Canada West Basketball Announces Future Format Change
The Canada West Board of Governors has a new format planned for basketball scheduling / league alignment starting in the 2016-17 season. With the 11 Pioneer and 6 Explorer format entering it’s 2nd and final season this coming Fall, the League appears to have found reasons to make a wholesale change.
There was dissatisfaction with the separation of ‘newer’ schools, and the exclusion of these teams from a wider playing schedule. The Athletic Directors, faced with the 17 team landscape and all the travel ramifications, have been grappling with any number of
proposed changes, but have found it very tough to find an equitable, workable, and cost-considerate scheduling plan.
“The majority of members wanted a different format, so we spent six months going through a lot of options for schedules,” Canada West President Ian Reade (U of Alberta, Athletic Director) said. “We were able to go through a collective problem- solving process to get to a format, and come together on this one. This allows us to guarantee that traditional and geographic opponents will have the opportunity to play each other annually, while eliminating the perception of having two tiers within the conference.”
Reaction was generally positive around the League, with these comments from UVic’s Craig Beaucamp reflecting a common theme, “There are myriad options for a conference this size, and this was the best of them,” said Beaucamp. “It’s not perfect. But you can’t be balanced with so many teams spread from B.C. to Manitoba, so you have to be creative. There’s a lot of give and take in maintaining the traditional rivalries while trying to rotate in all the other teams.” (From the Victoria Times-Colonist.)
The 2016 -17 scheduling ‘proposal’ is a bit of a challenge to describe in simple terms –
- It does bring all 17 schools together in one League.
- It does not, however, have every school playing every other school in every season (This is a cost / travel time decision). Rather, each school will have 4 ‘traditional’ rivals, who they will meet each season – 2 games each = 8; they also play 6 of the remaining 12 schools in that season – 2 games x 6 = 12. So, a 20 game regular schedule. (In the following year, you play the same ‘Annual Opponents’, then play the other 6 schools of the remaining 12.
- There are a few ‘oddities’ when we look at several of these schools’ ‘traditional opponents – Mt. Royal has Manitoba and MacEwan ? MacEwan gets Lethbridge and Winnipeg ? (But everybody needs dance partners … so there they are !)
ANNUAL OPPONENTS BY SCHOOL –
Alberta – Calgary, Lethbridge, MacEwan, Saskatchewan
Brandon – Regina, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Winnipeg
UBC – UBC-Okanagan, UNBC, Trinity Western, Victoria
UBC-Okanagan – UBC, Fraser Valley, Thompson Rivers, Victoria
Calgary – Alberta, Lethbridge, Mount Royal, Saskatchewan
Fraser Valley – UBC-Okanagan, UNBC, Thompson Rivers, Trinity Western
Lethbridge – Alberta, Calgary, MacEwan, Mount Royal
MacEwan – Alberta, Lethbridge, Mount Royal, Winnipeg
Manitoba – Brandon, Mount Royal, Regina, Winnipeg
Mount Royal – Calgary, Lethbridge, Manitoba, MacEwan
UNBC – UBC, Fraser Valley, Thompson Rivers, Trinity Western
Regina – Brandon, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg
Saskatchewan – Alberta, Brandon, Calgary, Regina
Thompson Rivers – UBC-Okanagan, Fraser Valley, UNBC, Victoria
Trinity Western – UBC, Fraser Valley, UNBC, Victoria
Victoria – UBC, UBC-Okanagan, Thompson Rivers, Trinity Western
Winnipeg – Brandon, MacEwan, Manitoba, Regina
- Questions class ? Well, of course ! Playoffs – The top 12 teams make the playoffs, with the top 4 teams getting a round 1 bye. Round 1 is Best of 3 (12 at 5, 11 at 6, 10 at 7, 9 at 8) with winners traveling to play at one of the top 4 seeds in Round 2, also Best of 3. The 3rd playoff week has the traditional Final Four at the highest remaining seed.
- What about ‘strength of schedule’ – impertinent question ! “All teams are competitive … it all evens out … we wind up with the best 4 teams in the Final Four. “ More on this topic later, no doubt.
