‘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. 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 !)
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.
Alberta 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.
#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.
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.
Regina 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
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.
- 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