T’Birds Boast Imposing Depth

 

 

T-Birds have unfinished business

It’s not often that a coach admits he is 100% satisfied with his recruiting and his roster, but UBC’s veteran mentor, Kevin Hanson (18th year) appears awfully close.  “We did very well, and no one (recruit) said no”, says Hanson.  This has the T’Birds, who were 19-1 in Canada West play last season, looking for a repeat, and then more fortune at play-off time. After major disappointment in the post season last Spring, this is a team looking for something special.

“Things happen from week to week”, says the coach. “Injuries, illness … we felt that we needed more depth.”  Well, they have it now, in spades!  5 new faces counting  , Jauquin Bennett-Boire, the explosive2nd year lead guard who red-shirted last season.  Add in the heralded arrival of 6-10 Grant Shephard (Kelowna), who chose UBC over chances in the NCAA ranks.  Mason Bourcier is a 6-4 guard who played with Shephard at Kelowna Sr. Sec.  A pair of former Toronto high school guards, 6-3 Anthony McNish, and 6-4 Grant Audu, come from a year’s play in U.S. high schools.

Conor Morgan, now a 5th year, returns to chase a title for UBC   Photo – T-Birds Athletics

Two more young local recuits will be red-shirting;  the T’Birds, after all, do return 6 – 8 roster players from last season.  Three 5th years  head that list, led by 6-9 Conor Morgan (Victoria), the 2017 Canada West player of the year, along with point man, 6-2, Phil Jalalpoor (Germany), and 6-8 Luka Zaharijevic (Vancouver).

Taylor Browne (Surrey) returns as a fast-rising 3rd year guard, who “worked hard on his game over the summer”, and can be a valuable complimentary scorer and creator on offense. Patrick Simon (Port Coquitlam) is a 4th year, 6-8 post , and guards Isaiah Familia (Windsor, ON) and Izaiah Ugoalah (Vancouver) are in the mix.

“We are still working on our different combinations.  Certainly, we have a great group here; I’m excited to coach these guys. We want to focus on team, and getting them to jell and work together”, says Hanson.  The 5- time Canada West coach of the year exclaims, “I feel energized, and hungry to make this a very good team.”

‘The Bazooka’ trains with a purpose

In high school, at nearby Kitsilano Sr. Secondary, Luka Zaharijevic, was a legendary star, who scored at will with a 6-8 frame carrying as much as 300 lbs.  Dubbed ‘Luka, The Bazooka’, he stood out for many reasons.  On arriving at

Luka Zaharijevic is a 5th year UBC post man.  Photo – T’Birds Athletics

UBC, Luka played few minutes as he was behind more mature post men.  His size wasn’t helping, because his fitness wasn’t what it should have been.  “We’ve wanted to start Luka in the last couple of seasons”, says Coach  Hanson, “But he was hurt, and he was never quite ready.”  “This past Spring and Summer, Luka has dedicated himself to preparing for a big final year.”  The transformation has been impressive, as Hanson tells us the young man has pursued his training with a vengeance.  He is, reportedly, eating better, ‘riding his bike all over town’, and focused on his post game skills.

In lthe Waterloo game last weekend the big man was 8/9 for 17 points in just 13 minutes;  he looks ready to step in as one of the T-Birds big weapons up front.  With an eye to a possible pro opportunity, Luka is determined to make his 5th year one to remember.

Canada Faces Must -Win Game vs Germany

 

 

 

Canada 84  Japan 71

 A solid team effort on Thursday for Canada, as they now look forward to a decisive game against the Germans, who sit atop the Group B standings at 4-0.  Hitting 5/7 from 3 point range, Carleton’s Connor Wood leads the scoring, with his U-Sports teammate, Kaza Kajami-Keane checking in with 16 pts/ 6 asst/ 4 rebs/ 4 steals.  Calgary Dinos guard, David Kapinga, was 2/3 from outside, as Canada hit 47% FG and 10/17 treys.

