T’Birds Boast Imposing Depth



T-Birds have unfinished business

It’s not often that a coach admits he is 100% satisfied with his recruiting and his roster, but UBC’s veteran mentor, Kevin Hanson (18th year) appears awfully close.  “We did very well, and no one (recruit) said no”, says Hanson.  This has the T’Birds, who were 19-1 in Canada West play last season, looking for a repeat, and then more fortune at play-off time. After major disappointment in the post season last Spring, this is a team looking for something special.

“Things happen from week to week”, says the coach. “Injuries, illness … we felt that we needed more depth.”  Well, they have it now, in spades!  5 new faces counting  , Jauquin Bennett-Boire, the explosive2nd year lead guard who red-shirted last season.  Add in the heralded arrival of 6-10 Grant Shephard (Kelowna), who chose UBC over chances in the NCAA ranks.  Mason Bourcier is a 6-4 guard who played with Shephard at Kelowna Sr. Sec.  A pair of former Toronto high school guards, 6-3 Anthony McNish, and 6-4 Grant Audu, come from a year’s play in U.S. high schools.

Conor Morgan, now a 5th year, returns to chase a title for UBC   Photo – T-Birds Athletics

Two more young local recuits will be red-shirting;  the T’Birds, after all, do return 6 – 8 roster players from last season.  Three 5th years  head that list, led by 6-9 Conor Morgan (Victoria), the 2017 Canada West player of the year, along with point man, 6-2, Phil Jalalpoor (Germany), and 6-8 Luka Zaharijevic (Vancouver).

Taylor Browne (Surrey) returns as a fast-rising 3rd year guard, who “worked hard on his game over the summer”, and can be a valuable complimentary scorer and creator on offense. Patrick Simon (Port Coquitlam) is a 4th year, 6-8 post , and guards Isaiah Familia (Windsor, ON) and Izaiah Ugoalah (Vancouver) are in the mix.

“We are still working on our different combinations.  Certainly, we have a great group here; I’m excited to coach these guys. We want to focus on team, and getting them to jell and work together”, says Hanson.  The 5- time Canada West coach of the year exclaims, “I feel energized, and hungry to make this a very good team.”

‘The Bazooka’ trains with a purpose

In high school, at nearby Kitsilano Sr. Secondary, Luka Zaharijevic, was a legendary star, who scored at will with a 6-8 frame carrying as much as 300 lbs.  Dubbed ‘Luka, The Bazooka’, he stood out for many reasons.  On arriving at

Luka Zaharijevic is a 5th year UBC post man.  Photo – T’Birds Athletics

UBC, Luka played few minutes as he was behind more mature post men.  His size wasn’t helping, because his fitness wasn’t what it should have been.  “We’ve wanted to start Luka in the last couple of seasons”, says Coach  Hanson, “But he was hurt, and he was never quite ready.”  “This past Spring and Summer, Luka has dedicated himself to preparing for a big final year.”  The transformation has been impressive, as Hanson tells us the young man has pursued his training with a vengeance.  He is, reportedly, eating better, ‘riding his bike all over town’, and focused on his post game skills.

In lthe Waterloo game last weekend the big man was 8/9 for 17 points in just 13 minutes;  he looks ready to step in as one of the T-Birds big weapons up front.  With an eye to a possible pro opportunity, Luka is determined to make his 5th year one to remember.

Who Goes, Who Stays for Next Fall?




 An Early Look at Canada West Rosters

We’ve just caught our breath after a long 2nd semester haul to the 7th straight coronation of the Carleton Ravens as U-Sports Champions.  It was a sobering experience for our 3 Canada West teams, as they all drop their round 1 games.  So it is literally ‘back-to-the-drawing-board’ for the 17 schools West of Ontario.

We start with a peek at the  players these teams will lose from rosters from the past season, key returnees, and a number of announced additions and expected jumps from the red-shirt list

Alberta –  2017 Canada West champs … the Bears lose big Brett Roughead, with no word on any other changes from this year’s 14-6 squad.  They return almost their whole roster, including all-stars Brody Clarke, Austin Waddoups, play-off ace, Mamadou Gueye, and CW rookie team, Andre Kelly. Coach Barnaby Craddock will  certainly have a contender again next season.

Lucas Mannes (tsf-TWU), a sharp-shooting guard, joins the Dinos this Fall.

Calgary –  The Dinos (16-4) win their last 2 of the year, over Manitoba and Saint Marys to finish 5th at Nationals, but four key seniors, Thomas Cooper, Jasdeep Gill, Mitch Ligertwood, and Dallas Karch, will be missed.  Coach Dan Vanhooren does, however, feel good about his returning core, with David Kapinga, Jhony Verrone, Mambi Diawara, and Max Eisle at guard.  Forwards are led by Lars Schleuter, Connor Foreman, and Jeff Rodehutskors.  Both 6-6 fwd Sasha Pojuzina (Regina), and 6-1 guard, Jake Nielson (Cochrane) should move in off the red-shirt list, and guard Andrew Milner is a high school signee from Nova Scotia’s U-17 champions. Lucas Mannes, an 18 ppg guard, transfers from Trinity Western.

Shane Osayande returns for the Huskies with his power game.

Saskatchewan – The Huskies  are 14-6 this year, get to the Final 4, but lose to Alberta and Calgary there.  They will miss their solid post man, Matt Forbes, and his 3 point shooting partner, Trevor Severinski.  U of S has the high-octane duo of forward, Shane Osayande, and guard, Alex Unruh, as 5th year leaders in the Fall. Coach Barry Rawlyk will have a strong returning group with veterans, Jaylan Morgan, Lawrence Moore, Mack Burns, and Joseph Barker.  A healthy return for speedy guard, Chan De Ciman, would be a big plus as well.

Manitoba –  A huge push in the 2nd semester, to a 12-8 record,  lifts the Herd to the Final 4, where they qualify for their 1st Nationals in many seasons.  They bid adieu to 4 rotation players including starters AJ Basi, and Brett Jewell, along with point man Ilarion Bonhomme, and Jonathan Alexander.  The Bisons returnees are solid, led by starters Justus Alleyn, a Canada West all-star, and the 2 way hotshot, Keith Omoerah. Coach Kirby Schepp also revels in the depth from forwards James Wagner and Malik Irwin.  He has announced the signing of local high school star, 6-6 Wyatt Tait  ( Oak Park)

Conor Morgan enters his 5th year for UBC this Fall.                 photo- UBC Athletics

UBC Thunderbirds – After a banner 19-1 regular season, UBC suffered a dispiriting 2-0 sweep to Manitoba in play-offs. We expect the T-Birds to rebound as a typically strong contender, but graduating Jordan Jensen-Whyte, Will Ondrik, and Harpreet Randhawa will significantly change the mix. They red-shirted Jauquin Bennett-Boire, an impact lead guard, who came from a ‘partial’ rookie season at Saskatchewan. Coach Kevin Hanson boasts a deep returnee roster, with CW 2017 Player of the Year, Conor Morgan, into his 5th year along with guards, Phil Jalalpoor,  A.J. Holloway, and post man Luka Zaharijevic.  Patrick Simon is another experienced veteran on the front line, and young guards Taylor Browne, Isaiah Familia, Izaihah Ugoalah will step up. Coach Hanson has announced the signing of Cam Morris, a 6-6 forward from St. Thomas More Collegiate (Burnaby).

