Final 4 ‘Wide Open’ – Friday Semi-Finals

 

 

Berths in U-Sports Nationals Up for Grabs

One win away.  For the 4 teams in this week’s Final 4, their clearest focus may well be the one major step they have to take to get to the National Championship tournament in Halifax on March 9-12.   Win Friday, and you’re in.

This makes for as intense a game as they will have played all year.  The host Calgary Dinos won last year’s Canada West Final, and went on to reach the championship game vs Carleton last March in Vancouver.  The largely veteran Dinos are aiming for a repeat appearance, but will have a real tussle with the Manitoba Bisons. The Herd have not played in a National Final 8 Championship since 1985, and they are aching to seize this opportunity.

Both Alberta and Saskatchewan have had fairly recent runs to a Nationals Tournament, with Alberta in 2014 and Saskatchewan in both 2014 and 2015.  The Bears and Huskies split their regular season series in Saskatoon in early February, and their Friday tip-off at 3 pm will continue a fierce rivalry .

5th year Huskies forward, Trevor Severinski, hopes to find some magic against the Golden Bears                  Photo – Huskies Athletics

# 9 Saskatchewan Huskies  vs #8  Alberta Golden Bears –  Saskatchewan are worried about the Bears’ ability to put up points, and Alberta’s staff will be devising strategies to defend the post combo of Shayne Osayande and Matt Forbes.  The 3 point shot could obviously be a difference maker, as it has been for Canada West’s best long-range shooting team, U of A,  much of the regular season.

The Bears’ Mamadou Gueye shoots 41.5% from 3 point range, and he’s the 5th best of the GB’s shooters from outside the arc ! (Gueye is 12th in CW, and, of course, he has a few other skills to bring to the party.)  Austin Waddoups 46.8%, Andre Kelly 44.7%, Geoff Pippus 42.6%, and Ivan Ikomey 42.2%.  Hot.  And the Bears still have the inside threat of all-star post man, Brody Clarke.

The Huskies Osayande can take over a game.  He’s a walking, leaping, shot-blocking, double-double.  And his muscular ‘mate,  Forbes, has that 5th year zeal as he steps on the stage for one of his last performances. The ‘Dogs may live and die with the 2 -way games of their guard corps, Lawrence Moore, Jaylan Morgan, and Alex Unruh.  Getting Morgan back is vital to their cause, as is the rejuvenation of the offensive threat posed by ‘small forward’, Trevor Severinski.  This 5th year shooter has found his shooting eye at just the right time.

This is a ‘street fight’ kind of game, which we see as a toss-up.  Shake hands and go to a neutral corner.   It’s a matinee game time of 3 pm .   Canada West TV

Calgary’s Mitch Ligertwood should be a key figure vs the Bisons.                   Photo- David Moll – UC Athletics

#5 Calgary Dinos  vs  Manitoba Bisons –  The Bisons come off a 2 game road sweep of the previously 25-1 UBC Thunderbirds.  They should be on a ‘Wanted Poster’ !  Armed and dangerous !  The 4 pillars of this team, Ilarion Bonhomme, A.J. Basi, Keith Omoerah, and Justus Alleyn averaged 33.5 minutes apiece, and tallied 88% of the Herd’s points in Vancouver.

Bonhomme is most dangerous as a penetrator, and Alleyn has been their ‘drop dead’ scorer for most of the season.  Omoerah is a multi-faceted weapon, with his rebounding, scoring, and leadership.  Basi has been a streaky shooter, but has a knack at crunch time.  The Dinos will know that they can’t give him too much free room.  Off the bench Coach Kirby Schepp utilizes veterans Malik Irwin and Joey Nitychoruk along with all-rookie forward  James Wagner.

Calgary will be playing a variety of ‘small ball’, very likely.  Mitch Ligertwood had a strong series in the post against TRU, and he has the experience from last year’s Final 4 to inspire his efforts.  The ‘overall team effort’ is the key factor, according to Coach Dan Vanhooren, and he looks to the defensive skills of perimeter  players led by ultra-quick David Kapinga,  shooting guard Thomas Cooper, and his side-kicks, the gritty Jhony Verrone, the spidery, energetic, Mambi Diawara, and skilled rookie, Max Eisle.

