Change for MRU – hunting a play-off berth
As with many Canada West teams this season, the MRU Cougars have undergone significant changes. Gone is ace big man, Brett Layton, with his 16 ppg/ 9.5 rebounds. And graduated is solid combo guard, Derek Wolf.
Longtime Assistant Coach Tyler McVicar has also moved on. Coach Marc Dobell, now in his 14th year as the Cougs head man, moved MRU from a National Championship in the CCAA (2009) and eventually into Canada West in 2012. The program has been competitive, but never quite made the playoff grid in 5 seasons. Dobell suggests that he is looking at changes in a positive light this Fall. “We’ve tried things one way for some time, and I think we can embrace new ideas this season.”
The Cougars do have 7 players back who were in the rotation last year, including leading scorer, 6-5, 5th year import Josh Ross (16.6 ppg/ 9.9 rebs/3.6 assists/ 1.9 steals) , a ‘point forward’ kind of talent, with multiple skills and a competitive drive. Glen Yang (Calgary) a 6-3 combo guard who should be a double- digit scorer this year, and 5th year wing, Ryan Cunningham (Calgary), looks ready to up his offensive out-put as well. Noah Lewis (6-4, guard, Comox, BC) is another 5th year who will be expected to step into a bigger role. Wiande Kher (Calgary), a 6-6 wing man, has also been frustrated with injuries, but, “He is physically sound, and is moving very well”, according to Dobell. 6-7 3rd year, Nick Tancon (Comox, BC) will be ready to share the load up front.
There is enthusiasm for several new faces, including 4th year wing man, LJ Hegwood, who moves from SAIT, and, at 6-6, has the skill and size to be an impact player for Mt. Royal. Ben Kapinga, younger brother of David at UC, is a 5-10 guard who comes in ‘under the radar’. “We are impressed with Ben’s play”, says Dobell. “He is quick, and he makes good decisions with the ball.” 3rd year guard, Quinn Taylor, can shoot the ball, and Coach Dobell is pleased to see his progress after he red-shirted with an injury last year. Kristian Zjak is a skilled and eager Australian import who is expected to get time at the forward spot.
Cougars Last year – 8-12 … fall short in too many close games. Prognosis – the roster turnover brings fresh hope, and they should be right in the play-off hunt.
“This is the Year”, vows Lewis
Noah Lewis is now in his 6th year attending Mt. Royal University, and, in his 5th season of eligibility, he and his teammates are determined to make this a play-off year for the Cougars. “We are not content”, says the Vancouver Island ‘import’. “The team dynamic this Fall is really good; we want to make it to the play-offs together.”
Lewis wants to help this team as a senior leader, and suggests, “I’ll do what it takes to contribute to the team success, My role may change within the system, but that’s good with me, and I think we are togther as a team in wanting to move forward.” The consistent hard work, and the acceptance of change are something Noah embraces in this final year on this team. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time. I love being a part of the team, and I know I’m going to miss it when it’s over”, he says.
Lewis will leave Mt. Royal with a Health / Phys Ed Degree, and says he wants to ‘work with athletes’. That may be in strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, or even Sports Medicine. ” It’s been such an amazing time in Calgary, and it’s come to feel more like home. I’ve had so many different teammates and forged long-term relationships with some great people”, he declares. “I’ve loved competing at such a high level, and to associate with such a great bunch of teammates and coaches.”
Noah Lewis will likely not be among the top scorers in Canada West. But, if the desire he shows for team success in this his final season is any indication, one can expect his Cougars to have a very positive run at a play-off spot come February. “I’m excited for this season with this group of guys”, he says. Go Cougars !
at McMaster 72 UBC-Okanagan 68 OT … break out game for transfer Aloysius Callaghan (Calgary) who hangs up 25 points in a good team effort on the road.
at Saskatchewan 105 Briercrest 49 … Lawrence Moore and Emmanuel Akintunde score 20 apiece for the Huskies
at Lakehead 90 Winnipeg 83 … Billy Yaworsky scores 18 pts / 12 rebs for the Wesmen, with Narcisse Ambanza chipping in 15 points.
Friday games –
Guy Vetrie Memorial at Victoria … Carleton – Concordia, Vikes vs Guelph
All games on Canada West TV
Winnipeg at Lakehead – on OUA TV
UBC-O at Toronto
UNBC at Mt. Royal
In the East – at McMaster Laval, Queens at Bishops, Seneca Coll at Nipissing, Memorial at Brock, and in the Eric Garland Tourney in New Brunswick … Cape Breton – UQAM , and Saint Marys – New Brunswick