 Lethbridge – 5th year guard Will Hickey is leaving and  2nd year wing, Scott Mazutinec will depart on a Mission for his church. The ‘Horns were 13-7 and will be hoping to improve on that for 2017-18, with Kyle Peterson, transfer (UVic) combo guard, returning for his 3rd year, after finishing his church mission.  Dejon Burdeaux will be a 5th year leader, with Michael Pierzchala, Elliott Sentance, and Zac Overwater adding offensive punch.   6-6 wing, Mark Rodehutskors, should help, coming off the red-shirt list, and UL likely adds another Australian post man.

Winnipeg – Coming off a 12-8 record in 2016-17, the relatively young Wesmen lose  Jamar Farley to graduation, but boast all-rookie team member, Narcisse Ambanza, and CW all-star Denzel Lynch-Blair.  Sean Tarver is a high scoring wing man, and William Sesay, a talented all-round contributor.  Up front, the Ws return big post man, Ryan Oirbans, along with 6-7 Billy Yaworsky Coach Mike Raimbault has had good luck in recruiting local talent and a few top players from the East in his tenure at UW.

The Cascades’ Nav Bains and Wesmen’s Ryan Oirbans will do battle again next season.

Fraser Valley – Coach Adam Friesen will be looking to re-tool his offense, as the Cascades graduate both scoring guards, Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon.  There is, however a ton of talent in ‘The Valley’ and the Lower Mainland, and Friesen has established his program largely with locals. He has announced the signing of Harsimran Bhullar of Panorama Ridge HS , Surrey, B.C.  UFV returns a good core of veterans in Navjot Bains, Denver Sparks-Guest, and Anthony Gilchrist.

Brandon – The Bobcats late season run to 9-11 was one of the good stories in Canada West this Winter, and Coach Gil Cheung will be working hard at building on that momentum. They have some key players graduating this Spring, including scorer-rebounder Earl Thompson Jr, shooter Chris Stanhope, Denham Buchanan, and Esmat Atem. The ‘Cats do have some young talent in guards Tyvon Cooper, a CW all-star,  and Pookie Saunders. John Paul will be a 5th year leader up front, along with rookie Kobyn Jopp, and Tyler Anderson.

2017 Rookie of the Year, Scott Kellum, will lead the Vikes next season.

Victoria –  The Vikes lose their go-to scorer, Grant Sitton, and Coach Craig Beaucamp has wasted no time trying to improve on their 9-11 League mark.  Scott Kellum, a headsy guard from Washington state, is the 2017 Canada West Rookie of the Year, and a solid building block. Vlad Zasmolin (Calgary-Churchill)  could be a ‘sleeper’ off the red-shirt list, and UVic returns several young rotation players in Jake Newman, J.J. Hamel- Carey, and Taylor Montgomery-Stinson.  We understand that TRU’s impressive rookie, 6-1 guard Trent Monkman, will be a red-shirt with the Vikes this Fall.  Coach Beaucamp was busy early, and has signed 6-7 Hunter Hughes from Surrey (Southridge), Andrew Goertzen, a 6-8 fwd from Walnut Grove (Langley), 6-11 Eric Hegadoran from Lambrick Park, Victoria, 6-2 Jaden Touchie, Victoria, Oak Bay, and 6-3 guard Aaron Tesfegiorgis, from Calgary – Notre Dame.  Very busy.

More team reports up-coming  _________________________________________________________________________


Overtime – 


4 Strong Favourites – Canada West Final 8


Dinos, Huskies, Bears, and Thunderbirds are odds-on favourites

We look at these match-ups, and we definitely see 4 clear favourites in these quarter-final series, which tip-off Thursday night in Calgary, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Vancouver. If the series’ go as predicted, we will be re-convening in Calgary on March 3 -4 with our 4 top seeds in the Championship Tournament –   Calgary vs UBC, and Saskatchewan against Alberta.

But first … let’s take a look at this weekend’s draw.  We’re pretty sure Thompson Rivers, Winnipeg, Lethbridge, and Manitoba would like to prove us wrong by upsetting one of the home clubs!


5th Year TRU all-star, Volodymyr Iegorov.

Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack  at Calgary Dinos –  Calgary has home court, and, with some fortuitous circumstances, the #1 seed.  The Dinos are deep, while TRU are relatively ‘shallow’, and, quite likely, a bit ‘road -weary’ .

This could, however,  get very interesting, if we consider TRU’s 95 ppg average last week vs Brandon, which indicates a willingness to open it up, offensively.  The Dinos will be only too willing to oblige that possibility.   Keys –  TRU – Control the pace.  Stop the Dinos’ Thomas Cooper.  Play their season’s best team defense.  Get good team shooting, and ball control.  Calgary Play their fast pace, and help that along by turning the Wolf Pack over.  Throw multiple defenders at Volodymyr Iegorov.  Limit the 3 point shooting from the Orange. Run some consistent half-court offense.             7 pm games Thurs, Fri, and Sat (if necessary)

Matt Forbes, Huskies  Post man  – photo – Huskies Athletics









Winnipeg Wesmen at Saskatchewan Huskies – These teams split their November series in Saskatoon, but this is a bolstered line-up for the Huskies in February, as they now have Matt Forbes at full throttle, and guards Jaylan Morgan and Lawrence Moore in the back-court.  The Wesmen have a team that may be able to harass the Sled Dogs ball-handlers, but can they neutralize the U of S bigs?  If the Ws can generate offense vs a stingy Huskies D, they have a shot.  Keys – Winnipeg – Spread the scoring.  Apply full-court defensive pressure.  Get a stand-off in the post. Play a fast pace.  Saskatchewan –  Execute their offense, and hit open shots.  Limit turnovers.  Pound it inside, and force their own pace of play.              8:30 Thurs and Fri , and 4 pm Sat (if necessary).


Lethbridge Pronghorns at Alberta Golden Bears –  Very familiar opponents, with

Brody Clarke, U of A –         photo – Bears Athletics

Alberta enjoying home court, and a more experienced , deeper roster.  The Bears should be healthy and rested, while the ‘Horns had some intense action last weekend vs Victoria.  The Austin Waddoups – Dejon Burdeaux match-up should be worth the price of admission, and Elliott Sentance vs the den of U of A outside shooters will be a highlight as well.  Keys – Lethbridge – As always , try and keep Burdeaux on the floor, healthy.  Push the pace on offense without turning it over.  Get ‘secondary -scoring’ from other than Burdeaux and Sentance.  Stop U of A from getting it inside.  Win the rebounding battle. Alberta – Use their depth, and wear down the ‘Horns starters.  Fill it up with 3 pointers (tops in Canada West in % treys and # scored per game).  Attack with Mamadou Gueye and Brody Clarke.  Concentrate defense on the 2 Lethbridge king-pins.             8 pm Thur, Fri and 7 pm Sat (if a 3rd)


Jordan Jensen-Whyte, UBC’s 5th year guard  – photo –  T’Birds Athletics – Richie Lam

Manitoba Bisons  at UBC Thunderbirds –  Manitoba’s Coach, Kirby Schepp, reminds us that the Herd lost by 8 in game 1 at UBC back in November, then ” … could, and maybe should have won game 2.”  That went 75-72, and was tight down the stretch.  Yes, but … the ‘Birds did go 19-1, which is a measure of their consistency and quality.

