Victoria and Alberta – Two Traditional Powers
In one Canada West Q-Final beginning on Thursday night, UVic hosts Alberta in a match-up of teams with a history of success at the League and National level. The Vikes have been to the last 2 CIS Nationals, but haven’t won Canada West since 2006, while the Bears were at the CIS Final 8 last season and in ’12 , and they were CW champs in both those years and in 2005.
Only one of these ‘power teams’ will move on to the Canada West Final 4. The Vikes have home court, where they beat Alberta twice in League play, while the Bears have the longest current win streak , 8 games, in the League. Key players and key numbers –
The Golden Bears have a bit more depth (by minutes played), their defense is at least as good as UVic’s, and they shoot the 3 pointer better as a team. The Vikes have 2 game-changers in McLaughlin and Tibbs, plus as good a rebounding team as there is in CW.
Youssef Ouahrig is another key for Alberta at the point, and Reiner Theill can hit the 3 and play the D for Victoria. Prediction – Home court edge in a 3 game series for UVic.
Timberwolves at Thunderbirds – UBC Has ‘Dynamic Duo’
In the other Thursday start, the Explorer Division’s UNBC Timberwolves (12-8), in their first-ever CIS playoff series (this is only their 3rd year in Canada West), step onto historic War Memorial Gym hardwood to face the 14-6 UBC T-Birds. UBC has been one of Canada West’s winningest programs, with 5 League championships over the past 12 years. The ‘Birds slipped to 11-11 last season, and started 1-5 this campaign, but finished 13-1 since late November. Key players and key numbers –
The two dominant figures for UBC over that stretch have been Tommy Nixon, the Canada West scoring leader, and 6-9, Conor Morgan. UNBC counters with their ‘bigs’ Francko Kouagnia and Devin McMurtry, plus a sharp-shooting Aussie import, Rhys Elliott. The T-Birds bring more size and experience with 6-8, Tonner Jackson and 6-8, David Wagner, and their 3rd year point man, Jordan Jensen-Wright, has grown more and more comfortable in that role.
The T’Wolves defense needs to have a big series, and control the efforts of Nixon and Morgan, mostly inside. UBC scores (highest ppg in Canada West) in the paint, and at the line ! Prediction – UNBC hasn’t turned it over, and they allow fewer points, but this still looks like a 2 game sweep for UBC.
> Both these series tip-off Thursday at 7 pm – Pacific
Canada West Men’s Basketball Individual Award winners:
Player of the Year: Chris McLaughlin, Victoria – As the ‘go-to man in the middle for the Vikes, the 6-10 McLaughlin led his team to a 15-5 season, and averaged 19.8 points per game 2nd in CW scoring, and 10 rebounds. In his final season at Victoria, the Ontario native is a sure -fire pro candidate.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Baker, Saskatchewan – Leading the Huskies (15-5) to the #1 seed, Baker finished with 2.1 steals/ game, and 7.7 rebounds, while contributing 12 ppg offensively. He also won this award in 2013.
Rookie of the Year: Lars Schlueter, Calgary – This 6-8, import wing-man from Germany is … “ a high percentage shooter with a quick enough release to handle the speed of our game and can run the floor very well”, says his Coach Dan Vanhooren. He averaged 9.6 ppg and 3.2 rebounds, and defended opposing forwards very well, as he started every game for the Dinos.
Coach of the Year: Dan Vanhooren, Calgary – This is the first Coach of the Year selection for the Dinos 15 year head man, as he moves the team from 2 non-playoff seasons in 2013 and ‘14 to their 12-8 year this campaign, much of it spent in the CIS Top 10 rankings. Vanhooren has won 2 Canada West titles with his Dinos teams in 2004 and 2009.
Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Devin McMurtry, UNBC – The formidable 5th year rebounder was a peer-tutor, helping his teammates and other student-athletes with their studies, and also coached in the Jr. Timberwolves program. The clincher, though, was his shaving is famous ‘flowing locks’ for the latest cancer fund-raiser!
- Further to the OUA’s use of the RPI as a decision-maker for playoff seeding … The RPI is a metric calculated on the following formula: 25 percent a team’s record, 50 percent a team’s opponents’ record, and 25 percent a team’s opponents’ opponents’ record.
- CIS Champions over the past 15 years – Carleton – 10 wins, including the last 4 seasons, Saskatchewan in 2010, Brock in 2008, Alberta in 2002, and St. FX in 2001, 2000. So 11 of 15 for the OUA, and 10/15 for Coach Dave Smart and the Ravens. Canada West has 2 wins, as does the AUS, and Quebec hasn’t won since Bishop’s in 1998.
- Two big recruit signings for Coach Mark Dobell of Mt. Royal, as theCougars land Tyis Yellowhorn, a 6-4 combo guard from Chestermere (AB) High School. Yellowhorn, a key player on Coach Rob Wilson’s powerhouse team ( 28-0 vs Canadian schools ), had been recruited by several other CIS schools, but stays close to home in the Calgary area. Coach Wilson says, “Tyis is a very good shooter, who builds everything else off that shot. He makes good decisions as a ball-handler.“ The 2nd addition for MRU is Nate Wall, a 6-8 wing man from Holy Trinity, Okotoks, AB, and another highly sought -after grad, who Coach Dobell describes as having “ … a huge upside. He also shoots the ball really well, and can put it on the floor. He has some maturing to do physically (as do most high school grads), but we like his skills as a big kid.”