Ravens, Rams, Dinos, Tigers on to Semis

 

Ejim’s rebounding carries Ravens to semi-finals

8 offensive rebounds and 26 points by Ryan Ejim pace Carleton to a Q-final win over TRU.

8 offensive rebounds and 26 points by Ryan Ejim pace Carleton to a Q-final win over TRU.

 Carleton 91 Thompson Rivers  75 –  The relentless Carleton effort on the offensive boards paid off with 10 extra chances by half-time, and the Ravens are up 38-33.  The most remarkable thing is the lack of 2nd quarter scoring, as the teams come out of quarter 1 with a 29-23 count, then cool off considerably.  CU hits just 33% from the floor in that opening 20 minutes .

Foul  trouble for TRU big men, Josh Wolfram and Volodmyr Iegorov , threatens to torpedo the ‘Pack’s effectiveness, but they finish the game with the line-up intact. As the game enters the 3rd quarter,  it’s a 5 point game Carleton’s way, but that rebounding, and some improved 3 point shooting by the Ravens extends it to 9-10-12. Brief rests for the TRU starters don’t appear to be enough, and they are flagging with 4-5 minutes left.

Ryan Ejim does the ‘blue collar’ work for Carleton, seemingly claiming every 2nd miss on the O-glass, as he tallies 26 on 11/14 shooting, all within 6 feet of the hoop. CU’s 54-37 rebounding edge is led by Ejim’s 14, and Guillaume Boucard’s 13 rebounds. Connor Wood scores 18 points on 5/13 from outside, and the winners get 15 apiece from Bouchard and Tajinder Lall.

The ‘Pack are led by the 22 points of Gerard Gore and 14 points / 10 boards from Voldymyr Iegorov. TRU hits 47% from the  floor, but only 5 treys to 11 for the Ravens.  Josh Wolfram comes on in the 2nd half, scoring 17 points, as he and Reese Pribilsky close out their memorable careers in this championship competition.
Carleton’s attacking style wears down the Wolves, whose lack of depth inevitably caught up with them in this level of play.  The Ravens move on to the semi-finals on Saturday against Dalhousie, while TRU plays Friday at 5 pm  in a consolation match with Ottawa.     Box Score

 

Tigers steal Ottawa’s thunder with aggressive defense down the stretch

Richie Kanza-Mata and his Dal Tigers teammates use their pressure defense to edge the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Richie Kanza-Mata and his Dal Tigers teammates use their pressure defense to edge the Ottawa Gee-Gees.  photo Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Dalhousie 87  Ottawa  83  –  Two unusual sequences turn this game in Dalhousie’s favour: just before the half, and down by 7, the Tigers steal, and Jarred Reid hits 2 free throws on an intentional (clear-path?) foul, so Dal gets the ball as well. On the buzzer,  Jordan Aquino-Serjue makes a 3-point bomb, and it’s 52-50 !  Then in a  mini-run by the Tigers in the 2nd half, Ottawa turns it over 3 out of 4 trips, and Dal takes the 4 point lead mid-way through the 4th.

The pressure from a quick and determined Tigers team gave Ottawa fits as the game moved into the late stages, 24 trips to the line for 16 points gave the Atlantic champs the edge vs 5/10 for the Gee-Gees. Both teams shoot the ball well, with Dal at 50% and Ottawa 49% from the floor, as UO lives and dies with  the long ball (12/35).  Dal’s fast hands and faster feet produce 24 Ottawa turnovers , resulting in 31 Dalhousie points.
Ritchie Kanza-Mata closes strongly and racks -up 24 points to lead the Tigers, adding 4 assts/ 3 steals, while Kashrell Lawrence uses his power on the inside to score 14 / 6 rebounds / 4 steals.

The Ponies have Matt Plunkett hitting 5/10 from outside for 17 points, and Mike L’Africain, the CIS Player of the Year, scoring 16 / 3 rebs/ 7 assts. The Tigers play in Saturday’s 3 pm semi-final against the 5 time-defending champion, Carleton Ravens, while Ottawa go to the Consolation side vs Thompson Rivers at 5 pm Friday.
Box Score

 

Kapinga’s thievery leads to late heroics for Calgary over McGill

Calgary's defensive ace, David Kapinga, harasses McGill ballhandlers in a Dinos win Thursday in Vancouver.

