These 7 Teams Look to Move Up in Canada West

 

 

Brandon Tull will be a senior leader for the Regina Cougars.      photo – Arthur Ward

 Regina – The Cougars go 9-11 and are good at their best, but are troubled by injuries in the 2nd semester.  Coach Steve Burrows will enter his 5th year at the helm, and faces the task of ‘renewing’ a roster which loses 3 veteran mainstays.  Travis Sylvestre, Stephen Shields, and Matt Augustine graduate, and more size will be crucial in the recruiting project.  The Cougs have dependable vets returning in Brandon Tull, Alex Igual, and Brian Ofori.  Burrows looks to the younger Hillis bothers, Ben and Samuel, and rookie star, Johneil Johnson to pick up some of the slack.  An infusion of talent, especially in the bigs, will be necessary if UR is to move up.

Thompson Rivers –   Coach Scott Clark loses a ‘franchise player’ in import forward, Volodymyr Iegorov, who graduates this Spring.  Clark could anticipate that challenge, but the veteran bench boss also has his rookie stand-out, Trent Monkman,  transferring to Victoria. The Wolf Pack, 8-12,  have been a play-off team in recent years, and Clark has worked successfully to develop his young talent. This coming season will test his resolve once more.  The Orange returnees include import guard, Derek Rhodes, strong forward, Luke Morris, guard, Michael Rouault, and scrappy point man, Madhu McConnell.  TRU will also be looking for some size in the recruiting process, and certainly more depth for this young group.

MRU’s import star, Josh Ross,  returns for his 5th year        Photo – Cougars Athletics

Mt. Royal –  The ‘Blue Cougars’ face a familiar challenge, as Coach Marc Dobell sees 2 big post men, Brett Layton, and Ray Goff leaving the roster along with 5th year guard, Derek Wolf .  Layton is wanting to start Law School, and Goff has had very tough nagging leg injuries, and is graduating early next year.  MRU does return guards Glen Yang, Noah Lewis, and Craig Martin along with import  scoring leader, Josh Ross, Ryan Cunningham, and forward, Nick Tancon.  Coach Dobell is waiting to announce his signees, and has not quite finished the process.  We do understand that L.J. Hegwood is looking to transfer in from SAIT, and that McNally HS (Calgary) star, 6-7 Diew Moses, may be headed to the Cougars as well.

MacEwan –  There will be significant change with the Griffins, as they say goodbye to Denzel James, Thomas Jereniuk, Cole Aikens, Keith Gerdes, and Tyler Wise as 5th year grads.  Thadius Galvez, their outstanding lead guard, is also on the move, and Coach Eric Magdanz is left with a major recruiting task.  Returnees Ryan Coleman, Harrison Lane, Adonis Montfort -Palomino, Ali Raza, and Atlas St. Paul-Butler will be counted on next Fall. The Griffs have younger players like British import, Jake Notice, along with 3rd year guard,  Tarik Scott, coming off an injury rehab, and a local red-shirt freshman, Deonte Doslov-Doctor.  Recent signees include Lincoln Anderson, a 6-3 guard from Cardston, AB, who comes off a 2 year Mormon  church mission, and 6-8, Ben Niles, from Kamloops (Valleyview Sr Sec).  Coach Magdanz is also excited about Dustin Gatski  (Westlock, AB), a 6-4 transfer after  1 year of Junior College in Wyoming, and Moreau Amadou  a 6-4 wing from   Sir Winston Churchill, Calgary.

Marcus MacKay will carry a big scoring load for the Timberwolves.

UNBC –  Starting last season at 4-4 last Fall, The T’Wolves struggled through 12 straight losses to finish at 4-16, well out of play-off contention.  They lose their slick guard, Rhys Elliot, along with Elliott Rowe, and Sam Zhang to graduation. Coach Todd Jordan will be looking to add some size and more punch to his roster this Spring and Summer.  The UNBC returnees should include big shooting guard, Marcus MacKay, lead guard, James Agyeman, Vaggelis Loukas, an active forward, and Anthony Hokanson, who is a skilled wing man.   Adam Pahl, a  6-6 wing from Okotoks (Foothills HS) , AB was announced in January, and he comes with high hopes.  Volodymyr Pluzhnikov, is a ‘tough-minded’ guard coming off the red-shirt list, and Jordan has a few more prospects he hopes to sign in the next few weeks.  “We need to get bigger, and to make big improvements in our rebounding”, says the 5th year Head man.

