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   

Long Road for 1st Round Play-off Teams

 

 

 4  Competitive Series in 1st Round of Playoffs

              … Thursday start for ‘Play-in’ series’ in Canada West

As the top 4 seeds, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and UBC rest-up, heal, and prepare, there is no slow-down for the 8 teams heading into the ‘Play-in’ series this weekend.  Games start at Manitoba and Winnipeg on Thursday night in two of the best of 3 sets, with Brandon and Lethbridge hosting series’ to begin on Friday.

Here are the match-ups –

Keith Omoerah contributes to the Bisons offense in many ways.      Photo – J. Miller, UM Sports

#12 Regina Cougars at # 5 Manitoba Bisons –  If we look at the past history between these teams, we might be tempted to call this a lock for the Herd.  Manitoba has beaten Regina in 15 of the most recent 16 meetings, including a January sweep at Regina (84-75, and 93-81).  But the Bisons have not been as convincing over the past month, with a couple of losses at Brandon, then close calls with UNBC, and both nights last weekend against Mt. Royal. Regina comes off a solid weekend at home, where they swept the TRU Wolf Pack.

The Cougars and Bisons are both laden with experience;  Regina features guards Alex Igual (14.7 ppg/ 4.6 rebs/ 3.3 assts), Brandon Tull (13.5 ppg/ 4.5 rebs) and rookie, Johneil Johnson (12.2 ppg/ 3.7 rebs). Forwards, Brian Ofori (13 ppg/ 6.3 rebs) and  Travis Sylvestre (9 ppg/ 3.6 rebs) have played well of late.

Manitoba have a strong, veteran group, with Justus Alleyn their top scorer at 17.4 ppg/3.6 rebs, and the all-around play of Keith Omoerah (13.2 ppg/ 8.7 rebs).  AJ Basi (13.3 ppg) and Ilarion Bonhomme are dangerous back-court threats.  James Wagner, a big rookie can give the Bisons a boost inside, along with veteran post, Brett Jewell .  The question remains, ‘Which team can pull together and win 2 games this weekend?’  The home court favours Manitoba, and UBC awaits the winner .  (Central) 7:30 pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if a 3rd game is necessary)

Winnipeg’s William Sesay will be a key factor vs Fraser Valley.

#10  Fraser Valley Cascades at #7  Winnipeg Wesmen –  This is the other Thursday start, and we have two guard – oriented teams facing off after both just had road trip weekends.  The Cascades have the quick turnaround from a bus-trip up and back on the icy, snow-packed Coquihalla Highway to Kelowna last weekend.  Wash the uniforms, pack the bags, attend a brief 2 days of classes, and off they go to Winnipeg.  The Wesmen come off a 2 loss weekend in Victoria, and somehow have to ‘right the ship’ , and win the home series vs a UFV squad that has won 4 straight to finish the season.

5th year Cascades back-court shooters, Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon against  Winnipeg’s Denzel Lynch-Blair, Sean Tarver, and rookie,  Narcisse Ambanza. The much improved Fraser Valley post man, Nav Bains, battling with the Ws’ big Aussie import, Ryan Oirbans.  Talented complimentary players like the Wesmen’s William Sesay and Jamar Farley  vs Fraser Valley’s Denver Sparks-Guest, Mark Johnson, and Andrew Morris.

The Cascades have won 5 of the past 7 meetings, but the Wesmen have home court.  This is looking like a 3 game series.  Note the different game times (Central) –  Thursday at 7 pm, Friday at 3 pm, and Sat. , if necessary, again at 3 pm.  The Saskatchewan Huskies will host the winner in the quarter-finals. 

UVic’s Grant Sitton will be a focus for ‘Horns defenders this weekend.        photo – UVic Athletics

#11 Victoria Vikes at #6 Lethbridge Pronghorns –  Prior to last weekend’s play, the Vikes were literally hanging by a thread, and needing a home sweep of a good Winnipeg team to make the post-season.  They got that sweep, and now are in S. Alberta to face the ‘Horns, who own 2 League wins over the Vikes in January at Victoria.

The Pronghorns are the clear favourites with their guard leader, Dejon Burdeaux (17.1 ppg/ 5.4 rebs/ 4,5 asst/ 3.6 steals) , taking the team on his back, and leading them to key wins.  3 of Burdeaux’s main ‘wing men’ are the sharp-shooting British import, Elliott Sentance (17.6 ppg/ 7 rebs/ 40% from 3 pt),  Mike Pierzchala (11 ppg/ 6 rebs), a threat to ‘run the table’, and 6-8 Zac Overwater (11.6 ppg/ 4.3 rebs.

The Vikes have leaned very heavily on 6-8 Grant Sitton, who’s surely a Canada West all-star, with his 20 ppg/ 6.8 rebs/ and 1.2 steals.  UVic’s only other double digit scorer is rookie import guard Scott Kellum (13.2 ppg), who hits 44% from 3 pt range, and chalks -up 2.4 asst per game.  Justin Kinnear is close to 10 ppg at forward, and he will need help from  Jake Newman and Hassan Abdullahi on the glass, if the Vikes are to stay with the ‘Horns.

We like Lethbridge as the home team here;  Victoria will have to make another jump forward if they hope to get the wins.  Game times are (Mountain) 7 pm on both Friday and Saturday, and 3 pm for a Sunday game, if it’s needed.  The winner here travels to Edmonton to play the Bears in the quarter-finals.

