Hanson and Vanhooren Lead FISU Team

 

UBC Coach, Kevin Hanson, will be the head man for the FISU Games team this summer.
(PHOTO: Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography)

Canada West Coaches Guide Universiade Squad

The two longest- tenured Canada West head coaches (17 years each) will team-up to lead this summer’s Canadian team to compete in the FISU Games in Taipei, Taiwan from August 19-30.  The team’s Head Coach will be Kevin Hanson, UBC, and Assistant coaches are Dan Vanhooren, U. Calgary, along with Jacques Paiment Jr., Laval U. (Quebec City).

The Universiade  is staged every two years , and consists of 14 compulsory sports and up to 3 optional sports chosen by the host country.  After a Silver medal in Men’s Basketball in 2011, Canada has been 4th in both 2013 and 2015, qualifying for the medal round in each of these last 3 Universiades.

Coach Hanson will be coaching his 4th FISU Games team, having won a bronze in 2003, fifth-place  in 2005 and that silver with the 2011 squad.  “It’s a real honor to be able to represent Canada at the FISU games. It’s absolutely an incredible experience and a life-long memory for the players and the coaching staff”, says the T-Birds mentor.  This is Coach Vanhooren’s 1st assignment for a Canada team, and he says, “ … to be part of a games that size is a wonderful experience and any time you get a chance to represent your country, it’s something you have to do. I’m looking forward it.”

 

‘Local Heroes’  Highlight Recent Signings

Thompson Rivers –  Coach Scott Clark has inked 3 B.C. high school stand-outs for the

Tyus De Vries and father, Greg.    photo- Nelson Star

coming season, and one name stands out as being very familiar to long-time Canada West followers.  Tyus De Vries is a 6’4” shooting guard from Sardis Sr. Secondary (Chilliwack, BC), and the son of Greg De Vries, who won 2 CIS Nationals with the Alberta Golden Bears (1991-96).

With his Dad coaching him from youth basketball through to his 30 ppg senior year at Sardis, Tyus learned from a 2-time CIS All-star, and he has skills beyond his scoring.  Dad says, “Tyus is taller and stronger than I was at his age … he is a better rebounder … he played against tougher competition than I had (at L.V. Rogers, Nelson, BC).

Coincidentally, Coach Clark has also signed 6-8 Jon Steele (GW Graham Sec, Chilliwack), who was a teammate of De Vries’ withe the Trans-Canada Club team.  “He is quite a mobile kid, good frame on him with good skills and play with his back to the basket,” says Clark, who also cautions, of course, that , “ All of those things need to be refined, but he has the potential of being a good player.”

The Wolf Pack also welcome their previously announced local star, Devin Halcrow (Nor-Kam Sr Sec, Kamloops) , who at 6-7 + , looks like a mobile big man with speed and 3-4 skills.  When Coach Clark calls him “ … a good basketball player”,  it means the veteran mentor is excited about Halcrow’s future with the Pack!

Update –  TRU has also added a ‘pass-first point guard’ in Nolan Willett, who, although a Canadian citizen, played his high school (Junipero Serra HS, San Juan Capistrano, CA)  and 1 college year ( Hancock Coll., Santa Maria, CA)  in the U.S.  After having checked out several othe U-Sports and Canada West schools, the 6-1 Willett was most impressed with TRU, the city, and futire Wolf Pack team members.  Says Coach Clark,  “He wants to get his teammates involved. He has played a high level—both in high school and the junior college. His background is good.”

 

Matt (12) and Nick Bernhard (14) are the latest local high school stars to sign with the Regina Cougars.

Regina –  The 6-6 Bernhard brothers, Nick and Matt, (LeBoldus HS, Regina) have been a big part of the Golden Suns’ 4 City and 3 Provincial championships.  Their all-round games have UR Cougars’ Coach, Steve Burrows, “ … excited about their potential.”   Burrows likes their veratility, with both scoring 15+ ppg and being consistent rebounders. Nick and Matt join 4 other Le Boldus grads who are on the current Cougars roster … Benjamin and Samuel Hillis, Carter Millar, and Brayden Kuski.

Trinity Western –  The Spartans sign 6-4 Abbotsford, BC product, Levi Leyenhorst (Credo Christian HS) ,  who was a B.C. ‘A’ Tournament all-star the past 2 seasons.  Coach Aaron Muhic also lands a couple of experienced transfers;  Ethan DeSilva is a multi-talented ‘buzz-saw’ guard, who played for 2 seasons at Briercrest, where he posted 7.4 assts/game, which was 2nd in the whole CCAA.  The Calgary (W. Aberhart HS) product can score in the double digits and is a noted ball-hawk.

Steve Sesink, at 6-8, 240 lb, has an obvious appeal, but will have to get back into playing mode following an 8 year hiatus from competition, after he had 1 season at King’s Univ., Edmonton. Coach Muhic has confidence, however, as he suggests “ “Steve will be a joy to coach and will provide toughness, hustle and rebounding.”

More signings – 

Ben Kornelson is a key transfer at a forward spot for the Heat.      photo – Briercrest Athletics

UBC-Okanagan –  Another 2 year star transferring from Briercrest is 6-7 Ben Kornelson, who returns to the Okanagan, where he lived in Armstrong , BC, and played with the Heat JR Program while in high school.  Kornelson was the team MVP at Briercrest this past season.  Coach Peter Guarasci had previously announced 6-10 Owen Keyes (Kelowna Sec.) and 6-4 Jake Stokker from Penticton Sr. Sec.

UNBC – Coach Todd Jordan added a seaoned BC Colleges transfer in 6-6 Jesse Mushiana, a 4th year coming from 2 seaons at Langara College and one at Capilano.  The self-described “big-bodied’ player is a welcome addition to the T-Wolves, who are looking for added height/size to win more battles on the inside this coming season.

Winnipeg –  Wesmen signee, Don Dayrit, is a proven scorer as a 6-0 guard at Sisler HS (Winnipeg), and was the MVP as his team won the 2016 Wesmen Classic Tournament.  He was ranked as one of top 5 high school grads in Manitoba this year.

 

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   

Spartans to Alaska, ‘Horns to Montana

 

 

Two games on tap Saturday …  

Dejon Burdeaux and the UL Pronghorns travel to Helena, MT to face Carroll College

Trinity Western vs Alaska -Anchorage, and Lethbridge at Carroll College, Helena, MT.

‘Halo’, the Carroll College St. Bernard, seems confident the Fighting Saints will get another win over Lethbridge Saturday.

With records back to 1995, the Lethbridge Pronghorns are 0-11 vs the Carroll College Fighting Saints of Helena, Montana.  The ‘Horns make the 4 hour road trip to Helena for their Saturday game, having dropped a 93-67 verdict to the Saints in Lethbridge  back in late October.  Carroll is 8-2 so far this season, and will be a tough assignment for UL.