Calgary’s defensive ace, David Kapinga, harasses McGill ballhandlers in a Dinos win Thursday in Vancouver.

Calgary  72  McGill  69 –  Tense.  This was the tough, tight game we anticipated, with defense controlling things much of the way, and deciding it at the finish as Calgary’s David Kapinga picked McGill’s pocket twice in the final minutes .  Free throws were also critical as Dinos shooters were 10/10 in the 4th quarter, including  2 by Thomas Cooper to give them the 3 point lead.
It was a physical game , with a lot of contact on drives to the hoop, and a little rolling around on the hardwood after loose balls.  McGill got off to a good start, hitting some pure treys by Jenning Leung, and getting strong rebounding early. Calgary’s 25 point 2nd quarter was the difference, in a game where hoops became more and more scarce.

The Dinos Thomas Cooper was shackled  for much of the game, but still snuck in 21 points, with 7/10 from the line.  The Redmen pressured Calgary’s 3 point shooters and allowed little open space out on the perimeter. The Dinos  hit only 5 treys vs 10 for the Reds, and that kept McGill out front for a good part of the 2nd half.
Calgary had 12 points from Johnny Verrone coming off the bench, and Kapinga scored 11/ 2 asst/ 4 steals. Cooper led their rebounding with 9, with Lars Schleuter and Matt Letkeman grabbing 5 each.

McGill were led by 19 from Dele Ogundokun / 5 res/ 4 assts, and 15 from Leung, with 5/10 from outside.   McGill had 19 turnovers and Calgary 17, in what was, at times, a very scrappy contest.  The Dinos pull one out with some stingy defense and good foul-shooting in the final minutes, and they move on to the 5:30 semi-final on Saturday, and the Redmen will play in the 5:00 consolation game Friday.  Box Score

 

On the brink, the Rams storm back for the OT win vs UBC

Coach patrick Taham and his Ryerson Rams 'snatched victory from the jaws of defeat' vs UBC in their Thursday Q-final.

Coach Patrick Taham and his Ryerson Rams ‘snatched victory from the jaws of defeat’ vs UBC in their Thursday Q-final.

 

Ryerson 109 –  UBC  101 –  Just when the UBC student section (with 2:10 left – far too early)  were suggesting in a loud chorus that the Ryerson Rams were ‘Over-rated’ ,  the T-Birds’ Conor Morgan fouled out,  the OUA champs dug deep, hit free throws, a lay-up off a steal, and a 3 pointer to take it to OT !
The Rams are now the attackers, and create the better chances in extra time, to pull out a classic win to continue their route to the semi-final.  UBC has to leave wondering how this could have happened, when they looked so solid in the early going, and made some clutch hoops early in the 4th to ‘dare to dream’ of the 8 – 1 upset !

Adika Peter-McNeilly paced the Rams with 25 points/ 9 rebounds, and both rugged, yet smooth guard, Ammanuel Diressa, and the late game hero, Jean-Victor-Mukama counted 19 apiece.  Ryerson won the battle on the boards 42-31, and out-shot the Thunderbirds 21/27 to 13/17 from the foul line. UBC’s David Wagner was dominant inside in the first 3/4s to score 22, but Ryerson defenders made it harder for him later in the going. Jordan Jensen-Whyte was also a stand-out for the ‘Birds, with 25 points on slashing drives and 8/9 from the line.
Ryerson won this game with some more intense interior defending, and opportunistic conversions off UBC misses toward the end of regulation.  It was a testimony to the resilience of a championship team, and they played their best when it counted most.
In the end they appear to have been rated pretty accurately ….

