Bisons Hit Re-start

 

 

Graduations Leave Manitoba With Young Roster

“We are really young,” exclaims Kirby Schepp, the lead Bison in the Herd.  This is indeed a group of fresh new faces for Manitoba, after seeing the graduation of starters, Keith Omoerah, A.J. Basi, Ilarion Bonhomme, and Brett Jewell, along with strong forward Jonathan Alexander.

Justus Alleyn, Bison’s CW All-star guard.       Photo – Bisons Athletics

The Brown and Gold return Justus Alleyn, a 6-3 guard who led team scoring at 17.4 ppg, and hit 43% from beyond the arc.  But a practice injury has taken veteran forward, Malik Irwin, out for the season, and other troubles have kept several players out of the early season roster.  Can you say, ‘overhaul’?

New challenges for Coach Schepp to be sure, but he is nothing if not enthusiastic. “I’m excited about our freshmen, and couple of red-shirts who can step in now and get in the roatation,”  says the 9 year head coach.

‘We certainly have a fast developing forward in James Wagner,” ( 6-7, 2nd year, Winnipeg), says Schepp, “ but 6-7 red-shirt forward, Cameron O’Hara, is also a  big body inside, and he’s going to help us defensively.”  He also mentions Wyatt Tait, a 6-6 rookie from Winnipeg, and 6-1 Rikki Zimbakov, another local product.  These 2 were rated 1 and 2 in the group of graduating high school players in the province.

The Bisons added Rashawn Browne (Toronto), a point man entering his 3rd year, after playing at both New Mexico State and California U. (Pittsburgh). Browne is expected to be the floor leader on the U of M offense.

Bisons last season 12-8   … Finalists in Canada West … Prognosis –  Tough to match that with so many new recruits –  may have to scramble for a play-off spot.

 

Back to Canada for Bisons new lead guard

U of M transfer, Rashawn Browne, in action at New Mexico State

In high school, Rashawn Browne played at Eastern Commerce in Toronto, then in the GTA Prep League while at Bill Crothers Sr. Secondary in Markham. In a tournament in the U.S. with his club team, he played well against a strong AAU team which included future NBA star, Jamil Okafor,  and  Rashawn was approached by New Mexico State. ‘I red-shirted there, then with injuries and coaching changes I moved on to Pennsylvania, “ says Browne.  Pointing out that he is not a ‘basketball gypsy’, the 3.5 GPA student says, “I was just not happy with the way things were run in the U.S.  It was more like a business, with the coaches trying to protect their jobs. Here at Manitoba, the other players are very friendly; we support each other, and Coach Schepp and his staff are interested in our doing well in our classes as well as on the court.  It’s just more fun here.”

The ‘pass-first’ point man suggests he is happy to have Justus Alleyn to pass to, and happy to have James Wagner as a skilled forward.  ‘I’m excited to be part of this program, and to be playing with this group of guys”. Coach Schepp says, “Rashawn is a solid floor leader; he’s the real deal!  He shows a very high basketball IQ, and he’s also got a calm demeanour when the action heats up.  He’s a quality young man, and we think he will be a great addition to our team.”

Pursuing a Business degree and looking forward to wearing the Bisons colours in his first game next week in a home tournament,  Rashawn starts a very new chapter in his young life.  This may well be the classic case of opportunity meeting solid preparation, and the Herd looks to have a most capable new on-court leader.

______________________________________________________________

UVic hosts the Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament this weekend.

Canada West Pre-season picks up this coming weekend

Teams are ‘breaking the huddle’ and taking to the court against someone other than their own teammates this week.  We build towards the Annual Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament at Victoria, where Coach Craig Beaucamp and the Vikes will host the defending champions of everything, the Carleton Ravens, along with the Guelph Gryphons, and the Concordia Stingers.

The Okanagan Heat make a trip East to  play OUA teams, and Winnipeg have their annual ‘holiday trek’ to Thunder Bay to play a pair with the ‘Wolves. Coach Todd Jordan and his  UNBC T’Wolves make a 3 game swing through S. Alberta.

the schedule –

Thursday, Sept. 28 – UBC-O at McMaster

Briercrest College at Saskatchewan,    Winnipeg at Lakehead

Friday, 29th    – at UVic … Carleton – Concordia, Vikes vs Guelph

Winnipeg at Lakehead,   UBC-O at Toronto,    UNBC at Mt. Royal

Saturday, 30th     – Carleton – Victoria, Guelph-Concordia (at UVic)

UBC-O at Western Ontario,   Seattle Mountaineers at Trinity Western

UNBC at Mt. Royal

Sunday Oct 1  – Victoria vs Concordia, Guelph vs Carleton (UVic)

UNBC at Lethbridge

___________________________________________________________

Overtime –

Canada West weekend results –   Seattle Mountaineers 77  Fraser Valley 74          UBC-O  94  Vancouver Island U.  88

OUA –  York 107 Centennial Coll. 61, York 80  G. Brown Coll. 64, St. Clair Coll. 85  Western Ont. 73

UVic and UBC Are Traditional Powers

Marcus Tibbs controls the pace for the Vikes.