#9 Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack   at  #8  Brandon Bobcats –  The Bobcats host their 1st play-off series since 2009 in the old gym  ( SI Director Matt Packwood tells us).  This is the 1st one in their new ‘Healthy Living Centre’.  These teams have only played 9 times, ever, with the most recent a BU home win over TRU in January of 2014, so we can’t rely on trends!

We will watch a compelling battle of the big men, as the ‘Pack bring 5th year, 6-7  import, Volodymyr Iegorov, along with 6-5 Luke Morris, and 6-5 Joe Davis, who are all double digit scorers , with Iegorov among the League’s top rebounders at 9.1 rpg. Brandon responds with high-scoring Earl Thompson Jr (16.2 ppg/ 8.6 rebs), 6-5 Chris Stanhope, and a surging giant in 6-11 John Paul from St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean.  Brandon’s guards are led by shooter, Tyvon Cooper, while TRU has wing man, Michael Rouault, and import guard, Derek Rhodes.

There will be some new-found excitement surrounding this Bobcats team at home, and, if they can limit their turnovers and continue their improved shooting, they may pull this off.  The ‘Pack played in the CW Final last year, and this young team are looking to take another crack at it.  Only improved guard play and team defense will get them to the next round.  It may take 3 games to sort this out.  Winner goes to Calgary to face the Dinos in quarter-finals. 

 

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Overtime –

  • UBC Coach, Kevin Hanson, with comments about the RPI system, whereby his 19-1 T-Birds finished as the  4th play-off seed,  “Overall, it’s frustrating but we have known that it’s been coming for a few weeks,” said Hanson.   “It is out of our control and we’re not whining about it. Our players are long over the shock. We are getting prepped to play whomever is put in front of us.  (From  Howard Tsumura’s ‘Varsity Letters’ blog  )
  • In that same ‘Varsity Letters’ posting from last weekend, Hanson reports that Conor Morgan has an ankle injury, but is expected to be ‘shooting by the end of the week.’  Guard Phil Jalalpoor is also getting treatment for an ankle injury. UBC has a bye as a top 4 team this week, and will be at home vs the winner of the Manitoba – Regina series Feb . 23-25.

 

 

‘Upon Further Review’ … Not UBC

 

UBC, ‘upon further review’ of the baffling RPI rankings, is not #1 in Canada West

As a legendary Canada West coach used to say, “Assumption is the mother of all ****-ups!”   This is certainly the case with our careless deduction regarding final play-off seedings for Canada West.  Trusting (gullible) souls that we are, we reason that a 19-1 record will give a team a better spot than a 16-4.  Well, not so fast!

In the mysterious world of the RPI, we wrongly assumed that ‘things would eventually ‘balance out’ over the season.  But no ….  There is, in fact, no logical scenario for wins and losses over the final weeks where UBC can finish at #1.  Using the brilliant Canada West Playoff  what-if planning tool , as devised by the incredible Dr. Martin Timmerman as part of his amazing  U-Sports Hoops web-site, we can plot these possibilities.  Go to the site.  Follow the link.  Feed in your game by game predictions, then hit the ‘Press this button to see the overall ….” , and Shazzam !  You get the final RPI ratings using your guesses.

Are the T-Birds on top of the RPI stats, even when they win-out, and have a clear best of 19-1?   No.    Redo it, with some other results;  maybe someone will sweep, or another pair will split.  Do it many times over (using common sense picks, however).  UBC is not #1 in any case we’ve tried.   UBC Coach Kevin Hanson doesn’t want to focus on this, as he says, ” … there are 3 weekends left to play. We all knew the RPI rule was being used with the intent to help balance an unbalanced schedule.  I will reserve to comment until the rest of the league games are completed.”   The #2 ranked team in U-Sports Canada rankings will not, it appears now, have the inside track at hosting the Canada West Final 4.

We have to move on, and talk about the week’s schedule.  If you want to look ahead to play-off probabilities, you can use the ‘Shazam ‘  planning tool at U-Sportshoops.

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The Ravens knocked their Ottawa cousins down a notch, and UBC are back at #2.  Ryerson are unbeaten in OUA action, and will be pointing to their game at McMaster, then on to Brock later in the week. Calgary goes on the road to Regina, and will be ‘circling the wagons’ to try and maintain their clean slate of away wins. A move by the Saskatchewan Huskies into the #9 spot, as they are tougher as the season progresses.  Neither McGill nor Dalhousie demonstrate total confidence in their Quebec and Atlantic races.  Threats to their position from Concordia, Laval in the RSEQ and UNB, Saint Marys, St. FX in the AUS.These are both play-off questions.

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Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-28

UNBC   at Manitoba –  The Timberwolves are clearly the underdogs against the surging Bisons.  UNBC will be scratching to add scoring, and to slow down Justus Alleyn, AJ Basi, Keith Omoerah and the rest of the Herd.   8 pm Central on Fri, the 6 pm Sat.

 

#5 Calgary  at  Regina  –  The Dinos, with their more vigorous and ‘all-in’ defensive effort should frustrate the sputtering Cougars. Calgary will be looking for efficient offense, and more cohesion from their 12 man rotation. Regina is at home, and need a win to help with playoff hopes.  8 pm Central both games.