 

In Saturday’s other game, it’s the Trinity Western in Anchorage , Alaska to play the NCAA Div. II, U. Alaska-Anchorage Sea-Wolves.  The ‘Wolves are 6-5 this season, and they compete in the 11 team Great Northwest Athletic Conference, along with Alaska- Fairbanks, and Burnaby’s Simon Fraser Clan. The Spartans play 2 games vs the Sea Wolves, then at Fairbanks for a single vs the U. Alaska Nanooks.   These are the 1st games for TWU against either of these Alaska schools.

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Overtime –

  • One of the absolutes for Canada West schools based in ‘smaller centres’ is the ability to land the top local talent in your recruiting efforts.  UBC-O Coach, Peter Guarasci, has done that with his announcement of 6-9 Kelowna Owls’ post man, Owen Keyes.  The 4th member of the KSS squad which won the 2015 B.C. 4A High School title to join the Heat, Keyes has a shot at being, “ … a real impact player at his position in Canada West”,  says Guarasci.  Details in this story in Kelowna Now. 

    MRU’s Josh Ross is averaging 19.6 ppg and 10 rebounds.  Photo – Cougars Athletics

  •  6-3 forward, Josh Ross, has energized the Mt. Royal Cougars offense this season, after his transfer from Vancouver Island U. of the B.C. Colleges League.  Ross, who hails from Burlington, Iowa,  gets high praise from Cougars Coach Mark Dobell, “He scores and he rebounds, but I think his biggest strength is his court vision and his ability to move the basketball and see teammates.”  Nice story in the Calgary Herald from Rita Mingo.  

 

UBC-O and Mt. Royal Previews

 

 

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)

UBC-O logo

Returnees – 
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

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

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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.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-7-03-28-am

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.

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Overtime –

  • 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.
  • The Lakehead Thunderwolves will be hosting the Winnipeg Wesmen in the
    Vikes 5th year shooter, Grant Sitton - photo - AP Shutter

    Vikes 5th year shooter, Grant Sitton  –    photo – AP Shutter

    Thunderdome for non-conference games both Friday and Saturday night at 7:30pm (Eastern).  Both games are live on  OUA.TV

  • 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.

Feature Games this Weekend

 

‘Crucial Games’ On Opening Week

As Mike Raimbault, the Winnipeg Wesmen Head Coach said this week, “Every week we face a tough opponent, so we try not to look any further ahead ….”  That may be especially true this week, since it is the start of League play, with the attending nerves, expectations, and seeming import of these particular match-ups.  Here’s our preview  of Week 1-

Series of the Week –  (We might pick several, but …) 

Manitoba copy

 

 vs    

 

 

Manitoba Bisons at Saskatchewan Huskies – Having lost 5 in a row, and 12 of 13 against the Huskies, Manitoba will be itching for a win or 2!  Both these teams have designs on a high finish and possible championship in March; the tough thing for the Herd is that they have consistently been ripped to shreds by the more ferocious Sled Dogs over the past 7 years. At Forward – Can Manitoba’s Wyatt Anders and Jonathan Alexander match Sask’s Matt Forbes (*we learn Friday that Forbes is gone for the season, with his broken foot!), and Trevor Severinski ?  Maybe more telling is the guard contest – the ‘new Dogs’, Jauquin Bennett-Boire, Shawn Lathan, and Chan DiCiman, along with sharp-shooting Huskies vet, Evan Ostertag,  will have to command the court vs the high scoring AJ Basi, Ilarion Bonhomme, and Justus Alleyn.

Wild-card factors – Dharnjit Dhillon and Keith Omoerah for Manitoba                      Mack Burns and Joe Barker for Saskatchewan .

Also, in the ‘Big Game’ Category –

In the words of a famous UC announcer, Lars Schleuter, s-h-o-o-o-o-ter!

In the words of a famous UC announcer, Lars Schlepper, is a  s-h-o-o-o-o-ter!

Winnipeg Wesmen at Calgary Dinos – 2 years ago, the Ws came to Calgary and beat the Dinos two straight, then last season it was Calgary returning the favour in downtown Winnipeg.  Winnipeg has played effective ‘small-ball’ with guard penetration, quick man defense, and the scoring of wing man Jelane Pryce.  Guards Denzel Lynch-Blair and James Farley are experienced vets, and the Wesmen have added William Sesay, a local high school star. Calgary answers in the back-court with David Kapinga (St. Mary’s HS, Calgary), Jhony Verrone, Josh Owen-Thomas.  Wing men Thomas Cooper and Lars Schleuter can score, and the Dinos are deep at forward, including returnees Mitch Ligertwood and Conner Foreman.

UBC's David Wagner

UBC’s David Wagner – tough inside !

Alberta Golden Bears at UBC Thunderbirds – Over the past 3 seasons, the Bears hold a 6-4 edge, but ‘the word on the street’ has UBC bringing a formidable line-up this year.  The ‘Birds are big … David Wagner (6-9, 245) and Luka Zaharijevic (6-7, 255) provide the muscle, and 6-9 Conor Morgan the inside-outside offense up front.  Jordan Jensen-Whyte moves to shooting guard  and the point will be Phil Jalapoor or Surrey, Holy Cross rookie, Taylor Browne.  Alberta has the strength on the forward line to battle the T-Birds; Mamadou Gueye is a scoring/rebounding dynamo. and red-shirt rookie  Brody Clarke joins 6-9 Sebastian Denault.

Victoria Vikes at Trinity Western Spartans – Who knows what to expect here?  UVic, who have struggled at times in October, are trying to adapt to life without Chris McLaughlin, while TWU has 2 notable additions in 7-1 Matt Hayashi, and 6-5 import guard, Dean Richey. Can the Spartans take advantage of home court for a big upset?

Regina Cougars at Brandon Bobcats – The green Cougs are being touted as ‘the team on the rise’, and have experience and scoring with the Tull brothers (Jonathan, Brandon), plus Aaron McGowan and Alex Igual a solid combo at the point. Brandon has so many new faces, including the intriguing, late-arriving BIG man, John Paul (6-11, 260)  but still features the talented import duo of DJ Jordan and Earl Thompson Jr.

Explorer Division –

UFV's Kevon Parchment is among the elite players in Canada West.

UFV’s Kevon Parchment is among the elite players in Canada West.

UBC-O Heat  at Fraser Valley Cascades –  David and Goliath, especially with the road start for the Heat; but, Coach Guarasci is looking for a step up this season, with more experience from vets like Mitch Goodwin, and David Manshrek, plus scoring from transfer recruit, Randall Mosca.  The Cascades have the power, however, with Kevon Parchment, Nate Brown, and Manny Dulay, plus they have home court.