They are at War Memorial, a notorious ‘burial ground’ for visiting teams, and UBC has had some time to rest injured stars, Conor Morgan and Phil Jalalpoor.  Manitoba is a match for UBC in terms of experience in their line-up, and they have won 15 of 17 to finish the season.  On the flip side, the Bisons have won only once vs the T’Birds in 23 games since January of 2001.  Keys – Manitoba – Disrupt the UBC offense; they cannot allow the ‘Birds to get too much momentum.  Take care of the ball.  Go after Morgan at both ends.  Do a ‘shut-down ‘ job on Jordan Jensen-Whyte.  Share the load on offense, and use the bench.  UBC-  Establish their defensive style, and limit fouls.  Just do what they do on offense.  Whyte is a key catalyst for the rest of the squad.  Keep Morgan healthy.                              7 pm Thur, Fri and Sat ( if 3 are necessary).


In the East –

The OUA first round games are getting underway tonight – Queens at Nipissing , Laurier at Laurentian , Lakehead at Toronto, and McMaster at Windsor  .  These are  ‘sudden victory’, and you move on to play the top seeds Carleton, Ryerson, Ottawa, Brock on Saturday.



Strong rookie prospects throughout Canada West

Canada West Hoops’ ‘Co- Rookies of the Year’ , Winnipeg’s Narcisse Ambanza, and Victoria’s Scott Kellum.

We have a large field of rookie to choose our All-Rookie Team from, and we think we can say that this is an exceptional class.  Without the playing minutes, and resulting scoring, and other stats, we can whittle down our list of honourees.  Our suspicion is that we may have some exceptional players in the following group, and they aren’t on our Team !   (reverse alpha order – just a quirk)

Jeff Rodehutskors,  Fwd, Calgary …  Trent Monkman, Wing, Thompson R. … Josaiah Meppelink, G, Trinity W … Madhu  McConnell, G, TRU … Scott Mazutinec,  W,  Lethbridge …  Triston Matthews, G, UBC-O … Craig Martin , G, Mt. Royal …  Tyrell Laing, G, UNBC … Cole Knudsen, F, Alberta … Kobyn Jopp, F, Brandon … Graeme Hyde-Lay, G, Victoria …  J.J. Hamel-Carey , G, Victoria … Benjamin Hillis, W, Regina …  Riley Braich, G  , Fraser V. … Emmanuel Akintunde, F, Saskatchewan.




Overtime – 

  • UBC Coach Kevin Hanson, commenting on star forward Conor Morgan’s readiness for play vs Manitoba this weekend, “He won’t be 100 per cent on Thursday night, but he’ll be healthy enough to contribute in some way.”  More on the T’Birds – Bisons in this story from Steve Ewan in The Province  





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. 



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.



T’Birds – Vikes to Overtime



Morgan leads T’Birds to overtime win over Vikes

Conor Morgan's career high 37 pts takes UBC to their Sunday win over Victoria.

Conor Morgan’s career high 37 pts takes UBC to their Sunday win over Victoria.


at   #2  UBC 93 Victoria  89   OT  – This was a Sunday afternoon battle to relish, with the Vikes giving all they had on the return game at UBC.  UVic led 49-38 at the half, and has the ‘Birds on the ropes, however, UBC turned it around with a big 3rd quarter. Trailing  by 4 with under a minute left,  the Vikes got 2 free throws, then Grant Sitton made a big shot at 7 seconds to force overtime  at 79-79.  In the extra session, it was UBC’s Conor Morgan taking charge, as he counted 11 points and snatched the sweep for the home side.  Morgan was a one man wrecking crew for the ‘Birds, with a huge double- double.   UBC hit 10 treys to 7 for the Vikes, and UVic turned it over 19 times to UBC’s 14.  The T’Birds went 21/37 at the line vs 16/24 for the visitors.  Thunderbirds –  Conor Morgan  37 pts/ 11 rebs/ 4 asst, Phil Jalalpoor  12 pts/ 7 rebs.   Vikes –  Grant Sitton 24 pts/ 9 rebs/ 3 steals, Wayne Tucker Jr. 14 pts/ 6 rebs/ 6 asst , 4 other Vikes in double figures.   Box Score




 Overtime –

  • TRU Head Coach Scott Clark on the fine efforts of 2nd year forward, Joe Davis (Kamloops-Westsyde),  “I’m not surprised. He had a good summer. He is a workman type guy. He comes to practice every day hard. Your performance is going to mirror the effort you put in at practice.”  From Larry Read, TRU Athletics
  • In Charlottetown on Sunday, it was UPEI getting a split , with a 79-65 win over Memorial.
  • We have a final weekend of games in Canada West beginning Thursday.  Most are, again, traditional or regional rivalry series.  We start Thursday with Calgary at Mt. Royal, Winnipeg at Manitoba, and MacEwan at Alberta.  Other series starting on Friday are Saskatchewan at Regina, Thompson Rivers at UNBC, UBC-O at UBC, and UFV at Brandon.

Dinos Host Bisons – ‘Feature Series’



Dinos14 Calgary vs Manitoba Promises an Exciting Opening Weekend

The opening weekend of Canada West League Play sees the Calgary Dinos hosting the Manitoba Bisons, two teams which played in last Spring’s Canada West Final Four. The Dinos have won seven of the last 10 meetings between these teams including a decisive 100 to 74 win at that Tournament in Calgary. Last season’s November League games in Winnipeg, however, both went to overtime as the teams split that series.

Thomas Cooper, Calgary Dinos high scoring wingman, leads UC into a big home-opener series with Manitoba. photo- David Moll, UC

Thomas Cooper, Calgary Dinos high scoring wingman, leads UC into a big home-opener series with Manitoba.          photo- David Moll, UC Athletics

The Dinos are the defending Canada West champs, and return 3 starters from that team, Thomas Cooper, Lars Schleuter, and David Kapinga, along with another 7 veterans including 5th year stalwarts, Jasdeep Gill and Dallas Karch, and 4th year, Jhony Verrone on the perimeter. The post spot is very deep, with veterans Matt Ellis, Mitch Ligertwood, and Connor Foreman along with a strong rookie, Jeff Rodehutskors.

Two more key additions for Calgary are import guard Max Eisle from Germany, and Montreal born wing man, Mambi Diawara, a transfer from Lamar State JC in Texas.  With all these capable players vying for floor time, it will be no small task for Coach Dan Vanhooren to mete out the minutes. “We are anticipating a fast pace of play”, said Vanhooren. “We will need to be moving guys on and off the court in pretty quick fashion.  We’ll expect to get deep into our roster in every game.”Manitoba copy

Manitoba are also blessed with a solid core of veteran players, led by Canada West all-star, Keith Omoerah, who averaged nearly a double/double of 13.2 ppg/ 9.8 rebounds last season.  Last season’s  scoring stats for the Herd were topped by sharp-shooting guard, AJ Basi (17.9 ppg), with combo guard, Justus Alleyn, at 15.6, and 5th year point man Ilarion Bonhomme off the bench at 10.3 ppg.