Veterans Dallas Karch and Jasdeep Gill are 5th year players who are wanting to go out as winners, and they have both shown an ability to make an impact.  This match-up produced a split on the season’s opening weekend at UC;  we should expect a rousing affair, and quite possibly a ‘down-to-the-wire’ finish.           8 pm on Canada West TV

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In the East –    

Carleton’s Connor Wood, OUA Player of the Year.
photo – Ottawa Citizen

The Ontario Wilson Cup Final 4 has  #1 Carleton vs  #4 Brock at 4:50 Eastern time , and #3 Ottawa vs #2 Ryerson  7:50  from Carleton U. in Ottawa   Both on  OUA TV   The OUA Final and 3rd place game are the next afternoon.   For more detail, check in with Mark Wacyk’s comprehensive  CANhoops.ca  blog, with great OUA coverage.

Atlantic  –   The festive annual tradition of the Atlantic Tournament at the Halifax Scotia Bank Centre will tip-off on Friday with the two Quarter-Finals –  Acadia vs  Memorial  at 6:30  Atlantic time , and  St. Mary’s vs  St. FX  at 8:30.  Both of these games are available live on AUS TV    .   Friday’s winners will play the 2 top seeds , UNB and Dalhousie on Saturday (6:30 and 8:30)  with the championship final going Sunday at 4:30.   Dalhousie will be the host team for the U-Sports Nationals.

Quebec –   Top seeded McGill will host the RSEQ Tournament in Montreal starting Friday as well  – The Redmen meet  4 seed, Laval, in one game, and Concordia plays UQAM in an all-Montreal affair in the other semi.  The Quebec Final goes Saturday.

 

Overtime –

  • There is some heated discussion surrounding the one ‘At-Large or ‘Wild-card’ spot in the March 9-12,  U-Sports Final 8 Nationals  to be awarded by a Coaches Committee after play this Sunday.  We wrongly suggested that Canada West has a rule that only Final 4 teams can be considered.  Apparently not, so UBC is able to receive consideration, despite having lost 2 straight to Manitoba in CW Quarter-Finals.  Who knows how this will go?  The results this weekend will be a big factor, of course.  It seems to suggest in the U-Sports Final 8 Selection Criteria  that teams advancing further down the play-off trail be placed in a category 1 ‘cluster’ of teams for consideration.  This is one of the sections which lends more subjectivity to the exercise.
  •  Calgary Coach Dan Vanhooren, on his feelings about 4th year guard, David Kapinga’s absence from the CW all-star list.   “Vanhooren was pleased with Kapinga’s performance, calling him an “unrecognized all-star.”  “It’s a shame that a player with that level of talent doesn’t get recognized by our league in that fashion,” he said. “I think that he’s clearly one of the better players in the league and he showed that in the fourth quarter (in last Friday’s win over TRU) . He’s an all-star in my mind.”   From a story in UC’s student newspaper, The Gauntlet. 
  • Forward Lars Schleuter is side-lined for the Dinos

  • Two significant absences last week as their teams qualified for the  Final 4  were  Jaylan Morgan of Saskatchewan  and Lars Schleuter of Calgary.   Huskies Coach Barry Rawlyk suggests, “ He’s worked hard to recover, and made significant progress, so  we are expecting Morgan to be back in the line-up for the Semi-Final Friday vs Alberta.”  Schleuter, however, doesn’t expect to be in action this week for the Dinos, and he said “It’s tough to watch from the sidelines, but I have confidence in my teammates this week”.

 

 

 

The 2 Hottest Teams in Canada West

 

 

 

Thunderbirds and Bisons both on a roll in League play 

5th year defensive stopper, Will Ondrik and his T’Birds teammates move to 15-1 on the season.   photo – Richard Lam  ,  UBC Athletics

The 2 hottest teams in Canada West continued to reel off the wins this past weekend. The UBC Thunderbirds, as expected, swept their 2 game set with the Brandon Bobcats in Vancouver, and the ‘Birds are now 7 wins in a row, 2nd only to the Manitoba Bisons in winning streaks, with the Herd up to 8.  Manitoba got a scare on Friday at home against the UNBC T’Wolves , but pulled it out, and won more easily on Saturday.

But, in this ‘Year of the RPI Monster’, both teams lost ground in the ‘order of finish’ race.  Last week the T’Birds stood at .6559 , but dropped .109, still in the top spot for the moment.  The Herd, after their 2 wins, fell 149 points from last week’s .5842.  (I guess you just play your best, and let the chips fall …. ).  UBC looks to be destined for the 3rd or 4th play-off seed, even at 19-1, while Manitoba are likely 5th in the RPI ordered seeding list.

Both these teams will be ‘tough outs’ in the post-season , and may be good picks for the Final Four.  Our best guess for the hosts may be either the Alberta Golden Bears or the Saskatchewan Huskies, who seem to rise to the top spot as we try various guesses for the results of remaining League games.  The Dogs and GBs meet in saskatoon this coming weekend to decide the issue.