Mt. Royal Cougars at MacEwan Griffins –  The best match-up this week in the Explorer, with a veteran-laden Griffs squad at home to a younger, but talented Cougars team.  Mac will want to protect home court, and their top forwards, Keith Gerdes and Ryan May will have to battle hard with MRU’s new-found size; for the Cougs Brett Layton comes in at 6-8, and ’T.T.’ Thokbuom is 6-9, providing help inside for 6-5 James Lefebvre.

 Rhys Elliott, high-scoring guard for the UNBC Timberwolves


Rhys Elliott, high-scoring guard for the UNBC Timberwolves

Thompson Rivers WolfPack at UNBC Timberwolves –  Wolves running wild in Prince George !  The Orange have a great addition in the skilled, strong, import forward, 6-7, Volodymyr Iegorov, who will nicely compliment Josh Wolfram’s 20 pts/10 rebounds pace. The T’Wolves like the home court, and Rhys Elliot can be a strong leader, but can they match the size and skill of the TRU front line, or the leadership at the point that the ‘Pack get from Reese Pribilsky.?

All these games are on Canada West TV


 

Overtime –

Coach Guarasci, UBC-O

Coach Guarasci, UBC-O

  • UBC-Okanagan Coach Peter Guarasci complimenting his team’s efforts in the Capitol News, Kelowna , “So far in practice, they’ve all made jumps and I’m really proud of them,” head coach Pete Guarasci said of his second year players.  “I think last year was more about getting exposure to this level and understanding the work it takes to succeed at this level.  They’ve all made some great jumps in practice, and now it’s time to transfer that into games.  That’s where our focus is, and I’ve told the whole team, especially that group, that I want to see a big growth year.”
  • The Carleton Ravens are 5-1 in pre-season, and not 2-1, as we reported.  Small omission of their House – Laughton Tourney.  (Thanks to Martin Timmerman –  CIS Hoops  for the correction) . Martin’s site is a wealth of information covering every one of the 4 Leagues in the CIS.
  • There could be 2 Winnipeg high school all-stars (2015) matched up against each other at the point guard spot this weekend in Calgary, as the Wesmen play the Dinos.  Calgary has Torrez McKoy, and Winnipeg, William Sesay, who were teammates on the Manitoba U-17 National Champions – 2014.   There are 27 Winnipeg high school grads on Canada West team rosters this season !

Previews – TRU , UBC-O

 

Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack – Scott Clark, 6th year

In a year of major change in many Explorer Division rosters, the TRU line-up is particularly  TRU Wolf Pack copyfull of fresh faces, and, although he’s not completely re-vamping his whole roster, Coach Scott Clark graduated key veterans, Brett Rouault, Tallon Milne, and Brett Parker, from the  2014-15 Wolfpack, who were an 11-9 playoff team.

The Wolves will depend heavily on  5th years, Josh Wolfram,  a Canada West All-Star forward, who played for Canada in the  ‘World Student Games’ in China this past summer, flashy point man, Reese Pribilsky,  and import strong forward, Gerard Gore.   Wolfie’s 18 ppg (including 46% shooting from the outside) and 10 rebounds put him in a select group of Canada West big men.  Pribilsky averaged 4.5 assists with a 2.0 asst/turnover rate, and also scored 13 ppg, while Gore and 3rd year forward, Luke Morris both scored near 5 ppg last season.

With only 4 returnees, Clark was busy on the recruiting trail last Winter and Spring, and added  7 new faces to his ‘Pack. TRU’s most intriguing recruit has to be the former U20 Ukrainian National Team player, Vladimir Iegorov.  Kamloops TV Sports -CFJC did this nice piece on Vladimir last week. With his size, maturity, and skills, this former pro import should be a most valuable addition for TRU.    Coach Clark also added another import in 6-2 combo guard, Albert Medrano (Gavilan Jr. College, CA) .

Closer to home, the Coach found some promising talent in 6-5 Michael Rouault, 6-4 Evan Helgason, 6-4 Jeff Tubbs, and 6-0 Evan Cave, as well as a Fraser Valley prospect in 6-2 Justin Mason from Surrey.  “They are rookies for us”, says Clark, but there is some good potential here, and we expect these young guys to work hard and make a contribution when their opportunity shows itself.”

TRU will stay fairly close to home base in their pre-season, with games at home in the Wolf Pack Tournament in mid-October vs Great Falls Univ. (MT), and Trinity Western , then Kwantlen College and Simon Fraser in Kamloops a week later.  The ‘Pack visit Northwest Univ. (Kirkland, WA)  for a game on Oct. 25.

Josh Wolfram can be a dominant force for TRU this season.

Josh Wolfram can be a dominant force for TRU this season.

Returnees – 

Josh Wolfram           6-10  F  5th year  , Kamloops

Reese Pribilsky         5-11  point 5th, Victoria

Gerard Gore             6-5   F ,  5th,   St. John’s, Antiqua

Luke Morris              6-5  F,  3rd,  Mission, BC

 Recruits – 

Jeff Tubbs               6-4 guard , 1st,  Kelowna,  Mount Boucherie

Evan Helgason         6-4 wing, Kamloops  (via a U.S. ‘prep’ school )

Michael Rouault      6-5  F  Vernon, Clarence Fulton  ’

Evan Cave              6-0  G  Kamloops, Norkam

Albert Medrano      6-2  G  Mountain View, CA, Gavilan Jr. Coll.

Vladimir Iegorov       6-7  F  Donetsk, Ukraine, MBC Mykolaiv

Justin Mason            6-2   G  Surrey , Lord Tweedsmuir

 

 

UBC-Okanagan Heat   Coach Peter Guarasci, 4th year   

UBC-O logo

Peter Guarasci believes in the ‘steady hand on the tiller’ approach to his coaching challenge at UBC-Okanagan. He has a group of young players, for the most part, with 9 on his roster who are 1st or 2nd year. The Heat come off a tough ‘trial by fire’ type of season in 2014-15, with a 3-17 record in the Explorer Division, and the former National team post man says, “We want to keep developing, and look for these guys to mature as players and students.”

The 7500 student campus sits in the Okanagan Valley, which can be a real positive for recruiting, but B.C. has 7 other university-level programs scouring the Province for players as well. Guarasci’s preference is to recruit and develop young talent, and suggests that his ‘team has some good prospects, who should help us compete more consistently, and deeper into games.”  Two college transfers bring some skills and confidence; Randall Mosca is a combo guard from St. Mary’s University , Calgary, where he scored 21 ppg in the Alberta Colleges League. Paulius Makulavicius is a 3rd  year wing who played high school in Vancouver, and transfers from Capilano College ( 12.5 ppg/ 4.5 rebs).