Ryerson, the OUA champions vs Calgary , the Canada West title winners, at 5:30 pm Saturday in the 2nd semi-final.  UBC plays McGill at 7 pm Friday in the late Consolation game.  Box Score


 

 

Overtime –

  • Headline of the week, in  ‘Kamloops This Week’ – ‘WolfPack draw Ravens; fan bus departs Thursday’ … details , “Fan buses will depart from Thompson Rivers University for UBC on Thursday morning, in advance of the Wolf  Pack’s tournament-opening matchup.  Buses will depart from the Campus Activity Centre at 7:30 a.m. For $20, fans receive a game ticket, transportation to the tournament, a t-shirt and pizza and pop for the return trip. Coffee will be available in the morning, from 7 a.m. until departure.”  Great work by TRU to get their fans to the game!
  • Dalhousie Coach Rick Plato , with confidence in his team, “If the Tigers claw their way into national semifinals, they’ll be making Dalhousie basketball history”, Plato said. “I think there is redemption on their part,” he said of his players. “Knowing how close they were to … for the first time ever, getting Dal to a national semifinal.”  (Lost to UVic 57-56 in round 1 last year).  “I believe in these guys,” Plato said. “They’re not the biggest, they’re not the fastest, they’re not the quickest, but as a group – they’re a pretty special team.” Simply put, Plato said, “if we play our game, we’re going to win.” From Kristen Lipscombe, Vancouver Metro News

CIS Final 8 Tips Off Thursday !

 

Connor Wood and the Carleton Ravens still have 'The Cup' until someone wrestles it away ! photo - Ravens Athletics

Connor Wood and the Carleton Ravens still have ‘The Cup’ until someone wrestles it away ! photo – Valerie Wutti, Ravens Athletics

1 pm (Pacific)  Quarter-final #1 –  Ravens on the way to another championship ?

#2 Carleton Ravens (OUA finalists) – The Ravens are  CIS champs for 11 of the past 15 years !  As such, there are many expert observers who suggest they are the team to beat again, here in Vancouver.  They lost a tight one to Ryerson, but that was at the Rams’ Carleton RMattamy Centre, and, if they were to see each other again in Sunday’s final this week, it’s on a neutral floor.
Meanwhile, they face another strong team in TRU, and it’s almost home turf for the ‘Pack, playing only a few hours drive from Kamloops.  With Interim Coach Rob Smart Jr. going 10 deep regularly, CU has experience, size, and the offensive pace and defensive intensity to take charge of a game very quickly.

Kaza Kajami-Keane is their floor leader at 6-1, and he’s a dynamic 2-way player, and a 1st team OUA all-star.
Guillaume Boucard, a 6-5 swing man, is  2nd team all-OUA, and 14.6 ppg / 5.5 rebs.
6-2 Gavin Resch, a senior leader, is a sharp-shooting guard,  with 10 ppg/ 45% from 3 pt range , while 4th year, Connor Wood is a big  6-4 guard, who has found  his shooting range of late, and can hit the open trey.
Carleton doesn’t figure to lose in the opening round, and should be considered a serious threat to ring up their 6th straight CIS title.

#7  Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack (Canada West finalists) – The Orange are breathing the rarified air this March, with their 1st appearance in a Canada West Final 4 and a trip to Nationals in their home province.  So, do they just ‘enjoy the trip’, or are they strong enough to stay with a team like the Ravens?

Coach Scott Clark had a veteran team, then added the muscular Ukrainian, Volodymyr TRU 'PackIegorov, to an already impressive set of forwards. Clark believes in this team, and has them playing extremely well, with a League record of 16-4, and win over UBC in  last week’s  CW Final 4. The Wolves are big, they shoot it well, and they have great court leadership from 5th year guard, Reese Pribilsky, and 6-11 ‘small-forward’ Josh Wolfram.

6-6 Gerard Gore has shown that he is ready to step up and fight it out inside with bigger opponents, and Iegorov has the size and strength to rebound and defend, but also the shooting touch from any range.
TRU will also need ‘best games’ from the likes of 6-5 Luke Morris and 6-2 rookie guard, Jeff Tubbs, if they are to keep it close.  Not an impossibility, but betting against the ‘Blackbirds’ is a ‘bum’s game’.