Trinity Western –  The Spartans, 3-17 last season, do not graduate any 5th years, and Coach Aaron Muhic suggests that his returnee list should include all of his current roster players. We have mentioned veteran guard, Tyus Allen, who is rehabbing his injured knee, but who will not be ready until at least the Fall of 2018.  The Spartans will return  import guard, Pogos Trunyan, their high scorer (15 ppg), along with 6-10 post Patrick Vandervelden (13 ppg/7.2 rebs), and Vartan Tanielian, a 12 ppg scorer at wing. Among his younger contributors will be guards Max Viitala, and Josiah Meppelink.  TWU have not announced any new signees or transfers.

UBC-Okanagan –  After an 8-12 record in 2015-16, the Heat cooled off to just 2-18 last season.  Coach Peter Guarasci, in his 5th year, loses guard Mitch Goodwin to graduation.  But, he also has 7 other roster players (Cam Friesen, Randy Jernidier, Ryan Morck, Austin Penrose, Buster Truss, David Manshreck, and Davide Ciancio) who will not return, which obviouly leaves a daunting task of recuiting this Spring. Aldrich Berrios, his high-scoring (17.6 ppg) guard is back for his 4th year, along with back-court rookies, Matt Lafontaine, and Tristan Matthews.  Noma Obeseki, an athletic small forward,  will be entering his 3rd year.  Owen Keyes, a 6’9” Kelowna Sr Sec. stand-out has already signed, and looks like a strong prospect. Jake Stokker, Penticton Sr. Sec  is another big man signee , details in this story from Kelowna Capital News 

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Overtime –

  • Mason Foreman, a 6-7 forward from Winnipeg, who most recently attended Athlete Institute Prep just outside Toronto, has signed with the Calgary Dinos for next Fall.  Mason’s father is Jeff Foreman, who was a 3-time CIS All-Canadian with the Winnipeg Wesmen (Great Plains Athletic Conference)  in 1992, ’93, and ’94. ( In 1994, Jeff was CIS Player of the Year, and he was also a member of the Canadian national team.)
  •  UVic will, later this week, induct two former basketball stars into their Vikes Hall of Fame. Spencer McKay , was a dominating post man for Vikes teams of the late 1980s – early 1990s, and Carol Turney-Loos, was a key to their 1980 National title.   More details in this Oak Bay News article   

Wesmen, Horns Both Move On

 

Wesmen up the pace, and run past UFV

Winnipeg’s Narcisse Ambanza attacks UFV’s Vijay Dhillon     photo – Kelly Morton, Wesmen Athletics

at Winnipeg  84 Fraser Valley   59 –  With a dominant 2nd half effort, the Ws took this 3rd and deciding game through defensive opportunism and offensive transition.  After a bit of a slow start, where they are down 34-30 at the half, the Wesmen lit the fire in the 3rd.   Denzel Lynch-Blair, their 3rd year guard scoring 10 pts, and rookie Narcisse Ambanza 8 pts in the frame.  That 18 point Winnipeg lead became 20, then 25 as the home team finished with authority.

Fraser Valley gave the Wesmen a tough go in game 1 and 2, slowing down the UW attack, and using their own 3 point shooting to advantage.  In this deciding game, it was Winnipeg dictating the pace. “We were able to get out in transition in the 2nd half”, said Head Coach Mike Raimbault following the win. “They slowed us down at times, and Adam (Friesen, UFV Coach) did a good job with his guys .  We finished better today when we created those chances.”

On the game it was Ambanza tallying 22 points, many off the break, and Lynch -Blair   adding 19 points/ 7 rebounds/ 4 steals.  The Ws get another ‘blue collar’ effort from William Sesay, who had 10 points and secured 12 rebounds.  Winnipeg out-shot a rattled UFV squad 49% to 32% from the floor, and had an exceptional ‘ball control’ game with just 7 turnovers.

Fraser Valley  had just 2 players in double figures, as Manny Dulay scored 11 and Mark Johnson 10.  The 3 point attack just wasn’t there for the visitors, with Dulay, playing his last game for the Cascades, getting lots of extra attention from Winnipeg defenders.  Box  Score      …     The Wesmen will skip over to Saskatchewan next week to meet the #2 seeded Huskies in a best of 3 quarter-final.