Mitch Goodwin is a key veteran guard for UBC-O

Mitch Goodwin is a key veteran guard for UBC-O

A 2nd year post man, 6-8 Brian Ademba, is very new to the game, but his Coach feels , “He is one of the hardest workers I’ve coached, and he improves with each session he has in the gym.  With his size and enthusiasm, I think he can be an effective CIS player eventually.”  His other young post men, 6-9 Ryan Morck and 6-8 Dean Johnston, will also be expected to step their games up and give Okanagan an improved inside presence along with 6-6 forward, Austin Penrose.

Three offensive leaders return for the Heat;  guard Mitch Goodwin ( 13.6 ppg, 4.7 rebs, 2.4 asst) , forward David Manshrek (13.5 ppg, 6.3 rebs), and point guard, Aldrich Berrios (12.4 ppg, 3.1 asst, 1.6 steals) should be a solid combo this campaign.  The team has just started Fall camp, and Coach Guarasci is happy to ‘take things a little slower’ in the pre-season;  “We want the kids fresh when we start playing for real in November, and we can’t forget that allowing them to get their bearings academically is a sensible approach in early September.  UBC-O will play the Lethbridge Pronghorns in Kelowna in early October, then face Trinity Western and Great Falls (MT) Univ. in the Thompson Rivers Tournament  Oct. 16/17.

For a bit of change of pace over the Christmas break, the Heat will be training with the UVic Vikes over on Vancouver Island.

Returnees – 

Mitch Goodwin   G  6-2,  4th year, Kelowna

Ryan Morck         F   6-9, 2nd  , Airdrie, AB

Dean Johnston    F  6-8,  2nd,   Port Coquitlam

Aldrich Berrios     G  6-1   2nd, Burnaby

Cameron Servatius  G  6-4,  2nd, Chilliwack

Cameron Friesen    W  6-4,  3rd, Abbotsford

David Manshreck    F   6-5,  3rd  N. Vancouver

Austin Penrose       F  6-6, 2nd, W. Vancouver

Brian Ademba        F  6-8, 2nd,  Nairobi, Kenya …

Buzz Truss            G  6-4, 2nd   Kelowna

Recruits – 

Spencer Thomas         6-2 G, 1st , Pickering, ON

Randall Mosca            5-10 G, 3rd, Calgary, AB , tsf St. Mary’s University College

Patrick Dujmovic         6-4 F , 1st, White Rock, Semiahmoo

Paulius Makulavicius   6-4 W,  3rd,   Vancouver, tsf  Capilano Univ. College

 

Overtime –

  • Former Alberta G’Bears mainstay, Jordan Baker, has joined Calgary Dinos grad ,
    Bears grad, Jordan Baker

    Bears grad, Jordan Baker

    Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson on the roster of Galitos – Tiey, in Barreiro, of the Portuguese Pro League. The 2 All-Canadians should both get a great shot at playing significant minutes with this club. 

  •  Pre-season games start early … Regina plays Medicine Hat College next Saturday in Moose Jaw, while both MacEwan and Alberta have Alumni games in Edmonton.
  •  Christine Stapleton, the former head coach for the powerful Regina Cougars Women’s  team of a few years ago, moves from the University of Waterloo’s Athletic Department to take over as the new Athletic Director at University of Calgary.  She is the 1st female A.D. in Dinos history.

Explorer Race is Still On

 

Final League Games Crucial for ‘Pack, T’Wolves, and Cougars

Francko Kouagnia and his UNBC Timberwolves will be reaching for 2nd place this weekend vs Okanagan.

Francko Kouagnia and his UNBC Timberwolves will be reaching for 2nd place this weekend vs Okanagan.

While the Pioneer Division has all 7 play-off qualifiers finalized before the weekend’s play, the 6-team Explorer loop still has 3 teams vying for 2nd and 3rd behind the runaway UFV train.  UNBC starts tonight in Kelowna with 2 games against the cellar-dwelling UBC-O Heat, but Coach Peter Guarasci’ youthful Okanagan squad have shown they have made progress.  The T’Wolves’ big men, Devin McMurtry and Francko Kouagnia,  may be the difference in this series.

Thompson Rivers look to be without their star forward, Josh Wolfram, and are hand-cuffed on offense and on the boards as a result.  There’s no doubt that, at their best, UFV should take both games in Abbotsford, and, if that happens, TRU is in jeopardy of missing out on the post-season. Mt. Royal has to have a sweep on their home floor against the MacEwan Griffins if they are to get to 10-10, and possibly tie TRU and get 3rd on a tie beaker.

In the Pioneer, we have the 7th spot decided, and it will be the Manitoba Bisons, who will, after playing at UBC this week, wait and see where they go to play that 1st round series against the Pioneer #5 team. The 1 through 6 spots are up in the air, and with upsets a possibility, it may be smart not to do too much prognostication. But … Saskatchewan and UVic have the best chance of securing the top 2 spots, if they don’t stumble against Calgary or TWU respectively. Alberta, UBC, and Winnipeg will be in as well, with places to be  determined by weekend game results.

 

This Week in Canada West –

Thursday /Friday  the T’Wolves try and finish strong –  

UNBC Timberwolves (10-8)  at UBC-Okanagan Heat (3-15) –  The Wolves are aiming for 2nd in the Explorer Division and a bye to the round of 8 in Canada West playoffs, but beware the home-town Heat, who are coming on of late.  2nd game is Friday in Kelowna again.

Friday /Saturday  in the Pioneer Division –

Can Matt Letkeman and the Calgary Dinos get a win at Saskatchewan?

Can Matt Letkeman and the Calgary Dinos get a win at Saskatchewan?

Calgary Dinos (12-6)  at Saskatchewan Huskies (13-5) – The Huskies are very tough at home, and Calgary has just 1 win in 12 games vs Sask.  An upset is not impossible, but the odds say sweep for the Sled Dogs.

Regina Cougars (7-11)  at Winnipeg Wesmen (11-7) –  The Wesmen have won 5 straight vs the green Cougs, but Winnipeg has to be rattled by their loss at TWU last Saturday. Only if Regina can take advantage, which they haven’t, most recently.

Lethbridge Pronghorns (7-11)  at Alberta Golden Bears (12-6) – Alberta hasn’t lost a home game to Lethbridge since 2006.  The Bears are hot, and the ‘Horns are 2-6 since early January.  Bears sweep.

Manitoba Bisons (9-9)  at UBC Thunderbirds (12-6) – 2001 was the last win by the Herd over the ‘Birds, and U of M goes in on a 5 – game slide.  UBC gets will want to guarantee a playoff series on home court.