The Bisons big men, after the graduation of top rebounder, Wyatt Anders, feature the broad-shouldered Brett Jewell, and forward, Jonathan Alexander.  The addition of prized 6-7 rookie, James Wagner, and more minutes from 6-5 vet, Joey Nitychoruk will give them more depth as well.

Our call –  The Dinos have home court, and the UM had a shaky pre-season.  Still, they should be close in both games, with a slight edge to Calgary.


Point man, Phil Jalalpoor and his T-Birds team invade Kamloops to tip-off against TRU.

Point man, Phil Jalalpoor and his T-Birds team invade Kamloops to tip-off against TRU.  photo –   UBC Athletics

 UBC Thunderbirds   at  Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack –  The T-Birds really don’t believe they are anything but the favourites this season, we suspect.  With seniors Jordan Jensen-Whyte and Will Ondrik, along with 4th year stars, Conor Morgan and Phil Jalalpoor, they have much more big game experience than most Canada West squads.  The ‘Birds lost their 6-8 post-up man, David Wagner, but Coach Kevin Hanson is excited about his 4th year big man, Luka Zaharijevic, a wide-body with ‘soft hands’.  1st year, 6-10 forward Justin McChesney should also get some valuable minutes.

The UBC back-court sees Whyte as the leader at 15 ppg, and Jalalpoor hitting 11.4 ppg last campaign.  Taylor Browne was on the CW Rookie team, and the addition of rookie recruits Isaiah Familia and Izaiah Ugoalah gives them more choices.

TRU Wolf Pack copy

TRU will be hard-pressed to match the ‘dream season’ they enjoyed last year, with a 16-4 record atop the Explorer Division, and finalists in Canada West play-offs, with their 1st-ever trip to CIS Nationals.  Gone are Josh Wolfram (19.6 ppg/9.6 rebs) and Reese Pribilsky, the point man, and his 13.5 ppg, 6.2 assists, and 2.6 steals.  Not minor losses there , fans!

Thankfully, the bruising Volodymyr Iegorov returns for his 5th year, and he is a solid threat to average doubles in both scoring and rebounding. Big ‘Vlad’ is a sure-fire pro prospect.  Another quality forward is 6-5 Luke Morris, who should up his production in his 4th year.  Jeff Tubbs is now the lead guard, and the all-rookie team member from ’15-’16 looks up for the task.   Michael Rouault, a 6-4 shooting guard, is now in his 3rd year, and hoping to step up as a starter.

The ‘Pack have added  imports Maalik Hazziez, a 6-9 post, and Derek Rhodes, a big guard.  Noah Kaefer, a rookie guard, from Vancouver Island’s M. Isfeld Sec. should get some court time as well.

Our call-  The ‘Pack are in their own ‘Den’, but that may not be enough to get them by a powerful UBC team.  TRU won all 3 meetings last season, but we don’t see it this weekend.


Saskatchewan Huskies at Fraser Valley Cascades – This is an intriguing match-up, with veterans on both teams capable of leading a winner.  UFV’s Manny Dulay, Vijay Dhillon, Matt Cooley, Navjot Bains and Mark Johnson will get a boost from UVic

Manny Dulay is a solid 2-way guard for the Cascades.

Manny Dulay is a solid 2-way guard for the Cascades.    photo – UFV Athletics

transfer Andrew Morris, and Simon Fraser transfer, Denver Sparks-Guest.  The Cascades were 9-1 at home last season  … 9-1 !   Dhillon (15.6 ppg),  Dulay (11.6 ppg), and Johnson (12 ppg) can be expected to lead a balanced scoring team, and all 3 can shoot from outside at 40% from 3.  Bains, with 7.2 rebs/game and Johnson with 5.7 will get help on the boards, and UFV usually defends very well and takes care of the ‘ball on offense

The Huskies have a big front line, with Matt Forbes,who will be a big plus as he comes off an injury-plagued ’15-’16 season, and  Shane Osayande (13.8 ppg / 10.3 rebounds). Another big forward is the team 3 point ace,  as Trevor Severinski led Canada West at 47% last season..  Chan De Ciman, and Alex Unruh are back at guard, and the ‘Dogs add 3rd year wing man, Jaylan Morgan, who played 2 years in the U.S.

Our Call –  Saskatchewan has the edge up front, but UFV may well hang in there with a strong guard corps and solid defense.  U of S favoured, but home court for the Cascades makes this a toss-up.


at Lethbridge Pronghorns  MacEwan Griffins –  We have to assume that the trio of injured ‘Horns starters, Dejon Burdeaux (, Mike Pierzchala, and Zac Overwater, are not at 100%.  They have past hurts that just seem to pop up too often.  If these 3 can answer the bell, then UL’s fast paced attack should click. Burdeaux scored 12.5 ppg / 4.6 rebounds/ 3.5 asst, and Pierzchala is hitting 17 ppg + in his Fall appearances this campaign. Overwater (10.5 ppg)  is a big man with perimeter skills.  Elliott Sentance is a 3rd year transfer who can score with the best in the League, by early evidence.

The Griffs have a team that could surprise, however, with 7 roster players in their 4th or 5th years, and a 4-2 preseason record.  Denzel James (14 ppg/ 5.2 rebs) and Thadius Galvez (13.4 ppg/ 3.5 assists) are the guard leaders, with Keith Gerdes, Ryan Coleman, and Harrison Lane promising to give Mac a chance in every game. Adonis Montfort-Palomino transfers from Calgary, providing depth at the point.

Our Call-  The ‘Horns run in an enthusiastic herd in their own gym, and, if their starters are able to go, they may get both games here.  Mac is capable of a split.


at Alberta Golden Bears   Brandon Bobcats –  We believe the ‘Cats will be better, and Coach Gil Cheung is eager to see how this new group can come together.  But, the road assignment against the GBs is a tough way to start for BU.

Alberta has a dangerous1-2 punch up front with the dynamic slashing all-star, Mamadou Gueye (18.4 ppg/ 7.4 rebs), and last year’s CW rookie of the year, Brody Clarke (12 ppg/ 6.3 rebs).  Brett Roughead, at 7-1, will protect the middle in the effective Bears defense.  Newcomer guards , Austin Waddoups (3rd year import), and Andre Kelly (1st year, Mississauga, ON) will make an immediate impact.

The Bobcats have 5th year leader , Denham Buchanan, on the wing, and he will provide a much bigger presence this season.  Earl Thompson Jr. is another 5th year player who can score (16.5 ppg) and rebound (8 rpg). 6-11 John Paul, who hails from St. Lucia in the Caribbean, is expected to patrol the paint with improved skill and experience.

Our Call –  Maybe closer than we might expect, with Brandon having a shot at a split.  However, the Bears must be favoured on their home floor. 


at Regina Cougars   Victoria Vikes  –  This is a match-up of teams with ‘dreams of

Brandon Tull will be one of the key vets expected to lead the Cougars this season.