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Mike L’Africain, U. Ottawa’s OUA Player of the Year

3 pm (Pacific)  Quarter-final #2 –  Gee-Gees have the experience and the star-power

#3 Ottawa Gee-Gees (Wildcard team, 3rd in OUA) – The Gee-Gees have been vying with Carleton for Ottawa, OUA, and CIS honours for a few years now, and they’ve come up just short on many notable occasions. Coach James Derouin has one of the more experienced teams here, and will try and get the Ponies over that last hurdle with some outstanding seniors. Mike L’Africain was chosen the OUA player of the year,  can trigger a potent offense, and will hit the big shot.Ott G-Gs
Caleb Agada, the Gee-Gees’ all-Canadian forward,  missed 3-4 wks with an ankle injury, but has returned to form, and gives OU a cagey, tough, talented 2-way presence inside.  Agada is the top defender for Ottawa and the OUA defensive player of the year.
6-8, 4th year forward, Nathan McCarthy,  and 6-7, 2nd year, Brody Maracle   are ‘solid low post contributors’ (according to our Ottawa expert!) . Matt Plunkett is a 6-6 shooting wing man, who compliments L’Africain.

All three OUA teams are possible winners in this 2016 Final 8 Tourney, and they couldn’t be blamed for looking ahead to facing each other. Ottawa and Carleton, as they’ve done so many times recently, are on a collision course, with wins in the Q-finals, and we would flip a coin for that one.  But let’s give Dalhousie their due as AUS Champs, and don’t overlook them as a respectable opponent for the G-Gs.

Dalhousie Tigers (Atlantic Champions) – Dalhousie (according to our inside source in the Atlantic ) is a  … “tough,  quick, physical , and relentless squad. Nothing seems to phase them, and they seem to have been winning every close game in the AUS over the last season and a half .” Dal Tigers

Their Coach, Rick Plato, the AUS Coach of the Year, is in his 3rd season,  and took the Tigers to the Nationals  last year.  He was a CCAA Coach at Mount Saint Vincent for 25 years,  prior to joining Dal.

The Tigers change their defensive stripes throughout the game, with changeable alignments “ … including   3-2 and 2-3 zone,  full court 2-2-1 pressure , and a ‘kamakazie’ , denying, switching and trapping man defense they employ to disrupt and create turnovers in crunch -time.

Key players –  “ #22,  Kash Lawrence  is the  back to back AUS Tournament MVP , at 6’3”, he plays in the  paint with the shoulders of Dwight Howard ; he’s a great rebounder and finisher and tough as nails.”
“ #11 – Ritchie Kanza-Mata –  First Team AUS All Star,  and 2015 AUS Defensive Player of the Year; he  organizes his team and leads their pressure defense.”

“#7 – Sven Stammberger –  He is the most – improved player in the AUS this season, for sure;  had a 42 point game this year, and is their best 3 point threat from the ‘small-forward spot. “

“#12 – Jordan Acquino-Serjue, was the CEGEP MVP in 2015, and is AUS Rookie of the Year  this season. He is a solid defender and a  good pull- up jump shooter.”

The Tigers have had the ‘magic’ for the past 2 years in the Atlantic, but can they carry that into this tough match-up with an Ottawa team that was top-ranked going into the season last Fall, and who still look like contenders for the Championship here in March ?


 

Thomas Cooper, Calgary Dinos, Canada West's Most Outstanding Player photo- David Moll, UC

Thomas Cooper, Calgary Dinos, Canada West’s Most Outstanding Player photo- David Moll, UC

 

6 pm (Pacific)  Quarter-final #3 –  Two League champs with contrasting styles

#5 McGill Redmen  (Quebec League Champions) – Both Coach Dave Deaveiro, Cadet National Team Head Coach,  and RSEQ Coach of the Year, and some of his team have had experience in this Tournament. The Redmen played in the Final 8 in 2013 and 2014.
McGill is one of the best defensive teams in the country, employing a ‘grind- it- out’  style, McGill Redwith switching defences being a main weapon.  Our Eastern scout tells us , “ They’ll  do whatever they can to make opponents feel uncomfortable, including a 2-2-1 (full-court press) back to match-up 2-3 zone or man.”  Coach Deaveiro says, “It’s probably the deepest team I’ve had at McGill and probably the most athletic team, so we’re able to do a few things we haven’t done in the past.  It gives you some options for doing things, so you’re not as predictable.”
Key players –  #23, 6-4, 5th year, Vincent Dufort – RSEQ 1st Team All Star, “ … he’s their ‘point forward’, and can do everything.”  – 10ppg, 8rpg, 2nd on the team in assists – Team MVP !
#4 – Jenning Leung, 6-1, 3rd year – the point guard is the leading scorer , at 12 ppg, a solid 3pt. shooter.
#3 – Dele Ogundokun, 6-2, – RSEQ Defensive Player of the Year, he scores 10.5 ppg
#21 – Tychon Carter-Newman, a 6-3 guard, in his 5th year – A former Laurentian University stand out , he’s a strong presence on the wing.
#12 – Noah Daoust, 6-7, 230 – “Originally committed to the USA now a super-sub – 6’9″ and their best 3 point shooter – He finishes most games and is an X-factor for McGill.”