Trinity Western Spartans (2-16)  at Victoria Vikes (13-5) – The  win on Saturday was nice for the departing Coach Scott Allen at TWU, but the Vikes are playing the last 2 games ever at MacKinnon Gym.  History demands a pair of UVic wins.

 

And, in the other  Explorer Division games –

Awet Abraha (L) and Deng Awak  will have to be sharp for MRU to beat the MacEwan Griffins.

Awet Abraha (L) and Deng Awak will have to be sharp for MRU to beat the MacEwan Griffins.

MacEwan Griffins (7-11) at  Mt. Royal Cougars (8-10) – These 2 teams are very well matched, and you have to respect the Griffins showing in their 1st Canada West season .  Mt. Royal can make the playoffs with 2 wins, and they look better over the last 2 weeks. Their guards will need to make good decisions at the offensive end.

Thompson R. Wolf Pack (10-8)  at Fraser Valley Cascades (16-2) –  We’re not sure about the status of TRU’s Josh Wolfram, who has missed with injury since Jan. 30, and obviously that is a huge negative factor for their chances .  Fraser Valley, in ‘full battle readiness’ should finish with 2 home wins to get set for the playoffs.

 

 CIS Scores from the East –

Dalhousie 84  St. FX 70 – this puts X on the ‘endangered list for the AUS Tournament’.

St. Mary’s 78  Acadia 73

#3 Ryerson 104  Toronto 68 – no prisoners taken there !

Brock 62  Guelph  55

Up – coming –

#8 UNB at St. FX,  Laval at UQAM, Concordia at Bishop’s,   #1 Carleton at Queen’s ,  #5 Windsor at Algoma, #2 Ottawa at York, Nipissing at Waterloo, Laurentian at Laurier

 

Extra Spot in Nationals Almost a ‘Lock’ for the OUA 

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Carleton jumps to #1, and we await the next meeting of the ‘Ponies’ and the ‘Blackbirds’  in the playoffs.

Saskatchewan loses and drops back to #6, while Alberta and UBC are in at #10, #9 with impressive wins over the past couple of months. Calgary disappears with their loss to Alberta, as does UFV as they drop 2 of 4 games.

The OUA look like getting 4 teams in Nationals, and the real drama will be for all other Leagues to see who wins their way to Toronto (Ryerson) for the CIS Final 8. One team from the Atlantic – It looks like UPEI and UNB, but their tournament format allows for ‘sudden victory’ by a hot under-dog.

Quebec plays it’s Final 4 at Bishop’s, and that may give the Gaiters the upper-hand in a very tightly -bunched field. One team to the Final 8 for them as well.

Canada West will get 2 teams, with a minuscule shot at a 3rd via wildcard, but that seems far-fetched.  The Huskies and Vikes have the best chance to host the Final 4, as the top-seed, but the predictability has been lower this season than in many years past.

Giants Collide in the CIS

 

Top – Rated Teams Meet This Week

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* This is ‘Game -On’ time across the CIS, with so many compelling match-ups set to tip-off, from Cape Breton hosting New Brunswick all the way West for the # 8 Vikes welcoming the defending Canada West champion, Alberta Golden Bears on the Island.  

We also have … the ‘Clash of Titans’ in Ottawa (or, at least, the clash of the  # 1, 2,  and 3 teams in the Top 10,  the Ravens and Gee-Gees vs the invading Ryerson Rams).  BIG GAMES !  Also, the # 7 Saskatchewan Huskies try and extend their modest 3 game win streak out in Vancouver against the  alarmingly vulnerable UBC T-Birds (1-5). The Capers have dropped out of the mix in the Atlantic, and the 6-0 Varsity Reds will be a tough hurdle for CBU, even in the friendly confines at Sydney.

Final Week in Canada West’s ‘First Half’

The majority of Canada West teams play their final pre-Christmas League games this Friday and Saturday; the exception * being the Calgary Dinos and Alberta Golden Bears, who will meet in Edmonton on Fri. , Dec. 5 for the 1st of their home and home series.)  Here are this week’s match-ups –

The Pioneer Division

Alberta's Joel Friesen leads his Bears into Victoria.

Alberta’s Joel Friesen leads his Bears into Victoria.

The Feature Series this week …   Alberta (4-2) at # 8 Victoria (4-2) –  The Vikes will be happy to be back at Ken and Kathy Shields Court, after taking it on the chin twice last week at Saskatchewan.  You can bet that Coach Craig Beaucamp wasn’t too subtle in mentioning some defensive necessities against Alberta after his boys surrendered 82 then 95 points to the Sled Dogs.   Reiner Theil and company will have to contend with the GBs’ Joel Friesen (21.5 ppg/5.8 rebs/2.5 assts) and Mamadou Gueye (18.7 ppg/ 7.2 rebs/2 assts) , the 2nd and 6th high scorers in Canada West.  The UVic defenders will do well to respect the threat of 5th year Bears wing, Ken Otieno, who is averaging 10 ppg, but capable of 20+ in any game.  UVic depends on 5th year post Chris McLaughlin, who is  3rd in both scoring, at 19.8 ppg and  rebounding, with 9.5 rpg.  Theil, their ‘defensive captain’, grabs 6.5 rpg and will be charged with stopping either Gueye or Friesen.  The usual point guard tete a tete involves Alberta’s experienced Youssef Ouahrig and UVic’s  speedy Marcus Tibbs.  This is tough to call … more likely a split.

 

Coach Kevin Hanson knows his 'Birds need to take flight.

Coach Kevin Hanson knows his ‘Birds need to take flight  vs the Huskies this weekend.

# 7 Saskatchewan  (4-2)   at  UBC  (1-5)  – Across the ‘Strait’ (or the ‘Sea’, depending on your leanings) the Thunderbirds have to be doing a bit of soul-searching.  This is not your typical T-Birds’ performance to date;  the Huskies match-up gives UBC a shot at re-setting their gyroscope.  Two home wins seem unlikely, in the light of all that has transpired in their first 6 League games, but Coach Kevin Hanson is not without some weapons.  5th year stalwarts, Tommy Nixon (16.3 ppg/ 4.8 rebs) and Brylle Kamen (12.3 ppg /6 rebs)  have been leading, but they need more troops to play their parts. Let’s start with defense and rebounding … the ‘Birds are – 3 in rebound margin, and they’ve allowed opponents to shoot 50% from the floor, and 45% from 3 point range.  Enough ….

