Cougars Aiming Higher

 

Change for MRU  – hunting a play-off berth

As with many Canada West teams this season, the MRU Cougars have undergone significant changes.  Gone is ace big man, Brett Layton, with his 16 ppg/ 9.5 rebounds.  And graduated is solid combo guard, Derek Wolf.

Longtime Assistant Coach Tyler McVicar has also moved on. Coach Marc Dobell, now in his 14th year as the Cougs head man, moved MRU from a National Championship in the CCAA (2009) and eventually into Canada West in 2012.  The program has been competitive, but never quite made the playoff grid in 5 seasons. Dobell suggests that he is looking at changes in a positive light this Fall. “We’ve tried things one way for some time, and I think we can embrace new ideas this season.”

Floor leader, Josh Ross, in his 5th year. photo – MRU Athletics

The Cougars do have 7 players back who were in the rotation last year, including leading scorer, 6-5, 5th year import Josh Ross (16.6 ppg/ 9.9 rebs/3.6 assists/ 1.9 steals) , a ‘point forward’ kind of talent, with multiple skills and a competitive drive.  Glen Yang (Calgary) a 6-3 combo guard who should be a double- digit scorer this year, and 5th year wing, Ryan Cunningham (Calgary), looks ready to up his offensive out-put as well.  Noah Lewis (6-4, guard, Comox, BC) is another 5th year who will be expected to step into a bigger role. Wiande Kher (Calgary), a 6-6 wing man, has also been frustrated with injuries, but, “He is physically sound, and is moving very well”, according to Dobell.  6-7 3rd year, Nick Tancon (Comox, BC) will be  ready to share the load up front.

There is enthusiasm for several new faces, including 4th year wing man, LJ Hegwood, who moves from SAIT, and, at 6-6, has the skill and size to be an impact player for Mt. Royal.  Ben Kapinga, younger brother of David at UC,  is a 5-10 guard who comes in ‘under the radar’. “We are impressed with Ben’s play”, says Dobell. “He is quick, and he makes good decisions with the ball.”   3rd year guard, Quinn Taylor, can shoot the ball, and Coach Dobell is pleased to see his progress after he red-shirted with an injury last year. Kristian Zjak is a skilled and eager Australian import who is expected to get time at the forward spot.

Cougars Last year – 8-12  … fall short in too many close games. Prognosis – the roster turnover brings fresh hope, and they should be right in the play-off hunt.

“This is the Year”, vows Lewis

Noah Lewis is now in his 6th year attending Mt. Royal University, and, in his 5th season of eligibility, he and his teammates are determined to make this a play-off year for the Cougars. “We are not content”, says the Vancouver Island ‘import’. “The team dynamic this Fall is really good; we want to make it to the play-offs together.”

5th year guard Noah Lewis. All-in for team break-through.

Lewis wants to help this team as a senior leader, and suggests, “I’ll do what it takes to contribute to the team success,  My role may change within the system, but that’s good with me, and I think we are togther as a team in wanting to move forward.”  The consistent hard work, and the acceptance of change are something Noah embraces in this final year on this team. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time.  I love being a part of the team, and I know I’m going to miss it when it’s over”, he says.

Lewis will leave Mt. Royal with a Health / Phys Ed Degree, and says he wants to ‘work with athletes’.  That may be in strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, or even Sports Medicine. ” It’s been such an amazing time in Calgary, and it’s come to feel more like home. I’ve had so many different teammates and forged long-term relationships with some great people”, he declares. “I’ve loved competing at such a high level, and to associate with such a great bunch of teammates and coaches.”

Noah Lewis will likely not be among the top scorers in Canada West.  But, if the desire he shows for team success in this his final season is any indication, one can expect his Cougars to have a very positive run at a play-off spot come February. “I’m excited for this season with this group of guys”, he says.  Go Cougars !

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Overtime –

at McMaster 72  UBC-Okanagan 68 OT … break out game for transfer Aloysius Callaghan (Calgary) who hangs up 25 points in a good team effort on the road.

at Saskatchewan 105  Briercrest 49  … Lawrence Moore and Emmanuel Akintunde score 20 apiece for the Huskies

at Lakehead 90  Winnipeg 83  … Billy Yaworsky scores 18 pts / 12 rebs for the Wesmen, with Narcisse Ambanza chipping in 15 points.

