MacEwan – Young Team, Big Dreams


Griffins coach likes the energy of his young team

MacEwan Coach Eric Magdanz is one of several Canada West coaches who has been dealing with a big turnover of seniors from last season.  “This process of developing a team, and re-forming with new recruits can be challenging, but also rewarding”, says the 4th year mentor.

The Griffs lost Thadius Galvez, Keith Gerdes,  Denzel James, and Tyler Wise,  who were core players.  But, this does not deter Coach Magdanz, who characterizes his team as ‘very young’, but also, “we are long, athletic, and energetic.”

The team will lean on veteran leaders like Ryan Coleman (Edmonton), the only 5th year Griff, and Adonis Monfort-Palomino left, Calgary), the 3rd year point man.  Ali Raza (Calgary), 3rd year wing, had ‘a phenomenol summer”, says Magdanz. “He is a remarkable athlete.” 6-6 Harrison Lane (Edmonton) is a 4th year post man, who should be stepping into a bigger role along with 2nd year English import, Jake Notice.

1st year players dot this roster, with 6-3 Lincoln Anderson (Cardston) expected to contribute right away, “ … he is ready”, his coach exclaims. Abdullah Shittu is a 6-7 Edmonton product who has a 7-2 wing span, and is picking up coaching very readily.   There are 8 rookies, and some will have to ‘wait their turn”, but Coach Magdanz believes, “This group will be great to coach; they will work hard, and, as they become more familiar with each other, we look forward to building a competitive team.”



Anderson enters as a ‘mature student and athlete’

Lincoln Anderson was a member of the Cardston , AB high school team which captured 2 consecutive 4A provincial titles in 2012 and 2013.  This was big news in hoops crazy Southern Alberta, and Anderson might have been expected to go on and play in Canada West.  But Lincoln had other priorities as a Church of Latter Day Saints member; he served a church mission in New Zealand for 2 years, centred in Auckland. “It was an amazing experience”, says Anderson.  No basketball practice for missionaries, but they did play a little informal rugby (as you would in the land of the ‘All-Blacks” NZ National Team).

Lincoln Anderson, MacEwan wing man

The difficult part of getting back to varsity sport is to “start thinking the game again”, according to the 22 year old. “As a missionary, I was planning every minute of my days in New Zealand, so I’m not having any trouble combining studies and basketball.”  Starting a B Sc. program, Lincoln wants to eventually work as a physiotherapist. “Because I’ve gone through so much work with my knee”, he says, “I’ve become keen on helping other people with similar challenges.”

Anderson was recruited by Coach Magdanz, who, coincidently, coached both Lincoln and Adonis Monfort-Palomino on Alberta’s U-17 team a few years back. “He is a young and enthusiastic coach”, says Anderson. “I like his style of coaching, and his enthusiasm for the team and individual players.”  ‘I’m excited to get playing games”, exclaims Lincoln. “I really look forward to competing.”  Under Magdanz’ tutelage, Anderson expects the Griffins to develop into a team that can “… contend with all the top schools.”  Lincoln Anderson and the others in this freshman class may well be chasing history if his prognostication comes close to fruition.  Dream big … how else can you hope to get there?


Overtime – 

  • Game schedule … Thursday, Oct 5  –    Calgary Cup starts at UC –  Dinos vs McGill, McMaster vs Acadia  … Saskatchewan at Toronto, Bishops at Victoria, Laurentian at Brandon, NAIT at Thompson Rivers

    Ken Olynyk brings a long and distinguished university sport career to an end.

  • Congratulations to TRU’s Ken Olynyk, who has announced his retirement as the school’s Athletic Director.  Olynyk, a former player in the CIS, and a coach at U. Lethbridge, U. Toronto, and with the WolfPack, has had a very positive impact on basketball and sport at TRU.  We wish him well, and hope he enjoys the extra time he will have to enjoy family and recreational pursuits.  Ken will likely still be involved with hoops in some way, even beyond being a spectator at son Kelly’s NBA games!  More in this story from TRU Athletics.

These 7 Teams Look to Move Up in Canada West



Brandon Tull will be a senior leader for the Regina Cougars.      photo – Arthur Ward

 Regina – The Cougars go 9-11 and are good at their best, but are troubled by injuries in the 2nd semester.  Coach Steve Burrows will enter his 5th year at the helm, and faces the task of ‘renewing’ a roster which loses 3 veteran mainstays.  Travis Sylvestre, Stephen Shields, and Matt Augustine graduate, and more size will be crucial in the recruiting project.  The Cougs have dependable vets returning in Brandon Tull, Alex Igual, and Brian Ofori.  Burrows looks to the younger Hillis bothers, Ben and Samuel, and rookie star, Johneil Johnson to pick up some of the slack.  An infusion of talent, especially in the bigs, will be necessary if UR is to move up.

Thompson Rivers –   Coach Scott Clark loses a ‘franchise player’ in import forward, Volodymyr Iegorov, who graduates this Spring.  Clark could anticipate that challenge, but the veteran bench boss also has his rookie stand-out, Trent Monkman,  transferring to Victoria. The Wolf Pack, 8-12,  have been a play-off team in recent years, and Clark has worked successfully to develop his young talent. This coming season will test his resolve once more.  The Orange returnees include import guard, Derek Rhodes, strong forward, Luke Morris, guard, Michael Rouault, and scrappy point man, Madhu McConnell.  TRU will also be looking for some size in the recruiting process, and certainly more depth for this young group.

MRU’s import star, Josh Ross,  returns for his 5th year        Photo – Cougars Athletics

Mt. Royal –  The ‘Blue Cougars’ face a familiar challenge, as Coach Marc Dobell sees 2 big post men, Brett Layton, and Ray Goff leaving the roster along with 5th year guard, Derek Wolf .  Layton is wanting to start Law School, and Goff has had very tough nagging leg injuries, and is graduating early next year.  MRU does return guards Glen Yang, Noah Lewis, and Craig Martin along with import  scoring leader, Josh Ross, Ryan Cunningham, and forward, Nick Tancon.  Coach Dobell is waiting to announce his signees, and has not quite finished the process.  We do understand that L.J. Hegwood is looking to transfer in from SAIT, and that McNally HS (Calgary) star, 6-7 Diew Moses, may be headed to the Cougars as well.