Josh Ross and the Cougars face a tough task at U of S.

Mount Royal   at  #9 Saskatchewan –  Nobody said it would be easy, and MRU, after 2 losses to UBC, are now at Saskatchewan, the only team to have a win over the Thunderbirds.  Tough indeed.  Brett Layton and Josh Ross will have their hands full with Shane Osayande and Matt Forbes.      8 pm Central for both.

Winnipeg  at MacEwan  –  Is Winnipeg for real?  They are ‘under the radar’, even at 9-5.  Some say ‘easy schedule’, but the Wesmen face road games against an experienced and under-rated Mac crew. Not a runaway here for Ryan Oirbans, Sean Tarver against  Adonis Monfort- Palomino, Keith Gerdes and company.    8 pm Mountain on  Fri, 7 pm Sat

UBC-Okanagan  at  Lethbridge  –  The Pronghorns are motivated by play-off possibilities, while the Heat have to be content to play ‘spoiler’ here.  Dejon Burdeaux and Elliott Sentance vs Aldrich Berrios and Mitch Goodwin  is an interesting match-up.      Games are Friday at 8 pm Mountain, and Sat at 7 pm .

5th year forward, Volodymyr Iegorov , TRU ace

Thompson Rivers at Fraser Valley –  This is the ‘Feature Series of the Week’, and one with so many possibilities.  Old foes dating back to College League days, these two schools have both had success in Canada West .  UFV’s guard play (Manny Dulay, Vijay Dhillon)  make them slim home favourites.  But can the Cascades handle rebounder/scorers Volodymyr Iegorov and Michael Rouault off the Wolf Pack?   Fri – 8 pm and Sat – 7pm Pacific

Brandon   at    #2  UBC  –  Just when the Bobcats were building some momentum, they fly to the Coast for a most demanding test against the League -leaders.  UBC’s Conor Morgan vs Brandon’s Earl Thompson Jr.  Tyvon Cooper for the ‘Cats and Jordan jensen-Whyte of the ‘Birds.  Too much firepower from the Thunderbirds, you would think.     These games are 7 pm Pacific both Friday / Saturday

Trinity Western  at Victoria –  Two ‘must-haves’ for the Vikes.  Grant Sitton welcomes more help;  he has Scott Kellum, Justin Kinnear, now who else will step up?  TWU have a new spirit in their ‘team under construction’.  If their guards can compete, their big men can give UVic some trouble.     Friday at 8 pm Pacific, and Saturday at 7 pm.

Alberta gets the bye this week.

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Overtime –        

  • Canada West corrected their RPI calculations (which, admittedly, can be very tricky), and the Manitoba Bisons are at .5872, the 5th highest in the League.  That makes more sense, since they won 2 games.  Teams can drop, if they play a lower-ranking opponent, as the Herd did with TWU.  The Manitoba drop first reported as .4964, however, seemed far too great. MRU was also corrected to .4964 (not .4704 as originally posted).
  •  If teams are tied for the final playoff spot, the tie breakers will be – 1. Results between the 2 teams  2.  Record vs common opponents 3. RPI rating Once the 12 teams for play-offs have been decided, they will be seeded 1-12 by their RPI ranking.
  • UFV Coach Adam Friesen with his thoughts about TRU this week.  ““We know they’re going to be hard-nosed, they’re going to be tough inside, and they’re going to be throwing a bunch of different defences at us to try to throw us off,” UFV bench boss Adam Friesen said. “Volodymyr Iegorov is one of the best players in our league, if not the country, so we’ve got our hands full with him.”   From Adam Kinvig  , Fraser Valley Athletics
  • From the OUA tonight – #4  Ryerson 99 at McMaster 77

 

 

Huskies Trounce Thunderbirds

 

 

Saskatchewan shines in game 1 , handing UBC their 1st CW loss.

photo- Jaylan Morgan

The Huskies Jaylan Morgan scores 24 in their win over UBC.  phot- U of S Athletics

 Saskatchewan  95  # 2  UBC  78  –  Using the 3 point shot to great advantage, the home-standing Huskies win every quarter against the previously unbeaten T’Birds. U of S hits 12/23 (53%) from outside vs 6/25 (24%) for UBC, and thats a cool 18 points!  The rest came at the foul line as Saskatchewan ate heartily with 29/30 while the Thunderbirds hit just 14/22 for another 15 points.  Game !

Jaylan Morgan led 6 Huskies in double figures with his game-high 23 points, as he connects on 5/7 from outside and adds 6 boards.  Matt Forbes scores 18 / 6 rebs, and Alex Unruh contributes 16 pts/ 5 assists. Import Lawrence Moore debuted with the ‘Dogs hitng 13 points / 6 asst.   Conor Morgan scored 22 pts/ 5 rebs for UBC, and Will Ondrik had 14 pts/ 3 boards.  U of S now up to 6-3, while UBC drops to 8-1. Box Score  

at Winnipeg 111  Trinity Western  65 –  Taking any suspense away early, the Wesmen (7-4)  hang up 64 points in the 1st half, then put it on auto-pilot for the resounding win.  Trinity falls with a thud to 2-9, as the Ws take charge in every facet, including 10 fewer turnovers and 13 more rebounds. The whole Winnipeg roster hits the scoresheet, with 7 players at 9 points or more, led by 16 from Marcello KambolaRyan Oirbans does the blue-collar work  for UW, scoring 13 and grabbing 11 rebounds.  TWU have 18 points from Pogos Trunyan, and 16 by Max VitalaBox Score