Marcus Tibbs controls the pace for the Vikes.

 

Vikes Aim High, Despite Losses

The Victoria Vikes, under Coach Craig Beaucamp, have been to the Canada West Final 4 and CIS Nationals each of the past 2 seasons, and posted a combined 43-16 record in League and playoff games.   Their high scorer and driving force from those teams, forward Terrell Evans (18.1 ppg, 7 rebs, 1.5 steals) has graduated along with key back-ups, forward Ryan Erikson, and guard John Woldu.  They also saw combo 2nd year guard Kyle Peterson transfer to Lethbridge.V Vike

“ We’ll certainly miss those guys”, says Beaucamp. “We know we’ll be trying to put together some key pieces to the puzzle in the early season.”  As a good starting point, Victoria has 5th year, 6-10  Chris McLaughlin back in the post with his 15 ppg, 8.2 rebounds, and .595 FG%, and he will have an able partner in transfer Grant Sitton, a 6-9 import forward from Vancouver , Washington, who played 2 years at Clackamas (Oregon) Junior College. “Grant has the skill set to play from the perimeter to the hoop, and he will help us right away”, said Coach Beaucamp.

Reiner Theil is a workhorse for Vikes Coach, Craig Beaucamp

Reiner Theil is a workhorse for Vikes Coach, Craig Beaucamp

Another veteran on the front line is rugged defender, Reiner Theil who logged 30+ mins/game, scored 7 ppg, and snared  4.8 rebs.  Coming off the bench at the forward spots will be 6-6 Mack Roth, a 4th year 7 ppg scorer,  6-7 rookie Hayden Lejeune (Sardis Sec., Chilliwack, B.C.),  6-6 Justin Kinnear, a transfer from Vanier College (Montreal), and 5th year transfer from Bishop’s U. (Quebec), 6-4 Jeremy Leonard-Smith.

Returning to the point guard spot is 4th year import, Marcus Tibbs (Seattle, WA), who averaged 8 ppg and 3 assts in 15 League games last season.  A much-heralded arrival from Scarborough, ON via Dalhousie U. in Halifax is 2nd year, 6-3 combo guard, Hassan Abdullah, who “will take some time to adjust to our system of play, but will definitely be a very good player for us”, according to Beaucamp.

2nd year returnees Patrick Pilato (St. Catherine’s, ON), Jordan Charles (Duncan, B.C.), and Junior Sesay (Winnipeg) will all be working hard for added floor time as the pre-season progresses.  Kai Greene, a 1st year, 5-10 import from Seattle, is a young player, who will, as a young rookie, be eased into the playing rotation as he develops.

UVic will be the site of this week’s  (Oct. 3-5) early pre-season highlight competition for the CIS, as they host the Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament featuring the reigning ‘Kings of Canadian University Basketball’, the Carleton Ravens, along with the defending Canada West champs, the Alberta Golden Bears, and the Bishop’s Gaiters, who should be strong in the Quebec League.  Their pre-season continues with a game against Fraser Valley on October 19, then a trip to Saskatoon for the U of S’ Graham Shootout vs the Huskies, the MacEwan Griffins, and Nipissing Lakers, 2 new teams to the CIS.

The Vikes have been the top defensive team in Canada West for the past 2 seasons with 68.8 points against in 12-13, then a remarkable 61.1 PA in 13-14, and Coach Beaucamp and his staff will be tasking this ‘new team’ to buy into those same principles. “We may take awhile to establish a firm grasp of our way of playing with the newer guys, and we’re hoping we are as competitive as we’ve been in recent years”, says the 12th year Head Coach, who has a 145-66 League record (68%).  Vikes fans can have confidence in Beaucamp, who is a 5 time winner of the Canada West Coach of the Year award, and has won it the past 3 seasons.

The Canada West season starts with 2 home games vs the Regina Cougars, then 2 at UBC, 2 at Saskatchewan, and 2 at home vs Alberta, which makes for a rugged opening half.  At Christmas, the Vikes will, once again, return to Santa Barbara, CA for a pair of games with Westminster College (Utah) and Westmont U. (CA).

 

 

Thunderbirds Loaded With Power

 

Tommy Nixon leads a determined group of T-Bird vets.

Tommy Nixon leads a determined group of T-Bird vets.