 

Dejon Burdeaux carries the Pronghorns to a sweep of UVic.  photo – ‘Horns Athletics

at Lethbridge 94  Victoria  85 –  For 3/4s it was Victoria with a 7 point spread, as they had at the half.   The Vikes were much more solid than on Friday, and their defense had held the ‘Horns in check.

But Lethbridge cranked it up at both ends in the final 10 minutes, pouring in 33 points to close out the series.  When called upon, Dejon Burdeaux has found a way to get Lethbridge on top, and tonight he did that in spades.  His 34 points came from tough drives to the hoop,  off steals, and at the foul line.  The 4th year guard from Oakland, CA  is constantly in the centre of the action, as 6 steals and 12 rebounds would attest. He created scores for teammates, but did much of the heavy-lifting on his own.  Zac Overwater was also key for the ‘Horns with 14 pts/ 8 rebs/ 3 assists.  Team rebounding  (UL 47 – UVic 29) created extra chances for the home side, and they cashed 29/39 from the line, as well as going 43% from 3 point range.

The Vikes also shot well from the stripe at 21/23, but ran out of offense when the ‘Horns clamped down in the 4th.   Grant Sitton scored 23 points in his last game for the Vikes, adding 7 rebounds.  His scoring total was matched by a strong game from Hassan Abdullahi, who hit  8/9 from the floor, including 5/5 from 3 point range. Box  Score        Lethbridge qualifies for the quarter-finals, and will meet # 3 Alberta beginning next Thursday night in Edmonton.

 

TRU’s Voldymyr Iegorov posts a big double-double to pace the ‘Pack past Brandon in game 2.

Thompson Rivers 96   at Brandon 64  –   That’s 95+ for the ‘Pack on consecutive nights, and Coach Scott  Clark’s call for defense gets results, as his Wolves force a game 3 on Sunday.  Brandon cannot mount a steady offense, and the shots would not fall for the home side.  TRU hit 48% from the floor to a mere 33% for the ‘Cats.   A real team effort from the visitors, with 11 Wolves hitting the scoresheet, and tremendous team rebounding edge of 54-39 over BU.

The Wolf Pack force a 3rd game  with great long-ball shooting at 12/22 from 3, led by the 3 apiece from Luke Morris and Derek Rhodes.  Meanwhile their all-star 5th year forward, Voldymyr Iegorov scores 20 points, grabs 15 rebounds and makes 3 steals.  Rhodes leads all scorers with 21 pts, and Joe Davis, the 2nd year forward from Kamloops continues his smart play, hitting 6/7 from the floor for 14 points/ 4 rebs.

Brandon got 13 points/ 6 rebs/ 6 assts from Earl Thompson Jr. , and are now challenged to get their offense back on track, and halt the TRU scoring going the other way.  Box  Score          …      Game 3 goes at 3 pm Central on Sunday.

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In the East –  Saturday 

Atlantic – at #10 Dalhousie 75  Acadia 63   Both Dalhousie and UNB have clinched the top 2 seeds  in the AUS tournament at Halifax. There are still games left next week in the AUS regular season.

Quebec – McGill 89  Bishops 71  … the Redmen have clinched 1st in the RSEQ, but there are league games remaining to be played next week.

Ontario – at #1 Carleton 100 Toronto 36,  #5 Ryerson 94 at #3 Ottawa 88 , #4 Brock 91  Windsor 69, Western  95  McMaster 89,  at Guelph 76 Waterloo 74,  at Algoma 88  Nipissing 87, W. Laurier 78  at Lakehead  75

These are the final OUA League games.  The top 4 seeds (by RPI ratings)  , with a bye until the quarter-finals are 1 Carleton  2 Ottawa  3 Ryerson  4 Brock   The 1st round of play-offs are as follows –  #9 McMaster at #8 Windsor ,    #12 Lakehead at #5 Toronto,  #11 Queen’s at #6 Nipissing #10 Laurier at #7 Laurentian … games are Weds, Feb 22.

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Overtime –

  • In Canada West Women’s play-offs –   UBC 76  UNBC  55 – a sweep for the T’Birds. Fraser Valley 61  Calgary 59 – the series goes to a 3rd game at 5 pm Pacific Sunday.   Victoria 68  MacEwan 60–  UVic wins the series 2-0,  Trinity Western 67  Brandon 60 – TWU wins the series 2-1.