Coach Kevin Hanson and his staff have done a masterful job of doling out the minutes, as everyone played at least 11 minutes, including Jean- Emmanuel  Pierre-Charles (Ottawa), who returned to action after being injured.  Still resting a leg hurt vs Japan was UBC forward, and Canada West Player of the Year, Conor Morgan.  Canada moves to 3-1, tied with Finland, to whom we lost earlier in the week.  With a Canadian win against Germany, the 3 teams would be tied, and the 2 play-off spots come down to its for and against.  Canada needs an 8+ points spread in this final group game.  Box Score 

Germany beat Finland 71-64, so the Canadians, to have any chance of a ‘play-off berth’ must defeat Germany on Friday.  Thanks to our Hoops – zealot , Tyler, in Winnipeg, for the heads -up on a viewing opportunity from the FISU Livestreaming service … it will show the Canada vs Germany game live at 12 midnight Pacific on Thurs/Fri (1 am Mountain, etc).  Obviously for the hard-core fanatics … like Tyler, who will be itching to see his Bison-buddy, Justus Alleyn, play in Red and White!

 

U-Sports vs NCAA Teams –

at Ottawa  85 Canisius (NY, Div 1) 74

at Carleton  87   New Hampshire  (Div 1) 60

at Carleton  77  Canisius 65

Northeastern (Div 1 – Mass.)   at  Concordia  45

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Overtime-

Aldrich Berrios, who is taking on 2 major sports this Fall.

  • Your high scoring lead guard wants to play football?!   This proposal was put to UBC-O Coach Peter Guarasci this summer, when Aldrich Berrios, his 4th year star, came to his coach to ask about playing with the Okanagan Sun of the BC Junior Football League. Somewhat surprisingly,  Guarasci was positive … “When I mentioned it to Pete, he loved the idea and I have to thank him for that,” said Berrios.  To find out how Berrios plans to make this work, check out this story from Warren Henderson in Kelowna Capital News.

 

  • If you fans have been paying close attention, you will note that the Carleton Ravens are once again showing their strength in recent games vs U.S. schools.  Other Canadian teams may win some games, but it’s Carleton that, for the most part,  really gets our attention with scores like 87-60 over New Hampshire, 81-74  and 61-56 over Vanderbilt, an SEC team.  Then we have an 84 -71  trimming of Alabama, who were 19-14 overall last season.  The consistent effort, adherence to their game plan, and 2 way excellence are the hallmarks of this amazing team Led by the preeminent U-Sports coach, Dave Smart.

Canada Win Over Norway

 

 

4th Quarter Blitz Buries Norwegians

Carleton point man, Kaza Kajami-Keane leads Canada to game 1 win over Norway.

Canada opened their ‘University Games’ competition with a solid 85 – 54 trouncing of Norway on Sunday in Taipei City. Led by guard, Kaza Kajami-Keane (Carleton), who tallied 22 pts/ 6 rebs/ 8 assists, as Canada never trailed. Their 26-9 blitz in the final 10 minutes confirmed their domination in this tip-off match.

Big Erik Nissen (Acadia) was a force on the boards, with 10 rebounds, while the UBC pair of Conor Morgan (16 pts/6 rebs/4 assts) and Jordan Jensen -Whyte (13 pts/5 rebs) played major roles in the Canadian attack.

Coach Kevin Hanson distributed minutes through his whole 11 man line-up, with Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles (Ottawa) not playing, due to injury.  Canada’s next test will be Monday vs Finland.  The Finns were 93-45 winners over Japan in their 1st game today.  Box Score

 

U-Sports vs NCAA scores –

Notre Dame College (Div 2-Ohio)  97  at  Toronto 70

Canisius Coll. (Div 1 -NY)  87    at  Queens  71

Nevada-Reno (Div 1)   77   UBC  58   in Costa Rica

 

Overtime – 

 

  • Other Canada news from  @usportsIntl  on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,   u-tube.com/ university sports    #GoCanada

 

 

FISU Games Team Tips Off Sunday

 

Team Canada Poised For FISU Tip-off

Coach Kevin Hanson, FISU volunteer, Tina Wu, and T’Birds star, Conor Morgan. (Dinos in the background …)

Coach Kevin Hanson (UBC)  and his U-Sports Team Canada will tip-off their FISU Games on Sunday vs Norway.  This is the first of 5 Group games in the 24 team event, with Canada vying for one of 2 spots in the quarter-finals out of their 6 team group.  Here is the game schedule for 1st round play –

Sunday, August 20th  vs. Norway 2:30 AM Pacific

Monday, August 21st vs. Finland  7:00 PM Sunday  Pacific

Tuesday, August 22nd vs. Hong Kong 5:00 AM Pacific

Thursday, August 24th vs. Japan  5:00 AM Pacific

Friday, August 25th vs. Germany 12:00 Midnight Pacific

(The 9 – 13 hour time difference  to Taiwan makes live viewing a challenge for Canadian fans.   For media coverage –   CBCsports.ca  has a daily highlight package at 8 am Pacific each day.   We do not seem to have any luck with the FISU Games TV site ….)