Who else is going well?  The Lethbridge Pronghorns have won 4 straight, and locked up a play-off spot, and have a bye week to marshal their forces before their final week’s appointment vs the Bears in Edmonton.

 

15 League All-Stars will be tough to decide

Shane Osayande, Huskies          photo – Huskies Athletics

Coaches across Canada West are nominating top players for all-star consideration at season’s end.  They have 15 players to select, and we thought we’d look at an expanded number of possible candidates.

Keith Omoerah, Justus Alleyn of Manitoba  … Denzel Lynch-Blair- Winnipeg … Earl Thompson Jr – Brandon … Brandon Tull – Regina … Shane Osayande, Matt Forbes – Saskatchewan … Dejon Burdeaux, Elliott Sentance – Lethbridge … Brett Layton, Josh Ross – Mt. Royal  …  Thomas Cooper, David Kapinga – Calgary … Brody Clarke, Austin Waddoups, Mamadou Gueye, Alberta … Thadius Galvez – MacEwan … Rhys Elliott – UNBC … Volodymyr Iegorov – Thompson Rivers …  Aldrich Berrios – UBC-Okanagan … Patrick Vandervelden – Trinity Western … Manny Dulay – Fraser Valley … Conor Morgan , Jordan Jensen-Whyte – UBC … Grant Sitton – Victoria

So, there are 25 of the best.  We know we could form a play-off team with 10 who we left off this list, but this is a pretty good crop from which to select.

Top 10 Rookies –

Scott Kellum, UVic import guard

Narcisse Ambanza – Wesmen,   James Wagner – Bisons,  Johneil Johnson –  Reg. Cougars,  Max Eisle – Dinos, Scott Kellum –  Vikes,  Brett Warren  – Pronghorns, Craig Martin- MRU Cougars, Trent Monkman – Wolf Pack, Isaiah Familia – T’Birds, Matt Lafontaine – Heat

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92 Years of Refereeing Experience

Richard Schear (L) and Art Unsworth (R) team up at a recent high school tourney .

Richard Schear, who lives in Redcliff, AB, began officiating basketball (and, eventually, football) after he had completed his Education degree at University. The 72 year old has been active as a ref now for 48 years, while his taller, much younger side-kick, the irrepressible Art Unsworth, has been a ‘zebra’ for 44 years.  Schear explains why he enjoys officiating …  First, the camaraderie  with the other officials.  Second, it forces him to keep in good physical shape.  Third, being a referee in high school sports, gives Richard a chance to  interact with the youth of today.  “By and large those young people who play high school sports are great kids, they will be the leaders of tomorrow,” says Schear.  Unsworth, a farmer-rancher near Maple Creek, SK, has 2 sons,  Clint (6-10) and Chris (6-8) who both graduated from U. Saskatchewan, having won a Canada West and CIS Championship with the Huskies in 2010.

As well as cheering his boys through high school (Medicine Hat, AB)  and university ball, Art, has been a mentor for many young refs in the latter part of his career. We congratulate these two fine gentlemen on their amazing contribution to the game over the years.

Overtime –  

Coach Steve Burrows         photo –  Regina Leader-Post

  • Regina Cougars head coach Steve Burrows on his team’s effort in topping the Calgary Dinos on Saturday,  “I wish I could say it was something I said or did, but these guys stuck together and they kept on working at it and kept on going,” Burrows said. “A couple of things went our way and we made some shots. It was just that whole thing of believing and trying to stick with what we were doing.”  From a Regina Leader-Post article by Rob Vanstone 
  • Huskies Coach, Barry Rawlyk, celebrated his 100th and 101st Canada West conference wins as head  man for the U of S  team with a two-game sweep at home over the Mount Royal  Cougars. Rawlyk spent the majority of his long coaching career as a high school coach, before taking over at U. Saskatchewan in 2010.  The leading active coach, in his 17th year at UBC is Kevin Hanson with 270 wins in Canada West play.  2nd is Calgary’s Dan Vanhooren, who, over the same 17 years has 201.  3rd – UVic’s Craig Beaucamp with 191 in 13 seasons. 4th – TRU’s Scott Clark, in his 17th year has 179. 5th – Barnaby Craddock of Alberta has 153 in his 12 years at 3 different schools.
  • Derek Wolf plays his final home game at MRU on Saturday.         photo – MRU Athletics