MRU’s Brett Layton returns with a vengeance in an OT win over Brandon.

   at Mt. Royal  95  Brandon 86  OT –  The Cougars (5-4) survive a scare, as Brandon storm back from a 12 point deficit after 3/4s to force overtime by scoring 31 in the 4th.  In the extra frame, it’s the Cougars  riding 9 points from Glen Yang, his whole total for the night.  MRU’s Brett Layton, before fouling out late in the 4th Q, scores a game-high 24 points to go with 16 rebounds.  The Cougs get 18 points apiece from both Derek Wolf (5 res/ 5 assists) and Josh Ross (12 rebs/ 5 asst/ 5 steals).  The Bobcats (3-8) have Earl Thompson Jr. with 23 pts/ 12 boards for his double, and 21 points from Tyvon Cooper. Pookie Saunders, a Calgary (E. Manning) high school star, notched 16 to go with 6 boards.   Box Score 

Lethbridge  82  UNBC  71  –  Leading by 10 at the half, the Pronghorns (7-4) saw the visiting Timberwolves get to within 2 points several times late in the 3rd Q.  But the home team finished off nicely, spurred on by 8 points from Dejon Burdeaux, who counted 24 on the night. Lethbridge has Elliott Sentance firing 25 pts and claiming 11 rebounds, as they shoot 49% as a team.  UNBC gets out-boarded 42-28, and have 21 turnovers to hurt their cause. Marcus Mackay has a big night for the T’Wolves (4-7)  with 25 points on 5/6 from outside the arc.  Rhys Elliott adds 17 points/ 5 rebs/ 3 steals.   Box Score  

Victoria 86   at Thompson Rivers 76  –  The Vikes(3-5)  do not look at all like the

The Vikes’ Grant Sitton scores 30 points to spark UVic over TRU  Photo – UVic Athletics

struggling 2-6 team from the 1st half of the Canada West season.  They go into Kamloops and play a very solid game, shooting 50% from the floor, led by a 30 point / 7 rebs game by Grant Sutton (7/8 from outside).  There are 3 other Vikes in double digits, including rookie guard Scott Kellum with 18 points. TRU (5-6) trail the whole way, and are back by 19 after 3/4s, as they can’t match any of UVic’s key numbers … 14 treys vs 8, 38 rebs- 32.  Michael Rouault scores 15 to lead the ‘Pack, and he has 3 other teammates in double figures, including 11 pts/ 9 rebs by Volodymyr Iegorov, who is largely kept in check by Vic defenders.   Box Score

Regina 83 at UBC-Okanagan 79 –   The Cougars (6-3)  get a ‘must – win’ on the road,  by shooting 49% FG,  with a 52 point effort in the 2nd half.  The game is a bit messy, with 24 turnovers from Regina and 22 by the Heat. UR enjoy a big margin at the foul line, as they hit 24/38 vs 14/20 for UBC-O.  24 points/ 5 asst from Alex Igual lead the way for the Cougars, and they also get 14 pts/ 6 rebs/ 4 steals from Brandon Tull. Aldrich Berrios has a game-high 29 points for the Heat, with his 7/13 from long range. Mitch Goodwin produces another 25 for Okanagan, who  play well, but fall to  1-10 on the season.   Box Score

at Fraser Valley  77  MacEwan 72 – The Cascades (4-5) win the 4th quarter and the game, as Navjot Bains  leads 5 UFV players scoring in double figures.  Bains has 16 pts/ 7 rebs, and Andrew Morris adds 14 points/ 8 rebs off the bench. UFV get a few extra shots with 11 extra rebounds over the visitors. Mac (3-8)  has  Keith Gerdes with 20 points, and 15 pts/ 7 rebs.   Box Score 

 

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In the Atlantic – UNB  115  Cape Breton 75 ,  St. FX 86  Acadia 80 ,

In Quebec –   #7 McGill 53  Laval  47

In Ontario –  #4 Ottawa  83  Waterloo 48 , #5 Ryerson 88   Lakehead  64 , #6 Brock 86  Laurentian 82, #9 McMaster 90  Nipissing 75, #1 Carleton  109  Laurier  73 ,  Queens 75  Western Ont. 69, Windsor 83  York 78 ,  Toronto 77  Guelph 66,

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Canada West slate for Saturday night  –

Alberta at Calgary,  TWU at Winnipeg, UBC at Saskatchewan, UNBC at Lethbridge, Brandon at Mt. Royal, Regina at UBC-O, Victoria at Thompson Rivers, MacEwan at Fraser Valley,

Overtime –

  •  The Dinos return home knowing that the U of A Bears do have a much better shooting team than they showed in Thursday’s 71-58 Calgary road win.  In a late Calgary Herald article, UC Head Coach Dan Vanhooren says, “They shoot the ball, they’re a good three-point shooting team.  They have a good level of balance on the floor and it makes them hard to guard, in past years they haven’t had the same level of shooting.”
  •  Women’s scores in Canada West –  Winnipeg 90  TWU 65, Saskatchewan 68  UBC 46,  Lethbridge 89  UNBC 70, Brandon 76  MRU 45, Victoria 79 Thompson R. 66, Regina 76 UBC-O 38, Fraser V. 73 MacEwan 70.