 

 

Cascades Ride Dulay to Game 3

 

 

‘If Manny Dulay crosses centre, is he in shooting range ? ‘

 Fraser Valley 78  at Winnipeg  71 –    “Magic Manny’ Dulay has given us the 3 game series we suspected we would have with these 2 evenly- matched teams.  In an extremely well-played game (only 14 total turnovers between the teams), it was the killer shooting

Precision shooting by UFV’s Manny Dulay takes the teams to game 3. photo – UFV Athletics

display by the 5th year guard from Surrey that fuelled the Cascades win in game 2.

In this virtuoso matinee performance, Dulay was an incredible 7 of 7 from way outside, as he scored 29 points/ 6 rebs/ 5 asst/ 3 steals.  Mark Johnson stepped up for 14 points, as he was 2/3 from 3 pt range, as well as claiming 7 rebounds.  The middle of the game saw the visitors tallying 49 points, and today they were able to limit Winnipeg in any small 4th quarter surge.

The Ws get 22 points from the highest scoring non-starter in Canada West, import guard  Sean Tarver. Winnipeg’s Ryan Oirbans is effective again with 16 pts /10 rebs, but the difference was the 12/22 (55%) UFV shooting from beyond the arc.  The Wesmen hit just 5 treys, and thats a 21 point spread !  14/15 from the line helped Winnipeg, but that was not enough to have the home side threaten in the end.   Box  Score    The 3rd and deciding game is Saturday at the same 3 pm Central time.        This and the other play off games available   On Canada West TV

Justus Alleyn leads Manitoba to a series sweep over Regina.   photo- Jeff Miller – Bisons Sports

at Manitoba 88  Regina   80  –  The Bisons claim a spot in the quarter-finals, with a strong opening half, where they open up a 13 point advantage, looking more relaxed and ready than on Friday.  The Herd expand that lead in the 3rd quarter, then hold off a late Regina flurry for the sweep of this series.

Once again tonight, it’s guard Justus Alleyn leading the way for UM with 20 points/ 3 steals, while back-court mate A.J. Basi hits 18 points.  There are 5 Bisons in double digits, as they shoot 48% from the floor, and 41% from 3 pt range ( Alleyn is 4/8 outside and Malik Irwin 2/2 and 10 pts) . Turnovers played a role, with Regina committing 19 and Manitoba 17, while the home side wins the rebound battle 45-36.

Brandon Tull leads the Cougars in their final game of the season, with 19 points/ 4 steals.  UR got 13 points apiece from Johneil Johnson and Travis Sylvestre.   Box  Score    Manitoba earns a date in the Q-finals with the UBC Thunderbirds out in Vancouver starting next Thursday.

Tyvon Cooper scores 30 as the ‘cats win game 1 over TRU. photo- BU sports

at Brandon  101  Thompson Rivers 95  –  Break up the Bobcats !   Finding a  new team confidence, the ‘Cats send their fans home smiling, as they hit 55% from the floor and join the visiting T’Wolves in a  53-55 track-meet in the final 20 minutes.  No one blinked as both teams let it rip, with Brandon hitting 2 more treys (and 52% from 3 pt range)  for the difference.

Tyvon Cooper had a slick 30 points/ 8 rebounds for the Bobcats, while Earl Thompson Jr ‘hit for the cycle’ with 20 pts/ 6 rebs/ 6 assts/ 3 steals.  All 5 BU starters were in double figures, with big John Paul registering a double of 11 pts/ 10 boards, and Pookie Saunders  posting 14 pts/ 5 rebs/ 7 assists/ 5 steals.

TRU responded to a 48-40 half-time deficit with a big offensive eruption in the 3rd and 4th quarters.  Volodymyr Iegorov displayed his play-off mettle with 29 pts/ 5 rebs/ 3 steals, and Joe Davis had one of his finer nights, cashing 24 points and grabbing 7 rebounds.     Box  Score        Game 2 is at 7 pm Central on Saturday.

Mike Pierzchala has a big 31 pt night in the ‘Horns series opening win.     photo – Levi Balan

at Lethbridge  97 Victoria 85 –  The ‘Horns repel a spirited UVic comeback in the 3rd quarter, and finish strong to capture game 1 after putting up 29 in the 4th.  The home side gets a scare, as Dejon Burdeaux, their powerhouse guard leaves with an awkward fall late in the 3rd.

