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 .
# 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
#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
In the East –
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.
- 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.
- 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”.