Brandon Returns, Recruits Top Talent

 

 

Graduation leaves gaps for Bobcats, but recruiting may have filled them

Brandon Coach, Gil Cheung

Gil Cheung, enters his 8th year as the Head Coach of a team he once captained to a pair of National Championship Finals.  His 9-11 ‘Cats made the playoffs last season, and  he says, “We’re anxious to get into competition; lot’s of work to do, but we ‘have some pieces’ and we hope to move forward.”

Canada West all-star guard, Tyvon Cooper

Forward it may well be, despite the loss of Earl Thompson Jr, Chris Stanhope, Esmat Atem, and Denham Buchanan.  Back to juice the offense is team high scorer (18.4 ppg), import guard, Tyvon Cooper (NY), and forward John Paul (St. Lucia), a 6-11 inside force, who is a good candidate to average a double-double.

 

Pookie Saunders (Calgary), an emerging talent as a combo guard, returns for his 3rd year, and Troy Grant (Brampton, ON) , a 6-3 transfer from Thompson Rivers, will add depth. Grant’s childhood buddy from the GTA, Josh Bell, is a 3rd year guard, who will also be in the playing rotation, expected to up his scoring totals.

Cheung has added scoring, defense, and quickness in 2-time Junior College All-American, Jonathan Range (Harlem, NY), a 6-6 wing, and Jaleel Webb (Montreal), a 6-3 guard who transfers from Concordia.

The training camp has produced some nagging hurts, and the Bobcats will be ‘short-handed’ for some of their pre-season action.  Look for the ‘Cats to stay in the play-off picture in this ‘season of change’ in much of Canada West.

Bobcats Bring Fresh Hope

 

 

2016-17 Canada West Basketball Previews –

Brandon Bobcats

’15-‘16      No playoffs                  1 win  19 losses (Pioneer)

Returnees –   br-bobcats-copy-2

5th years – Denham Buchanan, 6-3 wing, Toronto.  Earl Thompson Jr., 6-5 fwd, Henderson, NV.  Chris Stanhope , 6-5 guard, Brampton, ON.   Esmat Atem, 6-9 fwd, Ottawa  … 4th year –  John Paul, 6-11 fwd, St. Lucia.  Baka Ngeleka, 6-1 guard, St. Hyacinthe, PQ … 2nd years –  Pookie Saunders, 6-1 guard, Calgary.  Mitch Marquis,  5-10 guard, Rockwood, ON.  Keneal James, 6-2 guard, Chateauguay, PQ.  Tyler Anderson, 6-7 fwd, Langley, BC.

New faces –

Josh Bell, 6-3 guard, 2nd year, Mississauga, ON (tsf Lakehead U.) .  Tyvon Cooper, 6-0 guard, 3rd year, Middletown, NY  (Orange County CC, NY).  Girece Kazumba, 6-3 guard, 3rd, Toronto (Vermillion College) . Kobyn Jopp, 6-8 fwd, 1st year, Calgary (Churchill HS).   Riley Schaus, 6-1 guard,  Red-shirt, Brandon (Crocus Plains)

jordan

Earl Thompson Jr. will be in the of the action for Brandon in his senior year.   photo – BU Athletics

 As a key player on Brandon championship teams, Gil Cheung would like nothing better than to return the Bobcats to a winning program.  But, in the last 5  seasons BU has a disheartening record of only 22 wins against 82 losses.  The roster loses veterans DJ Jordan (17 ppg) and Troy Grant (11 ppg), as new faces come in bringing fresh hope in the new season.

There are experienced returnees, including 6 players in their 4th or 5th years of eligibility. Earl  Thompson Jr. is a strong rebounder (8 rpg  ) and able scorer ( 16.5 ppg ), and big guard, Chris Stanhope,  is emerging as an offensivee threat  ( 9.2 ppg/ 4 rebounds)  .  2nd year guard, Pookie Saunders , has the quickness, and 6-11 post man, John Paul (5 ppg/ 6.2 rebs), the potential as an interior defender and rebounder.  Is there, however, the on-court leadership to give  the Blue and Gold the late – game confidence to win more close decisions?

Two Toronto – area guards, Josh Bell and Grieve Kazumba are recruits who may provide that catalyst.  Both have some success at the CIS and College level.   Multi-talented import , Tyvon Cooper, may be the lead guard so essential in coordinating an efficient attack.  Cooper was the 4th leading scorer (24 ppg) in the U.S. Jr. Colleges last year 1st year forward, Kobyn Jopp, has the size, but may have to be eased into the rotation as the year goes on.

“We are very optimistic for the upcoming season with a nice mix of new student athletes and returning some key parts as well, says Cheung. “ We have 7 pre-season games, and will use them to find rotations, build chemistry, and get some feedback.”

In the opening half of the season, Brandon faces 4 teams which have a recent history of  playoff success, and they face Okanagan, a squad which may be on it’s way up into competitive form.  Defense may be a big key for the ‘Cats in these first semester contests, at least until they get enough time to develop some offensive chemistry and flow.

Schedule –  

Nov-Dec … at Alberta, UBC-O, at Saskatchewan , h/h Winnipeg,  Fraser Valley

Jan-Feb … at Mt. Royal,  MacEwan,  Regina,  at UBC,  Manitoba

Prediction –  It looks lie an uphill climb for the ‘Cats


 

Overtime –

kelly-olynyk-heroes-among-us-celtics-hub

  •   The “Kelly Olynyk Basketball Academy”, a developmental basketball program for boys and girls from kindergarten to grade 7, started last week in Kamloops.  The South Kamloops Sr. Secondary grad and Boston Celtics star contributed financially to the new start-up, which is being run at the Tournament Capital Centre and the  old TRU Gym.  “It is an amazing feeling to be able to give back to the City of Kamloops and their youth,” says Olynyk.  TRU head coach Scott Clark said,   “ … house leagues and youth programs were a big part of my development as a basketball player and individual. I am excited for these kids to be able to grow; learn and develop their skills the same way I did, with a love for the game. ”          (From Larry Read, TRU Wolf Pack Athletics)
  • In a late result from The Ubyssey , last Friday, the T-Birds beat the Seattle Mountaineers 87-66. 5th year forward, Conor Morgan, was 10/17 from the floor plus 11 rebounds , while returnees, AJ Holloway, Phil Jalalapoor, and rookie Isaiah Familia  looked good in the back-court.  UBC hosts the Lethbridge Pronghorns in pre-season action  this Friday, the 14th, and Sunday, the 16th at War Memorial.
  • Scores from last Sunday in the CIS –   Laurier 101 at Brandon 76McMaster 76  Dalhousie 70,  Nipissing  87 Cape Breton 66, Brock 95  Concordia 78