Spotlight on UBC and Saskatchewan

 

Thunderbirds will be tested in road series in Saskatoon

 This opening week of play in January is a mammoth one for our projected top 3

Jordan Jensen-Whyte of UBC - photo

Jordan Jensen-Whyte is a veteran floor leader for UBC. photo- Thunderbirds Athletics

teams.  We’ve previewed the Calgary-Alberta match-up, and now we take a look at the T-Birds and Huskies (Friday and Saturday in Saskatoon).  UBC is 8-0, and, if they get 2 wins this weekend, they may be the odds-on favourites to get the coveted #1 seed at year’s end.  They have home court vs Alberta, then they will be heavily favoured in the last 4 series.

 No, you say?  Too early?  Well, the ‘Birds are 9-1 vs the Sled Dogs over the past 5 seasons, and have these factors going for them this week –  UBC have a 30 point average winning margin in 8 games. The ‘Birds are one of the top shooting teams @ 46% from the floor vs the 2nd worst 38.6% of the Huskies.  UBC goes 10 deep in most games, while Saskatchewan have been 7 to 7.5 so far.  The Thunderbirds boast the talents of 6-9 wing, Conor Morgan, who averages 25 ppg and leads Canada West with a 61.5% FG average. They have the battle-hardened Jordan Jensen-Whyte (14 ppg/ 6.5 rebs/ 3.5 asst) who is hitting 50% of his shots.  2nd year guard, Taylor Browne is starting to show his exceptional talent with 46% from 3 point range and 48% overall FGs.

On the other hand, U of S has home court, and they have the indomitable Shane Osayande.  The 6-6 forward averages a double-double of 20 ppg and a League-leading 11.6 rebs.  The Huskies have a dominant rebounding margin to go with the League’s top defensive numbers, thusfar.  Guards, Chan De Ciman, Alex Unruh, and Jaylan Morgan are all scoring in double figures, and are all playing valuable minutes on the perimeter.  We expect UBC to win at least 1 of the 2, but Saskatchewan will be up for this at home series against old rivals.

Victoria at Thompson Rivers –  This is the other series needing deeper scrutiny.  The

photo, Jeff Tubbs, TRU

TRU point man, Jeff Tubbs – photo TRU Athletics

‘Pack (5-5) are riding a 6 game win streak, including 2 vs NAIA schools last week in California.  UVic have lost 8 of 10 since the start of League play, with 2 losses at the Wesmen Classic last week.  The once pre-eminent Vikes defensive squad have given up 84 ppg in League play. Victoria at 2-6 in Canada West, simply put, need to get it back on the rails quickly.

TRU are ‘re-building’ after a dream season in 2015-16.  They do still have the stellar work of 6-7 Volodymyr Iegorov, their 5th year all-star forward, who averages 18.6 ppg/ 9 rebounds/ 4 assists.  Forwards Luke Morris and Joe Davis have been complimenting Iegorov.  Import Derek Rhodes, and locals Mike Rouault and Jeff Tubbs have been contributors on the perimeter.   This is a big opportunity at home for Coach Scott Clark and his Wolves, and a critical ‘must have’ for UVic.  Something has to give.

UNBC at Lethbridge –  The Timberwolves  (4-6) desperately need the services of Vaggelis Loukas, their top forward on the season.  Loukas was nursing an injury last weekend, but his 11 ppg and 8 rebounds can add so much. Rhys Elliott ( 19 ppg/ 54% from the floor) is having another outstanding year at the guard spot, and 4th year Marcus MacKay (13.5 ppg) is becoming a bigger factor every game out.  But, we’re in Lethbridge this week, and the ‘Horns are tough at home.  We see lead guard, Dejon Burdeaux, causing UNBC real headaches, along with big Zac Overwater and shooters Elliott Sentance and Mike Pierzchala.   ‘Horns will be hoping to sweep here, and the T’Wolves will need an exceptional team effort.

Brandon at Mt. Royal –  The Cougars (4-4) have had post man, Brett Layton, on the shelf as he struggles with a ‘wonky’ (medical term) ankle.  Obviously he makes a big difference with his rebounding and scoring.  Josh Ross, Derek Wolf and company will want to get back on track after 3 losses in the Dalhousie tournament last week.  Brandon (3-7) was less than impressive  in 3 losses in the Wesmen Classic.  They have the always tough Earl Thompson Jr., but are so inconsistent as a group.  Cougars will be too much with Layton back in action.

Trinity Western at Winnipeg – The Wesmen were not at their best in their 50th Classic, but Denzel Lynch-Blair, William Sesay, and Ryan Oirbans will have big motivation to make this a 2- win weekend.  TWU are making some progress, but the loss of Tyus Allen at the lead guard spot puts them in a difficult spot.  Winnipeg to sweep.

Regina at UBC-Okanagan –  The Green Cougars are not the most predictable team in Canada West.  They’ve won 5 and lost 3.  Beaten Saskatchewan, MacEwan, and Victoria, but twice they lose by 20 and win by 10?!?  What’s up with that?  UBC-O (1-9) is at home, and they are in great need of a win.  This is looking very much like an ‘upset special’ in Kelowna.

Vijay Dhillon can shoot the deep ball for UFV.

