T’Wolves Working to Climb the Ladder

 

Who can step up for the Timberwolves?

Every team graduates top players, and UNBC will be looking for the leadership and 16 ppg which left with Rhys Elliott, the Aussie sniper.  Another loss is the injury absence of forward Austin Chandler, who could have been expected to play solid minutes.

Coach Todd Jordan knows it’s a challenge to compete in a “ tough Canada West League”.  “Many teams have had significant changes, but we are always working to move ahead”, says the 8 year head

Veteran forward Vaggelis Loukas, photo  UNBC Athletics

man. “I think we have some ‘old school’ inside men with some experience, who are joining us this season. We think we’ll be more combative, and tougher to play against.”

UNBC has potential leaders like 5th year guard, Marcus MacKay (Terrace, BC), the leading returning scorer at 12.5 ppg and  Jesse Mushiana (Vancouver) is a 4th year, 6-7 forward with some moves inside.  Point man James Agyeman , 4th year (Brampton, ON) is lightning quick, and import forward, Vaggelis Loukas (Athens, Greece) is a 6-5, 4th year battler at forward.

After a red-shirt year in ’16-’17, ‘Vova’ Pluzhnikov, a 6-1  Ukrainian import, is expected to be new floor leader for the ‘Wolves. 6-5, 4th year, Jovan Leamy (Toronto), transfers from Ryerson with the size and  experience to give the T’Wolves a boost. He will be available to play in early November (1 year after leaving the Rams program).

These elements need to all come together if this UNBC team can climb into playoff contention.  Since his days as a player with his hometown team back in the early 2000s, Coach Jordan has been pouring his every effort into building this program. He believes, “We will be more intense, more consistent, and physically tougher .”

Timberwolves last year – 4-16  … a long way up   Prognosis – The ‘Wolves will have to fight to get to .500, but, with so many re-building teams, this may be the year to move up.

 

UNBC has been ‘amazing’ for MacKay

After learning the game from his Dad, Cam, Head Coach at Caledonia High School (Terrace, BC),  Marcus MacKay moved to Prince George to play at UNBC.  Since that freshman year, the 6-4 guard has come into his own, with 28, 26, and 25 point games last season. “Now, I have to get more consistent”, says a determined Mackay. “No more following up with a 5 or 6 point  effort the next night.”

Marcus MacKay, 5th year guard, UNBC     photo – Timberwolves Athletics

Playing at UNBC means you’re ‘the biggest game in town’, and Marcus says “it’s been incredible” to have the big crowds, the enthusiasm, and the support from the Timberwolves faithful. “Many times it’s packed, it’s loud, and it’s a big thrill for us to play in front of our crowd.”  The community gets involved in supporting the team, from hiring players to summer jobs, to sponsoring athletes and the team for travel expenses.

Acknowledging how “5 years has flown by so quickly”, MacKay says, “I’m aiming to be the hardest working, to play more physically, to focus as a team leader, and inspire confidence in my teammates.”  After searching for a ‘perfect major’, Marcus is now aiming at an Education program to finish up at UNBC.  He is excited to now be following in the footsteps of his two parents, who both teach in Terrace. “I’m not sure where I want to teach”, he says. “But that’s what I know I want to do.”

Marcus is wanting to make his final season with the ‘Wolves one to remember, and he just wants to let the game ‘come to him’.  Not so much about firm personal goals, but more focused on the team process, and advancing the common cause.

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Saturday scores – 

In Victoria …  Carleton 99 Victoria 61 ,  Concordia 94  Guelph 61

UNBC  beats  Mt. Royal  , Seattle Mountaineers at Trinity Western,  Lethbridge  110 Lethbridge Coll. 67, Western 116 UBC-O  52 , Windsor 92  Centennial Coll 68, Acadia 101 Holland Coll 73 , McMaster 92  Memorial 77

Saint Marys 79  Cape Breton 60,  UNB 79  UQAM 77  … UNB Tourney

Hanson and Vanhooren Lead FISU Team

 

UBC Coach, Kevin Hanson, will be the head man for the FISU Games team this summer.
(PHOTO: Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography)

Canada West Coaches Guide Universiade Squad

The two longest- tenured Canada West head coaches (17 years each) will team-up to lead this summer’s Canadian team to compete in the FISU Games in Taipei, Taiwan from August 19-30.  The team’s Head Coach will be Kevin Hanson, UBC, and Assistant coaches are Dan Vanhooren, U. Calgary, along with Jacques Paiment Jr., Laval U. (Quebec City).

The Universiade  is staged every two years , and consists of 14 compulsory sports and up to 3 optional sports chosen by the host country.  After a Silver medal in Men’s Basketball in 2011, Canada has been 4th in both 2013 and 2015, qualifying for the medal round in each of these last 3 Universiades.