#4  Calgary Dinos  (Canada West Champions) –  Having won their last 16 CIS games, the Dinos have a lot  of momentum and confidence entering this Tournament.  Calgary has not played McGill, but had losses to Ottawa and UNB at Christmas, while the Redmen beat the Ponies and the Reds in October.

That lapse in time has seen Calgary Coach Dan Vanhooren solidify a substitution pattern Dinos14which has the Dinos going 10-11-12 deep in every game, with more players taking on significant roles week after week. UC has a ‘starting 5’  of  point, David Kapinga, combo guard, Josh Owen-Thomas, swing-man, Thomas Cooper, forward, Lars Schleuter, and post man Matt Letkeman.
From there, it’s a steady flow off the bench for, combo guard, Johnny Verrone,  guard/forward Jasdeep Gill, rookie guard, Torrez McKoy, forward, Dallas Karch, and post men, Mitch Ligertwood, Matt Ellis, and Connor Foreman.
Key players –  The 4th year import transfer, Cooper, leaps up, with his Canada West best scoring – 25.8 ppg, to go with 7.5 rebounds, and several timely assists each game. Schleuter , the Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2015, is a 3 point sniper (44.2%) who scores 12.5 ppg, and has become a solid defender inside, and an aggressive rebounder.   Kapinga, who grew up in Calgary then moved to Kentucky for part go high school, ‘walked-on’ last Fall, and has been a prime factor in the Dinos run, with his quickness and strength.
Calgary can score in bunches , and will test the vaunted McGill defense.  Two League champs teeing off, and we expect a very close, hard-fought quarter-final.


 

 

5th year wing man, Aaron Best, is a driving force for the OUA champion, Rams.

5th year wing man, Aaron Best, is a driving force for the OUA champion, Rams.                         photo – Ryerson Athletics

8 pm (Pacific)  Quarter-final #4 –  Can the host T-Birds knock off #1 Rams?

UBC Thunderbirds (Host, 16-4 in Canada West regular season) – The T-Birds last held this Tournament in 1972, when they won the Championship under Coach Peter Mullins, at War Memorial Gym.  In the 4 team event, the ‘Birds beat Acadia 87-80 in the final.  More recently, they have appeared in 2013, 2011, and lost in the Final in both 2010 (Saskatchewan), and 2009 (Carleton).  (You could say Coach Kevin Hanson is hungry for a title, after having knocked loudly on the door!)  UBC will be tough at home, although this is a ‘new arena’ setting, and not their cozy old War Memorial.UBC T-Bird
Key Players –  Jordan Jensen-Whyte is a 4th year wing man, who has ‘bulked-up’ from his days at the point. Leads ‘Birds scorers at 15 ppg (3.1 assts) with his attack -the -hoop style.
6-8, Conor Morgan, is a potential game breaker, who can score from anywhere … 14.8 ppg, he leads the rebounding at 7.3 rpg.
6-4 point man, Phil Jalalpoor, has stepped in this season and is the leading 3 point shooter (42.1%), and very efficient in running the offense.
6-8 post man, David Wagner, is a potent inside scorer, averaging 12.5 ppg / 5.5 rebs
The Thunderbirds key will be to make it a ‘ground game’ vs the speedier Rams, and to control the boards, allowing their attack to dictate the pace.

