Heat and Cougars – Battling Game by Game
– 2016-17 Canada West Basketball Previews –
The effect of the new Canada West schedule, now ‘mixing and matching’ games among all 17 teams, is to give everyone a sense of unease. No one plays the same teams. You prepare for more teams. The 6 teams from last year’s Explorer Division jump in to play some of the 11 from the Pioneer.
12 teams will make a playoff round. We are here to tell you that there aren’t many, if any, schools who don’t see themselves among those 12. That’s the optimism of the Fall. That’s a way of moving forward with anticipation and promise.
That’s how we see Mt. Royal and UBC-Okanagan. Neither team made the playoffs last year in the 6 team Explorer Division, where just 3/6 made it in. The Cougars and the Heat have positive and bright coaches with improved and eager returnees, and each have added promising recruits.
Can their preparation and their team chemistry get them winning 9-10-11 or more games in order to make that cut? They are readying themselves for the challenge, and will likely be on that fine line right through January and February.
UBC- Okanagan Heat
No playoffs 8 wins 12 losses (Explorer Division)
5th year – Mitch Goodwin, 6-2 guard, Kelowna … 4th year – Cameron Friesen, 6-4 fwd, Abbotsford, BC … 3rd years – Aldrich Berrios, 6-1 guard, Burnaby, BC. David Manshrek, 6-4 fwd, N. Vancouver. Ryan Morck, 6-9 fwd, Airdrie, AB. Buzz Truss, 6-4 guard, Kelowna. Austin Penrose, 6-6 fwd, W. Vancouver. 2nd year – Spencer Thomas, 6-2 guard, Pickering, ON
New faces – Matt Lafontaine, 6-2 guard, 1st, Kelowna Sr. Sec. Triston Matthews, 6-4 guard, 1st, N.Vancouver (Sentinal Sec) . Navtej Sandhu, 6-5 guard, 1st, Kelowna Sec. Justin Melynchuk, 6-4 guard, 1st, Kamloops (St. Anne’s). Davide Ciancio, 5-10 guard, 1st, Kelowna Sec. Sam Striker, 5-9 guard, 1st, Kelowna (Heritage Christian) … Randy Jernidier, 6-6 fwd, 3rd, Guadaloupe, West Indies, tsf, Parkland JC , IL. Noma Obaseki, 6-6 fwd, 2nd, Vancouver.
Coach Peter Guarasci is a patient man, with his team and himself. “Our guys are fit, and they’ve worked hard in the summer, but we are still on the young side”, says the former Canada Basketball forward. “Also, I feel I’m more sure of how I want our team to play, going into my 5th year here.”
Veteran guards, Mitch Goodwin (L) and Aldrich Berrios (R) give the Heat good back-court leadership. photos – Greystoke Photography
It does take a while to put together a competitive program at a relatively new school, but Guarasci is focused on developing a team with good size, strength, and a sense of the systems he prefers. Among his returnees Guarasci cites the work of big Ryan Morck who, “ … worked very hard on our strength program. He has come back stronger, and more fit.” The coach expects Morck to be a bigger factor with his experience and preparation.
Another forward who will invigorate the interior play is David Manshrek, who missed last season due to injury. In ’14-’15 he averaged 13.5 ppg, 6.5 rebs as a ‘small forward’ capable of shooting the 3 ball. The only 5th year player is Mitch Goodwin, a combo guard who logged 27 minutes, 12.7 ppg/5 rebs/2.5 assts. He and point man, Aldrich Berrios give the Heat a dependable pair in the back-court. Berrios scored a team high 14.5 ppg plus 2.5 assists.
“We have had a good Fall camp so far”, says Guarasci. “We’re way farther ahead, because the guys are more familiar with what we are trying to do in each situation.” 8 returning players who are now 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years are making it easier to prepare the squad. Buzz Truss, a big guard, and Cam Friesen at forward will be key factors in the playing rotation as well.
There is great anticipation as Kelowna Owls star, Matt Lafontaine, joins the Heat, and Guarasci says, “Matt is a very strong rookie, who will play some good minutes for us. He, Triston Matthews, Justin Melynchuk, and Nav Sandhu have the size and potential we can build on for the future.”
The athletic Noma Obaseki returns after a year’s absence, and Guarasci is also impressed with the coachability and hard work he is getting from import forward, Randy Jernidier.
The outlook is hopeful, and there is more confidence coming from the Okanagan as Guarasci’s team comes together.