Brandon Tull will be one of the key vets expected to lead the Cougars this season.

glory’.  Well, certainly firm hopes of

a playoff future.  Regina has had a thorough ‘test run’ in the pre-season, including a loss to these Vikes back on September 29.  But here we are in Regina.  The  Cougars  were 8-2 at home last year, including a sweep of the Vikes.  Yes, they’ve lost Jonathan Tull, but they have a coterie of vets back, led by Brandon Tull (1.8 ppg/ 4 rebs/2 assts) and Alex Igual (10.8 ppg/5.6 rebs/ 5 assts)  and 5th year combo guard, Aaron McGowan, at the perimeter.  Brian Ofori, a 4th year forward, is a robust, quick attacker, and 250 lb, 6-7 Stephen Shields lends size up front.  A key addition at guard is rookie, Johneil Johnson, from Nova Scotia.

UVic lean heavily on 5th year swingman, Grant Sitton, who is putting up big numbers early this season.  The stalwart efforts of forward Justin Kinnear (Montreal) will be more evident as he plays his 3rd season.  Big expectations in the Vikes camp for import guards Wayne Tucker, a 4th year transfer from Oakland, CA, and freshman point, Scott Kellum from Issaquah, WA.

Our Call-  We might get a Regina sweep, but know that UVic will be looking to slow down the Cougars scorers.  This cries out as a probable split. 


The Ws will spend a lot of time West of the Rockies this Winter.

at Winnipeg Wesmen  UNBC Timberwolves  –  The Wesmen were the ‘quietest’ 5-0 team in the CIS in the pre-season.  They are still somewhat of a mystery, but have Denzel Lynch-Blair and William Sesay as confirmed stand-outs, with ‘DLB’ scoring (17.5 ppg last year) and Sesay, an all-rookie teamer, an easy bet to improve on 7 rebs and 10 ppg in his 2nd year.  Ryan Oirnans is expected to give more scoring in the post to go with his 8 + rebounds. 2nd Year Billy Yaworsky, at 6’7 should help at the forward, and new faces Sean Tarver ( 3rd year tsf, Baltimore, MD), and 6-2 rookie Narcisse Ambanza will help in the back-court.

UNBC  Coach Todd Jordan is looking for 3rd year guard recruit, James Agyeman (Brampton, ON) to combine in the guard spot with 5th year high scorer  Rhys Elliot (18 ppg/ 5 rebs).  Marcus MacKay, at 6-4, is a big shooting guard, and set for a solid season.  At the forward, Austin Chandler, a 6-6 tsf from Wenatchee, WA Junior College will join Vaggelis Loukas and Sam Zhang on one of the smaller front lines in Canada West.

Our Call-  We see 2 for the home team here.  The Ws will continue their winning ways to start the regular season.


Mitch Goodwin promises to be a floor leader for the Heat this season.

Mitch Goodwin promises to be a floor leader for the Heat this season.

at UBC- Okanagan Heat    Trinity Western Spartans –  The Heat will gladly take the home court advantage in the opener, and try and get a running start for the new season.  The guard combo of Mitch Goodwin (13 ppg/ 4.5 rebs) and Aldrich Berrios (14.5 ppg/ 3.7 assts)  have already served notice that they are ready to roll in a couple of smart efforts in October.  6-9, 3rd year, Ryan Morck has worked hard to be more productive up front, and he will have the ‘blue collar worker’ David Manshrek right with him.  Rookies Matt Lafontaine (Kelowna), and Tristan Matthews (N. Vancouver), will get a shot at some minutes right away.

Trinity has no where to go but up.  The Spartans will need to get a split in some of these series early on, just for some team confidence.  Vartan Tanielian, a 3rd year wing man, has been looking like their leader in Fall play, and he has big men, 7-1 Matt Hayashi , and 6-10 Patrick Vandervelden with an extra year experience and set to go.  Tee Mayberry, a 3rd year JC tsf from Pasadena, CA will also help at forward. Tyus Allen will be a big plus, as he returns to the guard spot after a year off, and import Pogos Trunyan, Sacramento, CA has shown some spark in the pre-season.

Our Call-  If the Heat guards can spark more UBC-O offense, and if their forwards can hold of the Spartans size, then we see a sweep by the home side.



Overtime –

  • The U. Calgary has been busy celebrating their 50th Anniversary of ‘independence’ from the U of A.  In 1966 the school moved  from being named UAC  to University of Calgary.  The alumni for most of the athletic teams have held events to mark this anniversary, and none has been bigger than the Nov 4/5 Basketball Weekend.  With the Manitoba Bisons in town for the League opener, ‘The Pioneers of Dinos Basketball’ will be feted at a Saturday pre-game Social.  Every living Dinos coach since 1962 will be in attendance including John Dewar, Don Newton, Skip Morgan, Tom Bishop, Gary Howard, Cory Russell, and current Head Coach, Dan Vanhooren.

    Regina Cougars coach, Steve Burrows

    Regina Cougars coach, Steve Burrows

  • Regina Coach Steve Burrows,  “We have such a balanced league that winning and losing are going to be separated by a fine line. We have to take care of the details and stay in the present. We can’t remember what just happened for very long.” “We don’t have a guy like Jon (Tull, the team’s leading scorer last season who has exhausted his eligibility) anymore who we could say, ‘Here’s the ball. Go make a play for us.’ We’ve got to work together and trust each other at both ends of the floor. That has taken us some time.”  From a Regina Leader-Post article by Ian Hamilton. 


  • 2016-17 CW men’s basketball pre-season coaches pollscreen-shot-2016-11-03-at-2-28-12-pm

T-Birds Loaded For Battle


2016-17 Canada West  Previews –

UBC Thunderbirds

 ’15-‘16 –  3rd at CW Final 4,  Host Nationals                 Wins 16   losses  4    (Pioneer)

Returnees –    5th years – Jordan Jensen-Whyte, 6-6 wing, Calgary. Will Ondrik, 6-7  UBC T-Birdwing, Vernon, BC.  … 4th Year – Conor Morgan, 6-9 wing, Victoria. Phil Jalalpoor,  Germany. Luka Zaharajevic, 6-7 forward, Vancouver. A.J. Holloway, 6-2 guard, Tacoma, WA.  … 3rd Years – Patrick Simon, 6-8 forward, Port Coquitlam, BC.… 2nd Years – Roger Milne, 6-8 forward, Winnipeg. Taylor Browne, 6-2 guard, Surrey, B.C.

New faces –   Isaiah Familia, 6-2 guard, 1st year, Windsor, ON (Holy Names HS).   Izaiah Ugoalah, 6-5 guard, 1st, Vancouver (Sir W. Churchill).  Justin McChesney, 6-10 forward, 1st, Prince Rupert, B.C., (Charles Hays Sr.)

 From his start at UBC in 2000 through the ’15-’16 season, Coach Kevin Hanson has a .750 winning percentage in Canada West League play.   Money !       So,  barring any major upset, we can safely assume this season’s Thunderbirds will be near the top of the 17 team loop once again.