#1 Ryerson Rams (OUA Champions) –  In winning the Ontario Wilson Cup for the 1st time in their history, the Rams beat an extremely deep field of competitors, including the 5 -time defending CIS champs, Carleton, in the final . With their gaudy 89.3 ppg scoring average (tops in the OUA), the Rams will happily engage UBC in an offensive fireworks display!  The Rams have won 16 of 17 games (Guelph ?!) since the holiday break, and have played a very tough schedule in doing that. Unknown
Coach Patrick Tatham, the Ontario Coach of the Year,  goes 10-11 deep, with 5 players averaging in double figures, and they limit opposition teams to a 37% FG average at the defensive end.
Aaron Best leads the Rams’ scoring at 17.8 ppg plus 7.4 rebounds, and is an OUA 1st team all-star
Anika Peter-McNeilly is a 6-3 guard, who scores 15 ppg / 5.5 rebs, and is also a 1st team OUA all-star.
Ammanuel Diressa – a tough, 6-4  competitor at the guard spot, he’s a 2nd team All-OUA … averaging 14.9 ppg, 5.3 rebs, 3 assists.
Kadeem Green , at 6-8, is a defensive stopper in the middle … 7 rebs and 2 blocks a game
Their confidence is way up there, and they are primed to go deep in this year’s Final 8 Tournament.


Overtime –

 

  • UBC Thunderbirds’ Head Coach, Kevin Hanson, on the impact of hosting the CIS Nationals at UBC,  “When you think about it, it’s absolutely amazing that the last time the event was held at UBC was over four decades ago,” said Hanson, whose team sat at No. 6 in the national rankings this week. “That is a phenomonal amount of time to pass when you are trying to build a brand for CIS basketball in this country.  So we have to share our love of basketball … and the Final 8 is a tournament that needs to be shared.”  Nice story from Howard Tsumura in The Province. 
  • Ryerson Rams star, Aaron Best, after they win the OUA championship for the 1st time in school history.  ”It’s big for the university, it’s big for all of us, it’s big for the alumni, the players who’ve played here, it’s a testament to all the work that everybody’s put in,” said Best standing on the court post-game with the OUA banner draped around him. “Just to see this come to Ryerson and to win it this way
    Ryerson Coach, Patrick Tatham

    Ryerson Coach, Patrick Tatham

    is a really good feeling.”  From the ‘Eh Game’ – Yahoo Sports 

  • J-u-u-u-s-t in case there’s any confusion as to the goals / expectations of the #1 ranked Ryerson Rams going into this week’s CIS Championship, here’s Coach Patrick Tatham’s take on it, “I think the guys want a different colour medal, something other than the bronze medal we got last year at CIS finals,” said the interim head coach “The guys are hungry and they’re definitely ready to go.”  From The Star, Toronto
  • Torrez McKoy , Dinos rookie point guard, on the experience of playing in Nationals early in his career, “Just getting the opportunity to play as a rookie is really special and I don’t take it for granted either,” said McKoy. “It’s awesome how we have a group of guys where everyone can come off the bench and contribute. We don’t just have six or seven guys deep; we usually have 10, 11 guys. It’s hard not to feel the pressure because it’s everyone’s first time. But after that first couple of minutes from the first game, it’ll be easy from there.”  From Rita Mingo, The Calgary Herald

Canada West Pioneer – Nip and Tuck

 

 

Hammer and Tong in the Pioneer Division  Battle –

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 7.15.11 AM
The games are fiercely contested, largely competitive, and beginning to take a toll.  More players and teams are ‘sore, lame, hurting, fatigued’, or just flat-out injured, as we talk with coaches around the League. Last week saw leaps forward – by Winnipeg, with their 2 wins at home over Victoria, as the Wesmen hit 7-5;  by Alberta, who are now 7-6 after getting 2 much-needed road wins at Brandon; and by Calgary, who mix up their line-up, and throttle the short-handed TWU Spartans to stay in 1st place at 12-3.
We saw significant wins –  Regina, most notably, who won their 1st-ever game at UBC on Saturday, and sit at a tidy 8-4, in 4th place; Manitoba (9-5) on Saturday, getting a win in Lethbridge, and ‘calming the Herd’ after a disappointing Friday loss. We have to assume the ‘Pronghorns (7-5) were pleased with the Friday home win, but not so much on Saturday.
We have last year’s champs, UVic (7-7), staggering  back home after 2 more losses (at Winnipeg), and trying to steady the ship before the Thunderbirds visit this coming weekend.
And, painfully, we had both Brandon and Trinity Western remain winless, with 2 losses apiece.