Schedule – Nov-Dec … Trinity Western, at Brandon, Mt. Royal , at Thompson Rivers, at UBC . Jan-Feb … Regina, Victoria, at Lethbridge, at MacEwan, Fraser Valley
Prediction – One of the teams scrambling for a playoff berth
Mt. Royal Cougars
’15-’16 – No playoffs (lost on a tie-breaker) 10 wins – 10 losses (Explorer Division)
Returnees – 5th year – Derek Wolf, 6-2 guard, Penticton, BC. 4th years – Ray Goff, 6-7 fwd, Okotoks, AB. Ryan Cunningham, 6-3 wing, Calgary. Noah Lewis, 6-4 guard, Comox, BC. … 3rd year – Glen Yang, 6-2 guard, Calgary. … 2nd years – Brett Layton, 6-8 post, Calgary. Tyis Yellowhorn, 6-4 guard, Piikani Nation, AB. Wiande Kher, 6-5 fwd, Calgary.
New faces – Josh Ross, 4th , 6-4 fwd, Burlington, IA (Vancouver Is. U.). Matthew Guinto, 3rd, 5-11 guard, Calgary (St. Marys Univ. Coll.). Nick Tancon,2nd, 6-7 fwd, Comox, BC (Trinity W.). Brodie Davis, 2nd, 6-2 guard, Calgary (SAIT). Charn Gill, 3rd, 6-0 guard, Calgary (St. Mary’s U.), RS – Quinn Taylor, 3rd, 6-3 guard, Calgary (St. Mary’s U.)
The Cougars boast 6-8 post man, Brett Layton (17 ppg, 11.2 rebs), a mature 2nd year, who was a Canada West all-star last season. Layton, Ray Goff, and TWU transfer, Nick Tancon, are the post trio for Coach Marc Dobell’s squad, who will try and run the floor and use motion to create offense. MRU were a solid rebounding team last year, despite size disadvantages on many nights.
Post man, Brett Layton (L) and guard Derek Wolf (R) will be key options in the Cougars’ offense.
The addition of talented VIU (the BC Colleges League) transfer, Josh Ross, will give the Cougs an added dimension on their forward line. His last season’s stat line of 21 ppg, 11.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists holds promise for his new team.
The perimeter group is pretty deep, led by 5th year shooter, Derek Wolf (15 ppg), and combo guard, Glen Yang (11 ppg, 2.9 assists) . Noah Lewis is a capable, energetic 4th year, and Tyis Yellowhorn has the size and shooting stroke to make a difference. A nice off-season pick-up is rookie point man, Craig Martin, a high school stand-out from Dallas, TX, who looks like he can be a solid floor leader.
The Cougars will be looking for better 3 point shooting (only 30% last season), and to limit their turnovers, which hurt their playoff run in several key games. “ We want to be better in transition, and in creating higher quality shots off our passing game”, says Coach Dobell.
MRU gets a bye to start the season, playing 4 series’ before the Christmas break, and 6 in the 2nd half. Like several other former Explorer Division teams, MRU are eager for the chance to play some of the more established ‘Pioneer’ schools this season.
Schedule – Nov-Dec – week 1 bye, at UBC-O, MacEwan , Calgary home and home. Jan-Feb – Brandon, at UNBC, UBC, at Saskatchewan, Trinity Western, at Manitoba.
Prediction – a fighting chance at a playoff spot.
- On Friday, UBC-O plays Vancouver Island U., a powerhouse for the last several years in the BC Colleges loop. The game is at Immaculate HS in Kelowna. The Heat also play an alumni game at their home gym at 6 pm Saturday.
- Grant Sitton, UVic’s 5th year wing man, as he and the Vikes look forward to their ‘Guy Petrie Memorial Tournament, “ … not making the playoffs last year leaves a bad taste in your mouth, makes you want to strive harder, it humbles you and makes you want to succeed more.” More in this story in the Saanich News.
- Coach Guy Vetrie died of a heart attack in 2003 at the age of 52, after having coached the Victoria Vikes for 13 years. A native of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Vetrie was a top player for Coach Ken Shields at Laurentian U. in Sudbury. He was an assistant for a year with the Voyageurs, then Head Coach at the University of Saskatchewan for 9 seasons. When the legendary Coach Shields moved on from his post at UVIc, he called on Vetrie to take over the reins for the Vikes. Vetrie won 530 games as a head coach, a National Championship in 1997, and had 6 Canada West Coach of the Year Awards.