Burdeaux gets some timely ‘corner work’ from his seconds, and, much to the collective relief, he’s back for a solid final 20 minutes. The big gun for UL on the night was Mike Pierzchala, with a sparkling 9/11 outside shooting display, leading to 31 points.  Also aiding a team 52% from 3 pt range was Elliott Sentance with his 21 points on 5/9 from outside, plus 8 rebs/ 7 assists.

The Vikes spread their scoring pretty well, as they get 14 pts each from Grant Sitton (9 rebs), and Taylor Montgomery-Stinson (7 boards).  UVic had 3 others in double figures, with a good team shooting night (44% FG, 41% 3 pt, and 17/19 from the line).   Victoria could not match the Pronghorns energy in the final 10 minutes, and they will need a Saturday win to extend the series.  Box  Score     Game time Saturday is 7 pm Mountain.

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Winning is Tough for Canada West’s Newest Schools

Only 2 of the 6 ‘Explorer Division teams from last season made the play-offs this campaign.   And these were not the latest entries to Canada West;  both Fraser Valley (2006) and Thompson Rivers (2005) have been in the League for some time now. The Wolf Pack and the Cascades have both enjoyed some success in play-off competition over those years.  Trinity Western joined Canada West in 1999, then, a year later, the 4 Great Plains schools were added – Brandon, Manitoba, Regina, and Winnipeg.

This season we see the newest of our 17 teams, Mt. Royal, MacEwan, UBC-O, and UNBC, all on the outside looking in at the post -season play-downs. The TWU Spartans, who are also out, have had a few brushes with championships with Jacob Doerkson and company, but have ‘fallen on harder times’ in recent seasons.

No team outside of Victoria (16), Alberta (11), UBC (9), Calgary (5), Brandon (1), Lethbridge (1), and Saskatchewan (1) have ever won the Canada West title.  There were, of course, championships won in the GPAC by Brandon, Manitoba, and Winnipeg.

This season’s play-off slate prompts us to consider the old saw, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”, as we have Calgary, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and UBC the top 4 seeds, awaiting their opponents for the quarter-final series. We do believe the newer schools can become more competitive, and, on many nights, they have been already.  It’s not easy, however, to build a consistently strong contender in the early years of participation in Canada West.

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In the East –  Friday    

Atlantic – at #10 Dalhousie 88  Saint Marys 81 ,  at Acadia 88  St. FX 82,  at UNB 99 Cape Breton 93 – a good effort by the Capers, but they remain O-for.

Quebec –  at Laval 73 UQAM 62

Ontario –   at #1 Carleton 82  #5 Ryerson 77-  Good game.  Makes the play-offs more interesting !  at #3 Ottawa 74  Toronto  54 , at Queens 70 York  60, Laurentian 87 at Algoma 64, at Lakehead 66 Waterloo 62

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Overtime –

Nova Scotia star, Andrew Milner, signs with Calgary.

  • Andrew Milner, a 6-3 guard from Antigonish, NS,  has signed with the Calgary Dinos for the Fall of 2017.  Milner, who was a member of 2 Nova Scotia Provincial teams which won Canadian Championships in 2015 and 2016, will graduate this June from Rothesay Netherwood School (NB) .  Calgary Head Coach Dan Vanhooren says, “Andrew is very skilled and dedicated young player, and we look forward to his joining our program.”

 

  • All 4 of Canada West’s 1st round play-off sites are on the Prairies … teams seeded 5 – 8. Manitoba, Lethbridge, Winnipeg, and Brandon are hoping home court will give them the edge, and they can move on to quarter-finals next week.
  • Women’s Canada West 1st Round Play-offs –   (Best of 3 series’) Thursday, Brandon 56 at Trinity Western 48,  Friday  ,  Calgary 67 at Fraser Valley 48,  at  UBC 74 UNBC 61,  at Victoria 67 MacEwan 54 ,  at Trinity W 70  Brandon 57 – goes to a 3rd game Saturday  .     Interestingly, all 4 of these series are in B.C.  The Women’s top 4 seeds are 1 Saskatchewan  2 Regina   3 Winnipeg  4 Alberta.

 

 

Bears Have Toughest Path to Title

 

 

 Bears path is the rockiest 

photo- brody clarke, Alberta

Brody Clarke and his Alberta team have a very tough schedule in the season’s 2nd half.

The Alberta Golden Bears are in 1st place in Canada West, with their 11-1 record, but their path to a title is still a rocky one.  At #6 in the U-Sport Coaches Top 10 this week, the Bears got there by virtue of a 1 point win over the Calgary Dinos, to earn a split in last weekend’s home and home series.