     This , of course, is the time of year for ‘Senior Nights’, as senior players finish their eligibility, and most also finish a degree. The  MRU Cougars graduating players, Brett Layton and Derek Wolf, will be honoured on Saturday night between the 4 pm Women’s game and the 6 pm Men’s contest.  TRU’s big man, Volodymyr Iegorov, plays his last home game this Saturday for the Wolf Pack, and 6 other schools will recognize the accomplishments of their senior grads this weekend.  UFV –  Manny Dulay, and Vijay Dhillon, Winnipeg – Jamar Farley, Brandon – Earl Thompson Jr, Chris Stanhope, Denham Buchanan, and Esmat Atem, MacEwan-  Denzel James, Keith Gerdes, and Thomas Jereniuk,   Saskatchewan – Matt Forbes, and Trevor Severinski,  UBC – Jordan Jensen-Whyte, and Will Ondrik.

 

Dinos Dust Cascades in 2nd half Barrage

 

63 point blitz pushes Dinos to a dominant home win

Dallas Karch and the Calgary Dinos buried the UFV Cascades on Thursday.

Calgary  106  Fraser Valley  68 – A 43-37 game at the half turned into the rout for the Dinos, who tallied 63 points in the 2nd half, UC  out-shot the Cascades 49% to 336% from the floor, and hit 25/34 free throws to just 5/11for the visitors. The 24 UFV turnovers gave the potent Dinos offense more than enough chances .

Calgary goes 10 deep with 4 players in double figures.  Thomas Cooper scored 19 points, with 13 rebounds, and both Mambi Diawara and Dallas Karch hit 15 points. Point guards David Kapinga and Max Eisle paved the track with 5 and 4 assists respectively.  Fraser Valley cashed 13/32 shots from outside, with 15 points from Denver Sparks-Guest leading the way off the bench.   Box Score 

Calgary moves up to 9-2 for the season, and Fraser Valley drops to 5-6.  The teams play again on Friday at 8 pm.

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Scores from the East – 

Ontario –  at #10 McMaster 85 Laurier 54, at Windsor 85  Western Ont. 78

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Overtime –

TRU rookie point man, Madhu McConnell

  • The TRU Wolf Pack, over the Holiday period, lost the services of 2nd year and former all-rookie guard, Jeff Tubbs.  “It is not ideal that now you are trying to figure out player rotations,” Clark said about the situation.  Madhu McConnell (1st year, Victoria, BC) looks to be the player stepping up in the rotation.  Coach Scott Clark says, “ Madhu has seen an increase in playing time and he has responded.”   From Larry Read, TRU Athletics
  • The UC Women (8-3) came back strong in the 2nd half for a 69-59 win over UFV (7-4).  The home team trailed by 3 at the half, but scored 33 points in a hectic 3rd stanza to pull away.
  • You can tell it’s a big point spread in the game when Canada West TV broadcasters Lucas Meyer and John Tramble ‘drift off the dock’ with a thorough discussion of favourite movies and tastiest meals!  Focus boys, focus ….

Top 5 Lists – Canada West

 

Our Top Teams, Players, Rookies in the 1st Semester

Import guard, Austin Waddoups , is a big reason that the GBs are at the top of CW standings.         Photo – U of A Athletics

Top 5  ‘Notable’ Teams  –

  1. Alberta Golden Bears –  10-0 is a big surprise.  We thought Alberta would be in contention, but a clean slate at the 1/2 way mark ?  Outstanding.  Good additions, and more experience with returnees. Defense allows 68 ppg, and offense is cranked up to 86 ppg, 3rd in CW. Tougher 2nd half sched, with Calgary, at UBC, UFV, at Saskatchewan, Lethbridge.
  2. UBC Thunderbirds – 8-0 and coming together with vets and newcomers.  The ‘Birds have had a couple of close ones in the final couple of series vs UVic and Manitoba.  UBC starts the 2nd half at Saskatchewan, home vs Alberta, and at Mt. Royal.  Survive that, and the T’Birds could be top seed.
  3. Calgary Dinos –  They tripped over Manitoba in game 1, but are the top scoring team in CW at 7-1, scoring 95 ppg.  Coach Vanhooren is looking for more consistency, but the depth and talent is there.
  4. Manitoba Bisons –  This team is the ultimate puzzle at 4-6.  The Herd have a tough 1st half sched, but they admit to being disappointed in their start.  But, after beating Winnipeg twice to finish, they have the 2nd half schedule to make a big turnaround.  Maybe as high as 4th ?!
  5. Mt. Royal Cougars –  Under-rated is an apt description.  The Cougs are 5-5, and we suggest they could duplicate that mark in the next 10, and qualify for the play-offs.  4th in CW ppg scored @ 85.4 ppg, they are one of the top shooting clubs (45% from the floor – 4th), 5th best in ‘ball control’.