MacEwan –  There will be significant change with the Griffins, as they say goodbye to Denzel James, Thomas Jereniuk, Cole Aikens, Keith Gerdes, and Tyler Wise as 5th year grads.  Thadius Galvez, their outstanding lead guard, is also on the move, and Coach Eric Magdanz is left with a major recruiting task.  Returnees Ryan Coleman, Harrison Lane, Adonis Montfort -Palomino, Ali Raza, and Atlas St. Paul-Butler will be counted on next Fall. The Griffs have younger players like British import, Jake Notice, along with 3rd year guard,  Tarik Scott, coming off an injury rehab, and a local red-shirt freshman, Deonte Doslov-Doctor.  Recent signees include Lincoln Anderson, a 6-3 guard from Cardston, AB, who comes off a 2 year Mormon  church mission, and 6-8, Ben Niles, from Kamloops (Valleyview Sr Sec).  Coach Magdanz is also excited about Dustin Gatski  (Westlock, AB), a 6-4 transfer after  1 year of Junior College in Wyoming, and Moreau Amadou  a 6-4 wing from   Sir Winston Churchill, Calgary.

Marcus MacKay will carry a big scoring load for the Timberwolves.

UNBC –  Starting last season at 4-4 last Fall, The T’Wolves struggled through 12 straight losses to finish at 4-16, well out of play-off contention.  They lose their slick guard, Rhys Elliot, along with Elliott Rowe, and Sam Zhang to graduation. Coach Todd Jordan will be looking to add some size and more punch to his roster this Spring and Summer.  The UNBC returnees should include big shooting guard, Marcus MacKay, lead guard, James Agyeman, Vaggelis Loukas, an active forward, and Anthony Hokanson, who is a skilled wing man.   Adam Pahl, a  6-6 wing from Okotoks (Foothills HS) , AB was announced in January, and he comes with high hopes.  Volodymyr Pluzhnikov, is a ‘tough-minded’ guard coming off the red-shirt list, and Jordan has a few more prospects he hopes to sign in the next few weeks.  “We need to get bigger, and to make big improvements in our rebounding”, says the 5th year Head man.

Trinity Western –  The Spartans, 3-17 last season, do not graduate any 5th years, and Coach Aaron Muhic suggests that his returnee list should include all of his current roster players. We have mentioned veteran guard, Tyus Allen, who is rehabbing his injured knee, but who will not be ready until at least the Fall of 2018.  The Spartans will return  import guard, Pogos Trunyan, their high scorer (15 ppg), along with 6-10 post Patrick Vandervelden (13 ppg/7.2 rebs), and Vartan Tanielian, a 12 ppg scorer at wing. Among his younger contributors will be guards Max Viitala, and Josiah Meppelink.  TWU have not announced any new signees or transfers.

UBC-Okanagan –  After an 8-12 record in 2015-16, the Heat cooled off to just 2-18 last season.  Coach Peter Guarasci, in his 5th year, loses guard Mitch Goodwin to graduation.  But, he also has 7 other roster players (Cam Friesen, Randy Jernidier, Ryan Morck, Austin Penrose, Buster Truss, David Manshreck, and Davide Ciancio) who will not return, which obviouly leaves a daunting task of recuiting this Spring. Aldrich Berrios, his high-scoring (17.6 ppg) guard is back for his 4th year, along with back-court rookies, Matt Lafontaine, and Tristan Matthews.  Noma Obeseki, an athletic small forward,  will be entering his 3rd year.  Owen Keyes, a 6’9” Kelowna Sr Sec. stand-out has already signed, and looks like a strong prospect. Jake Stokker, Penticton Sr. Sec  is another big man signee , details in this story from Kelowna Capital News 


Overtime –

  • Mason Foreman, a 6-7 forward from Winnipeg, who most recently attended Athlete Institute Prep just outside Toronto, has signed with the Calgary Dinos for next Fall.  Mason’s father is Jeff Foreman, who was a 3-time CIS All-Canadian with the Winnipeg Wesmen (Great Plains Athletic Conference)  in 1992, ’93, and ’94. ( In 1994, Jeff was CIS Player of the Year, and he was also a member of the Canadian national team.)
  •  UVic will, later this week, induct two former basketball stars into their Vikes Hall of Fame. Spencer McKay , was a dominating post man for Vikes teams of the late 1980s – early 1990s, and Carol Turney-Loos, was a key to their 1980 National title.   More details in this Oak Bay News article   

Wesmen and Griffins Want ‘In’



2016-17 Canada West Basketball Previews –

Winnipeg Wesmen and MacEwan Griffins

The two Prairie schools we preview today have a similar status in their respective communities.   The University of Winnipeg and MacEwan University are the younger, smaller ‘cousins’ to the big guy across town.  U. Manitoba boasts 25,000+ undergraduate students vs about 10,000 for UW, and the U. Alberta casts even a bigger shadow in Edmonton, with 28,000 to MacEwan’s 11,000. Despite their ‘2nd fiddle profile’, their basketball teams want in to the Canada West playoffs again this coming season.

The Wesmen are ‘chasing the recent success’ of the neighbouring Bisons, and, similarly, the Griffins are ‘newbies’ who don’t have the same CIS tradition as the Alberta Golden Bears up on the South side.  When the Griffs host the W’s in late January in Edmonton, both teams hope they are in the midst of a playoff chase.

Winnipeg  Wesmen
’15-’16 Lost 1st Round playoff  to Regina      10 wins  10 losses

Denzel Lynch-Blair (L) and Ryan Oirbans (R) - return to lead the Wesmen.