There is no let-up this week, as the Bruins travel to Vancouver for a clash with the #3 UBC Thunderbirds. Historical record – Bears are 89 wins – 90 losses vs the T’Birds !  And that may well reflect the 2 teams’ competitiveness this season.  The top 2 in the standings, and both with only 1 loss.

From there, Alberta hosts the improving Fraser Valley Cascades (5-5) on January 20-21, then they get a bye week before  travelling to Saskatoon Feb 3-4 for a predictably tough assignment against the Huskies (6-4).  U of A finishes up at home against another contending team, the Lethbridge Pronghorns (8-4).  All – in – all, a rugged path through the decisive 2nd half of the schedule.

Calgary hosts Fraser Valley in a Thursday-Friday series –  

The Calgary Dinos (8-2) will be looking to maintain their  position near the top of the Canada West standings with 2 wins this week against the visiting UFV Cascades.  (Game 1 is Thursday – 8 pm Mountain at UC, and available on Canada West TV with ace play-by-play man, Lucas Meyer, and colour from John Tramble.)  The Dinos come off a close loss to rivals , Alberta, and will need to re-focus on a dangerous UFV squad.

logo UFV

Cascades guards, Manny Dulay (15.9 ppg/4.6 rebs/5.4 asst/2.7 steals), and Vijay Dhillon (12.4 ppg/3 rebs/ 3 asst) will go head to head with UC’s David Kapinga (10.3 ppg/ , and 6-5 Mambi Diawara (13.1 ppg . Lars Schleuter, at 6-7, (brings a 3 point threat for the Dinos , as does 6-5, 5th year, ‘designated shooter’ Jasdeep Gill (47.6% from 3)

The pairings up front have UFV’s Nav Bains (8.3 ppg/ and Mark Johnson (9.4 ppg/6.8 rebs) facing Calgary’s Matt Ellis, Conor Morgan, and Mitch Ligertwood (a combined 14.1 ppg/9.4 rebs).  The Cascades’  6-5, 3rd year transfer (UVic), Andrew Morris, is a strong 6th man, who can score, and is shooting close to 50% from the floor.  Starter at the wing, Anthony Gilchrist (8.3 ppg), may be the man trying to contain the Dinos high-scoring wing-man, Thomas Cooper (24.3 ppg/ 6 rebs/2 steals).

The Dinos have an edge in most key offensive categories, but Fraser Valley looks like they may have found a groove lately, and could come on with their attack.  The Cascades big threat is their guard combo, and Calgary will be sure to have defensive harassment as a weapon against Dulay and Dhillon. Home court, and a more productive offense gives the Dinos a decided edge.

 

Canada West Schedule  this week-                  

 Thursday, Jan 12  –  

Fraser Valley Cascades  at #5  Calgary Dinos

Friday, Jan 13 –

Fraser Valley Cascades  at #5  Calgary Dinos

#6 Alberta Golden Bears  at #3 UBC Thunderbirds –  Preview of this feature series tomorrow .  

Saskatchewan Huskies at Lethbridge Pronghorns

Mt. Royal Cougars at UNBC Timberwolves

Winnipeg Wesmen   at Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack

Manitoba Bisons  at Regina Cougars

Victoria Vikes at UBC-Okanagan Heat

MacEwan Griffins at Brandon Bobcats

Saturday, Jan 7 – 

Bears at Thunderbirds

Huskies at Pronghorns

Vikes at Heat

MRU Cougars at Timberwolves

Wesmen at Wolf Pack

Bisons at R. Cougars

Griffins at Bobcats

Trinity Western Spartans at home, resting …

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Scores from the East – 

Atlantic –  at St. FX 96 Cape Breton 80, at U-Sp #8 Dalhousie 84 Acadia 81 OT

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There were losses for Top 10 teams last week, including a split between #3 Calgary and #8 Alberta (69-60 UC at U of A, then 81-80 for the Bears in Calgary) .  Also in Canada West, it was un-ranked Saskatchewan winning game 1 of their series with UBC  by a 95-78 count. The Nipissing Lakers beat #6 Brock 69-66, and Laurentian rose up to topple #9 McMaster 95-87.  In Quebec, #7 McGill lost a mid-week game to Laval 70-63.   Memorial is not ranked, even though they lead the AUS standings?