Calgary Dinos David Kapinga and Mambi Diawara; proud Canadians at the opening ceremonies.

 

Team news … The National Player of the Year from last season, Carleton’s Connor Wood, should be set for at least limited duty vs Norway, as he recovers from an ankle sprain. Wood played about 10 minutes in Canada’s 99-63 exhibition win over Mexico.  The USA team, represented by Purdue University, blitzed Norway 81-49 in another prep game in Taipei.  The USA had a couple of much tighter wins over Canada down in Indiana last week.

______________________________________________________________

Overtime –

Canada’s Senior National Team has 2 U-Sports coaches directing the FIBA America’s entry, which will compete in the tournament in Argentina. Head Coach, Roy Rana (Ryerson U.) has UVIc Coach, Craig Beaucamp, as his top Assistant.   Training camp starts Saturday in Toronto.

 

  • UBC-O  Coach Peter Guarasci adds 3 new recruits, including ex- MRU guard Aloysius Callaghan (Calgary), 6-6 Kyrin Cybenko (Saskatoon), who was a top rebounder for Lakeland College in the ACAC, and 6-7 Gurman Bhangu (Surrey, Panorama Ridge) who is a very promising high school star.   Details in this Kelowna Capital News story.

 

  •  UBC T-Birds, without Coach Kevin Hanson and 5th year star, Conor Morgan, are in Costa Rica.   UBC drops a close one to Texas – El Paso 78-73 Friday. They meet Nevada-Reno  on Saturday and Sunday.     On Wednesday, The Trinity Western Spartans were beaten 101-64 by St. Martin’s University (WA) in a game played in Langley, BC.
  • More U-Sports – NCAA scores …   James Madison 67  Carleton 59, Carleton 81  Vanderbilt 74, Carleton 89  N. Colorado 79  …  McGill 86 UTEP 82 OT, McGill 56  UTEP 54 … N. Colorado 81  Brock 74, Vanderbilt 104  Brock 90.

 

August – Game- On for U-Sports vs NCAA

 

 

Calgary, Alberta, Trinity, UBC  in Upcoming NCAA Games  

Starting on August the 10th to the 13th , the UC Dinos and Alberta Golden Bears have a pair of games apiece against the visiting Montana State Bobcats.  The ‘Cats meet Calgary on Thursday, the 10th and Saturday, the 12th, and are up gainst the Bears on the 1th and the 13th.  All games are at the UC’s Jack Simpson Gym.

The Bears won the Canada West Championship over Calgary last March, and have almost all their players returning, losing only Brett Roughead to graduation. Calgary graduated high scorer Thomas Cooper, along with regulars, Jasdeep Gill, and Dallas Karch.  Both teams added skilled recruits, and this will be an early chance for fans to preview 2 of Canada West’s perennial contenders.

On Wednesday, August 16, the Trinity Western Spartans welcome Div 2 Saint Martin’s University (Lacey, WA) to Langley.   The UBC Thunderbirds are one of 3 U-Sports sqads visiting Costa Rica this month. The ‘Birds will be without CW Player of the Year, Conor Morgan, who will be on Team Canada in Taiwan for the FISU Games along with Coach Kevin Hanson.   UBC has the U. Nevada Wolf Pack on Aug 18, then the U. Texas – El Paso Miners on the 19th, before finishing  vs Nevada again on the 21st.

 

Eastern Powers Busy With August NCAA Play

Carleton guard Emmanuel Owootoah and the powerhouse Ravens start an ambitious summer schedule.      Photo – Go Ravens.ca

Laval Rouge et Or tipped off Wednesday in a 73-68 home loss to U. California-Riverside, as NCAA teams invade Canada for most of this month.  There is more action  this coming August 5th weekend as Laurentian VG’s are the first team to play in a summer series in Costa Rica, tipping off against the U. of Montana on Saturday.  In Montreal and Ottawa, we have U-Sports teams (UQAM, McGill, and Carleton) hosting Towson State and Alabama starting Sunday.