Denzel Lynch-Blair (L) and Ryan Oirbans (R) – return to lead the Wesmen.    photos-  UW- Kelly Morton        UC – David Moll

Returnees –  5th year – 6-3, Jamar Farley … 4th years – 6-10 Ryan Oirbans, 6-6 Nate Johnson … 3rd years – 6-4 Denzel Lynch-Blair, 6-4, Marcello Kambola, 5-8 Denzel Soliven, 6-6 Kahlil Lakay … 2nd year – 6-3, Will Sesay … 1st year (redshirt) 6-7 Franki Tocci
New faces – Billy Yaworsky, 2nd, 6-7 fwd, Winnipeg (Tsf, Lakehead), Narcisse Ambanza, 1st year, 6-2 guard, Toronto (E. Commerce), Josh Gandier, 1st, 6-3 guard, Winnipeg,  Louis Makot, 1st, 6-4 guard, Winnipeg, Sean Tarver, 3rd, 6-4 wing, Baltimore, MD, Roan Van Erd, 3rd, 6-5 guard, Winnipeg, Noah Simpson, 1st, 6-7 fwd, Winnipeg.

With a mostly inexperienced squad last season, Coach Mike Raimbault’s Ws squeezed into the last play-off spot, and lost a 3 game set in round 1 at Regina.  “We probably went as far as we should have”, says the 7th year Winnipeg coach.

This season’s team is still fairly young, but have some experience back at key spots.  Raimbault suggests, “We should shoot it better, and we’ll have more effective back-court leadership as the guys are 2nd and 3rd year with some more game experience.”  W wesmen

Denzel Lynch-Blair (17.5 ppg, 4 assts) was a Canada West all-star, and Will Sesay (10 ppg, 7 rebs) got the nod on the all-rookie team, while Jamar  Farley (10.3 ppg) and Marcello Kambola (8 ppg) promise to be positive contributors again.

With the exception of the  big post, Ryan Oirbans (8.6 ppg, 8 rebs), and newcomer Billy Yaworsky, who can hit from 3 point range, this UW team is on the small side.  They make up for that with exceptional team quickness, and a pressing, full-court defensive plan which saw them chart 10.2 steals/game, 2nd in CW.

The big challenges will be to improve on their 16th best rebounding margin, and 14th best field goal percentage, the combination of is usually death for the won-lost record!  Coach Raimbault tells us, “We’re looking for more inside scoring with Ryan (Oirbans) putting in some good work in the summer, and we think the rest of the guys will step-up their offensive games.”

Schedule –  Nov/Dec – vs UNBC, at Saskatchewan, vs Lethbridge, h/h vs Brandon, h/h vs Manitoba  …  Jan/Feb –  vs Trinity Western, at Thompson Rivers, at MacEwan, vs Regina, at Victoria.    Prediction –  Contending for a play-off spot

MacEwan Griffins
’15-’16 – Lost to Alberta in playoff round 1           10 wins    10 losses

Thadius Galvez (L) and Denzel James (R) will be key for the Griffs.

Thadius Galvez (L) and Denzel James (R) will be key for the Griffs.

Returnees – 5th years –  6-3  Denzel James, 6-7  Keith Gerdes, 5-10  Thomas Jereniuk, 6-8  Cole Aikens  … 4th years –  6-2 Thadius Galvez, 6-6 Ryan Coleman … 3rd years – 6-6 Harrison Lane,  6-3 Tarik Scott , 6-0 Deonte Dosov-Doctor … 2nd yr. – 6-6 Atlas St. Paul -Butler … Redshirt 1st years – 6-2 Malik Mate,  6-6 Michael Burnham
New faces – 5th year, 6-6 fwd, Tyler Wise, St. Albert (tsf Red Deer Coll.), 2nd yr, 5-9 guard, Adonis Monfort-Palomino, Calgary (tsf U. Calgary), 2nd yr. 6-5 wing, Ali Raza, Calgary (tsf St. Mary’s U. Coll) … 1st years – 6-3 wing, Jake Notice, Bath, England (Bristol Flyers), 6-4 wing, Thomas Laxdal, St. Albert (Paul Kane), 6-0 guard, Tre Ross, Sherwood Park (Strathcona Christian)

unknownThe Griffins made the playoffs in their 2nd year of Canada West play, and Coach Eric Magdanz returns 7 of his top 9 rotation players this time around. Two key losses were  Ryan May, a steady forward, and Chris Mooney, a skilled wing man.  But the scoring and rebounding of vets Denzel James (14 ppg/5.2 rebs) and Thadius Galvez (13.5 ppg/4 rebs) are a good starting point. Add in the toughness and dependability of equally experienced forwards Keith Gerdes (9.2 ppg), and Ryan Coleman (9 ppg), and Mac may snag a post-season berth once again.

Harrison Lane was a playoff stalwart last Spring, and he should provide defensive leadership.  UC transfer Adonis Monfort-Palomino, a pass-first point man, will “help  get the ball up the floor, and into the right hands”, says coach Magdanz. Ali Raza, another transfer and Calgary high school grad (Crescent Heights), has been showing well in early work-outs, along with Tyler Wise, a rebounding big man, who returns to MacEwan from Red Deer.

Where experience, determined defense, and capable shooting are pluses for the Maroon, they will need to improve their team rebounding if they are to be a factor in next February’s playoff picture.

Schedule –  Nov/Dec – at Lethbridge, vs Regina, vs Victoria, at Mt. Royal, h/h vs Alberta … Jan/Feb –  at Fraser Valley, at Brandon, vs Winnipeg, vs UBC-Okanagan, at Calgary.     Prediction – In the mix for a playoff slot

 Overtime –

  • This week we have CIS teams ‘testing the water’ against CCAA Fr Valleysquads;  as UFV coach Adam Friesen said, “Our guys are happy to play against people who aren’t their teammates, and it’s a great opportunity for our young guys to get some game action.”   UQAM vs CGEP Thetford, Algoma hosting Fleming, Canadore, and Sault Colleges, and Friesen’s Cascades squad plays Capilano College Thursday  at Sardis Sr. Sec. (Chilliwack), then the Seattle Mountaineers on Saturday at UFV.
  • Next weekend sees some interesting inter-regional tournament  play –  The Victoria Vikes have their Guy Vetrie Invitational (Sept. 29 – Oct. 1), with McMaster, McGill, and Regina making it an interesting mix on the Island.  Carleton are the ‘big birds’ in Acadia’s tournament, along with the Axemen, St. FX, and Laval … UNB hosts Maine – Ft. Kent, Bishops, and  Saint Mary’s …  Nipissing are at home to Algoma, Laurentian, and Laurier. Also,  Winnipeg will visit Lakehead, and Queen’s and Ottawa are in Montreal to play Concordia and UQAM.