The ‘Birds have experience, and they’re high quality returnees at that!  Jordan Jensen-Whyte, formerly a rangy, slim point man, has morphed into a bruising slasher at the wing.  He averaged 15 ppg, 48% from the floor, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.  Conor Morgan is a very tall, inside-outside offensive force, and should improve on last year’s ‘pretty good’ numbers – 14.8 ppg/ 7.3 rebounds / 1.5 blocks per game.

Luka Zaharajevic is getting his shot at making a big impact for UBC.

Luka Zaharijevic is getting his shot at making a big impact for UBC.    photo- UBC -Wilson Wong

A less well-known character, outside of Point Grey and Kitsilano areas in Vancouver, is 6-7, 255 lb post man, Luka ‘The Bazooka’ Zaharijevic.  Big Luka recently laid a career high 24 point/ 8 rebound game on the visiting Lethbridge Pronghorns, and Hanson said, “We’re very proud of him. He’s worked so hard, in dropping 25 lbs.  He could be great!  He’s a thick bodied, massive guy.  He hurts guys in practice!”

On the perimeter, UBC counts on Phil Jalalpoor at the point, with AJ Holloway and Taylor Browne both back, and looking ready to contribute even more this year.  Two rookies who are sure to get some attention are the two Iz(s)aiahs,  Isaiah Familia and Izaiah Ugoalah, a pair of tall, athletic shooters with great upside.  Familia was ‘Mr. Basketball’ in Windsor, ON the last 2 years in high school, and the coach says, “He’s a gamer … better than we even thought he’d be.”

Justin McChesney is a very big rookie, and, according to Hanson, “ … a diamond in the rough.”  Initially projected as a red-shirt, the Prince Rupert post man has played his way onto the 12-man roster.

We could go on.  We should.  They also have Will Ondrik, a tough, tall defender, and  two big forwards, Patrick Simon and Roger Milne off the bench. Suffice it to say that the T’Birds are loaded, and they want to get back to Nationals after hosting last year.  By their early season form, we could easily see that happening, if all the pieces fall into place.  But those pieces certainly appear to be there!

(* Credit to the Province podcast ‘Varsity Letters’ , with host Howard Tsumura interviewing Kevin Hanson last week)

Schedule –  Nov-Dec – at Thompson Rivers, bye, Manitoba, home/home Victoria, UBC-O – 4 series   Jan-Feb – at Saskatchewan, Alberta, at Mt. Royal, Brandon, UNBC, at Trinity W  – 6 series in the 2nd half.

 Prediction –  The ‘Birds should fly high.  A solid contender for League honours.



Overtime –

  • UBC has a big red-shirt group, including the talented, but unpredictable Jauquin Bennett-Boire, who started for Saskatchewan as a rookie last Fall, but dropped out of school at Christmas.  Still with the T-Birds football team is Parker Simson, a highly recruited guard / QB from Kelowna.  Coach Hanson says, “ He’s a tough, gritty competitor with a championship attitude.” Due to the football schedule his status with the hoops squad is a bit unsure.
  • On the topic of pre-season schedules … See Canada this Fall !  Play for the Regina Cougars ! … 10 games so far, from Victoria to Calgary,  day trip to Brandon, off to St. Catharines, ON, and a bus ride to Lethbridge this week for #11-12.  On the other hand, we have Fraser Valley, with a couple of short cab rides for some B.C. College scrimmages, and 2 home games vs Lethbridge and Laurier.  At least the Cascades are hitting all their classes !

Carleton vs Calgary for the CIS Title


Jasdeep Gill provides the clutch hoops as Calgary defeats #1 Ryerson

 photo - Rich Lam - UBC Athletics

Calgary’s Jasdeep Gill drives against Ryerson’s  Juwon Grannum in Saturday’s 2nd semi-final . photo – Rich Lam – UBC Athletics


 Calgary 98  Ryerson 87  – The Calgary Dinos have now beaten the Quebec and OUA Champions to earn their shot in the CIS Final against the Carleton Ravens, the 5 time defending champs (11 in 13 seasons). Not an easy path, but Calgary has found a way, and they ride a wave of momentum built up over 18 straight victories.
Up 47-38 at the break, the Dinos saw Ryerson fight back to within 5 in the 3rd quarter, then, up steps 4th year wing man, Jasdeep Gill, hitting a pair of treys 25 seconds apart to restore a double digit margin. Gill hits a 4th quarter 3 to halt another Rams rally, then converts a 3 point play off a layup near the 3 minute mark, to give Calgary the breathing room once more. Free throws from David Kapinga and Thomas Cooper finished off the Ontario champs, as the Dinos now look at getting past the Ravens for their first-ever National title.
Cooper has 30 points / 11 rebounds and Kapinga totals 26 points/ 6 boards/ 6 assists to drive the offense to the momentus win.  But it was Gill, cheered on by his personal 24 member ‘entourage’ / family, who seemed to come to the fore at those times when his team most needed him; 23 points , including 4/7 from outside/ 4 rebounds.
Ryerson get 22 points/ 8 rebs/ 4 asst from Adika Peter-McNeilly, 20 points by Ammanuel Diressa, and 15 points / 10 rebounds/ 3 blocks from big Kadeem Green.
Calgary hits 12/25 attempts from beyond the arc to just 6/39 by the Rams.  Ryerson stays in touch much of the way with 27/32 free throws vs 20/32 by Calgary.  UC plays Carleton in the 5:30 Championship final, while Ryerson are in the 3 pm bronze medal game against the Dalhousie Tigers.   Box Score

Carleton returns to final as Ejim leads the way

 Carleton's Mitchell Wood guards Dalhousie's Sven Stammberger in the 1st semi final at the CIS nationals in vancouver on Saturday. photo- Rich Lam - UBC Athletics

Carleton’s Mitchell Wood guards Dalhousie’s Sven Stammberger in the 1st semi final at the CIS Nationals in Vancouver on Saturday.              photo- Rich Lam – UBC Athletics

Carleton 76 Dalhousie  66 – The Ravens will try and defend their championship for a 6th straight title vs Calgary on Sunday night.  Dropping out of the #1 spot in the CIS Top 10 this season, and this year playing without the explosive offensive power of the Scrubb bothers, as in past seasons, CU has once more  shown their competitive edge on the CIS’ biggest stage.

Carleton out-played the smaller Dalhousie crew, with 46% shooting from the floor vs just 35% for the Tigers, and by grabbing 41 rebounds to 37 for Dal. Carleton defensive efforts thwarted Dalhousie efforts to close the gap, as shooters were denied, and drive lanes closed off.  The size of CU delivered 7 blocked shots, and made the Tigers settle for rushed or low percentage attempts.