The U-Sports Champion, Carleton Ravens, have 12 summer dates, with home games – Aug 7 – Towson State , Aug 9 – Alabama , Aug 22 – New Hampshire,  Aug 23 – Canisius College, Aug 25 – Northeastern U., Aug 27 – St. Francis (Brooklyn), Aug 28- Sienna College, Aug 30 – Hofstra U.  Away games are in the U.S. Virgin Islands … Aug 14 – 18  –  Vanderbilt U (2 games), Northern Colorado, James Madison U.

McGill Redmen, the Quebec champs, are up for 10 games including 4 in Costa Rica from August 14 – 17 vs Kent State, Lamar, and a pair vs Texas-El Paso .  The  Quebec power team is home for August 7 – Alabama, 8th – Southern Methodist, 10th – Towson before the Costa Rica junket.  Later in the summer slate … Aug 28th at home to St. Francis (Brooklyn) , 30th – Siena, and Sept. 2 vs Hofstra.

Brock Badgers, a team ‘on the rise’, are scheduling 6 games including Aug 16, 17, 20 and 21 in the U.S. Virgin Islands vs Vanderbilt, N. Colorado, James Madison (2 games)  The Badgers are home on Aug 9 – Binghamton, Aug 13 – Jacksonville

Concordia Stingers also have 6 games lined up with NCAA schools, starting August 20th vs Canisius, then 23rd , 24th against Northeastern and New Hampshire.  The Stingers catch St. Francis, Siena, and Hofstra on Aug 29, 31, and Sept 1. All are home games

The Laurentian Voyageurs have 4 games in Costa Rica during the week August 5th through 12th, as they play the Montana Grizzlies, a pair vs Western Kentucky, and finish against Kent State.

The Ottawa Gee-Gees get Alabama on Aug 10, then New Hampshire and Canisius on the 21st and 22nd. Ramapo College (Div 3) visits the capitol on Aug 28.

 

Overtime –

  • In recent years Carleton has notable victories over NCAA ‘power programs’ such as Syracuse, Indiana, Wichita State, and Wisconsin.  All these are on the Raven’s home court, and CU has an historical 26-23 record vs U.S. schools on this side of the border.  Not so much when they travel South, as they are 1-28 in all games played in the U.S.
  • The Canadian squad for the FISU Games – Universiade will leave Saturday for a training camp at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana.  This all-U-Sports aggregation will benefit from some generous hosting by the Boilermakers, whose Big Ten team will represent the U.S. at the Taiwan event from August 19-30.  Here’s a story on Thunderbirds teammates, Conor Morgan and Jordan Jensen-Whyte, who are reunited on this Canada team.   

 

 

Step Up For Canadian Team

 

 

Universiade Team Needs Our Support

Connor Wood, Carleton Ravens’ National Player of the Year for 2016-17.       photo – Ottawa Sun

Like most fans, my assumption was that the ‘U-Sports all-star team’ headed for the 29th Universiade FISU Games in Taiwan in August would be funded and organized  by Canada Basketball.  This, unfortunately, is not the case.  The majority of the funding is coming from the players, their universities, or the basketball program within those athletic departments.

Head Coach Kevin Hanson (UBC) and his assistants, Dan Vanhooren (Calgary), and Jacques Paiment Jr. (Laval) are having to ‘scramble ‘ to pull this whole thing together.  Fortunately, they have some contacts for some sponsorship ideas, as all 3 are pretty veteran U-Sports coaches.  “Some of the ‘extras’ to make this experience special for the players is really left to the coaches”, says the Dinos’ Vanhooren. “It also really helps that we are able to train down in Indiana with Purdue University being very generous with the great facility, and some other assistance.”

This still leaves the matter of costs for the players, and this is where you fans can give this team a big boost!  Do you think we can raise $10,000 or more?  Let’s see if our readers can be ‘part of the team ‘ !   Send a contribution to Coach Kevin Hanson   kevin.hanson@ubc.ca .