MacEwan at Fraser Valley –  The 3-5 Cascades host the 3-7 Griffins in a match-up where we see very little to choose.  UFV Coach Adam Friesen had his troops down in California for 3 games (3 decisive losses),  but he says, “ … it was great to get the group back on the court and get up and down the floor. We got a lot of people a lot of playing time, and we’re ready to get back into league play.”   Veteran guards are the strength of both teams – Thadius Galvez and Denzel James for Mac,  and Manny Dulay with Vijay Dhillon for the Cascades.  The teams split in Edmonton last seaon, and we foresee the same result this time around.

All these game are broadcast on Canada West TV  

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Overtime – 

photo- Shane Osayande

The U of S Huskies Shane Osayande is the League’s top rebounder.

  • Canada West’s top rebounders – Shane Osayande, Sask – 11.6, Josh Ross, MRU – 10, Brett Layton, MRU- 9.3, Volodymyr Iegorov, TRU- 9, Matt Forbes, Sask – 8.9, Keith Omoerah, Man – 8.6, William Sesay, Wpg – 7.8, Earl Thompson Jr, Bran – 7.6
  • The physical part of refereeing has become so important, with a faster pace of play using a 24 second clock.  Why then, do we not see a concerted effort on the part of the officials associations to move out some of the older officials and move in more young refs?
  • Name the only team in Canada West to be playing without an import player.  It’s not UBC-O , with their Randy Jernidier from Guadaloupe.  It’s not Manitoba, who have Ilarion Bonhomme from Washington, DC (even though he’s been here so long, we should be a ‘naturalized Canadian’.)   No, it’s the Saskatchewan Huskies, who have, in the recent past, had at least 1 key player from South of the border, but are now ‘all-Canadian’.

 

Morgan Has a Huge Weekend

 

 

UBC’s Conor Morgan leads our ‘Stars of the Week’ list in Canada West

Player of the Week - UBC's Conor Morgan

Player of the Week – UBC’s Conor Morgan

Conor Morgan – UBC …  The Thunderbirds ‘Big Bird’ brings the pain to the Vikes in his home -town on Friday, then at War Memorial in Vancouver on Sunday.  60 Pts,  17 rebounds,  5 assists 4 steals is a big-time weekend!

Denzel Lynch-Blair – Winnipeg … The shooting guard helps the Ws to a pair of wins over Brandon with his 48 pts, 16 rebounds , 5 assts, and 5 steals.

Tyvon Cooper – Brandon … He came in with a rep as a big scorer, and he’s very consistent for the ‘Cats as a passer as well. Two game totals of 47 points, 9 rebounds, 13 assists, 5 steals.

Grant Sitton – Victoria … continues to be the mainstay for his Vikes.  They come close to knocking off the T’Birds in Vancouver on Sunday. 40 pts, 20 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals in the 2 rivalry games.

Volodymyr Iegorov – Thompson Rivers … The big man scores 42 points, grabs 22 rebounds, and has 8 assists in the ‘Pack sweep of the Okanagan Heat.

Earl Thompson Jr. – Brandon … 43 points, 16 rebounds in the 2 game set with Winnipeg, with a big double-double on Thursday.

More outstanding players from Week 5 … Keith Omoerah – Manitoba … The wing man records a pair of double-doubles, as he totals 28 pts/ 20 rebounds in 2 tough home losses to the Bears.   Josh Ross – Mt. Royal  38 pts/ 22 rebs … Brody Clarke – Alberta  33 points 15 rebounds …  Thomas Cooper – Calgary  36 pts/ 11 rebounds/ 5 asst/ 7 steals …  Tyler Wise – MacEwan  27 pts/ 11 boards Saturday win over MRU … Aldrich Berrios with 27 points/ 9 rebs for UBC-O in the tight loss … Austin Waddoups – Alberta … The import guard shoots out the lights in Friday’s win at Manitoba, 31 pts/ 3 assists.


 

Who’s the best ‘6th Man’ in Canada West this season ?

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-12-01-pm

 

Calgary Dinos ace 6th Man, Jhony Verrone.

Calgary Dinos ace 6th Man, Jhony Verrone.               photo – Canada West Hoops

These players do not regularly start games.  They come in for energy, to change the pace, to defend a hot opponent, or to give relief to the lead guard, the post in early foul trouble, or a shooter who is cold on the night.  We look at the ability to score coming off the bench like Johneil Johnson, defend like Jhony Verrone,  rebound like Michael Rouault and Tyler Wise, and handle the ball as smartly as, well, Verrone.

The 6th man knows he’s getting in, but sometimes not exactly when that will be.  He knows his time off the bench may be limited, and that his efficiency on the court is very important if his team is to thrive.  Less than half-way through the schedule, we’ve picked our top 5 ‘relievers’, but all on our list are doing a great job for his team.

1. Jhony Verrone – Dinos,  2. Michael Rouault –  Wolf Pack,  3. Max Viitala – Spartans,  4. Narcisse Ambanza – Wesmen,  5. Johneil Johnson – Green Cougars.


 

Prairie City Rivals Tip-off Thursday

There are three cross-town rivalries in Canada West (we count Langley and Abbotsford as separate ‘kingdoms’).  In this final week of League play prior to the exam break and the Christmas Holidays, schools involved in all three of these ‘City Wars’ are poised for battle.