Dalhousie did force 21 Carleton turnovers and 19 Tigers points, but never the run necessary to put a significant dent in the CU lead. The Ravens were led by the all-round play of Ryan Ejim, who had 20 points/ 5 rebs/ 3 asst/ 2 steals, and 18 points on 4/9 from outside by Conner Wood. Dal got 18 points / 5 rebs from Kashrell Lawrence, and 16 points by Aquino-Serjue Jordan.  Ritchie Kanza-Mata goes for 10 points/7 rebounds/  6 assists.   Box Score


UBC Takes 5th with win over Ottawa

UBC's Taylor Browne takes it to the hoop vs Ottawa in Saturday's 5th place game. photo - Rich Lam - UBC Athletics

UBC’s Taylor Browne takes it to the hoop vs Ottawa in Saturday’s 5th place game.            photo – Rich Lam – UBC Athletics

 UBC 93  Ottawa 76 –   The T-Birds capture the Consolation final by finishing strong in this free-scoring affair;  48 second half points allowed the home team to pull away, and dispense with the drama the ‘Birds had suffered in their first 2 tournament games. ‘Red-hot’ is the only description for the UBC attack, as they rip-it for 68% from the floor, and 20/23 free throws.

Ottawa, without their CIS Player of the Year, Mike L’Africain, (ill, injured?), played a solid game, but could not match the pace and sharp-shooting of the hosts.  In this battle of 3rd – place Conference teams, the Thunderbirds came with all guns blazing, and all 5 starters score in double figures.  The Gee-Gees subbed more frequently, and may have played with less urgency.

UBC gets 25 points from 6-9 Conor Morgan plus 8 rebounds; guard Phil Jalapoor , with 19 points / 6 assists, and wing man, Will Ondrik, with 16 on 6/7 plus 6 boards, were big factors in the win. The Gee-Gees have Caleb Agada and Matt Plunkett with 18 apiece, with Agada contributing 4 assists. Plunkett  cashed 6/10 from beyond the arc for all of his scoring.    Box Score

Overtime –

  •  Graduating 5th year all-star, Josh Wolfram on his feelings towards his TRU teammates ,    “ They have put in their best every single day. We go at it every day and every guy comes out of the dressing room with their head held high. It is a really great team. I will remember everything from going to the Final 8 to the little things that the guys who don’t play much to Reese, Vlad and myself who play 37 minutes a game. There is something special about each and every guy.” (Ed. Note – Well put, young man !) From Larry Read , TRU Athletics.
  • School Spirit !  5 members of the Dinos Women’s Basketball team leave school Friday, jump in a car, and make the 14 hour trip to Vancouver to support the Men in the Saturday semi-final  !  IMG_0250 (back) L-R  Anmol Mattu, Kristie Sheils, Emma Nieuwenhuizen ..                front – Freya Szmidt, Brianna Ghali, with UC Athletic Director Christine Stapleton.   

CIS Final 8 Tips Off Thursday !


Connor Wood and the Carleton Ravens still have 'The Cup' until someone wrestles it away ! photo - Ravens Athletics

Connor Wood and the Carleton Ravens still have ‘The Cup’ until someone wrestles it away ! photo – Valerie Wutti, Ravens Athletics

1 pm (Pacific)  Quarter-final #1 –  Ravens on the way to another championship ?

#2 Carleton Ravens (OUA finalists) – The Ravens are  CIS champs for 11 of the past 15 years !  As such, there are many expert observers who suggest they are the team to beat again, here in Vancouver.  They lost a tight one to Ryerson, but that was at the Rams’ Carleton RMattamy Centre, and, if they were to see each other again in Sunday’s final this week, it’s on a neutral floor.
Meanwhile, they face another strong team in TRU, and it’s almost home turf for the ‘Pack, playing only a few hours drive from Kamloops.  With Interim Coach Rob Smart Jr. going 10 deep regularly, CU has experience, size, and the offensive pace and defensive intensity to take charge of a game very quickly.

Kaza Kajami-Keane is their floor leader at 6-1, and he’s a dynamic 2-way player, and a 1st team OUA all-star.
Guillaume Boucard, a 6-5 swing man, is  2nd team all-OUA, and 14.6 ppg / 5.5 rebs.
6-2 Gavin Resch, a senior leader, is a sharp-shooting guard,  with 10 ppg/ 45% from 3 pt range , while 4th year, Connor Wood is a big  6-4 guard, who has found  his shooting range of late, and can hit the open trey.
Carleton doesn’t figure to lose in the opening round, and should be considered a serious threat to ring up their 6th straight CIS title.

#7  Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack (Canada West finalists) – The Orange are breathing the rarified air this March, with their 1st appearance in a Canada West Final 4 and a trip to Nationals in their home province.  So, do they just ‘enjoy the trip’, or are they strong enough to stay with a team like the Ravens?

Coach Scott Clark had a veteran team, then added the muscular Ukrainian, Volodymyr TRU 'PackIegorov, to an already impressive set of forwards. Clark believes in this team, and has them playing extremely well, with a League record of 16-4, and win over UBC in  last week’s  CW Final 4. The Wolves are big, they shoot it well, and they have great court leadership from 5th year guard, Reese Pribilsky, and 6-11 ‘small-forward’ Josh Wolfram.

6-6 Gerard Gore has shown that he is ready to step up and fight it out inside with bigger opponents, and Iegorov has the size and strength to rebound and defend, but also the shooting touch from any range.
TRU will also need ‘best games’ from the likes of 6-5 Luke Morris and 6-2 rookie guard, Jeff Tubbs, if they are to keep it close.  Not an impossibility, but betting against the ‘Blackbirds’ is a ‘bum’s game’.


Mike L’Africain, U. Ottawa’s OUA Player of the Year

3 pm (Pacific)  Quarter-final #2 –  Gee-Gees have the experience and the star-power

#3 Ottawa Gee-Gees (Wildcard team, 3rd in OUA) – The Gee-Gees have been vying with Carleton for Ottawa, OUA, and CIS honours for a few years now, and they’ve come up just short on many notable occasions. Coach James Derouin has one of the more experienced teams here, and will try and get the Ponies over that last hurdle with some outstanding seniors. Mike L’Africain was chosen the OUA player of the year,  can trigger a potent offense, and will hit the big shot.Ott G-Gs
Caleb Agada, the Gee-Gees’ all-Canadian forward,  missed 3-4 wks with an ankle injury, but has returned to form, and gives OU a cagey, tough, talented 2-way presence inside.  Agada is the top defender for Ottawa and the OUA defensive player of the year.
6-8, 4th year forward, Nathan McCarthy,  and 6-7, 2nd year, Brody Maracle   are ‘solid low post contributors’ (according to our Ottawa expert!) . Matt Plunkett is a 6-6 shooting wing man, who compliments L’Africain.

All three OUA teams are possible winners in this 2016 Final 8 Tourney, and they couldn’t be blamed for looking ahead to facing each other. Ottawa and Carleton, as they’ve done so many times recently, are on a collision course, with wins in the Q-finals, and we would flip a coin for that one.  But let’s give Dalhousie their due as AUS Champs, and don’t overlook them as a respectable opponent for the G-Gs.

Dalhousie Tigers (Atlantic Champions) – Dalhousie (according to our inside source in the Atlantic ) is a  … “tough,  quick, physical , and relentless squad. Nothing seems to phase them, and they seem to have been winning every close game in the AUS over the last season and a half .” Dal Tigers

Their Coach, Rick Plato, the AUS Coach of the Year, is in his 3rd season,  and took the Tigers to the Nationals  last year.  He was a CCAA Coach at Mount Saint Vincent for 25 years,  prior to joining Dal.