‘Play-ins’ at MacEwan and Regina


‘Play-ins’ Are Tough To Call –

Thadius Galvez, MacEwan Griffins' guard, will be a key man as they host the U of A Golden Bears in one 'play-in' series this weekend.

Thadius Galvez, MacEwan Griffins’ guard, will be a key man as they host the U of A Golden Bears in one ‘play-in’ series this weekend.  photo – MacEwan Athletics

#9  Alberta Golden Bears   at  #8  MacEwan Griffins –  You would have thought these two schools would have found each other before now, but Friday’s 1st game of this best of three series will be the 1st time the Griffins and Bears have met.  Predictions really go out the window, other than we would expect a ‘full house’ at Mac, as the Edmonton basketball community comes together to witness a bit of history in the making. (Wouldn’t our friend Phil Allen have been excited to have seen these games !)  GriffinsHome copy

The Griffs and Bears may well produce a low-scoring series, with both teams relying on defense, and neither consistently pushing the ‘running game’.  Mac Coach Eric Magdanz suggests, “We have to contend with their bigger, stronger front-line, where they do most of their scoring. Our guards (Thadius Galvez, Denzel James, and Chris Mooney) have generated a lot of our scoring, so it’s a bit of a contrast in styles.”
Who to watch-
Bears – Mamadou Gueye – 6’7’ ‘small forward’ … 18 ppg and 7.2 rebounds,  Brody Clarke – 6-8 post … 12 ppg and 6.3 rebounds, Colby Jackson – 5-9 point … 8 ppg and 4.7 assists.
Griffins –  Denzel James –  6-3 wing …14 ppg / 5 rebounds/ 1.5 steals,  Thadius Galvez – 6-2 guard …13.5 ppg/ 3.5 assists/ 2.1 steals, Chris Mooney – 6-3 guard … 9 ppg . 6.7 rebounds, 3 asst.
Bears 3 copyAlberta has a long history in the CIS, with Canada West and National championship trophies in their collection, while MacEwan was, up until 2 years ago, playing at the Canadian Colleges level in the ACAC.  But we’ve seen former ‘College teams’ like TRU and Fraser Valley have playoff success against Pioneer programs.
“There’s great excitement in Edmonton surrounding this series; there are no big high school tournaments competing for fans, so we expect a big crowd”, says Coach Magdanz.
Game times –  Friday, Feb. 26 – at 6 pm, Saturday, 27th- 5 pm, and Sunday, 28th (if necessary) at 2 pm (times are Mountain).   The winner of this series will meet the Pioneer Division leaders and #1 seed Calgary Dinos in one Quarter final series ‘A’  in Calgary.

Jonathan Tull, Regina's high scorer, will be a focus for UW's defense in the 2 Pioneer teams' play-in series in Regina this weekend.

Jonathan Tull, Regina’s high scorer, will be a focus for UW’s defense in the 2 Pioneer teams’ play-in series in Regina this weekend.

 #10 Winnipeg Wesmen  at #7  Regina Cougars –   Here’s a tough series to get our heads around, hoops fans !  Winnipeg, since winning 6 straight to start the 2nd half of the season, have dropped 5 of their final 6 League games; they also lost 2 to Regina back in early December. The home-standing Cougars have that obvious advantage, but, since a huge win at UBC on January 23, UR has lost 5 of 8 to finish up at 11-9. Unknown-2
Winnipeg have their high scorer, guard Denzel Lynch-Blair (17.5 ppg, 3 steals) ‘somewhat doubtful’ for this series, having missed the UBC game last Saturday. Their offensive is12th in Canada West in points /game at 72, and they shoot 39.5%, which is 14th in CW. They can, however, play defense – 2nd in steals and blocked shots, and they allow only 75 ppg.  Their rebounding is a weakness, with a -6 margin, among the League’s worse.
Unknown-1Regina scores more – 81 ppg, and get to the line quite often (24 /game), but they allow more points as well – 77.5 /game.  Besides the home court, the Cougars appear to have more functional depth than the Ws, with scoring spread 7 or 8 deep, and key subs in guard Aaron McGowan and forward Brian Ofori.  Key players in this series –
Wesmen – *D. Lynch-Blair (if he can go) – 6-4 guard, who can score, and disrupt on the defensive end, he has often been the catalyst on offense.  Jelane Pryce – 6-7 forward …  15.2 ppg/ 5.3 rebs/ 1.4 blocks . Ryan Oirbans – 6-9 forward … key rebounder (8.1 per game)  9 points.  William Sesay – 6-3 rookie guard … quick defender, 6.8 rebounds, 9.7 ppg/ 1.8 steals.
Cougars – Jonathan Tull – 6-4 guard …  17 ppg/ 5.2 rebs/ 2.5 steals .  Brandon Tull – 6-4 guard … 11.8 ppg / 3.8 reb./ 2 steals.  Brian Ofori – 6-6 forward … 8 ppg/ 5 rebs .  A. McGowan – 6-1 guard … top-notch 6th man, 9.5 ppg/3.5 rebs/ 2.8 asst.

The Cougars do have the home court, and, if their offense can crank it up, they may have too much scoring for the Wesmen to match.  If nerves hit Regina, the Winnipeg defense could turn this series on it’s ear.  An upset here is not impossible, but our guess would be that UR’s depth will give them the edge.
Game times –  Friday, Feb. 26 – 27- 28 (if necessary)  all at 7 pm  Central.  The winner of this series will meet the Explorer Division’s top team, #2 Thompson Rivers, in Kamloops in  Quarter-Final  ‘B’.