Friday games – 

Guy Vetrie Memorial  at Victoria … Carleton – Concordia, Vikes vs Guelph

All games on Canada West TV

Winnipeg at Lakehead – on OUA TV

UBC-O at Toronto

UNBC at Mt. Royal

In the East – at McMaster   Laval, Queens at Bishops, Seneca Coll at Nipissing, Memorial at Brock, and in the Eric Garland Tourney in New Brunswick … Cape Breton – UQAM , and Saint Marys – New Brunswick

Cooper to Play in Germany

Dinos’ Cooper Will Play in Germany

The UC Dinos outstanding All-Canadian, Thomas Cooper, has signed a professional contract to play in the German A Division with Uni Baskets Paderborn.  Cooper, who led Calgary to the 2016 Canada West title, and to 2 consecutive U-Sports Final 8 National Tournaments, was  chosen as Canada West Player of the Year for the 2015-16 season.

“We believe that Thomas can have an immediate impact in Pro A,” said Paderborn Head Coach, Uli Naechster. “He is a versatile scorer, and he will certainly be able to prove that as a professional.”  More details in this announcement from his Canadian agent, SLAN Sports.

> Grant Sitton, the 6-9 wing man who led UVic for the past several seasons, is also planning to play in Europe, and we await signing news for him.

> Former UC Dino all-star, Jared Ogungbemi-Jackson, finished off his 2nd season with Galitos-Berreiro, and he was their high scorer at 18.9 ppg, 3rd in the LPB standings.  He was 5th in the league in assists at 4.8 apg.

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Latest Canada West Recruiting News –

Mt. Royal Coach, Marc Dobell has signed 3 local products and a big transfer from Trinity Western – 6’5  wing,  Diew Moses, is a multi-dimensional talent from  Bishop McNally HS, where he led his team to the Alberta 4A Provincial title this March.  6’6 guard, L.J. Hegwood,  played high school in Calgary, then at San Francisco City College, Univ. of Calgary, then at SAIT in the Alberta Colleges League.  5-8 Ben Kapinga (brother of the Dinos David Kapinga) comes from St. Mary’s HS (Calgary). A valuable addition on the front line is 6-9  forward,  Patrick Vandervelden, who is a transfer from Trinity Western  (he will red-shirt in 2017-18).

The Manitoba Bisons added 6-1 Rashawn Browne, a Toronto high school star, who played a year at New Mexico St Univ, then at California U. of Pennsylvania.

 

UNB signs 2 Southern Alberta stars

Ibrahima Doumbouya with UNB Coach, Brent Baker.

6’6 combo guard,  Ibrahima Doumbouya, who played for Coach Bill Mitchell at Lester  Pearson HS in Calgary , and 6’7  post man, Taner Parrington,  from Okotoks, Foothills HS and SAIT  Trojans  will both travel across Canada to join the U. New Brunswick Reds of the Atlantic League.  Reds Coach, Brent Baker, has high hopes for both players, and he and Doumbouya agree that “he’s going to come in and make an impact right away.”

 

Calgary Comeback Beats Bears

5th year Dinos lead guard, Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, counts 29 in a big win over Alberta.

5th year Dinos lead guard, Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, counts 29 in a big win over Alberta.

# 7 Calgary (9-2)   90   Alberta  (4-5)   84  –  The Calgary Dinos show their grit and team confidence as they erase an early Alberta lead, and take an emotionally charged game with some clutch play in the 4th quarter in Edmonton.  The Bears went in as one of the best shooting teams in the CIS (47% FG ) and came out firing most accurately in establishing a 29 -17 lead after 10 minutes. But Calgary refuses to wilt under the barrage, and the visitors respond with  29 points of their own in the 2nd quarter to close to 49-46.

Ken Otieno tallied 20 pts including 4/6 treys in the first half as the 3 point shot is, again,  Alberta’s favourite weapon, and they cash  9/15 long bombs for 60% at the half.  In the 2nd half, fouls take their toll with Alberta’s big men, Rav Dhaliwal then Mamadou Gueye picking up 4 fouls, and Gueye eventually fouling out.  The Bears extended their lead to  67-61 after 3, but the 4th quarter saw the Dinos take control.

Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, as he has so often in Dinos colours,  takes charge, as he breaks down the Alberta defense in tallying 29 pts on 10/16 shooting, with 5/9 from outside. The 5th year guard also chalked up 9 rebounds, and 8 assists, aiding 3 teammates reach double figures including 11 pts/ 4 boards from rookie import Lars Schleuter, and 10 pts apiece by 2nd year guard Jhony Verrone and LJ Hegwood.

Calgary collected 35 rebounds to Alberta’s 22, with Josh Owen-Thomas’ 6 rebs/9 pts helping the cause.   The Bears are led by Otieno’s 25 points, with Joel Friesen nailing 18, and rookie guard Andriy Hlushko goes 5/5 from outside for 15 pts.  Calgary shoots 53% to Alberta’s 50% from the floor.