The team roster includes  Justus Alleyn – Manitoba, Kevin Bercy – St. FX, Mambi Diawara -Calgary, Jordan Jensen-Whyte- UBC,  Kaza Kajami-Keane- Carleton,  David   Kapinga- Calgary , Alexandre Leclerc- Laval, Javon Masters- UNB, Conor Morgan- UBC, Erik Nissen – Acadia,  Connor Wood- Carleton, Jean-Emmanuel Pierre-Charles, Ottawa.  

These young men will represent Canadian University Basketball  … let’s step up for them! This is a big deal for these top U-Sports players.  Just read this story on Justus Alleyn of the Manitoba Bisons in The Manitoban.

 

Overtime –

Lisa Robertson to head -up the University of Regina Athletics . photo – Dinos Athletics

  •  Lisa Robertson, a former U. Calgary basketball star (then Lisa Bacigalupi), and a long-time Dinos Athletic Department member, is the new Director of Sport, Community Engagement & Athlete Development at the University of Regina.  Robertson has most recently spent 2 years as the Associate Director of Sponsorship and Events at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.   More details in this story from UR Athletics.

 

 

 

Canada Wins World Title

 

 

U-19 Team Wins Gold for Canada

The U-19 Men’s National Team, coached by Ryerson U.’s Roy Rana, defeated Italy 79 – 60 earlier this week, to capture the gold medal in the U-19 World Cup, played in Cairo, Egypt.  Canada were led by R. J. Barrett of Mississauga, ON, with 18 pts/ 12 rebs, and Abu Kigab of St. Catharines, ON  adding 12 pts/ 10 rebounds.  The big team effort allowed Canada to dominate the Italians, as they had done in their 99 – 87 semi-final victory over the U.S.A.

This was the 1st – ever gold medal for any Canadian team in a FIBA World Championship, and signals a continuing rise for Canada’s prospects on the International basketball front.  Here is the team roster for Canada 

Most of these players will play in U.S. college programs.  Some are already committed, as you can see from their profiles.  Canada West followers will note that there was  only one Western Canadian player on this team.  Ontario really does have the lion’s share of basketball talent!

Congratulations to Coach Rana and his staff and team.  An amazing accomplishment!

 

Shephard Plays Valuable Role for Canada

Grant Shephard of Kelowna played a key role for the winning U-19 Canada squad, as he came off the bench to provide timely scoring and rebounding (5.3 ppg/ 4 rebs in 14 mins/game) in the FIBA World Cup in Cairo this past week.

Shephard was part of the 2016 Kelowna Owls B.C. 4A high school championship team as a grade 11.  He played his grade 12 year at Monteverde Academy in Florida, and recently signed with Coach Kevin Hanson’s UBC Thunderbirds.  More on Shephard’s success in this story from Kelowna Capital News

 

 

Universiade Team Roster Announced

 

Universiade Roster includes players from 4 U-Sports Leagues

Team Canada Head Coach, Kevin Hanson (UBC)                 photo – UBC Athletics

U-Sports announced the roster for the 2017 FISU Games (Universiade)  team today … Coach Kevin Hanson (UBC) and his Assistants, Dan Vanhooren (Calgary), and Jacques Paiment Jr. (Laval) will have select players from all 4 U-Sports Leagues, led by  Carleton ‘s pair of Connor Wood and Kaza Kajami-Keane, who sparked the Ravens’  7th straight National Championship.

Canada West players include Conor Morgan and Jordan Jensen-Whyte of UBC, along with David Kapinga and Mambi Diawara of Calgary, and Justus Alleyn from the Manitoba Bisons.

 

Here is the roster with 2016-17 statistics and notes –

Guards –

Justus Alleyn, Manitoba … 2nd team Canada West All – Star 2017, 17.4 ppg

Mambi Diawara, Calgary … 12.3 ppg,  45% shooter, 5.1 rebs, 2.1 steals

Jordan Jensen-Whyte, UBC  … 15.9 ppg, 3.8 asst,

Kaza Kajami-Keane, Carleton  … MVP of 2017 Final 8,  15.5 ppg, 5.2 asst

David   Kapinga, Calgary … 11.5 ppg, 48% 3 pt shooter, 4.1 asst, 2.5 steals

Javon Masters, UNB  … 2nd team All – Canadian 2017,  19.6 ppg, 5.8 asst

Connor Wood, Carleton … 1st team All – Canadian 2017, and U-Sports Most Outstanding Player,  19.2 ppg,  MVP 2016 Final 8