Saskatchewan lit up the usually miserly Vikes with a shooting barrage last week, and the ‘Dogs will hope to howl again in this road series.  Dadrian (Mr. Perfect) Collins, leads with 14.3 ppg, with Mike Scott at 13 ppg, and Evan Ostertag at 12.3 ppg. The key man for U of S is often the versatile Ben Baker (8.5 ppg/ 5.8 rebs/ 5.5 assts) with his floor direction and nose for the ball. The middle man,  6-6, 240, 4th year Matt Forbes, is the leading rebounder at 8.2 rpg.  The Huskies may be hunting in a pack, and have the sense that they can do mortal damage to their old rivals, UBC, to whom they have lost the last 5 times since 2011.  ‘Payback is a Dog’ – (The Stylistics, 1972).

5th year post, Wyatt Anders is the Bisons top man on the boards.

5th year post, Wyatt Anders is the Bisons top man on the boards.

at Manitoba (6-2)   Lethbridge (5-3)  – The Herd is restless.  They feel disrespected. They’re a game up on cross-town Wesmen, and still get no love in the CIS Top 10 discussions.  So here are the Antelopes, arriving in Winnipeg expecting a chilly reception, in more ways than one !  The veteran Pronghorns, led by  5th year ‘QB’, Jared Baker ( he of last week’s rare triple-double of 20 pts, 10 rebs, 11 assists vs Regina) haven’t won at Manitoba since January of 2005.  In fact, this is a see-saw series … all home, all the time.  The home team has won 11 in a row.

The Bisons’ Stephan Walton was either sick, hurt, or relegated in the key minutes of last Saturday’s win at Calgary, so it will be interesting to see how he responds vs U of L.  The big battle will be on the boards, with a decidedly more ferocious Herd featuring Wyatt Anders (2nd in CW at 10.9 rpg), with Jonathan Alexander and Alfreeman Flowers (6.8 rpg each) lending their muscle and leaping ability. Lethbridge responds with their trio of 6-10 Brent Watkins (8,5 rpg) , Baker, and Brandon Brine (6.1 rpg).  Home court is magic in this match-up –  a Bison sweep?

 

at  # 9  Calgary (6-2)   Trinity Western  (1-7) –  There is too much history with these Spartans (TWU have taken 4 of the last 5 games) for Calgary Coach Dan Vanhooren not to urge his boys to be ‘ready to rumble’.  Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson (19.1 ppg / 8 rebs/ 5 asst )  will get lots of defensive attention from Trinity, as befits last year’s scoring champ,

Josh Owen-Thomas , Dinos 4th year guard.

Josh Owen-Thomas , Dinos 4th year guard.

and the Dinos floor leader.  The key for Calgary will be the sharing of the rock, as they shuffle through a 10-11 man rotation, including  vets Matt Letkeman (5.5 rpg,  Phil Barndt,  and Josh Owen-Thomas,  along with ‘youngsters’  LJ Hegwood (5.2 rpg   and  Adonis Monfort – Palomino.  More balanced scoring has produced some of their best play in several seasons, and they will need that against TWU.

Trinity Coach Scott Allen has preached improvement on the fundamentals, but he fundamentally needs more out of talented  5th year forward Denny McDonald (10 ppg / 4.8 rpg)  and  strong forward, Taylor Heinrichs, (8 ppg/ 3/9 rpg). Also, son-of-the-coach point man, Tyus Allen, is tasked with delivering more assists (4.8 apg) and fewer turnovers (4.6 tpg), and he is progressing with that goal.  Justin Bakuteka leads the Sparties with 13.9 ppg and an aggressive defensive style (2.5 steals).  Calgary may get the sweep, but that will depend on their determination and offensive flow.

at Regina  (3-5)   Brandon  (1-7) – These old ‘Great Plains Conference’ foes come into this series from somewhat different perspectives. The Cougars can build some good

Regina's Jonathan Tull leads Cougars' scorers.

Regina’s Jonathan Tull leads Cougars’ scorers.           photo – sportshooter

feeling in the ranks by sweeping the ‘Cats and reaching a respectable 5-5 by the break. They have beaten some of the leaders … Calgary, Manitoba , Lethbridge … and can remain a ‘tough -out’ for the rest of the season. The ‘Two Tulls’, Brandon and Jonathan, are the best brother combo West of Ottawa, and their combined 33.7 ppg and 11.3 rebounds pace the Cougars attack.  Will Tallman is a big contributor at 9 ppg / 7.4 rebs, and Travis Sylvestre is a very useful 12.5 ppg / 5.5 rebs.  Regina sorely misses scoring guard, Alex Igual (14.5 ppg / 2 asst/ 2 steals), who remains  unavaibable with an injury.

Brandon are more on the desperate end of the scale, as they just won their 1st of 8 League games at home last weekend.  The Bobcats are in dire need of a couple of road wins, so they can edge a bit closer to the main peleton, and not be ruled out of the ‘Tour’ by virtue of being way too far back. The ‘Cats are not, obviously, dead, with 12 League games to go, but, if they were, the autopsy would reveal … a crippling  -14.7 in rebound margin, – 6 in turnover margin, and near the bottom of the League in assists.  Brandon shoots  37%  to their opponents  47% , 28% from 3 pt. range vs 39% for the other guys. Kenonte Ramsay , Earl Thompson Jr., Ali Mounir-Benabdelhak, and DJ Jordan can be the leaders in turning this around, but time is ticking.

The Explorer Division –

MRU's Awet Abraha has been quiet on the scoring front this season.

MRU’s Awet Abraha has been quiet on the scoring front this season.

The Feature Series – at Mt. Royal (3-3)    Thompson Rivers (3-3) –  Both these teams have designs on giving the Division leaders, Fraser Valley, a run for their money, but they also want to cement their positions as a playoff team.  (One of 3 from the Explorers).  Mt. Royal’s Coach, Marc Dobell says, “We’re coming off our best-played game in quite a while (in a 77-69 road win at UNBC) , and we’re needing that kind of effort and execution against a big and talented TRU team.”  The lack of consistency has led to some disappointing losses, and much of the blame surely is on the 17th best FG shooting of 35.6 %, leading to 17th in scoring (69 ppg), and combine that with the 13th best turnover rate 17.2 /game, you get inefficient offense.   Maybe that good feeling from last Saturday’s win will carry over to this series.

TRU has 3 stand-outs in Josh Wolfram, their 6-10, 4th year forward, who is topping Canada West in scoring ( 21.7 ppg) and rebounding (12.7 rpg), in Reese Pribilsky, a 4th year point who  averages 11.2 ppg / 4.2 assists, and Brett Rouault, a 5th year wing, scoring 12.4 ppg / 4.4 rebs. , while 5th year forward Tallon Milne chips in with 6.8 rebs and 9 ppg.  Coach Scott Clark’s boys are tops in CW FT % at 83%, and have the best turnover rate, just 11 per game.   A split might be expected at MRU, but the firepower of the ‘Pack may be too much for the low-scoring Cougars.