Top 5  Players in the League –  (Alpha order …  up for grabs, we think.)

Calgary’s Thomas Cooper is Canada West’s top scorer again this season.   Photo- UC’s David Moll

Thomas Cooper, Dinos – The ‘Reigning Champion’ leads the scoring race with 25.6 ppg, and is a ‘prime-time finisher’. He scoops 6 rebs/game, and averages 2 steals.

Volodymyr Iegorov, TRU Wolf Pack –  The big Ukrainian import ‘carries the water’ for the ‘Pack, with his 18.6 ppg/ 9 rebounds and 3.9 assists.  We expect him to finish strong, and give his team a good play-off shot.

The Huskies Shane Osayande is ‘ripping it’ every time out this season. Photo- U of S

Conor Morgan, T’Birds – Putting up some big numbers, and has been ‘unstoppable’ at times.  25 ppg while shooting 61.5% FG, plus 6.6 rebs.

Shane Osayande, Huskies – Averaging a double-double of 20 ppg and 11.6 rebounds !  A constant force on a team which has been inconsistent at times. He blocks 2.5 shots per game.

Josh Ross, MRU Cougars – This import transfer is a player!  Another who posts a double-double ‘every night’ !  Scoring 19.6 ppg / 10 rebounds/ 3.8 assts.

Others-  Keith Omoerah – Bisons, Mamadou Gueye – Bears, Elliott Sentance – Pronghorns, Thadius Galvez- Griffins,  David Kapinga – Dinos,

Top 5 CW Rookies – (again with the alpha list)

Winnipeg rookie, Narcisse Ambanza, is a big factor the the Wesmen.

Narcisse Ambanza – Wesmen,  22.2 mins …  The front-runner in this crop, with his scoring and rebounding.  11.9 ppg/ shoots 53% FG / 3.7 rebs/ 2 asst

Max Eisle – Dinos,  15.6 mins … Not the big minutes, or the scoring numbers, but he is tough, skilled, and a top-notch defender.   3.1 ppg/ 41% FG/ 2 asst/ 1.3 steals

Johneil Johnson –  Reg. Cougars, 17.9 mins …  Has been the key man in a couple of games.  He possesses an impressive all-round game. 10.1 ppg/ 48% FG, 3 rebs/ 2 steals

Scott Kellum –  Vikes, 28.3 mins …  A confident player with great leadership qualities.  Playing too many freshman minutes, probably. 9.4 ppg/ 38% from 3 pt/ 2.3 rebs

Andre Kelly – Bears, 18 mins …  Has the game to be a top-notch player as he matures.  Solid numbers for the top team. 6.6 ppg/ 44% FG/ 1.7 asst/ 2.3 rebs

 Others … Tyrell Laing- Timberwolves, Craig Martin- MRU Cougars, James Wagner – Bisons.

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Overtime – 

  • A major facilities announcement from U. Saskatchewan, with a donation from the Graham family, enabling the Huskies to build new practice/tournament courts at the planned Merlis Belsher Place.  From CTV News, Saskatoon 
  •   The Bisons A.J. Basi, in his team blog, on Manitoba’s rough start in the regular season, … “we were disappointed to drop a few close and winnable games. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves for our inconsistency. We all still believe we belong amongst the top teams in our league.”

Dinos and Bisons on a Collision Course

 

2016-17 Canada West Basketball Previews –

Our season previews start with a pair of teams who both figure to make a hard run at the March 2017 Canada West Final 4.  Despite being early in Fall camp, both the Calgary Dinos  and the Manitoba Bisons will be looking ahead to their meeting in Calgary for the opening weekend of play in November.

Calgary Dinos
– 2016 Canada West champions   – 17 wins  3 losses

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-9-05-27-am

5th year stalwarts, Dallas Karch (L) and Jasdeep Gill (R) will be primed for a big 5th year with the hometown Dinos.