CIS Scores –  (Tuesday) … Saint Mary’s 90  Acadia 74


Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.01.34 PM

Don’t look now, but guess who’s back on top ?  Yes fans, it’s the Carleton Ravens , the same birds who’ve won of 11 of the past 13 CIS Championships !

Who knows if they’ll win in the OUA play-offs, but this week, the Ravens are #1, as Ryerson has a small hiccup in Guelph.  Ottawa wins and gets #2, while Calgary stays at #4, UBC #6, and Manitoba rises to 9 without even playing!  We continue to believe that UBC and 2 other Canada West teams will be in the Final 8, but not a 4th by a wildcard choice.



Overtime –   

  • In a comprehensive article by Wayne Kondro of the Ottawa Citizen , U. Ottawa Coach James Derouin, says that the FIBA rules played in the CIS require players to make quick decisions. “That’s the key,” he says. “Can you teach your players to play without them having the crutch that a coach can call a timeout and bail you out of any situation? You definitely have to develop their decision-making a lot more.”
  • Manitoba Head Coach Kirby Schepp signs a big man from Winnipeg’s talent-rich high school ranks in St. Paul’s High School forward, Cameron O’Hara.  O’Hara played on Manitoba’s provincial U17 and U16 the past 2 summers. At 6-7,   245, he will be a ‘space-eater’ in the lane for the Herd.
  • Sorry about the ‘A-D-B-C’ mix-up in our last post.  To clarify the play-offs – Winners of series’  A plays the  D winner and the B series winner plays the C winner.   S-o-o-o-o …in the March 3-4-5-6 QUARTER-FINALS – we have …
    A – GRIFFINS / BEARS winner  at #1 CALGARY
    D- #5  FRASER VALLEY  at  #4  MANITOBA – Winner of series A vs Winner of D at the Final 4, March 11/12
    B – COUGARS / WESMEN winner  at   #2  THOMPSON RIVERS
    C – #6 LETHBRIDGE  at #3  UBC – Winner- series B vs Winner of C at the Final 4

Berrios Brilliance for Heat !

Aldrich Berrios and his Okanagan Heat have won 3 straight in the Explorer.

Aldrich Berrios and his Okanagan Heat have won 3 straight in the Explorer.                photo –  UBC-O Athletics

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 1.39.36 PM

The hottest team in the Explorer Division ?  The UBC-Okanagan Heat, of course!  3 straight wins, while all around them get mixed or disappointing results. The Heat take 2 at home against the MRU Cougars, as they come together for 2 of the more complete team efforts of their short CIS history. Well done, Coach Guarasci and players … keep it going.

Nice wins from McEwan Griffins at TRU on Saturday, and for UNBC Timberwolves at home on Friday vs the UFV Cascades.  In fact, the T’Wolves gave the Trees all they wanted in the 74-72 Saturday game as well.  These ‘upset’ wins add a nice level of interest in the Explorer Division.

The two leaders, the Cascades and the TRU WolfPack will use those losses as a reality check, and come back motivated to keep getting better … and they’re already very good teams.


Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 1.39.01 PM

In the Pioneer Division, we have the West Coast ‘power teams’ tied at the top, as the  UVic Vikes split with the Calgary Dinos, while the UBC Thunderbirds pull off a miraculous Saturday OT win to sweep the battered Saskatchewan Huskies.  No more undefeated teams, but we have both the  Brandon Bobcats and TWU Spartans remaining winless, and desperate to bring a ‘sliver of hope’ this week.

The UBC T-Birds, with Jordan Jensen-Whyte leading the way, have won 5 straight, and sit tied for first in the Pioneer.

The UBC T-Birds, with Jordan Jensen-Whyte leading the way, have won 5 straight, and sit tied for first in the Pioneer.      photo- UBC Athletics

UBC are the hot commodity now, with 5 wins after dropping their home opener to Alberta; the ‘Birds are starting to look like a team ready to host the CIS Nationals in March, which they will, of course. Manitoba Bisons built some momentum, and left no doubt with 2 wins at home over the Alberta Golden Bears, who were close on Saturday , but sit in unfamiliar territory, in 8th at 2-4.

It’s a mad chase behind the top 2, with Calgary, Manitoba, the Regina Cougars, and Lethbridge Pronghorns all jostling for position, with the Winnipeg Wesmen back on track after 2 wins this week.  We have to believe that Alberta and Saskatchewan will come back with so many games to play.


Prime-Time Performers !

 Rhys Elliott of the UNBC Timberwolves, has another strong weekend. photo UBC - Rich Lam

Rhys Elliott of the UNBC Timberwolves, has another strong weekend. photo UBC – Rich Lam

Many of our outstanding players from week 3 shone most brightly in those tension -packed minutes and seconds where close games are decided. Take the big shot, and make it count!

Aldrich Berrios –  UBC-O Heat …  In their Saturday win over Mt. Royal (UBC-O’s 3rd straight, a team record in Canada West play) , the 5-11 dynamo from Vancouver hit a long-range shot to tie it with 1 second left. Then, after a Cougars’ turnover, and in one of the most memorable ‘you-tube’ sequences – Hard to believe … sudden victory!   … 44 points for the weekend, and he’s the driving force for the Heat.

Randall Mosca – UBC-O Heat…   “Wiry, sinewy” are a couple of descriptors for this 3rd-year transfer from St. Mary’s Univ. Coll., Calgary. He is a slim, intense, fearless ‘gunslinger’, with a reputation for liking almost any shot he sees.  This is a dangerous man … a ‘streaky scorer’, well yes!  1 point in the Heat’s Friday win, but on Saturday, he’s ‘feeling it’ – 31 points on 10/16 and 8/8 free throws.  Take that!