Emotions ran high in the 2nd half when the game got close and the clock ran down, as technical fouls were assessed to both teams for ‘taunting’.  Frustration was evident on the part of Alberta as Calgary scored the final 8 points in the last 1:10 to snatch the win after trailing most of the way.   box score 

This is a significant win for the Dinos, now 9-2 at the top of the Pioneer Division; they top their biggest rival, but also do it in road game against a more veteran team.  The 2nd semester schedule is unrelentingly tough, so getting this one in the win column carries extra weight.  Calgary Coach Dan Vanhooren says, after the game, “We are very proud of our guys; they never gave up, and just kept battling. This is a big win, especially when we know how tough the competition will be in the 2nd half of our schedule.”

The Bears will re-charge , and, undoubtedly be a factor in the playoff chase in the New Year, but they will feel the pain of this loss at least until they come to Calgary for the February 5th return match.

 

Overtime –

Bears 5th year leader, Ken Otieno

Bears 5th year leader, Ken Otieno

  •   U of A’s Ken Otieno discussing the changes in this year’s team leadership for the Bears, “The big thing is leadership,” Otieno said. “Last year we had four or five fifth-years, so they knew what they were doing on the court, leadership was there and everyone was in sync. I was with them for almost five to six years. It’s tough not having those guys around right now and losing them is obviously a big factor.”   From an Edmonton Journal article by Andrew Jeffrey.
  • “The trip to Saskatchewan hurt,” Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp said following his team’s sweep of Alberta last weekend. “It showed some cracks, but we all have them. “We’ll take a week off here and then practise through the Christmas break,” he added. “We’ll need those games in Santa Barbara and then we open up in Manitoba, which is an awfully good team right now.”  From a story by Mario Annicchiarico in the Victoria Times-Colonist.
  • It’s disturbing to hear the annoying whining from home announcers (The U of A guys aren’t the only ones on  Canada West TV, but Friday night saw them take it to a new level) … stop apologizing for the home team, crying for every foul.  Oh, and by the way, Calgary wins, and we need commentary, not personal rants.  You did take away from the game … you didn’t even come close to ‘leaving it there’.  Ad nauseum.
  •   More game stats – Alberta hits 52% from 3 point range and Calgary is 50%. Except from the foul line, it is an incredible shooting game;  but Calgary could have lost the game from the charity stripe in going 15/26 for 58% vs the 72% for the Bears on 13/18.  The Dinos take advantage of 30 pts off the  bench  against 17 for Alberta (15 of which come from Hlushko’s outside shooting.)  Calgary gets 1/3 of their scoring from Ogunbemi-Jackson’s 29, but also important efforts and production from Jasdeep Gill, Owen-Thomas, and Hegwood.  The Bears’ Gueye is held in check, with only 4 points, as he plays just 22 minutes with foul trouble,  Calgary’s Phil Barndt is limited to 12 minutes / 5 points for the same reason. This is one of the best assist to turnover games of the season for both teams – 17 A/8 TO for Alberta, and 16/9 for Calgary.

Dinos at Bears on Friday

 

The Battle of Alberta – Scene 27,145

5th year wing, Joel Friesen  of Alberta, will test Dallas Karch and other Calgary defenders.

5th year wing, Joel Friesen of Alberta, will test Dallas Karch and other Calgary defenders in Friday’s only game in Canada West.

After having just witnessed first-hand the cultural phenomenon that is the Grey Cup, we can ‘feel the love’ flowing across all manner of sports competitions between Edmonton and Calgary.  The dozens of Eskimos faithful in our section of B.C. Place Stadium on Sunday afternoon would have cheered heartily for the forces of Attila the Hun, or even the Russian Army as long as they were going to bring down the hated Stampeders. (Hate may be a strong word, but it fits in this Red vs Green ‘rivalry’).

The Dinos – Bears history has fewer participants, but the players, coaches, fans, and even some media (dwindling on a yearly basis, unfortunately), are energized by annual contests between the schools.  This season, the basketball teams have scheduled a home- and- home pair of games, starting with Friday’s tip-off at the Saville Centre in Edmonton.

The sub-text here –  Alberta has won 4 straight at home against the Dinos … however, Calgary beat the Bears in October in Calgary.  Alberta are the defending Canada West champs, and Calgary have missed the playoffs for the last 2 seasons.