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Overtime –

  • As of last week’s games, we have no undefeated teams left in either Men’s or Women’ s play in Canada West.  In Men’s play, Saskatchewan (6-4) beat UBC (9-1) on Friday, and Calgary (8-2) had beaten Alberta (11-1) in a Thursday contest. On the Women’s side, both Winnipeg (11-1) and Alberta (11-1) were handed Saturday night losses by Trinity Western (7-5) and Calgary (7-3) respectively.
  • The Dinos and Cascades have not met since February 2015, when UFV beat UC in 2 straight in the CW Q-finals in Abbotsford.  The ‘Trees’ have won 5 of the last 7 games between these 2 teams.
  • Quebec Standings –  There is not much to choose between the top 4 teams, and McGill, the favourites, have yet to distance themselves from the pack.  After having seen Bishops out West in the Fall pre-season, we are surprised at the struggles for the Gaiters to this point. # 9 McGill has a big home and home this weekend with cross=town rival, UQAM, while Laval has a H/H against Bishops .

 

 

 

Canada West Pioneer – Nip and Tuck

 

 

Hammer and Tong in the Pioneer Division  Battle –

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The games are fiercely contested, largely competitive, and beginning to take a toll.  More players and teams are ‘sore, lame, hurting, fatigued’, or just flat-out injured, as we talk with coaches around the League. Last week saw leaps forward – by Winnipeg, with their 2 wins at home over Victoria, as the Wesmen hit 7-5;  by Alberta, who are now 7-6 after getting 2 much-needed road wins at Brandon; and by Calgary, who mix up their line-up, and throttle the short-handed TWU Spartans to stay in 1st place at 12-3.
We saw significant wins –  Regina, most notably, who won their 1st-ever game at UBC on Saturday, and sit at a tidy 8-4, in 4th place; Manitoba (9-5) on Saturday, getting a win in Lethbridge, and ‘calming the Herd’ after a disappointing Friday loss. We have to assume the ‘Pronghorns (7-5) were pleased with the Friday home win, but not so much on Saturday.
We have last year’s champs, UVic (7-7), staggering  back home after 2 more losses (at Winnipeg), and trying to steady the ship before the Thunderbirds visit this coming weekend.
And, painfully, we had both Brandon and Trinity Western remain winless, with 2 losses apiece.


Now That We’ve Decided First in the Explorer …

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 7.15.30 AM

The whole Division has a bye week  !  This is a  chance to heal, take a few deep breaths, re-tool the game-plans, and prepare for the final 3 weekends.
But the TRU Wolf Pack are getting stronger, and distancing themselves from the fray beneath them … we have to call it at this point. … 2 home wins over MRU, and they are 12-2, with a 3 game lead.


Fraser Valley, at their healthy-best, can still be a playoff factor, but their current run of injuries and illness has taken away some of the confidence and cohesion. A bad loss on Saturday at MacEwan, and now 9-5.
Okanagan (7-7) get 2 road wins and 3rd place on their own, as they clip the UNBC ‘Wolves, who are another crew licking their wounds, falling to a distant 3-11.
MacEwan needed and got a ‘lifeline-win’ on Saturday vs UFV, and the Griffs can still play their way back to 3rd, but time is not on their side.
Mt. Royal loses 2 … they can consider mathematical chances at this stage, with 4 home games left, but the odds are getting a bit to large for the Cougars (5-9), we would guess.


‘Unsung Heroes Week’ –

Jasdeep Gill of Calgary, is one of many Canada West stalwarts who toil mostly unheralded from game to game.

Jasdeep Gill of Calgary, is one of many Canada West stalwarts who toil mostly unheralded from game to game.           photo –  David Moll, UC Athletics

They’re seldom in the headlines, but their impact shows in the games.  These 8 players are representative of so many of the ‘engine room’ kind of players; they are the ones who give their teams an edge just when it makes the difference between winning and losing.  ‘Points off the bench’ …  ‘Teammate in a supporting role’ !

Aaron McGowan, Regina –  This  4th year transfer (UFV) guard would be a sound pick as ‘6th Man of the Year’, if there were such an award.  (Maybe we’ll create one !)  He has been a super addition for the Cougs’ , and he helped last weekend in Vancouver, with his 21 points,  5 assists, and 5 steals  vs UBC.