Coach Hanson will be coaching his 4th FISU Games team, having won a bronze in 2003, fifth-place  in 2005 and that silver with the 2011 squad.  “It’s a real honor to be able to represent Canada at the FISU games. It’s absolutely an incredible experience and a life-long memory for the players and the coaching staff”, says the T-Birds mentor.  This is Coach Vanhooren’s 1st assignment for a Canada team, and he says, “ … to be part of a games that size is a wonderful experience and any time you get a chance to represent your country, it’s something you have to do. I’m looking forward it.”

 

‘Local Heroes’  Highlight Recent Signings

Thompson Rivers –  Coach Scott Clark has inked 3 B.C. high school stand-outs for the

Tyus De Vries and father, Greg.    photo- Nelson Star

coming season, and one name stands out as being very familiar to long-time Canada West followers.  Tyus De Vries is a 6’4” shooting guard from Sardis Sr. Secondary (Chilliwack, BC), and the son of Greg De Vries, who won 2 CIS Nationals with the Alberta Golden Bears (1991-96).

With his Dad coaching him from youth basketball through to his 30 ppg senior year at Sardis, Tyus learned from a 2-time CIS All-star, and he has skills beyond his scoring.  Dad says, “Tyus is taller and stronger than I was at his age … he is a better rebounder … he played against tougher competition than I had (at L.V. Rogers, Nelson, BC).

Coincidentally, Coach Clark has also signed 6-8 Jon Steele (GW Graham Sec, Chilliwack), who was a teammate of De Vries’ withe the Trans-Canada Club team.  “He is quite a mobile kid, good frame on him with good skills and play with his back to the basket,” says Clark, who also cautions, of course, that , “ All of those things need to be refined, but he has the potential of being a good player.”

The Wolf Pack also welcome their previously announced local star, Devin Halcrow (Nor-Kam Sr Sec, Kamloops) , who at 6-7 + , looks like a mobile big man with speed and 3-4 skills.  When Coach Clark calls him “ … a good basketball player”,  it means the veteran mentor is excited about Halcrow’s future with the Pack!

Update –  TRU has also added a ‘pass-first point guard’ in Nolan Willett, who, although a Canadian citizen, played his high school (Junipero Serra HS, San Juan Capistrano, CA)  and 1 college year ( Hancock Coll., Santa Maria, CA)  in the U.S.  After having checked out several othe U-Sports and Canada West schools, the 6-1 Willett was most impressed with TRU, the city, and futire Wolf Pack team members.  Says Coach Clark,  “He wants to get his teammates involved. He has played a high level—both in high school and the junior college. His background is good.”

 

Matt (12) and Nick Bernhard (14) are the latest local high school stars to sign with the Regina Cougars.

Regina –  The 6-6 Bernhard brothers, Nick and Matt, (LeBoldus HS, Regina) have been a big part of the Golden Suns’ 4 City and 3 Provincial championships.  Their all-round games have UR Cougars’ Coach, Steve Burrows, “ … excited about their potential.”   Burrows likes their veratility, with both scoring 15+ ppg and being consistent rebounders. Nick and Matt join 4 other Le Boldus grads who are on the current Cougars roster … Benjamin and Samuel Hillis, Carter Millar, and Brayden Kuski.

Trinity Western –  The Spartans sign 6-4 Abbotsford, BC product, Levi Leyenhorst (Credo Christian HS) ,  who was a B.C. ‘A’ Tournament all-star the past 2 seasons.  Coach Aaron Muhic also lands a couple of experienced transfers;  Ethan DeSilva is a multi-talented ‘buzz-saw’ guard, who played for 2 seasons at Briercrest, where he posted 7.4 assts/game, which was 2nd in the whole CCAA.  The Calgary (W. Aberhart HS) product can score in the double digits and is a noted ball-hawk.

Steve Sesink, at 6-8, 240 lb, has an obvious appeal, but will have to get back into playing mode following an 8 year hiatus from competition, after he had 1 season at King’s Univ., Edmonton. Coach Muhic has confidence, however, as he suggests “ “Steve will be a joy to coach and will provide toughness, hustle and rebounding.”

More signings – 

Ben Kornelson is a key transfer at a forward spot for the Heat.      photo – Briercrest Athletics

UBC-Okanagan –  Another 2 year star transferring from Briercrest is 6-7 Ben Kornelson, who returns to the Okanagan, where he lived in Armstrong , BC, and played with the Heat JR Program while in high school.  Kornelson was the team MVP at Briercrest this past season.  Coach Peter Guarasci had previously announced 6-10 Owen Keyes (Kelowna Sec.) and 6-4 Jake Stokker from Penticton Sr. Sec.

UNBC – Coach Todd Jordan added a seaoned BC Colleges transfer in 6-6 Jesse Mushiana, a 4th year coming from 2 seaons at Langara College and one at Capilano.  The self-described “big-bodied’ player is a welcome addition to the T-Wolves, who are looking for added height/size to win more battles on the inside this coming season.

Winnipeg –  Wesmen signee, Don Dayrit, is a proven scorer as a 6-0 guard at Sisler HS (Winnipeg), and was the MVP as his team won the 2016 Wesmen Classic Tournament.  He was ranked as one of top 5 high school grads in Manitoba this year.