Mt. Royal vs Calgary in the Crowchild Classic are one of three Prairie 'City Wars' on tap for Thursday night.

Mt. Royal vs Calgary in the Crowchild Classic are one of three Prairie ‘City Wars’ on tap for Thursday night.

The longest -standing  of these is Winnipeg – Manitoba in the ‘Duckworth Challenge’, with Calgary – Mt. Royal (Crowchild Classic)  and MacEwan – Alberta  (‘ North – South Games’ ?)  relative late-comers.  All 3 games are at 8 pm local time on Thursday , with the Women’s games at 6 pm.

Thursday –  Wesmen at Bisons ,  Dinos at Cougars,  Griffins at Bears                      Saturday – Bisons at Wesmen, Cougars at Dinos , Bears at Griffins

 

 

UVic, TRU Revamp Lineups

 

2016-17 Canada West Basketball Previews –

 Vikes and Wolf Pack With Big Roster Changes

Volodymyr Iegorov (L) , TRU, and Grant Sitton (R) , UVic , are 5th year leaders for their B.C. schools.

Volodymyr Iegorov (L) , TRU, and Grant Sitton (R) , UVic , are 5th year leaders for their B.C. schools.

The Victoria Vikes and Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack each had 3 key players  graduate last Spring, and lost several other roster players through attrition of one type or another.  Coaches, Craig Beaucamp of UVic and Scott Clark, TRU, were hard at work in the off-season ‘re-filling the tank’.

There are  8 new ‘Wolves in Kamloops, and 7 newcomers for the Vikes on the Island. This brings the challenge of ‘major renovation’ and integration of many who are new to the staff, the systems, and their new teammates.  There’s also the anticipation and eagerness of every team member to work together to form a competitive team.

The ‘Pack come off a record-breaking, historical season, while Victoria, uncharacteristically, missed the post-season.  Both coaches relish the process of building a new team, and their returnees and recruits, in both cases, hold the promise of good things ahead.

 

 Wolf Pack Focus on the New Season 

Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack

2015-16 – Canada West finalists             16 wins   4 losses   (Explorer Division)

Returnees – TRU 'Pack5th year – Volodomyr Iegorov,  6-7 fwd, Donetsk, Ukraine … 4th year – Luke Morris , 6-4 fwd, Mission, BC.   2nd years – Michael Rouault, 6-5 wing, Vernon, BC. Jeff Tubbs,6-2 guard, Kelowna, Joe Davis, 6-5 fwd, Kamloops, Kyler Eckess, 5-9 guard, Prince Rupert

 New faces –   Derek Rhodes, 6-5 guard, 3rd year, Sacramento, CA (tsf Sacramento CC). Maalik Hazziez, 6-9 fwd, 3rd, Sacramento, CA (tsf American River Coll.).  Noah Kaefer, 6-4 fwd, 1st, Courtenay, BC (Mark Isfeld Sec.).  Jordan Komarniski, 6-0 guard, 1st,  South Kamloops Sec.  Madhu McConnell, 1st, Victoria  (Oak Bay Sec.) . Ryan Miller, 6-6 fwd, 1st, Kamloops (Valleyview Sec.).  Trent Monkman, 6-1 guard, 1st, Telwa, BC (Smithers Sec.) .  Jass Singh, 6-0 guard, 1st, Abbotsford, BC  (W J Mouat)

Coach Scott Clark says,  “This is a new team, and a new challenge.  It’s fun!  We start the journey, and work together as hard as we can to prepare to play in this League.  Who knows how things will turn out? “  The veteran coach, who is in his 7th year at TRU, was previously 15 years as the Head Coach at Simon Fraser.  His ’15-’16 ‘Pack won the Explorer Division, beat Regina in the 1/4 Finals, then beat UBC in game 1 at the Canada West Final 4.  TRU lost to Calgary in the Final, but represented Canada West at the CIS Nationals in Vancouver.

Wolf Pack forward, Luke Morris (L), and lead guard, Jeff Tubbs (R)

Wolf Pack forward, Luke Morris (L), and lead guard, Jeff Tubbs (R)

But as the coach insists, this is a new team, and they really are, with just 6 returnees, one of whom, Joe Davis, did not play last season.  So Clark and his staff do face a challenge with 8 newcomers to integrate into the squad. He does benefit from the power of 5th year import, Volodymyr Iegorov (18.5 ppg/ 7 rebs), a Canada West all-star in ’15-’16, and a leader all summer in team training these past months.   Promising to do his part as an aggressive scorer (12.5 ppg) / rebounder (6.3 rebs) on the forward line is Luke Morris, who had a terrific playoff last year. Coach Clark says, “Joe Davis has come back in great shape, and looks much improved; he trained hard, and should really contribute.”

Jeff Tubbs, a selection on the all-rookie team last year, will be the lead guard, and he should follow nicely in the footsteps of Reese Pribilsky, now graduated. Michael Rouault is another 2nd year player, who shot it at 47% from the floor and proved to be a solid rebounder in year 1 in orange.

Among the newcomers, it’s Derek Rhodes who’s turning heads with his ball-handling skills, and his ability to shoot the trey. Rhodes set school records at Sacramento City College with his long-range sniping.  Post/forward Maalik  Hazziez is a hard-working big man, who will give help to an already strong group.    Madhu McConnell comes in as a 1st year lead guard with skills and confidence, and Noah Kaefer is a promising looking wing man with good size.