This season thus far, Calgary is 8-2, with 2 wins over Winnipeg, Brandon, and Trinity W., plus splits with Manitoba and Regina.  Alberta has a  4-4 mark, arguably vs a slate of tougher opponents –  2 wins vs Trinity, then a split with Saskatchewan and with UBC, and 2 losses at UVic.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.26.04 AM

 

Neither offense has consistently pleased their coaches, Dan Vanhooren of Calgary or Barnaby Craddock of Alberta.  The Bears spread their scoring around a bit more amongst starters, but Calgary has had an average of 28 ppg off the bench vs just 13.5 for Alberta.  Alberta will try and harass Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, and the Dinos will attempt to contain Joel Friesen, both of whom are  having sparkling 5th years.  ‘OJ’ seems able to respond to one on one challenges, and he has been involving his teammates in the offensive flow to a greater extent this season.

The Bears advantage is their 3 point shooting with both Friesen and point man Youssef Ouahrig lighting it up from long-range.  Calgary hasn’t been effective from beyond the arc, even though players like OJ, Phil Barndt, and rookie, Lars Schleuter,  have had success in the past. Defensive stability has been a calling card for Coach Craddock, and the Dinos will be looking to improve the consistency of their effort in that area.

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Home teams in Canada West have won 44 and lost 30 in the opening half of the schedule, and Alberta has been pretty good at defending the Saville Centre home court, so we’d have to establish the GBs as the favourites.  Both teams will be looking at this as a special game, not only the ‘Battle of Alberta’ over-tones, but also with all the focus on them as no one else in the whole CIS plays this week .

Who can come up big for either team ?  Of course, Friesen for Alberta and Ogungbemi-Jackson for Calgary, but let’s pick a couple of others:  the Bears have proven firepower in both Mamadou Gueye, a quick, slashing wing, and Ken Otieno, who has been a 20+ ppg scorer in the past;  for the Dinos, it might well be Phil Barndt, the 5th year post, who can hit the open jumper from any range, then take it to the hole, and 2nd year, LJ Hegwood, whose speed and quickness can create instant offense.

Game time –  8 pm Friday, Dec. 5  on Canada West TV  (this costs a ‘small fee’ for any Bears home game this season. Just a Canada West test run on pay-per-view possibilities).

 

The CIS Top 5 … Plus 5Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 11.20.18 AM

The ‘Famous 5 – Titans from the Heartland’, remain behind the giant moat separating the CIS Top 5 and the ‘also-rans’ from 6-10.  (We must be aware that all of the 5 ‘won tournaments’ in various parts of the country in the pre-season.  They are for real.)

If you’re in parts East or West, you might be excused, however, for a bit of cheering for teams like Western, Guelph, Lakehead, York, Laurier, or maybe even Laurentian to ambush one of the ‘Titans” in a future OUA league game.  Maybe at a Holiday tournament?

In the 6 -10 spots, we have Victoria moving up after taking 2 from Saskatchewan.  The Huskies are fortunate to stay ranked. Quite frankly, the continued exclusion of Manitoba, who are tied for the Pioneer Division lead in Canada West, is an ‘oversight’.

UNB loses a pair and drops from 6 to 8, and Calgary bumps up to 7 with 2 wins, while UFV are 9th as they remain unbeaten in the Explorer.  Because of the Canada West ‘split’, it is tough to see the Cascades getting much higher.

Dinos on Top With Tough Win

 

 

Canada West – Friday results 

With 2 exceptions it was home teams prevailing on Friday night in Canada West, as Calgary, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg,  Lethbridge,  and UNBC win while TWU and Fraser valley get road wins.

Pioneer Division – 

'JOJ' takes charge in the clutch for the Dinos.

‘JOJ’ takes charge in the clutch for the Dinos, with 22 points in win over Manitoba.

at Calgary Dinos 76  Manitoba Bisons 71 –  Half-way through the weekend, the Dinos (6-1) take over 1st place, but it wasn’t without a fight. After a somewhat dozy opening 20 minutes, the Dinos trailed by 8, but 1/2 time adjustments shut down the shooting of the Herd’s Amarjit Basi  and Jonathan Alexander who scored all of their combined 30 points in that opening half. The Dinos offense revved up in the 2nd as Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson finishes strong for 22 pts/6 rebs, and LJ Hegwood wins the 6th man battle with 20 points on 9 of 12/  5 rebs, 2 steals. Manitoba’s best was Alexander’s 18 pts, as they drop to 5-2.  The game got physical in the 2nd half, with bodies flying on numerous occassions.   box score