Now That We’ve Decided First in the Explorer …

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 7.15.30 AM

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


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


‘Unsung Heroes Week’ –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some more noteworthy performances –

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


Overtime –   

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

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

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

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

10 ‘X-Factor’ Players in Canada West

 

 

10  X-Factor Players to Watch This Week –

Saskatchewan's 2nd year forward, Mack Burns. photo - Huskies Athletics

Saskatchewan’s 2nd year forward, Mack Burns.                      photo – Huskies Athletics

The leading scorers and rebounders have their names bandied about each and every week, but it is very often left to some lesser known team members to step up at opportune times, and make the difference.  Games turn on things like ‘points off the bench’, or a timely hoop, or key defensive play from a substitute.  Who are the ‘X-factor’ players we might see make the plays that turn a game around ?

Randall Mosca, UBC-O

Randall Mosca, UBC-O

> Brett Jewell, Manitoba –  A  6-7, 4th year forward, who is starting to assert himself on the inside for the Herd.  Averaging 7 ppg/2.8 rebounds, his numbers will likely go up as his self-belief increases week by week.
> Mack Burns, Saskatchewan – The 6-6, 2nd year forward from  Regina is showing flashes of his older brother, Connor, who was a rugged rebounding forward at U. Regina, then U of S.  Mack shoots it well, at 47% FG, and averages 6 points and 6.4 rebounds a game.
> Chris Maughn, Lethbridge  –  Averaging 7.3 ppg and 4.4 rebs, he shoots 54% from the floor. The 6-9, 3rd year post, can provide a lift in the heavy traffic zones, where the Pronghorns aren’t as deep as they may wish.
> David Kapinga, Calgary –  This 5-11 guard, who played his Jr. High and started HS in  Calgary,  uses his quickness to put max pressure on opponents ball handlers. His acceleration gets him into the lane on offense, as he tallies 8 ppg/ 3 rebounds.
>  Patrick Simon, UBC – The 6-8, 240 lb , 2nd year from Port Coquitlam, scores 7.2 ppg plus 5 rebounds in just under 20 minutes a game.  He has a nose for the ball, and the size to bump effectively on the inside.
>  Reiner Theil, Victoria –  This veteran does the ‘blue-collar’ work so essential to a team’s success.  He uses his 6-5 muscle to grab 7.5 rebounds a game, and can score from outside with a smooth 3 point stroke. The 5th year captain is a defensive stopper, and has the experience to lead his team.

MRU Cougars' Glen Yang

MRU Cougars’ Glen Yang

> Glen Yang, Mt. Royal –  The 2nd year guard from Calgary has a steady, all-round game, with the potential to raise his scoring numbers. He scores 9.5 ppg/ 3.5 assists/ 2.5 rebounds, and has the quickness to be a good perimeter defender.
> Gerard Gore, Thompson Rivers – This  6-5 wing from Antigua is a veteran player who flies ‘under the radar’  as a forward on this team.  But his 4.5 rebounds, and 5.5 ppg, while shooting 50% from the floor give an indication of his ability to contribute at key times.
> Randall Mosca, Okanagan –  A straight-up ‘gunslinger’, the slender 5-11, Mosca, a Calgary product, may average 10.4 ppg, but may go for 25 when he is on a roll.  On a team which has some challenge scoring-wise on occasion , the 3rd year guard can be ‘instant offense’.
> Tyler Anderson, Brandon –  This rookie forward is ‘learning on the job’, and he has made great progress according to his Coach Gil Cheung. The 6-7 Langley, B.C. native,  shoots 52% FG, scores 5 ppg/3 rebounds in 14 minutes a game .