Mike Pierzchala, Lethbridge –  We’re just starting to see the talents of ’North Side Mike’ emerge, and he looks like a future star for the ’Horns.  A modest 12 points /9 rebs/ 5 Asst vs Manitoba, but he will figure more notably down the stretch for Lethbridge, and certainly in future seasons.

Jasdeep Gill, Calgary –  Here’s an experienced 4 year – veteran who waits for the call, then rolls out his varied skills package to contribute where he’s needed .  A high school point man, he has morphed into a ball-handling ‘3-4’  for this year’s Dinos. Against TWU, he tallied 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists in the 2 lop-sided wins.
William Sesay, Winnipeg – He’s a smooth, quick 25 minute/game rookie, who shoots 46%FG, and scores 9.5 ppg. In the Ws 2 crucial wins over Victoria, the Winnipeg high school product had 13 pt/19 big rebounds/6 assists /3 steals.

Colby Jackson, Alberta – This import guard from Las Vegas is the starting point man, but we don’t think he gets enough credit for his efforts to pull together the GBs’ offensive game.  At Brandon, he led the Bears to 2 victories with 16 assists, 22 points, and 6 rebounds.  All-around excellence !

Gerard Gore, Thompson Rivers –  This 6-5 native of Antigua is coming into his own as a 2-way wing role-player on a team of celebrated stars. He had a strong weekend in 2 wins over Mt. Royal, with his  22 pts/18 rebounds.

Glen Yang , Mt. Royal –  A 2nd year combo-guard (He passes and he shoots?!) , he has recently shown signs of increased confidence in his game.  In 2 games at TRU, he scored 41 points (well above his average) and added 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals.  Chances of stardom here perhaps!
 Keith Gerdes, MacEwan –    A seldom-mentioned, 4th year  from Edmonton, this 6-5  forward is a steady, dependable contributor for the Griffs.  He scored 22 points on Saturday, and that out-burst led Mac to a win over visiting UFV.

Some more noteworthy performances –

Lucas Mannes 39 points Friday vs Calgary … Hot !  Brett Roughead, the Bears 7-1 post man, with 24 rebounds on the weekend against Brandon. UBC’s Conor Morgan has found the range – he totals 51 points in the Regina series for the ‘Birds. Lethbridge’s ‘Batman and Robin’, Rob Olsen and Brandon Brine score 55 and 47 points respectively in the 2 -game set vs Manitoba.  UC’s Thomas Cooper just keeps on scoring, with 49 vs TWU in 2 games.


Overtime –   

  • Lucas Mannes, who scored 39 points last (Friday) night (vs the UC Dinos) was limited in action  Saturday  due to injury…TWU was also down  to three subs as a number of players are out with injuries.  (This is from Scott Stewart, TWU, about as much as we might ever get concerning player health, we guess.)  It hasn’t helped the Spartans’ cause that talented import guard Dean Richey left the team over Christmas break, or that guys like Matt Blackaby are injured.

    Dejon Burdeaux, U of L guard, is one of many players on the injured list.

    Dejon Burdeaux, U of L guard, is one of many players on the injured list.  photo – UL Athletics

  • On that injury front, UBC has been without David Wagner , their ‘go-to’ post man, since the Friday game at Manitoba on January 15.  Dejon Burdeaux of Lethbridge has injuries or ‘issues’ with both legs / ankles / knees, apparently including a painful thigh contusion suffered in the Saskatchewan series.  Fraser Valley has been hit hard, as Mark Johnson, a 3rd year import forward, who had 21 points in a win over Okanagan in early November, has not played significant minutes since then (unspecified). Billy Cheng is gone for the remainder of this, his 5th year for UNBC with a knee injury.  Big Sebastian Denault was out of the line-up for Alberta this past weekend. These are of great consequence to the teams, of course, but they can be even tougher to handle for the young player himself.
  • UBC has signed one of the most sought-after multi-sport athletes in recent memory;  Parker Simson, an all-star quarterback for the Kelowna Owls, will plan to play football for Coach Blake Nill’s defending CIS champs, and basketball for Coach Kevin Hanson’s ‘Birds as well. Says Hanson, “I have always been a big advocate for multi-sport athletes Parker’s court/field vision and awareness has really developed because he has played multiple sports. He has a great package of athleticism and psychological attributes. “   Kelowna is the #1-ranked high school basketball team in B.C., and Simson is averaging 15 ppg/ 6 rebounds, 6 assists/ 6 steals.  From a story by Lorne White in Kelowna Now