Conor Morgan – UBC T-Birds … (From ‘Head Office’ – ‘THE’ University of British Columbia)  Morgan, a Junior Team Canada player back in 2013 (beside Andrew Wiggins),  plays with an edge. He will ‘mix it up’, old school.  He’s right in his element vs the scrappy Sled Dogs in Saskatoon, and his trey with 7 seconds left (taking it to OT) breaks the hearts of U of S faithful on Saturday.  31 pts/15 rebs in the UBC sweep, with 11 points in the 4th Q and OT on Saturday.

Rhys Elliot – UNBC Timberwolves  … The ‘Aussie Assassin ‘, ‘Cool-Hand Rhys’ … is as consistent a scorer as we have in Canada West. He leads the T’Wolves to an 81-74 win over favoured UFV on Friday, and almost another Saturday in PG.  47 points/ 6 rebs/4 asst/3 steals.  He and his mates may use this past weekend as  a springboard to more success.

Chan De Ciman – Saskatchewan Huskies … In the midst of some consternation in the Huskies kennel, this speedy rookie stands out in one of the top freshman classes in recent memory.  The Regina high school product has game!  He can play at both ends of the floor, with his quickness and composure, despite his youth.  47 points/ 10 boards/ assists in 2 games vs UBC, including a 37 point star-burst performance on Saturday.

Oh and what about …  

Brett Layton is a big interior presence for Mt. Royal.

Brett Layton is a big interior presence for Mt. Royal.  photo – MRU Athletics

Thomas Cooper – Calgary Dinos, who still leads CW scoring 25 ppg, and had 43 pts/ 15 rebs in a weekend at UVic .  Keith Omoerah – Manitoba Bisons, the ‘back to the Herd’, budding star, with 41 points/14 assts/6 steals in the Buffs’ sweep of Alberta.  Jordan Jensen-Whyte – UBC Thunderbirds, who is looking very sharp in his ‘shooting guard’ role, and hit 40 points/14 reb/8 assts., as the catalyst on offense vs the Huskies. Kevon Parchment – UFV Cascades, who fills the leadership role with his stellar play every week, it seems. 41 points/ 17 boards this week vs UNBC.  Brett Layton – Mt. Royal Cougars, is a bright spot in this gloomy stretch for MRU.  The 6-8 former Morman missionary hangs up 43 points/ 23 rebounds vs UBC-O.



Overtime –

  • MacEwan coach, Eric Magdanz, after the Griffins’ win at TRU on GriffinsHome copySaturday,  “They (TRU’s Volodymyr Iegorov, Josh Wolfram, and Reese Pribilsky) are great players,” Magdanz said when asked if they did anything special to curtail the 3 ‘Pack stars.  “Likely the best three players on any team in the country . We knew we had to pay special attention to them. We had to make sure where our help was at all time. What I thought we did well today was talking behind them so whoever was guarding them was confident they knew where they could get help knowing they had a whole team behind them.”  (From the Kamloops News).
  • Are you a stats person … all about the numbers Follow this link to Canada West Basketball, to get the lists, percentages, averages, minutes, points, assists, rebounds, steals ….


UFV and Mac – Explorer Previews


Fraser Valley Cascades – Coach Adam Friesen, 4th yearFr Valley copy

The UFV Cascades are the ‘Big Trees’ in the relatively young Explorer forest, and they dominated their competition for most of the 2014-15 regular season, then beat the Calgary Dinos in round 1 of the CW playoffs, before losing to UVic, then beating UBC at the Final 4.

Yes, they’ve lost 2 outstanding forwards in Jasper Moedt and Kadeem Willis as well as flashy guard Dom Brooks, but the group of returnees has talent and experience enough to make Coach Adam Friesen’s squad tough again. 5th year wing man Kevon Parchment may be a CW Most Outstanding Player candidate, with his all-round game.  4th year guard, Manny Dulay, is the floor general and shot 39% from 3 pt. range / delivering 4 assists, with a 2.6 Asst/turnover rate. Large-bodied import forward, Nate Brown, will be an even bigger load for opponents in his 4th year.  Guard Vijay Dhillon showed an improving scoring touch in the latter part of the season, and may well see big minutes.

Fraser Valley's Kevon Parchment will help keep the Cascades on top.

Fraser Valley’s Kevon Parchment will help keep the Cascades on top.

Coach Friesen has been busy in his recruiting, and has a couple of ‘high profile’ additions in the well-travelled Mahad Mohamed, import forward Mark Johnson, and Brandon Burke, who was a stand-out in the Ontario Colleges League last season.  UFV has done well in signing local talent in the basketball hot-bed of the Fraser Valley … adding depth they have 1st year red-shirt  Antonio Jhuty, plus Devin Brar, Sasha Otanga, and Jas Gill.

The Cascades have a busy pre-season, with the Seattle Mountaineers in Abbotsford on Sept. 26, then they go to the Guy Vetrie Memorial Tourn. at UVic  for Oct. 2nd vs Saskatchewan, Oct. 3 against the CIS  champs, Carleton, and an Oct. 4th date vs the Vikes.  They also have games vs Trinity Western, Oct. 10, and Vancouver Island U. on the 23rd.


Manny Dulay 6-4   G   4th year ,  Surrey, Tamanawis

Vijay Dhillon 6-0     G   4th,      Richmond, Palmer

Kevon Parchment  6-6    W   5th,  Toronto

Navjot Bains    6-6    F   3rd,  Surrey, Tamanawis

Nate Brown      6-6    F  4th,  Fresno, CA

Antonio Jhuty   6-2    G  1st,  Richmond, Palmer

Marcus Morgan 6-2   G   1st,   Winnipeg, Taylor


Mark Johnson   6-5    F   ,   Palm Springs, CA, tsf Coll. of Desert

Madison Cooley 6-9    P   ,   Delta, tsf Kwantlen Coll.

Sasha Otanga    6-2    G ,    Abbotsford,  tsf Columbia Bible

Jas  Gill            5-9      G   1st,  Abbotsford,  Yale HS

Brandon Burke 6-4      F ,     Toronto, tsf. Algonquin Coll.