Forwards –

Kevin Bercy, St FX … 1st team All – Canadian 2017, MVP in the AUS 2017, 19.8 ppg, 11.3 rebs

Alexandre Leclerc, Laval … 6-6 forward, 10 ppg, 5.8 rebs , All-Canadian in 2016

Conor Morgan, UBC …  1st team All – Canadian 2017 … 23.1 ppg, 7.5 rebs

Erik Nissen, Acadia …   AUS All-star 2017 … 18.1 ppg, 9.7 rebs

Jean-Emmanuel Pierre-Charles, Ottawa …  OUA All-Star 2017, 14.4 ppg, 8.7 rebs

This Canada Basketball ‘Development Team’  has some particular challenges, with limited funding for travel expenses as a key deficit.  There is also a possibility that any of the graduated players, Jensen-Whyte, Kajami-Keane, or Wood may not make the trip to compete in Taiwan if they sign a pro contract and are due to start training camp with that pro team.

Canada has a solid recent history in this biannual competition, and with the speed and experience of this squad, they should do well at the August 19 – 30th Games. We’ll expect to have updates on this team once they start training later this summer.  Coach Hanson tells us that the team will fly to Chicago on August 5, and train through the 13th.  The team will play Purdue University of the Big 10 on  August 11 and 12.

____________________________________________________________________________

Overtime –

  • Canada’s U-19 National Team, coached by the Ryerson Rams Roy Rana, is slated to start play in the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017 in Cairo, Egypt on July 1st. They are 2-1 in pre-tournament play, having lost to France, and beaten both Lithuania and Spain.
  • U. Victoria Coach , Craig Beaucamp , guided Canada’s U-17’s to the Silver medal in FIBA Americas Championships in Argentina in mid June. Canada registered wins over Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.  They lost to the USA in the championship game.

 

 

 

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.

 

4 Strong Favourites – Canada West Final 8

 

Dinos, Huskies, Bears, and Thunderbirds are odds-on favourites

We look at these match-ups, and we definitely see 4 clear favourites in these quarter-final series, which tip-off Thursday night in Calgary, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Vancouver. If the series’ go as predicted, we will be re-convening in Calgary on March 3 -4 with our 4 top seeds in the Championship Tournament –   Calgary vs UBC, and Saskatchewan against Alberta.

But first … let’s take a look at this weekend’s draw.  We’re pretty sure Thompson Rivers, Winnipeg, Lethbridge, and Manitoba would like to prove us wrong by upsetting one of the home clubs!

 

5th Year TRU all-star, Volodymyr Iegorov.

Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack  at Calgary Dinos –  Calgary has home court, and, with some fortuitous circumstances, the #1 seed.  The Dinos are deep, while TRU are relatively ‘shallow’, and, quite likely, a bit ‘road -weary’ .

This could, however,  get very interesting, if we consider TRU’s 95 ppg average last week vs Brandon, which indicates a willingness to open it up, offensively.  The Dinos will be only too willing to oblige that possibility.   Keys –  TRU – Control the pace.  Stop the Dinos’ Thomas Cooper.  Play their season’s best team defense.  Get good team shooting, and ball control.  Calgary Play their fast pace, and help that along by turning the Wolf Pack over.  Throw multiple defenders at Volodymyr Iegorov.  Limit the 3 point shooting from the Orange. Run some consistent half-court offense.             7 pm games Thurs, Fri, and Sat (if necessary)

Matt Forbes, Huskies  Post man  – photo – Huskies Athletics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winnipeg Wesmen at Saskatchewan Huskies – These teams split their November series in Saskatoon, but this is a bolstered line-up for the Huskies in February, as they now have Matt Forbes at full throttle, and guards Jaylan Morgan and Lawrence Moore in the back-court.  The Wesmen have a team that may be able to harass the Sled Dogs ball-handlers, but can they neutralize the U of S bigs?  If the Ws can generate offense vs a stingy Huskies D, they have a shot.  Keys – Winnipeg – Spread the scoring.  Apply full-court defensive pressure.  Get a stand-off in the post. Play a fast pace.  Saskatchewan –  Execute their offense, and hit open shots.  Limit turnovers.  Pound it inside, and force their own pace of play.              8:30 Thurs and Fri , and 4 pm Sat (if necessary).