 at Saskatchewan Huskies 82 Victoria Vikes 70 – A strong (46-31) opening half staked the Huskies (3-2) to the lead they needed, as Evan Ostertag comes off the bench to score 24 pts on 10/15, while Mike Scott notched 19, and Ben Baker has 14 plus 5 steals.  UVic (4-1) is shackled by 18 turnovers, and by giving up 14 O -boards to the ‘Dogs. Chris McLaughlin’s double of 16 pts/12 boards and 18 pts/4 assts by Marcus Tibbs couldn’t boost the Vikes stock in this 1st loss of the season.  box score

at Winnipeg Wesmen  90  UBC Thunderbirds  81-  The Wesmen protected a 10 point lead at the half, and hung on for their 4th win, as UBC drops to 1-4 despite shooting 53% from the floor.  Winnipeg (4-3) was 52% , and their 9/20 treys was the difference. Jelane Pryce led the Ws with 25 on 11/16, while Chris Baxter came off the bench for 19 .  UBC  got 21 pts/6 rebs from Tommy Nixon, and 14 pts/5 rebs from Brylle Kamen. box score

at Lethbridge Pronghorns 93 Regina Cougars 85  – It was ‘all guns blazing’ in Lethbridge, as the ‘Horns (5-2) hit 50% from the floor and beyond the arc, while enjoying a big 24/30 FTs vs just 12/14 for the visitors. 6 from U of L in double figures scoring paced by Jared Baker’s treble of  20 pts, 10 rebs, 11 assists. Brent Watkins added 13 pts/11 rebs. Regina (2-5) have Brandon Tull with 22 pts/3 steals and Jonathan Tull scoring 19 and adding 4 steals.  box score

Trinity Western Spartans 80  at Brandon Bobcats 71  – The Spartans (1-6) enjoy their 1st win with a good shooting night (49% FG)  and a big 46-31 beat -down of the ‘Cats on the boards.  4 Spartans with double figures led by 18 from Justin Bakuteka and 16 by Jesse Jeffers.  Brandon  (0-7) could not take big enough advantage of 25 Trinity turnovers, as they also have a 5/21 vs TWU’s 11/22 (Taylor Heinrichs is 4/4) from 3 pt range.  D.J Jordan scored 19 pts, and Ali Mounir Benabdehak hit 16 and had 9 boards.   box score

Explorer Division – 

Fraser Valley's Kevon Parchment leads the charge in the Cascades road win at TRU.

Fraser Valley’s Kevon Parchment leads the charge in the Cascades road win at TRU.

Fraser Valley Cascades 83  at Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack  73   –   The Cascades  (5-0 ) win the 1 vs 2 battle with a strong road game highlighted by double figure scoring from 6 players, topped by 18 pts/ 7 rebs/ 4 assts from Kevon Parchment.  Kadeem Willis has 14 pts/ 7 boards/ 4 steals off the bench.  TRU ( 3-2) get out-shot 47% – 38% from the floor, and out-rebounded 46- 42.  Josh Wolfram is the games high scorer for the ‘Pack with 22 plus 13 rebs. Tallon Milne adds 10 pts/11 rebs.  box score

at  UNBC Timberwolves 71  Mt. Royal Cougars  60 –  The MRU offense is stalled out, as they hit 39% and commit 17 turnovers.  The Cougars (2-3) get to the line for only 6/7 vs 15/23 for the Wolves.  UNBC (1-4) gets win #1 behind the 14 points of Rhys Elliot, and 13 plus 9 boards from Jeff Chu.  The Cougars get 14 pts and 7 boards from James Lefebvre box score

 at UBC-Okanagan Heat 80   MacEwan Griffins 76   –   The Heat (2-3) get their 2nd straight win , as they come flying off the opening tip in a 28-15 first quarter, as they’re led by Mitch Goodwin’s 24 points/ 5 rebs/3 assts. , and Aldrich Berrios adds 13 pts.  Okanagan win the rebounding 46-43, with a team effort on the boards. MacEwan (2-3) shoots just 34%, despite Denzel James’  22 pts from 8/12 shooting.  Ryan May gets a double of 11 points/11 rebs for the Griffs, who stay close at the end with a big Free throw margin of 28/37 (76%) to just 10/12 for the Heat.    box score

 

Other CIS Games – Thur/ Friday 

at Bishop’s  71  Laval  58

at UNB 98  St. FX  74

at Acadia  85  Cape Breton  68

at Dalhousie  72  54

#1 Carleton 91  at W. Laurier  50

#2 Ottawa  89  at Waterloo   48

at  #3 Ryerson    Laurentian

Western 68  at Algoma (Sault St. Marie)  55

at Toronto  72  Nipissing  59

at Guelph  63  Queens  56