Mahad Mohomed 6-3   G ,     Toronto, Desert Vista HS

MacEwan Griffins – Coach Eric Magdanz, 4th yearGriffinsHome copy

In year 1 of Canada West play, the Griffs had a deceptive 7-13 won-loss mark; Coach Eric Magdanz points out that 17 of their 20 games were decided by 10 points or less.  “With more depth, and certainly more experience, we feel that we can win a bigger share of these close games this year”, says Magdanz. Mac lost scoring guard Lee Danderfer to graduation, but they will get great leadership from 3 key returnees –  Denzel James, with his explosive style, was their leading scorer at 18 ppg, adding 6 rebounds. Keith Gerdes (13.3 ppg / 5.6 rebs) and Ryan May (11.8 ppg / 7.7 rebs) are a steadying force on the forward line.

The Coach has landed some quality recruits, with Ryan Coleman transfering from the

Mac's Denzel James has proved he can excel in Canada West.

Mac’s Denzel James has proved he can excel in Canada West.

Alberta Colleges League where he was a dominant rebounder and scorer, while import guard, Thadius Galvez, was a 50% shooter from 3 pt. range and ran the offense for his Junior College squad in Oregon.  Another impressive addition is big Atlas St. Paul-Butler, a B.C provincial team player who has the fundamental tools to contribute as a rookie. Chris Mooney, another ACAC transfer, is an adept ball-handler, and good decision-maker as a combo guard.

“We can now play far better ‘off-the bounce’”, suggests Coach Magdanz, “We have far better guard depth.”  The Griffins have retained enough firepower, and they should move up in the 6 team Explorer Division, with a good mixture of experience and youth.

The pre-season has them in Manitoba in early October to play Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Brandon, then they are at home vs Lethbridge and Queen’s Gaels of the OUA. At the Holiday break, Coach Magdanz is excited to be taking his team to the Wesmen Classic in Winnipeg. “We’ll get to see a few teams that we wouldn’t regularly play; it’s a great tournament for our guys.”


Ryan May              6-6      F     5th year,     Edmonton

Denzel James        6-2     W     5th ,       Edmonton

Keith Gerdes          6-6     F       4th,      Edmonton

Thomas Jereniuk     5-10   G      4th,     Edmonton

David Grange          5-10   G       3rd,    Edmonton

Deonte Doslov-Doctor   6-2   G    2nd,   Edmonton

Tarik Scott                6-2       G      2nd,  Maple Ridge, BC

Harrison Lane          6-6         F     2nd,    Edmonton


Chris Mooney          6-1        G      4th,  Ottawa, tsf NAIT

Cole Aikens             6-8        P      4th ,  St. Albert, AB, tsf Augustana

Ryan Coleman         6-7        F       3rd,   Edmonton, tsf Concordia

Thadius Galvez        6-1        G      3rd,    Ogden, Utah – tsf Treasure V. Jr. Coll.

Tony Wolter              6-1       G       1st,  Calgary, Kentucky Elite Club

Atlas St.Paul-Butler 6-7         P       1st,  Victoria, BC – Oak Bay

Michael Burnham     6-6        F        1st, Winfield, BC

Malik Mate                6-1       G        1st,  Edmonton- Holy Trinity


Overtime –

  • UBC’s hosting of the 2016 CIS Final 8 is a ‘one-off’, apparently.  The bids are in for 2017-18, and the ‘Birds are not bidding … Ryerson  is keen on having the Finals back at the Mattamey Centre in Toronto, Carleton and Ottawa are making a joint bid with the Ottawa Senators, and Dalhousie and  Acadia want to bring the Tournament back to Halifax along with Sports & Entertainment Atlantic.
  •  Some late announcements out of Lethbridge, as Coach Mike Hansen adds Dejon Burdeaux, a point guard from Fresno City College (CA),  an All-State California JuCo player last year.  (The 6-0 import is ‘a massive addition to the cause’, says David Wells , our S. Alberta correspondent.) Hansen also announced Lincoln Anderson, who starred for 2 Cardston, AB,  4A provincial champs in 2011-12 and 2012-13. roster.)

Mt. Royal and MacEwan – Alberta ‘Explorer’ Teams


MRU guards, Awet Abraha, L, and Deng Awak, R, are expected to lead the Cougars.

MRU guards, Awet Abraha, L, and Deng Awak, R, are expected to lead the Cougars.



Mt. Royal Stands Pat 

Coach Marc Dobell has a very familiar group of players back with his Cougars team this season,  as he returns 10 from his 9-13 squad from last year, and adds a red-shirt and a local high school stand-out.  He lost the explosive wing man, Jared Cornish, his 2nd leading scorer, but has all the other key elements in place to make a concerted playoff run in the new Explorer Division.

MRUAwet Abraha (McNally, Calgary), a 6-1 wing, led team scoring at 11.5 ppg, and enters his 5th year in top shape to improve upon his numbers.  The MRU guard situation is deep, with 6-2 Deng Awak (Brooks, AB), another 5th year leader running the point at 6-3,  as well as a re-vitalized Jalen Gardner (Calgary-Bowness), now a more confident and composed 3rd year combo guard.  6-3 Derek Wolf ( 3rd year, Penticton) looks sharp in early workouts, and 6-4, 4th year, Mangk Akwl (Calgary-Fr. Lacombe), is listed as a forward, but led the team in assists last season with 2.5 apg, and scoring 8.2 ppg.

The Cougars score ‘by committee’, with 5 players notching 10 + ppg a conservative estimation. MRU , by viewing them in an earlier work-out, has a significant number of players who have worked hard in summer training;  Abraha, Awak, and 3rd year guard, Noah Lewis, all look stronger and more fit.  One disappointing note is a leg injury to post man, Ray Goff, the 6-6, 3rd year Okotoks, AB product, who would have been a big part of the rotation.  “We aren’t a big team”, says Coach Dobell, “but neither is almost anyone else in our Division.”  “We hope Ray can return for us in time for League play, but we just don’t know how his rehab will go.”