Returnees – 5th years – 6-5,Thomas Cooper, 6-7, Dallas Karch, 6-5, Jasdeep Gill … 4th years- 6-0, Jhony Verrone, 6-7, Mitch Ligertwood, 6-6, Connor Foreman, 6-7, Sunvir Johal … 3rd years – 5-11, David Kapinga, 6-7, Lars Schleuter,        6-7, Matt Ellis.
New faces – Mambi Diawara, 4th yr, 6-5 wing, Montreal (Lamar State C.C. TX) , Aloysius Calaghan, 4th yr, 6-0 guard, Calgary (MRU), Max Eisle, 1st yr, 6-4 guard, Ulm, Germany, Jeff Rodehutskors, 1st yr, 6-8 fwd, Chestermere, AB, Sasha Pojuzina, 1st yr, 6-6 wing, Regina, Jake Neilsen, 1st yr, 6-3 guard, Cochrane, AB, Ethan Scott, 1st yr, 6-2 guard, Vancouver, (Orangeville Prep, ON)

blk dinos copyThe Dinos went all the way to the CIS Final last March, where they lost decisively to the mighty Carleton Ravens. The temptation is to focus on how you can return to the Final 8 next Spring and win the ‘Cup’ next time.  But, that was then … this is now.

This Fall U. Calgary appears deep, experienced, big, with good team quickness.  But, even in their opening series of the ’16-’17 season on November 4/5, the Dinos face a formidable foe in the Manitoba Bisons. Coach Dan Vanhooren says, “We’re excited about this group of guys”, but knows it is a long road through a rugged League schedule.

UC returns 71.8 ppg in scoring, lead by last year’s top CW sniper, Thomas Cooper, (25.8), and tall wing man,Lars Schleuter (12.5).  The explosive quickness of David Kapinga and Jhony Verrone lead the back-court defense, and both are opportunistic scorers. That guard experience and the growing confidence of forwards Matt Ellis and Mitch Ligertwood should make up for the loss of Josh Owen-Thomas and Matt Letkeman, last year’s senior leaders.

Both Jadeep Gill and Dallas Karch are veteran players with size and toughness, with Gill a big offensive threat, and Karch with his speed and quick jumping ability. Connor Foreman will provide post depth, as will rookie, Jeff Rodehutskors, an extremely athletic big man.
Newcomers Max Eisle, a lead guard with experience in the German League, and Mambi Diawara, a dynamic wing transfer from his Texas JUCO, will be in the playing rotation. Sasha Pojuzina is a high school recruit with size and skill.
Schedule –  Nov/Dec – vs Manitoba, at Victoria, home/home with Lethbridge, h/h with Mt. Royal …  Jan/Feb – h/h with Alberta, vs Fraser Valley, vs Saskatchewan, at Regina, at Thompson Rivers, vs MacEwan.             Prediction –  Top 3 team


Manitoba Bisons
’15-’16 – Lost to Calgary and UBC in CW Final 4        – 15 wins 5 losses

A J Basi (L) and Keith Omoerah (R) head up a talented, veteran Bisons crew.

A J Basi (L) and Keith Omoerah (R) head up a talented, veteran Bisons crew.

Returnees – 5th years –   5-11, Amarjit (AJ) Basi, 6-0, Ilarion Bonhomme, 6-6, Jonathan Alexander , 6-7, Brett Jewell … 4th years –  6-5, Keith Omoerah,   6-3, Justus Alleyn, 6-5, Malik Irwin, 6-4, Keenan Benarroch , 6-5, Joey Nitychoruk  … 3rd year-  6-7, Osahon Eghosa … 1st years (after red-shirting), 6-5, Dharmjit Dhillon ,  6-6, Raj Sidhu , 6-0 Keiran Zziwa
New faces –  (all 1st years) James Wagner, 6 – 7 fwd, John Taylor (Winnipeg) , Zach Giesbrecht, 6-1 guard, John Taylor, Cam O’Hara,  6-7 forward, St. Paul’s HS (Winnipeg), Joel Adu Quaye, 6-6 forward, St. Paul’s  (Winnipeg), David Mugugu, 6-5 forward , Kildonan-East Collegiate (Winnipeg).

Manitoba copyThe Bisons were right on the cusp last season, but just missed a trip to Nationals with 2 losses  in the Final 4.  They graduated their top rebounder, Wyatt Anders, but still have size with Jonathan Alexander, Brett Jewell, Keith Omoerah, and Osahon Eghosa.  (Eghosa suffered through salmonella poisoning in a trip to the U.S. this summer, and will be working his way back to ‘match fitness’ this Fall.) Adding 6-7 rookie, James Wagner, who played on the Canada U-18s this past summer, has  Coach Kirby Schepp exclaiming, “He may be our top recruit in the recent history of our program !”.

Canada West all-star, Omoerah (13 ppg), Justus Alleyn (15.6 ppg), and Amarjit Basi  (18 ppg) were offensive leaders last season, and the veteran import point man, Ilarion Bonhomme, a former Brandon Bobcat, has proven to be a great addition.

