascades into the play-offs?     photo –  UFV Athletics

Fraser Valley is a team on the rise, as they win at Alberta and played Calgary close as well. This coming weekend’s home games with Thompson Rivers could be the crucial pair, if the Cascades are to catch and pass MRU and the ‘Pack. To finish the season UFV are in a home series vs Victoria, then on the road at UBC-O. 11-9?

MRU’s road games at Saskatchewan and Manitoba give them an uphill battle to finish at .500, but their chances are good for a playoff spot, with 9 wins.  Similarly, TRU are on the road in 2 of 3 series (at UFV, at Regina) plus they host a tough Calgary team in Kamloops.  The Wolf Pack may be tied with both Cougars when all the dust settles.  RPI !   8-12, 9-11?

Regina are in a 5 game swoon, and return home to play a slightly ‘miffed’ Calgary Dinos squad this week.  They also play at Winnipeg and are at home to TRU.  Somewhere the Cougars need to get ‘off the schneid’ with  1-2-3 wins. 8-12 ?       Brandon has 4 games left, and they will be huge under-Cats at UBC, and need at least a split with Manitoba, who visit Brandon on Feb 3-4.  7-13?

 UVic has a mathematical shot, but need maybe 3 or 4 wins in their 6 games vs Trinity W and Winnipeg at home, and their road set at TRU.   UNBC’s finish at Manitoba, at UBC, home vs Saskatchewan is too tough for them to move up. MacEwan needs 5 wins in their last 6 outings,  at home to Winnipeg, home to UBC-O, and at Calgary.  Also a tough ask.

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In the East –  

AUS –  Sunday  at Memorial 98 St. FX 91

 Upcoming games –  Wednesday we have #10 McMaster  at #4 Ryerson

Thursday sees – 2 games in Quebec … Bishops at Concordia, UQAM at Laval

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Overtime –     

  • Canada West Women’s  standings –  Winnipeg 13-1, Alberta 14-2, Regina 12-2, Saskatchewan 10-4, Victoria 10-4, UBC 10-4, Trinity Western  9-5, Calgary 8-6, Fraser Valley 8-6, Brandon 7-9, UNBC 5-9, MacEwan 4-10  (There’s the top 12, in play-off position) …  Lethbridge 4-12, Mt. Royal 3-11, UBC-O  2-12, Thompson Rivers 2-12, Manitoba  1-13.
  • The RPI is a bit ‘unsettling’, when you look at changes from last week, for example – The Manitoba Bisons win 2 games at TWU, but suffer a huge drop in their RPI rating.  Ditto for the Lethbridge Pronghorns, although not quite as severe. You can win your way into the play-offs, but the RPI formula has who you beat, and where you win or lose playing a big role.
  • Most Outstanding Player ?  Here’s a 4 stat composite total … of points per game, rebounds, steals, and assists –  Top 8 – 1. Thomas Cooper, Calgary – 35.4   2. Conor Morgan, UBC – 34.5  3. Josh Ross, Mt. Royal- 33.8,  tied in 4th.  Shane Osayande, Sask – 32.4,  Volodymyr Iegorov, TRU – 32.4 ,   6. Elliott Sentance, Lethbridge- 30.1,  7.  Brett Layton, Mt. Royal – 30.0,  8. Dejon Burdeaux, Lethbridge – 29.6