 6  Games on the Prairies this week –  Canada West League Schedule

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 7.19.07 AMFeature Match-up –  UBC  (8-2)  at Manitoba  (7-3) –  The Bisons get a chance to take on the Division leading T-Birds in Winnipeg in  a match-up of the League’s 2 highest scoring teams.   The Bisons big men look poised to do battle with a strong group of T-Birds’ forwards.  Anders-Alexander-Jewell-Omoerah  vs  Wagner-Morgan-Simon-Ondrik.  Heavy-weights!

 

 Lethbridge  (5-3)  at Saskatchewan  (3-7) – The Huskies are not comfortable with their current record, and they need to get wins to jump back into the pack.  This is a pivotal series for both teams, and may be one that would be too close to call.  The ‘Dogs and ‘Horns are 3-3 over their last 6 games, having split 3 series in a row.

Victoria  (6-4)   Alberta  (4-5) –  Two traditional contenders in Canada West, the Bears and the Vikes are in a mass of teams gathered in a big scrum from 5th to 9th place.  Vic won all 4 games between these two teams last year, in regular season then the 1st round of the playoffs.  This is another ‘pick-em’ affair, with home court a U of A advantage, and the GB’s post depth a challenge for the Vikes.

Lars Schleuter, Calgary Dinos sharp-shooting 2nd year wing man. photo - David Moll, UC Athletics

Lars Schleuter, Calgary Dinos sharp-shooting 2nd year wing man.                                                    photo – David Moll, UC Athletics

Calgary  (8-3)   Brandon (0-8) – The last 11 meetings between the Bobcats and the Dinos have Calgary with a slim 6-5 advantage.  This is a prototypical ‘trap series’, with the Dinos among the leaders, and Brandon having their struggles to date.  Every road game, every game, period, is a big one in Canada West.

Thompson Rivers  (8-2)  at  MacEwan (5-5) –  One of the ‘Pack’s 2 League losses was in Kamloops at the claws of the Griffins, and TRU will be looking for some retribution in Edmonton this week.  The Explorer leaders are coming of their other loss, last weekend in Kelowna to the other 3rd place team, UBC-O.  Mac on a 3 game win streak.

Mitch Goodwin, Okanagan's veteran guard.

Mitch Goodwin, Okanagan’s veteran guard.             photo –  Greystoke- for UBC-O Athletics

at Mt Royal (3-7)   UBC- Okanagan (5-5) –  Home floor for MRU, in a battle of hopefuls for the 3rd playoff spot;  the Heat swept the Cougars in their November League games in Kelowna.  The MRU post men can be a load, as UFV discovered last week, but UBC-O have some increased confidence led by Berrios and Goodwin.  Expect low scoring, defensive clashes .

In B.C. –  at Fraser Valley (6-4)  UNBC (3-7) – the lone series West of the Rockies this weekend, and the Cascades and T’Wolves split their November set in Prince George.  UFV hopes to have a longer bench with guys recovering from illness and injury.  The ‘Wolves have never won in Abbotsford, and need to break this 3 game slide.

>  Regina, Winnipeg, and Trinity Western all get a bye this week. <


 
Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 5.11.42 PMA Scramble in the OUA ?

With every passing week, it appears more likely that the weekly rankings will be one of the ways in which a 3rd Ontario team gets selected to the CIS Nationals.   The wildcard spot won’t put 4 Canada West teams in play, and neither Quebec nor the Atlantic have had enough juice in this coaches’ poll to get more than one representative.  Ergo ….

 


CIS Scores from Wednesday  –
Ontario –  McMaster 93 at Waterloo 66 , at Ryerson 104 York 69 , Brock 91 at Laurier 67


 

Overtime –

Coach Eric Magdanz, MacEwan Griffins

Coach Eric Magdanz, MacEwan Griffins

  • Coach Eric Magdanz, MacEwan Griffins,  whose team is tied for 3rd spot in the Explorer Division, “ We think we can hang-in there with some of the ‘strong teams’.  We’ve been a bit slow in coming together, with some roster changes this season, then a few injuries.  I really feel the Wesmen (Holiday) Tournament allowed us to gel as a team, and we had a good weekend at UNBC.  This League, both our Division and the Pioneer, are so tight, and you have to be ready every series”, says Magdanz.   (The Griffs beat Manitoba in the fall, beat Brandon at Christmas, and had close losses to both Acadia and Lethbridge.