Joey Nitychoruk is a ‘high-energy’ player, who transferred last year from Lakehead, and Schepp expects him to be a solid contributor. A slow start last year may have given the Herd a tougher road at play-off time, but, with so much experience returning, we can expect them to be more ready for this campaign. They had better be, because they have one of the toughest front-end schedules before the Holiday break!

One very impressive stat is that 15 of their 18 roster players are Winnipeg high school products; an amazing pool of home-grown talent! “We are very proud of our ‘Manitoba content’ on our roster”, says Schepp.
Schedule –  Nov/Dec – at Calgary, vs Thompson Rivers, at UBC, vs Alberta, h/h with Winnipeg … Jan/Feb – at Regina, at Trinity Western, vs UNBC, at Brandon, vs Mt. Royal                            Prediction – Top 5 team


New Schedule ‘Not Universally Popular’

What is the RPI, and why will it bother us?  Learn more as we examine the shiny new schedule which Canada West has rolled out for the coming season.  No more ‘Pioneers’ and ‘Explorers’, as we’re all one big, happy, 17- team Canada West League now!  (Actually there may be the odd coach here or there who is a smidge shy of happy.)    Because … there are a few oddities to the new format –

The 'tricky math' of the RPI tries to smooth out the new schedule.

The ‘tricky math’ of the RPI tries to smooth out the new schedule.  But it is apples vs oranges in this set-up.

> Schools don’t play the same teams.  You see, each school has 4 designated ‘traditional rivals’, who they play every year … 8 games … then they play 6 of the remaining 12 teams … 12 games  = 20
> So we miss 6 teams each year , but get them the following year.
> Who makes the playoffs ?  “ The top 12 teams based on winning percentage at the conclusion of league play … “
> How do we break ties ?  Well, here are the first 4 tie breakers in the manual –  when Two Teams are Tied:
1. Win/Loss record in head to head competition.
2. Win/Loss record versus common opponents.
3. Each teams RPI ranking.
4. Points difference in head to head competition between the tied teams.
Three or More Teams Tied:
Use the same procedure as a two‐teams tied. Once one team has been separated from the tied group, go back to step one with the remaining tied team(s).
> How are the playoff teams ranked ? “The top 12 teams are then ranked 1 to 12 based on each team’s RPI standing in order to account for the various strength of schedules faced by each team.”  Er-ah ?!  (The OUA people may get this, but we Westerners are scratching our heads !)
> What is the RPI ?  “ Each team’s RPI is based on the following formula: = 25% team winning percentage (WP) adjusted for home and away wins (1.2 for an away win and 0.8 for a home win), 50% opponents’ average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents’ opponent’s average winning percentage (OOWP) .  O-h-h-h-h-h-h … now it’s clear.  (Actually, could either Tyler from Winnipeg or Martin from Waterloo give us a formula for this ?  As always, we need math help !)


 

Overtime –

  •  Ex-Calgary Dino, Robbie Sihota, has signed a new one-year
    Robbie Sihota

    Robbie Sihota

    contract with MAFC Budapest of the Hungarian A Division. Last season the 6-6 forward, who heads into his 7th year as a pro, scored 18.5 points per game (3rd in league) and snared 9.3 rebounds per game (4th).
    Sihota had previously played in the Dutch League, Switzerland, Germany, and in Edmonton of the IBL.

  • Brandon Brine, the Lethbridge Pronghorns’ 5th year Canada West all-star last year signed a pro deal with San Pablo Inmobiliaria Miraflores Burgos in Spain. The 6-7 Aussie will be missed by UL, but is expected to be one of the top players for his club in Miraflores.
  • The powerhouse Carleton Ravens landed another big recruit in August in 6-9, Eddie Ekiyor of Ottawa,  This was a late switch  for the widely recruited Canada Basketball team member, who had originally signed with Xavier (Cincinnati), an NCAA Div 1 school.
  • It was great to hear Coach Marc Dobell answer his office phone at Mt. Royal University;  the personable 13 year coach of the Cougars returns to Fall practice after some time away recovering from a heart attack.  We wish him well, not only with his team, but in a full recovery health wise .