Taking up the slack at forward will be 6-7 Kyle Wilson (Chestermere, AB), who has

James Lefebvre returns as a deft post scorer for Mt. Royal.

James Lefebvre returns as a deft post scorer for Mt. Royal.

considerable perimeter skills as well, and  6-5 work-horse, import (Nigeria) ‘Femi’ Ogun, a big body in the middle. 4th year (Didsbury, AB) James Lefebvre, is under-sized at 6-4, but has a nose for the ball inside, and scored 9.2 ppg, and snared 5 rebs. , competing well with much bigger opponents.

Coach Dobell has been impressed with rookie guard, Glen Yang (6-1, Sir W. Churchill, Calgary), who will be brought along slowly, we would guess, as he learns from his more experienced teammates. After a year red-shirting with the Cougars, Wiande Kher (Bishop Grandin, Calgary), a ‘longer than’ 6-4 wing man, should add scoring and rebounding this season.

Three players will red-shirt this year – 6-7 Tethloach Thokbuom, a shot-blocker from Calgary’s Western Canada HS, Red Deer College transfer Taner Parrington  (Okotoks – Foothills), and 6-4 Neil Phillip (Forest Lawn, Calgary).

The Cougars begin their pre-season with 2 games at the Alberta Showcase in Edmonton vs UNBC and Red Deer College.  They co-host the Calgary Cup with the UC Dinos and play both Alberta and Lethbridge – Oct. 9-10.  MRU and the Calgary Dinos play a pre-season home and home on October 17 and 18 (they do not meet in the regular season, since they’re in different Divisions).  The Cougars cap their Fall schedule with a trip to Quebec City, where they play in the Laval Tournament vs the Rouge et Or, Western and Memorial.

The start of the Explorer Div. season has Mt. Royal in Edmonton vs MacEwan on Nov. 7-8, then at home against UBC-O on Nov. 14-15, at UNBC on the 21-22, and finishing up their pre-exam regular season slate on Nov. 28-29 in Calgary vs Thompson Rivers.




New Territory For Griffins in Canada West

MacEwan Griffins Coach, Eric Magdanz

MacEwan Griffins Coach, Eric Magdanz

As his team prepares for their first season in CIS competition, MacEwan Griffins (Edmonton)  Coach Eric Magdanz, at 27, the youngest head man in Canada West, says, “We want our guys to dive right into this level of play, and not just dip their toes .”  Having built up to this jump to a tougher challenge over his previous couple of seasons with the Griffs, Magdanz, a former player with McMaster (Hamilton) of the OUA,  and an Assistant at Alberta, acknowledges that his squad faces a rugged learning curve, but contends, “ We have recruited players, now in their 2nd-4th years, who we felt could help us succeed in CIS play.”

GriffinsHome copyKey to the team’s offensive efforts will be 3rd year, Thomas Jereniuk, a 6-0 pass-first point man from Stoney Plain, AB, who scored 8.7 ppg while delivering 3.5 asst/game. “He is a solid floor-leader, and, although not flashy, he gets the job done in a very efficient manner”, says his coach.  Another 3rd year returnee who will be relied upon to carry much of the scoring load is versatile  6-2 wing, Denzel James (Edmonton-Jasper Place HS), who scored 17.3 ppg in the ACAC last year, along with 3 asst, and 5.3 rebs. Joining the MU back-court is 5-11, 5th year shooter, Lee Danderfer, who comes over from Augustana U. , where he scored 17 ppg, most from long-range, as he sports a 42% average from outside the arc.

Coach Magdanz landed a highly-touted recruit in Maple Ridge, B.C. (Gleneagles) high school star, Tarik Scott, a 6-2 guard, whose older brother Turrell played at Brandon for the past 2 seasons.  Another new face is 3rd year import guard, Kenny Johnson (Philadelphia), who transfers from Monroe, (Rochester,New York) Junior College;  Johnson is not eligible until 2nd semester, but has the skills to “help us immediately”, says Magdanz.

Keith Gerdes anchors the Griffs front line.

Keith Gerdes anchors the Griffs front line.

On the front line, the Griffins will have 2 capable  returnees in 6-7 Keith Gerdes (H. Ainlay HS, Edmonton) and 6-6 Ryan May (Daysland, AB);  Gerdes led team rebounding with 7 rpg, and added 13.6 ppg, while May chipped in with 6.2 ppg, and 3.5 rebs.  Joining the playing roster this season are 6-5 Libin Hassan, who scored 12 ppg at Centennial College (Toronto) in 2012-13, and 6-6 Brandon Sackey, a high school star in Brampton, ON, who transfers as a 2nd year from Tiffin Univ. (Ohio).

After a 1 game appearance at the Alberta Showcase in Edmonton, MacEwan will ‘jump into deep water’ indeed, with a Friday, Oct. 3rd game vs the Saskatchewan Huskies at Prince Albert, SK. Their pre-season gathers momentum with a trip to Waterloo’s Tournament, where they will meet the Warriors, Nipissing (another school moving to the CIS from the college ranks this year), and Queen’s on October 9-11.  The Griffins play Lakehead in a single game in Edmonton on Oct. 17, then are at Saskatchewan’s Oct. 23-25 Graham Shootout with the Huskies, UVic, and Nipissing again.

MacEwan starts their Explorer Division schedule on Nov. 7-8  at home vs Mt. Royal, and stays in Edmonton the following week for 2 with Thompson Rivers.  To finish up their opening half schedule, they are on the road on Nov. 21-22 at Okanagan and the 28-29th at Fraser Valley.


Overtime –

  • An attention -grabbing story out of Trinity Western today, as the school announces the immediate recruitment of a new head coach.  Scott Allen, who is beginning his 7th season on the Langley campus, will, apparently finish the 2014-15 season, then depart to pursue “other opportunities in the basketball community”.  TWU news release from Asst. Sports Information Director, Mark Janzen.
  •  A Dinos fan asks about Canmore HS star, Luke Praught … it appears the slick-shooting 6-4 , 1st year will red-shirt with UC this season.