Top 4 Seeds Contest Canada West Championship in Saskatoon –
All four top seeds advanced to the Canada West Final 4 this past weekend, some with more drama than others; UNBC lost 2 straight , but handled themselves very well in a tough match-up against the T-Birds. Thompson Rivers ‘scared the chicken soup’ out of the # 1 Saskatchewan Huskies, before the ‘Dogs prevailed late in the 3rd game. The other two series showed more domination by the home team, as both UVic (vs Alberta) and UFV (against Calgary) demonstrated a decided edge in 2 game sweeps.
The defending champs, Alberta, are out, but all four of the qualifiers have plenty of recent experience in this Tournament finale. The ‘Birds have 2 titles in the past 5 seasons, and Saskatchewan 1, while Fraser Valley has been knocking on the door the past 3 seasons, and UVic the last 2. No advantage there, except the obvious ‘home court / home pressure’ for the Huskies.
Now, let’s take a quick look at several key players on each team, and the team statistics –
Canada West Final 4 – Facts and Figures – at U. Saskatchewan, Saskatoon
Semi-Finals, Friday, March 6 –
# 3 seed – Victoria Vikes vs # 2 seed – Fraser Valley Cascades – 6 pm Central
The Vikes – Cascades Match-up –
- Victoria is 6-0 against Fraser Valley in the last 3 seasons, the last time was in pre-season play in October 2014 at Victoria.
- The Vikes have played in the last 2 Canada West Finals, and gone on to the CIS Nationals. UFV played in Nationals in both 2012 and 2013.
- Both teams are strong defensively, and both are among the best rebounding units in Canada West.
- UVic has been the more consistent shooting team, but UVF has 6 players averaging double figures.
- UVic’s McLaughlin, the CW Most Outstanding Player, has been dominant, but can he do that against Jasper Moedt ? 6-10 vs 6-7 ….
- Is Marcus Tibb’s quickness negated by the defense of UFV’s Dom Brooks?
- Is Reiner Theil the defensive stopper that the Vikes need against Kevon Parchment? Nate Brown? Maybe Mack Roth has the size / quickness? ‘Big Nate’ has both, and is tough to handle.
- Who’s hot from outside ? Manny Dulay or Brooks for UFV ? Tibbs or Theil for UVic? Maybe the X-factor is the ‘Cades’ Vijay Dhillon! The 2nd yr. guard from Richmond, B.C., transferred from Victoria to Fraser Valley, and he may be hitting his stride just in time for a key playoff role.
- This should be the lower scoring Semi-Final, and it really is too hard to pick.
# 4 seed – UBC Thunderbirds vs # 1 seed – Saskatchewan Huskies – 8 pm “
The Huskies – Thunderbirds Match-up –
- UBC has won 7 straight vs U of S, including a sweep in League play in Vancouver in November.
- The T-Birds missed out on the Final 4 last season, while the Huskies beat UFV for 3rd, and went to Nationals.
- This game will be high scoring, we would guess. Lots of foul shooting. Physical. The paint will not be for the faint of heart ….
- Saskatchewan has been better from 3 pt. range – Collins, Trevor Severinski, Evan Ostertag, Mike Scott. UBC has Nixon, and Conor Morgan, bur Andrew McGuinness isn’t shooting as many ….
- UBC’s Tommy Nixon is the key to their fortunes – if he gets it rolling, gets it in the paint, and gets to the line, the T’Birds offense will fly high. He opens it up for everyone else.
- Saskatchewan will count on winning the rebound battle – Ben Baker, Connor Burns, Dadrian Collins, Matt Forbes, and crew need to beat UBC’s Nixon, Morgan, David Wagner, Tonner Jackson, and maybe even Brylle Kamen.
- Big test for UBC’s Jordan Jensen-Whyte; how will he respond to the ‘all-the-chips-on-the-table’ pressure against the Huskies’ import gunslinger, Scott.
- Both teams in the 80s … 90s ? Again, it’s too hard to pick, although many insiders (certainly not lowly outside observers like us) are leaning towards the Thunderbirds.
- For those basketball fans in the Calgary area, make sure you’re at the Fighting Tacos 15th Annual NCAA March Madness Party, in support of the Mt. Royal Cougars Team. The Tacos, a notable aggregation of ‘former greats‘ toil in the Calgary Sr. Men’s League. The team has 3 former Cougars, 2 former Dinos, a Huskie and even a Mount Allison guy! There’s usually a great turn-out, and a lot of fun watching / betting games, eating, drinking, and visiting. All the basics ! Tickets at the door – Richmond Pub – 3919- Richmond Rd. SW … Come as early as 11 am … evening festivities begin around 4 pm.
- Reflections from UNBC Coach, Todd Jordan, a few days after his T’Wolves were eliminated from the play-offs in 2 straight at UBC … “Looking at the season as a whole, the program took a pretty big step moving forward. It was the most successful season to date (in the CIS) and to make the playoffs and a quarterfinal is a pretty big accomplishment. UBC’s program, they were hot coming down the stretch. They have some very talented athletes and it was a good measuring stick for us. We gave them a good run and at the same time, going into War Memorial Gym, it was tough going in on their own turf. But we got the playoff experience.”