“We will do the best job we can to prepare this team for the games we have coming up; every time out, we want to have each guy prepared to do his job, and to have our team compete for a win ”, declares Coach Clark. The Wolf Pack  have great skill and size at key spots, and they should be competitive again this year.

 Schedule –  Nov-Dec … UBC, at Manitoba,  at Alberta , UBC-O,  at UNBC                 Jan-Feb …  Victoria, Winnipeg, at Fraser Valley, Calgary,  at Regina

 Prediction –   Tough schedule, but TRU still in the running.

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Victoria Vikes

’15-’16 –     no playoffs                9 wins – 11 losses  (Pioneer Division)

Returnees – 5th year –  Grant Sitton, 6-9 wing, Brush Prairie, WA … 4th year – Hassan Abdullahi, 6-3 guard, Montreal … 3rd years – Justin Kinnear – 6-6 fwd, Montreal, Hayden Lejeune – 6-8 fwd, Chilliwack … 2nd year – Taylor Montgomery Stinson – 6-3 guard, Victoria  … 1st (RS) – Jason Scully – 6-4 fwd, Victoria (St. Michael’s Sec). Graeme Hyde Lay – 6-0 guard, Victoria (St. Michael’s)

Newcomers –   Jake Newman – 6-6 fwd, 3rd, White Rock, BC (tsf Lafayette Coll., PA). Scott Kellum – 6-1 guard, 1st, Issaquah HS, WA. Noah Charles – 6-5 fwd, 1st, Duncan, BC (Cowichan Sec.) . Wayne Tucker -6-1 guard, 4th, Oakland, CA (tsf Olds Coll., Alberta).  JJ Hamel Carey – 6-0 guard, 1st,  Montreal, (Cegep Champlain- St. Lambert) . Vlad Zasmolin – 6-5 wing, 1st, Calgary (Sir W. Churchill). Ty Stewart Nelson – 6-1 guard, 1st,  Toronto (Shannon Forest Christian, SC)

Starting his 14th season as the Vikes head man, Craig Beaucamp will be intent on getting his new team back into the upper reaches of Canada West and CIS Basketball. After 3 straight UVic appearances at the CIS Nations from 2013-2015, the Vikes missed the playoffs last year.  But this 5-time Canada West Coach of the Year is certainly up to the task.

“Our guys are working hard, and did so with their summer program as well”, says Beaucamp.  “Our big men, Justin Kinnear and Hayden Lejeune, are stronger and ready to give us a strong play inside.”  The coach tells us that 5th year leader, Grant Sitton, has moved to the wing/small forward spot, taking advantage of his perimeter skills.

Rookie import guard, Scott Kellum, has impressed the coaches, and is penciled in as the starter at the point. “We’ve watched his progress since early in high school, and this true freshman can really play”, offered Beaucamp. Another import, Wayne Tucker Jr., has more experience, as a 4th year transfer from Olds College (Alberta), where he was the Alberta Colleges scoring leader last year. “Wayne is quick with the ball on offense, and quick on the ball defensively;  he’s a skilled shooting guard”, says his new coach. The guard play is further enhanced by the experience of JJ Hamel Carey, a 2 year CEGEP transfer, along with returnees Hassan Abdullahi,  and Taylor Montgomery-Stinson.

Two new additions to the Vikes roster, Wayne Tucker Jr. (L) and Scott Kellum (R)

Two new additions to the Vikes roster, Wayne Tucker Jr. (L) and Scott Kellum (R)

Noah Charles, the 3rd brother from ‘up-Island’ to play for UVic, is “ a tireless worker”, with a big, strong body  (6-5, 240) for a young guy.  Jake Newman, a 2013 White Rock Christian grad “come home” to UVic after 2 years at Lafayette (PA) and a red shirt year at Carleton.  His father, Jamie, was a member of national championship Vikes teams in the 1980’s and his sister, Jordyn, played with the women’s Vikes through the 2012-13 season. Newman is “ … ready to make a big contribution to our team”, says Coach Beaucamp.

The pieces are there, it would seem, and now we see how they will all fit together.

Schedule –  Nov-Dec –   at Regina, Calgary, at MacEwan, UBC home/home (4) Jan-Feb –  at Thompson R., at UBC-O, Lethbridge, Trinity W., at Fraser Valley, Winnipeg  (6)

Prediction –  Very different team.  We doubt they miss 2 years running.


 

CIS Scores from Thursday – 

  •  at the Guy Vetrie Memorial in Victoria …  McMaster 69 McGill 62 – A come from behind by McMaster.  Turnover and foul-filled, with  Mac shooting 44 free throws.  no box score
  • Victoria 76   Regina 67 – Grant Sitton and Wayne Tucker Jr., with 15 points each, as UVic survive a shaky start.  . Box Score
  • Saskatchewan  66  Medicine Hat College 65   ( OT)    Box Score

Games tonight – 

East – Concordia  Queen’s, Ottawa  UQAM, Toronto  Memorial,  Ryerson  Mohawk Coll., Bishops Maine – Ft Kent , UNB  St. Marys,  Acadia  St. FX ,  Carleton  Laval ,  Algoma  Laurentian,  Nipissing  Laurier

West –  Lakehead  Winnipeg  ,  Victoria  McGill  ,  McMaster  Regina