- Quite frankly, this is a very good try at a very tough scheduling challenge. It does mean that you may not see the ‘attractive, traditional powers’ every year (Just every 2nd year). But it might mean that there will be a development of a more balanced competitive structure. Who knows ?
- Let’s use the Calgary Dinos as an example – They play Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Lethbridge (long term traditional rivals) every year, as well as the cross-town (natural rivals) Mt. Royal Cougars every season. So, in year 1 we get these teams either at UC or Away. Then in year 1, let’s say, we play UBC, Fraser Valley, UBC-O, Regina, Winnipeg, Brandon (2 games, either home or away). In Year 2, we have the Bears, ‘Horns, Huskies, Cougars … then UVic, Trinity, Thompson Rivers, UNBC, MacEwan, Manitoba.
- As one keen observer points out, it means that the Dinos fans see each of the ‘other 12 schools’ just once every 4 years in the Dinos home gym … so UBC, UVic, Manitoba, Brandon, Regina, Winnipeg are very infrequent visitors. But, things move along, and this format does ‘integrate’ the 17 schools in an orderly fashion. Time will tell.
Effective Leadership is an Elusive Target
Two of Canada West’s largest schools, with a combined 54 sports offerings are struggling with leadership within their Athletics programs. The very capable and forward thinking Ron Wuotila recently resigned as the Athletic Director at U. Calgary following an ill-judged re-organization of the administrative model. UBC, in the news for a year or more with their ‘review of Athletic Department prorities’, is trying to run their program with an 8-person committee. Details of the UBC situation are discussed in this Vancouver Province story by Tony Gallagher
For institutions which purport to develop leadership in so many fields, and whose top-administrators (Presidents, Provosts, Deans, Directors) are assumed to be the most gifted leaders available, we are seeing incredibly inept planning, consultation, and decision – making. Would it not seem reasonable to cultivate the support for proven and developing ‘bright lights’ in school athletic administration? Why does UC undermine their Athletic Program by trying to make the role of their Director of Athletics subservient to people who are obviously not qualified or willing to provide such support.
How can a school like UBC consider abolishing football ( and other long-time sports) in the earlier stages of their review, then crank – up that program, with a huge influx of alumni cash, but leave their overall Sports administration to an unwieldy committee ?
As a UC alumnus, I cannot but question the top brass at the school as they let Ron Wuotila escape, with all of the positive work he did in the past couple of years. Who holds these key leaders in the President’s upper admin accountable? How many good people on faculty and staff across the University have been discouraged by that de-motivating type of mis-management?
Recent Recruiting News –
- Brandon Coach, Gil Cheung, signs 6-11 post man John Paul, a native of St. Lucia, who has played at 2 Jr. Colleges in the U.S. The Bobcats also add Tyler Anderson, a 6-7 forward out of Walnut Grove H.S. , Langley, B.C.
- MacEwan adds Cole Akins, a 6-8 post, St. Albert, AB, who averaged 8 ppg at Augustana of the ACAC.
- Manitoba scooped up transfer Ilarion Bonhomme, the 5-11 point man from Washington, D.C. , a former Canada West Rookie of the Year (2012) for Brandon. He will play this season, as he did not play for the ‘Cats last year.
- Regina adds size in the person of 6-10 post, Rawane Ndiaye , from NY, NY – he transfers from U. Tennessee
- Saskatchewan is excited to announce the signing of Regina (LeBoldus) high school star, Chan DeCiman, a 6-2 point guard.
- Trinity Western’s new Coach, Aaron Muhic, inks a large point man, 6-5, 225 lb., Dean Richey, Spokane, WA, who averaged 18 ppg for Spokane Com. College las season.
- UNBC’s Todd Jordan takes 2 players out of Golden, B.C. HS – 6-4 guard, Saje Gosal , and 6-3 wing, Neal Randhawa
- In addition to their 4 Vancouver Island high school players previously announced, the UVic Vikes have added 6-7 forward, Billy Yaworsky, (Winnipeg), who transfers from Skagit Valley Junior College, WA