UFV's Jasper Moedt battles inside for the 6-0 Cascades.

UFV’s Jasper Moedt battles inside for the 6-0 Cascades.

at Fraser Valley  (6-0)          MacEwan (3-3) –  The newest entry in Canada West will be hard-pressed to stay with the Cascades out in Abbotsford.  UFV has the toughest 8 man rotation in the Explorer, with Manny Dulay running the show at guard, looking for Kevon Parchment, Jasper Moedt, Nate Brown, Kadeem Willis, and Dominique Brooks, all  bonafide  scoring threats. This team is allowing the fewest points on defense in Canada West at 68 ppg. , and they are 3rd in the League in points scored with 77.5 ppg.   Rock-pile.

MacEwan has been a positive surprise, with some veteran efforts by forwards Ryan May and Keith Gerdes, along with the explosive abilities of Denzel James, and saavy of guard, Lee Danderfer. The Griffs stay in games with great rebounding, and some timely scoring. But this may be a reach to expect them to stay with the Cascades on the road.

UNBC's Francko Kouagnia with the 'hook and go' in the post.

UNBC’s Francko Kouagnia with the ‘hook and go’ in the post.

at UNBC (1-5)   UBC-O  (2-4) –  Both these teams are works in progress, and one of them might have to get a sweep here to get into the mix for one of the top 3 spots at season’s end.  UNBC has the power game with Francko Kouagnia and Devin McMurtry, and they are hoping that the trio of Jeff Chu, Rhys Elliot, and Billy Cheng can give them some back-court rhythm.

Okanagan are improving each week, with Mitch Goodwin on the perimeter and David Manshrek inside; these are the 3rd and 2nd year vets respectively on an extremely young aggregation for Coach Peter Guarasci.  Expect the home court in Prince George to play a part in the outcomes, but stay tuned as rookies like Aldrich Berrios and Buzz Truss gain confidence for the Heat.

 

Other CIS Game results –

After a 16 point loss on Saturday in St. John’s, the Memorial Sea-Hawks surprised the visiting UPEI Panthers in the Sunday repechage …  Memorial 83  UPEI  80 …  dancing in the streets !

Ryerson keeps rolling (the opponent)  with a sound thrashing of visiting Laurentian …  Rams 84  Voyageurs 65.

 

Upcoming CIS action  (Weds – Fri) –

at Acadia   Saint Marys

UPEI at St. FX

#6  UNB  at Cape Breton

UQAM at Concordia

McGill at Laval

York at Queen’s

#4 McMaster at Western

Laurier  at Waterloo

at Queen’s  Algoma

Lakehead at Nipissing

at # 1 Carleton   Toronto

at # 2  Ottawa   Ryerson

at  Laurentian   Guelph

at # 5 Windsor  Brock

 

Overtime –   

Dinos hope to see the return of 2nd yr. guard, Jhony Verrone.

Dinos hope to see the return of 2nd yr. guard, Jhony Verrone.       photo  David Moll for UC

  •   Calgary guard, Jhony Verrone, an aggressive  2nd year defender and scorer, has been mostly absent from the line-up for 2 weeks, as he has been nursing a bad back.  Verrone can provide very valuable depth if he’s available, and his penchant for the timely steal can be a real catalyst for Dinos momentum. 
  • Wolf Pack Coach, Scott Clark,  after 2 home losses at the hands of the UFV Cascades  last week  “It is early in the season. The league title isn’t won or lost in the first half of the year. We have to play good basketball. There are a lot of games left. Our job is to continue to prepare and get a better.”  Photo and attached story by Andrew Snucins of TRU for the Vernon Morning Star.

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Big Changes for UNBC and Okanagan

 

 

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Okanagan and UNBC will look to Mitch Goodwin (#1-blue)) and ‘Francko’ Kouagnia (#7-white) to lead their respective teams.                                    (photo- UBC-O Athletics)

 

UNBC Adds Talent, Depth

Despite the loss of scorer/rebounder Charles Barton and point man Jibreel Stevens, the UNBC Timberwolves should be “ … far deeper this season than last”, suggests Coach Todd Jordan. With new faces having arrived from the B.C College ranks, the U.S., and Greece, the T’Wolves have re-charged their roster, and Jordan says, “I am very pleased with what I am seeing from our guys so far.”

Big 'Francko' grabs a rebound for the 'Wolves

Big ‘Francko’ grabs a rebound for the ‘Wolves (UBC-O Athletics, photo)

The ‘Wolves return their big man, Franck Olivier Kouagnia, a 4th year, 6-7 rebounding ace, who grabbed 6.2 rpg and scored 13 ppg, and, at times, dominated inside with his energetic style.  He will get help from  Vaggelis Loukas, a 1st year, 6-6 import forward from Athens, Greece, who brings a ‘Euro type’ game, with inside and outside skills, a good handle on the ball, and an ability to score and rebound.

Jordan expects a pair of Surrey, B.C. products, 5th year man, 6-4 Devin McMurtry, who is a work-man on the boards (4.1 rpg), and 3rd year, 6-5 shooter, Gagan Sahota (37% from 3 pt. range), to lend a hand up front.  Colin Plumb, a 6-4 wing from Pitt Meadows, transfers from Capilano U., and has the pedigree and scoring touch to make an impact.

In the back-court, Coach Jordan is excited about the arrival of import point man, Rhys Elliot (Adelaide, Australia, who shone in his lone season at Iowa Central J.C., and “ … is a very, very good, athletic 6-2 player.”

Jeff Chu (Vancouver), a 6-0, 5th year combo guard, will be one of the

Jeff Chu hangs in the lane.

Jeff Chu hangs in the lane.

key leaders, as he adds scoring (9 ppg) and rebounding (4 rpg), while the ‘Wolves will also benefit  from a fully healthy Billy Cheng (Richmond, B.C.), a dynamic ball-handler .

Marcus MacKay (Terrace, B.C.) and Nolan Hanson (Prince George), a pair of 6-2 guards , and Mitchell Howden (Abbotsford), a 6-5 wing return for their 2nd year, ready to make bigger contributions.  Michael Smith, a 6-2, 4th year shooting guard from Toronto, lands in Northern B.C. after stints at Regina and Brandon.

Coach Jordan says, “We are very comfortable with this group of guys; they are working well together, and we think some of our returnees are now ready to step up and play a bigger role for us. We’re bigger, deeper and we’re pretty excited about where we’re going. “

UNBC logoThe ‘Wolves were in Edmonton Oct. 2-4 at the Alberta Basketball Showcase , and now wait for the tough start of Explorer Division season play  as they travel to Kamloops for Nov.7/8 games vs the TRU Wolf Pack, then on the road again on the 14/15th vs Fraser Valley in Abbotsford.  Their 1st home dates are Nov.21/22 against Mt. Royal, then finish the pre-Christmas slate with Okanagan the vistors to Prince George on the 28th-29th.

