Trinity Western in Transition

 

Trinity Western Spartans –  

3rd year Coach Aaron Muhic will be counting on his 7 returning 4th and 5th year players to help his Spartans turn the tide on 2 rough seasons for the Langley, BC crew. 5th year, 6-0 guard, Pogos Trunyan, a 3 point shooting threat from  Sacramento, CA,  led Trinity scorers with 14.7 ppg last year, and 4th year wing, 6-4 Vartan Taniellian (White Rock, BC) was 11.8 ppg / 3.6 rebs. Expect 4th year, 6-5 wing, Max Viitala (Melbourne, Aus) to up his 11 ppg scoring, with his 49% accuracy from the floor.

TWU’s leading scorer, Pogos Trunyan, returns for his 5th year.

Josiah Meppelink, a 2nd year, 6-3 guard from Langley stepped in as a rookie to post a solid 1.5 assist to turnover mark as a 24 mins/game rookie.  Newcomers this Fall include 3rd year transfer (Briercrest, SK), Ethan DaSilva (Calgary), a slick lead guard with an eye for the hoop.

‘Walk-on’ at the forward spot is, Steve Sesink, a 6-8 big body, who Coach Muhic feels, ‘can help us inside’. The Spartans also added 6-7 Daniel Stead from a good program at Langley – Walnut Grove, and 6-6 Aaron Petkau, Ballenas HS, Parksville

Coach Muhic describes himself as a ‘builder’, and he wants to develop a winning program and to graduate his players.  This may be a challenge for one of Canada West’s smaller schools, but Muhic’s track record as one of the NAIA’s winningest coaches while at William Jessup University (CA), suggests that he is up for it. This may be a ‘transitional year’ with as many new faces as returnees.

Last year – 3-17 …..  Prognosis –  Aiming for 10-10, but with a very rugged schedule in 2017-18.

 

Tanielian Trains in Homeland

5th year Trinity Western Spartan, Vartan Tanielian, went ‘home’ for much of this Summer.  In his case ‘home’ is all the way back to childhood, in Lebanon.  The trip was, however, primarily to take advantage of an opportunity to work-out with National Basketball Team players in the country of his birth.

“It was brilliant”, gushes the enthusiastic Tanielian, who made a big enough impression that he made the top 15 on this National squad. “It was a real eye-opener, to see how these pros prepared for competition.  To see how hard they trained, and took care of physical conditioning.  I certainly learned the level of dedication it takes to reach their level, to succeed in the pros, and to stay there over a number of years.”  Vartan was invited to travel to Serbia with the team, and he was part of their training for a series there.

A key returnee for the Spartans in his final season, Vartan believes this overseas experience will help him give more to TWU over the Fall and Winter. Asked to comment on the challenges for Trinity with a very rugged League schedule, the young man said, “I like the tough slate of games. We’ll know where we stand.  I think this can be our year, and I’m looking at 10-12 wins as a team goal.”

Moving from Lebanon to Los Angeles at 6 years old in 2001, Vartan said he had to learn resilience as he faced cultural biases from Americans shortly after 9-11.  “But I found friends, and I discovered how much I loved playing basketball”, he said.  Vartan’s enthusiasm for life and basketball allowed him to get through this traumatic time in his life.

Moving on to B.C., his family settled in White Rock/ Surrey, and he made more friends who were basketball players.  One of these was fellow TWU player, Tyus Allen. “We grew up together”, says Tyus. “He is like a brother to me; I loved playing with him (at White Rock Christian Academy, then on to TWU).

Allen, whose Dad, Scott, coached the Spartans for their 1st 3 years at the school, is a talented point guard, but has, in the past couple of years, had several knee injuries. The latest, he suffered in a game last season (one in which Tyus was headed for a triple -double’ on the stats sheet).  “It’s hard for me to see my friend have to struggle through these injuries”, says Vartan. “He will be a player-coach with us for now, but I realize how hard it is for him to deal with his severe injury.”

Tanielian, who was disappointed in his season last year, suggests, “I am better prepared now, and in much better physical shape.  I’m looking for us to have our bgest season yet.”  If this new-found determination and confidence can be matched by the rest of the Spartans, they just may surprise many observers.

 

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