Recruiting News – Critical Roster Building

 

 

Canada West Teams Busy With Recent Signings –

5th year seniors Wyatt Anders (Bisons) , Matt Letkeman , and Josh Owen -Thomas (Dinos) shown in recent playoff action, will leave opportuninties for new recruits at Manitoba and Calgary this Fall. photo - UM Athletics

5th year senior graduates,  Wyatt Anders (Bisons)  and Matt Letkeman   (Dinos)  , shown in recent playoff action, will leave opportunities for new recruits at Manitoba and Calgary this Fall.  photo – UM Athletics

Manitoba Coach, Kirby Schepp announced the signingof local Winnipeg high school stars, Cameron O’Hara, a 6-7 post man from St. Paul’s HS, and James Wagner, a 6-7 forward from John Taylor Collegiate, who talks about his move to the Bisons for next season,   in this Winnipeg Free Press article by Alana Trachenko .  

> The Fraser Valley Cascades add 3 ‘blue-chip’ recruits for the coming Fall. 

Daniel Adediran, Pacific Academy (Surrey), will suit up for UFV. - photo - Surrey Leader

Daniel Adediran, Pacific Academy (Surrey), will suit up for UFV. – photo – Surrey Leader

Andrew Morris, a B.C. College all-star with Capilano College transfers in, and high school stars, Daniel Adediran, Pacific Academy (Surrey)  and Sagar Dulay,  Tamanawis (Surrey).  More details in this story from Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
Trinity Western coach Aaron Muhic signed guard Josiah Meppelink (Langley), who joins the Spartans via Lynden, Wash. The 6-foot-3, 160-pound Meppelink, who moved from Langley to Lynden when he was 12 years old, averaged eight points, 10 assists and six rebounds per game this past season at Lynden Christian School. In his Grade 12 year, Meppelink was also named to the All-NWC (Northwest Conference) Second Team. From TWU Athletics

Calgary Dinos Coach, Dan Vanhooren, has already signed import guard, 6-4 Max Eisle from Ulm, Germany, and the intensely recruited Jeff Rodehutskers, an exceptionally talented 6-8 forward from Chestermere High School (Alberta).

 

Lethbridge Coach, Mike Hanson,  previously announced the signing of 6-4 guard, Scott Mazutinec, from Stirling HS in S. Alberta, and Mark Rodehutskers, the 6-4  younger brother of Jeff.  Mark, who was academically accelerated in grade school, will graduate from Chestermere HS this June as well.

 

UBC Head Coach, Kevin Hanson, has landed 2 highly sought-after high school athletes in Parker Simson, a 6-3 guard (and football prospect) from Kelowna Sr. Sec., and Izaiah Ugoalah, a 6-5 guard from Sir W. Churchill (Vancouver).

 

> UVic Coach, Craig Beaucamp, has been busy with 3 signees … transfer guard , Wayne Tucker, a 6-1 import from Oakland , CA  via Olds College (Alberta) … a 2nd import guard, 6-1 Scott Kellam, Issaquah HS, WA, and a 6-5 wing man, Vladislav Zasmolin, from Sir W. Churchill HS, Calgary.

> Regina Head Coach, Steve Burrows, is surely delighted with the fact that he has signed 3 local stars to play for his Cougars next Fall . 6-2 guards, Ben Hillis and Brayden Kuski, along with 6-4 forward, Carter Millar, all played at LeBoldus High School, Regina.   Details in this story from UR Athletics .

> In a 17 team CW League, it can be a big ask to ‘capture the Cup’.  If you don’t win your last game, do you have to see the season as a failure?  Well, obviously not !  There are many victories and moments to celebrate along the way, as this story from the UM ‘The Manitoban’ does so well .

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> The CIS announced their dates and venues for the next 2 years for the Final 8 National Tournament –  The Championships will be held back in Halifax in the the Spring of both 2017 (March 9-12) and 2018 (March 8-11).  This is a week earlier than it was this season.  We are back to traditional dates, and will not conflict with the First and Second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. (Smart move on the dates … not sure about a one year deal for UBC, but maybe the cost – risk is too high ?)

>  April, for most CIS coaches, is a time when they are either wrapping up their recruiting for the coming Fall season, or they’re still busy attempting to build or re-build their roster with ‘late signings’.  UBC T-Birds Football Coach, Blake Nill, a seasoned recruiting guru says, “You have to have made the initial contact with the student athlete probably in their grade 10 year or at least in their grade 11 year,” said Nill, as he explained the traditional timeline for athletics recruitment today. “ So you can get the process [started] and give it enough time to develop the relationship that you need.” More reflections on the recruiting process in this article by Olamide Olaniyan in The Ubyssey.

> We have a new source for CIS recruiting news from a favourite web-site – Martin Timmerman, who does such a great job with all things CIS Basketball at cishoops.ca has added an up-to-date recruiting info page, which was sorely needed, with the retirement of long-time ‘primo-source’ Barry Hayes.  Check out this recruiting page at CIS Hoops