 

 

 

Youth is Served at Okanagan

Hometown star, Buzz Truss (10) is one of 7 high school recruits for the Heat.

Hometown star, Buzz Truss (10) is one of 7 high school recruits for the Heat.

There are youth movements, then there’s UBC-Okanagan !  Coach Peter Guarasci has 7 rookies; that is fresh-out-of-high school rookies.  They may be shaving, but they hardly have to … these are 17 and 18 year olds competing in a League where 23-24-25 is not entirely uncommon. The ‘vets’ for this Kelowna squad are 4 second-year returnees, and a lone 3rd year, Mitch Goodwin.

Coach Guarasci suggests, “We wanted to go young, and we think these guys have talent, they’re coachable, and they have high basketball IQ’s.  This is my 3rd year at UBC-O, and I inherited a group of players when I arrived.  We’ve recruited some youngsters here who we hope will grow together, and be here for the long run.”

Mitch Goodwin drives to the lane.            (UBC-O photo)

Mitch Goodwin drives to the lane.                  (UBC-O photo)

Goodwin, one of 5 local Kelowna products, is a 6-2 combo guard, who brings many talents to the table;  last season he averaged 11 ppg, 4.5 rebs, and 1.4 steals.  He is an obvious leader, and, if he can improve his assist/turnover ratio, could be among the top players in this Explorer Division.  Ryan Lintell, a 6-4, 2nd year shooter, will be expected to carry a large slice of the scoring load, with his smooth stroke from long range.  David Manshrek is a 2nd year returnee from North Vancouver, who is a strong rebounder at 6-4, and another 6-4 wing, 2nd year Cameron Friesen should step in with his scoring and rebounding abilities as well .

This large rookie class has height, which is something Guarasci, a 6-9 former National team forward, should be able to nurture. 6-9 Ryan Moock (Airdrie, AB), and 6-8 Dean Johnston (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) will get a trial under fire as they jump right into the playing rotation.  6-6 Austin Penrose  (West Vancouver), and 6-5 Noma Obaseki (Vancouver) will both be ‘learning on the fly’ against more experienced, mature match-ups.

The guard-corps has 3 outstanding additions in 6-1 point man, Aldrich Berrios (Notre Dame-Burnaby), a wheeling and dealing passer/scorer with speed and a sharp shooting eye, along with a couple of 6-4 ‘off-guards / wings’ in Cam Servatius (Sardis, Chilliwack, B.C.) and Buzz Truss (Kelowna Sr. Sec), both of whom were chased by several teams in the recruiting process.

UBC-O logoCoach Guarasci has an active roster of 11 B.C. and 2 Alberta grads, with no imports to be seen; “We get no international (tuition) waivers, and, with our academic programs so challenging, we have to recruit guys who can succeed”, says the coach. “A key for us is to have the patience to allow these players to develop, and to teach them, and support them so they can stick with us for 5 years.”

Winning consistently may not happen right away, with so much youth in the line-up, but Guarasci has a bold plan for the Heat program, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out as this group matures.  After 2 decisive losses at Lethbridge this past weekend (90-65, 96-74), UBC-O continues their pre-season on Oct. 17/18 with a pair against Lewis and Clark College in Idaho, then, on the 25th and 26th the Heat are at home to play Laurentian (Sudbury, ON) of the OUA, and Trinity Western.

Okanagan’s Explorer Division League play starts Nov. 7/8 in Kelowna  as they host the early favourites, the Fraser Valley Cascades. They continue their pre-Christmas schedule on the road at Mt. Royal, at home vs new Canada West entry, MacEwan, then finish up at UNBC on the 28/29 vs the T’Wolves.

 

Former Canada West rookie of the year, Ilarion Bonhomme was cut by Brandon this Fall.

Former Canada West rookie of the year, Ilarion Bonhomme was cut from the  Brandon Bobcats team this Fall.

Roster Turnover is Inevitable

As we examine the rosters of Canada West teams every Fall, we are, of course, interested in the new recruits for each team, both the young high school stars, and the transfers and imports from other schools and countries.  But we are also struck by the absence of some key characters from the past season.

Players fail to continue with their teams for a wide variety of reasons;  it may be a decision made by the student-athlete or by the coach, and there are different circumstances that arise in the lives of many young people.  The academic challenges are one of the major factors, and even as athletes generally fare better than the average students, there are still players who don’t meet the required standard.  Injuries can quickly discourage an athlete or even take them right out of competition.

2010-2011 University of Victoria Vikes Basketball

UVic’s Kyle Peterson transfers to Lethbridge after playing a significant role in 2 seasons with the Vikes.

Players may choose to leave one program for another … go back home, leave home, seek ‘greener pastures’, play their last year or 2 at a different place;  transfers are more and more common.   With the wide – spread in ages for competing athletes comes different priorities;  some older athletes just decide to move on, and some younger ones may get discouraged.  Guys go the pros, to work, or some athletes decide they just don’t want to dedicate all that time and effort any more.

Even some of the top players may find that they no longer fit in their team’s plans, or their role will change. This season we note some of the more prominent player absences –  UVic’s Kyle Peterson, Calgary’s Josh Turner, Brandon’s Ilarion Bonhomme, UBC-O’s Greet Gill, Mt. Royal’s Jared Cornish, Regina’s Brendan Hebert, Saskatchewan’s Stephan Lamar, TRU’s Ta’Quan Zimmerman, UNBC’s Jibreel Stevens, UBC’s Isaiah Solomon,  and Trinity Western’s Anthony Ottley.

Continuity is a goal of all programs, but there are so many factors at play which can cause or contribute to a player leaving a team.  Situations rarely stay the same for any length of time.

 

Overtime –

  •   Scores from the past weekend –  Carleton wins all 3 at the UVic – Guy Vetrie Memorial  – 69-52 over Alberta, 80-64 over UVic, and 83-61 over Bishop’s.  Alberta topped the Vikes 80-65. Winnipeg took 2 games at Lakehead – 90-89 then 80-70.  Trinity Western dropped 2 of 3 at the Queen’s Tournament – TWU 69-Queen’s 60, McGill 71 TWU 51, Guelph 73 Trinity 70.
  • We mistakenly reported that Nipissing Lakers were moving from Ontario College competition to the OUA.  Actually, this is their first foray into Men’s Basketball competition at any post-secondary level.
  •   More scores – UFV 88 Van. Island U. 70 , Lethbridge 96-74 and 90-65 over UBC-O, Mt. Royal 82-UNBC 71, Saskatchewan 101-MacEwan 64.