 

Lethbridge Pronghorns at Alberta Golden Bears –  Very familiar opponents, with

Brody Clarke, U of A –         photo – Bears Athletics

Alberta enjoying home court, and a more experienced , deeper roster.  The Bears should be healthy and rested, while the ‘Horns had some intense action last weekend vs Victoria.  The Austin Waddoups – Dejon Burdeaux match-up should be worth the price of admission, and Elliott Sentance vs the den of U of A outside shooters will be a highlight as well.  Keys – Lethbridge – As always , try and keep Burdeaux on the floor, healthy.  Push the pace on offense without turning it over.  Get ‘secondary -scoring’ from other than Burdeaux and Sentance.  Stop U of A from getting it inside.  Win the rebounding battle. Alberta – Use their depth, and wear down the ‘Horns starters.  Fill it up with 3 pointers (tops in Canada West in % treys and # scored per game).  Attack with Mamadou Gueye and Brody Clarke.  Concentrate defense on the 2 Lethbridge king-pins.             8 pm Thur, Fri and 7 pm Sat (if a 3rd)

 

Jordan Jensen-Whyte, UBC’s 5th year guard  – photo –  T’Birds Athletics – Richie Lam

Manitoba Bisons  at UBC Thunderbirds –  Manitoba’s Coach, Kirby Schepp, reminds us that the Herd lost by 8 in game 1 at UBC back in November, then ” … could, and maybe should have won game 2.”  That went 75-72, and was tight down the stretch.  Yes, but … the ‘Birds did go 19-1, which is a measure of their consistency and quality.

They are at War Memorial, a notorious ‘burial ground’ for visiting teams, and UBC has had some time to rest injured stars, Conor Morgan and Phil Jalalpoor.  Manitoba is a match for UBC in terms of experience in their line-up, and they have won 15 of 17 to finish the season.  On the flip side, the Bisons have won only once vs the T’Birds in 23 games since January of 2001.  Keys – Manitoba – Disrupt the UBC offense; they cannot allow the ‘Birds to get too much momentum.  Take care of the ball.  Go after Morgan at both ends.  Do a ‘shut-down ‘ job on Jordan Jensen-Whyte.  Share the load on offense, and use the bench.  UBC-  Establish their defensive style, and limit fouls.  Just do what they do on offense.  Whyte is a key catalyst for the rest of the squad.  Keep Morgan healthy.                              7 pm Thur, Fri and Sat ( if 3 are necessary).

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In the East –

The OUA first round games are getting underway tonight – Queens at Nipissing , Laurier at Laurentian , Lakehead at Toronto, and McMaster at Windsor  .  These are  ‘sudden victory’, and you move on to play the top seeds Carleton, Ryerson, Ottawa, Brock on Saturday.

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Strong rookie prospects throughout Canada West

Canada West Hoops’ ‘Co- Rookies of the Year’ , Winnipeg’s Narcisse Ambanza, and Victoria’s Scott Kellum.

We have a large field of rookie to choose our All-Rookie Team from, and we think we can say that this is an exceptional class.  Without the playing minutes, and resulting scoring, and other stats, we can whittle down our list of honourees.  Our suspicion is that we may have some exceptional players in the following group, and they aren’t on our Team !   (reverse alpha order – just a quirk)

Jeff Rodehutskors,  Fwd, Calgary …  Trent Monkman, Wing, Thompson R. … Josaiah Meppelink, G, Trinity W … Madhu  McConnell, G, TRU … Scott Mazutinec,  W,  Lethbridge …  Triston Matthews, G, UBC-O … Craig Martin , G, Mt. Royal …  Tyrell Laing, G, UNBC … Cole Knudsen, F, Alberta … Kobyn Jopp, F, Brandon … Graeme Hyde-Lay, G, Victoria …  J.J. Hamel-Carey , G, Victoria … Benjamin Hillis, W, Regina …  Riley Braich, G  , Fraser V. … Emmanuel Akintunde, F, Saskatchewan.

 

 

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Overtime – 

  • UBC Coach Kevin Hanson, commenting on star forward Conor Morgan’s readiness for play vs Manitoba this weekend, “He won’t be 100 per cent on Thursday night, but he’ll be healthy enough to contribute in some way.”  More on the T’Birds – Bisons in this story from Steve Ewan in The Province