A quick perusal of the UBC roster has their depth at the forward spots standing out immediately;  the power game favoured by Coach Kevin Hanson should flourish with 5th year posts Tonner Jackson and Brylle Kamen who combined for 12.3 rebs and 19 .1 ppg last year, and will likely top that in 2014-15.  The robust forward,Tommy Nixon, another ‘Bird in his final Canada West season, led UBC in both scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounds (6.4 ) in their 11-11 campaign last year. “We have a lot of size and …  guys that play inside and out. I think … that will cause matchup problems.  The bigs are real competitive players that like to play physical.”,  said Hanson

With the return of 6-8 Conor Morgan from a season off with a leg injury, and the addition of the promising 6-9 , 1st year Australian import, Daniel Sutcliffe, the T-Birds front-line gives hope  for a shot at the top rung this time around, rather than scrambling for a playoff spot.  “Daniel Sutcliffe has looked good so far and should be able to help us right away with our depth.  (He’s a) good rebounder, and a good defender with soft touch.  He was a track athlete … growing up so runs well, ” says the veteran coach, now in his 15th year at UBC.

Harpreet Randhawa, a transfer from Douglas College last season, who provided some valuable minutes with injuries hurting the post rotation, is listed as a red-shirt this year. Coach Hanson tells us that highly-touted rookie, Mindy Minhas (Sir W. Churchill, Vancouver), and 4th year guard, Bret MacDonald will also be red-shirts.  ubc copy

A trio of returning back-court players, including 2nd year Kedar Wright, a 6-2 combo guard (40.2% from 3 pt), Jordan Jensen – Whyte, a big point man at 6-5, and 5th year shooter, Andrew McGuinness (9.5 ppg) can be expected to provide the leadership on the perimeter. A pair of 1st year guards who bear watching are Stefanos Fasianos, a 6-4 shooting guard, a native of Greece who played high school ‘ball in Illinois,  and Elijah Campbel-Axson, a 6-0 point from Vancouver College.

UBC’s Fall schedule includes their own tournament on October 17-18, where they host the OUA’s Western Mustangs and Windsor Lancers.  On Oct. 24-25, the T-Birds are at the Laurier Hawks Tournament, where they face Waterloo, Laurier, and Guelph.

Conor Morgan's return gives UBC added power up front.

Conor Morgan’s return gives UBC added power up front.

The 1st half of the Pioneer Division schedule (UVic at UBC, at Alberta, at Winnipeg, Saskatchewan at UBC) is a tough one, and, as Coach Hanson suggests, “We have to be ready to play and be ready to play well, right out of the gates. Three of the first four teams we play represented Canada West at the National Championships last year and Winnipeg was right there with those teams.”   Hanson emphasizes the determination of his team this year, “We had our struggles last year so there is a lot of emotion behind this year’s team (coaching staff and players)”.

The Christmas Holiday brings a welcome Hawaii trip, with games scheduled against Chaminade, Hawaii-Pacific, and the Hawaii Selects (a ‘pro-am team’).  Hanson has a 75% winning mark in his first 14 seasons at Point Grey, and a good prediction might be to see a return to that kind of form with this 2014-15 squad.

 

Overtime –

  • Games in the UVic Guy Vetrie Memorial will be broadcast on Canada West-TV.  The Friday schedule has Carleton and Bishops tipping off at 6 pm Pacific, and Victoria vs Alberta at 8 pm Pacific.  Saturday – 4 pm – Alberta -Bishop’s, and 6 pm – the Vikes meet the Ravens.  Sunday’s games- Alberta and Carleton go at Noon, and Victoria plays Bishop’s at 2 pm.MRU
  • Among other pre-season games this weekend, the MRU Cougars will play 3 games in the ‘Alberta Showcase’ in Edmonton on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday;  MacEwan plays 1 game there Thursday, then buses over to Prince Albert, SK for a game with the Saskatchewan Huskies on Friday.   Trinity Western travels to Kingston, Ontario to play in the Queen’s Tournament vs McGill, Guelph, and the Golden Gaels.
  • More games this week – Friday: UFV vs Kwantlen, Winnipeg at Lakehead, Seattle Mountaineers at UBC, Okanagan at Lethbridge.  Saturday:  Seattle M’s at Fraser Valley, Winnipeg at Lakehead, UBC-O at Lethbridge. Sunday – Vancouver Island U. at UFV.
  •  The Brandon Bobcats  brought four Americans into ‘try-out camp’ this Fall, and, Head Coach Gil Cheung , cut point guard Ilarion Bonhomme, one of his mainstays for the past several seasons at BU. The CIS limits teams to 3 imports, and the difficult decision fell to Cheung, who obviously felt he needed some changes in his team make-up.