The Tigers change their defensive stripes throughout the game, with changeable alignments “ … including   3-2 and 2-3 zone,  full court 2-2-1 pressure , and a ‘kamakazie’ , denying, switching and trapping man defense they employ to disrupt and create turnovers in crunch -time.

Key players –  “ #22,  Kash Lawrence  is the  back to back AUS Tournament MVP , at 6’3”, he plays in the  paint with the shoulders of Dwight Howard ; he’s a great rebounder and finisher and tough as nails.”
“ #11 – Ritchie Kanza-Mata –  First Team AUS All Star,  and 2015 AUS Defensive Player of the Year; he  organizes his team and leads their pressure defense.”

“#7 – Sven Stammberger –  He is the most – improved player in the AUS this season, for sure;  had a 42 point game this year, and is their best 3 point threat from the ‘small-forward spot. “

“#12 – Jordan Acquino-Serjue, was the CEGEP MVP in 2015, and is AUS Rookie of the Year  this season. He is a solid defender and a  good pull- up jump shooter.”

The Tigers have had the ‘magic’ for the past 2 years in the Atlantic, but can they carry that into this tough match-up with an Ottawa team that was top-ranked going into the season last Fall, and who still look like contenders for the Championship here in March ?


Thomas Cooper, Calgary Dinos, Canada West's Most Outstanding Player photo- David Moll, UC

Thomas Cooper, Calgary Dinos, Canada West’s Most Outstanding Player photo- David Moll, UC


6 pm (Pacific)  Quarter-final #3 –  Two League champs with contrasting styles

#5 McGill Redmen  (Quebec League Champions) – Both Coach Dave Deaveiro, Cadet National Team Head Coach,  and RSEQ Coach of the Year, and some of his team have had experience in this Tournament. The Redmen played in the Final 8 in 2013 and 2014.
McGill is one of the best defensive teams in the country, employing a ‘grind- it- out’  style, McGill Redwith switching defences being a main weapon.  Our Eastern scout tells us , “ They’ll  do whatever they can to make opponents feel uncomfortable, including a 2-2-1 (full-court press) back to match-up 2-3 zone or man.”  Coach Deaveiro says, “It’s probably the deepest team I’ve had at McGill and probably the most athletic team, so we’re able to do a few things we haven’t done in the past.  It gives you some options for doing things, so you’re not as predictable.”
Key players –  #23, 6-4, 5th year, Vincent Dufort – RSEQ 1st Team All Star, “ … he’s their ‘point forward’, and can do everything.”  – 10ppg, 8rpg, 2nd on the team in assists – Team MVP !
#4 – Jenning Leung, 6-1, 3rd year – the point guard is the leading scorer , at 12 ppg, a solid 3pt. shooter.
#3 – Dele Ogundokun, 6-2, – RSEQ Defensive Player of the Year, he scores 10.5 ppg
#21 – Tychon Carter-Newman, a 6-3 guard, in his 5th year – A former Laurentian University stand out , he’s a strong presence on the wing.
#12 – Noah Daoust, 6-7, 230 – “Originally committed to the USA now a super-sub – 6’9″ and their best 3 point shooter – He finishes most games and is an X-factor for McGill.”

#4  Calgary Dinos  (Canada West Champions) –  Having won their last 16 CIS games, the Dinos have a lot  of momentum and confidence entering this Tournament.  Calgary has not played McGill, but had losses to Ottawa and UNB at Christmas, while the Redmen beat the Ponies and the Reds in October.

That lapse in time has seen Calgary Coach Dan Vanhooren solidify a substitution pattern Dinos14which has the Dinos going 10-11-12 deep in every game, with more players taking on significant roles week after week. UC has a ‘starting 5’  of  point, David Kapinga, combo guard, Josh Owen-Thomas, swing-man, Thomas Cooper, forward, Lars Schleuter, and post man Matt Letkeman.
From there, it’s a steady flow off the bench for, combo guard, Johnny Verrone,  guard/forward Jasdeep Gill, rookie guard, Torrez McKoy, forward, Dallas Karch, and post men, Mitch Ligertwood, Matt Ellis, and Connor Foreman.
Key players –  The 4th year import transfer, Cooper, leaps up, with his Canada West best scoring – 25.8 ppg, to go with 7.5 rebounds, and several timely assists each game. Schleuter , the Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2015, is a 3 point sniper (44.2%) who scores 12.5 ppg, and has become a solid defender inside, and an aggressive rebounder.   Kapinga, who grew up in Calgary then moved to Kentucky for part go high school, ‘walked-on’ last Fall, and has been a prime factor in the Dinos run, with his quickness and strength.
Calgary can score in bunches , and will test the vaunted McGill defense.  Two League champs teeing off, and we expect a very close, hard-fought quarter-final.



5th year wing man, Aaron Best, is a driving force for the OUA champion, Rams.

5th year wing man, Aaron Best, is a driving force for the OUA champion, Rams.                         photo – Ryerson Athletics

8 pm (Pacific)  Quarter-final #4 –  Can the host T-Birds knock off #1 Rams?

UBC Thunderbirds (Host, 16-4 in Canada West regular season) – The T-Birds last held this Tournament in 1972, when they won the Championship under Coach Peter Mullins, at War Memorial Gym.  In the 4 team event, the ‘Birds beat Acadia 87-80 in the final.  More recently, they have appeared in 2013, 2011, and lost in the Final in both 2010 (Saskatchewan), and 2009 (Carleton).  (You could say Coach Kevin Hanson is hungry for a title, after having knocked loudly on the door!)  UBC will be tough at home, although this is a ‘new arena’ setting, and not their cozy old War Memorial.UBC T-Bird
Key Players –  Jordan Jensen-Whyte is a 4th year wing man, who has ‘bulked-up’ from his days at the point. Leads ‘Birds scorers at 15 ppg (3.1 assts) with his attack -the -hoop style.
6-8, Conor Morgan, is a potential game breaker, who can score from anywhere … 14.8 ppg, he leads the rebounding at 7.3 rpg.
6-4 point man, Phil Jalalpoor, has stepped in this season and is the leading 3 point shooter (42.1%), and very efficient in running the offense.
6-8 post man, David Wagner, is a potent inside scorer, averaging 12.5 ppg / 5.5 rebs
The Thunderbirds key will be to make it a ‘ground game’ vs the speedier Rams, and to control the boards, allowing their attack to dictate the pace.

#1 Ryerson Rams (OUA Champions) –  In winning the Ontario Wilson Cup for the 1st time in their history, the Rams beat an extremely deep field of competitors, including the 5 -time defending CIS champs, Carleton, in the final . With their gaudy 89.3 ppg scoring average (tops in the OUA), the Rams will happily engage UBC in an offensive fireworks display!  The Rams have won 16 of 17 games (Guelph ?!) since the holiday break, and have played a very tough schedule in doing that. Unknown
Coach Patrick Tatham, the Ontario Coach of the Year,  goes 10-11 deep, with 5 players averaging in double figures, and they limit opposition teams to a 37% FG average at the defensive end.
Aaron Best leads the Rams’ scoring at 17.8 ppg plus 7.4 rebounds, and is an OUA 1st team all-star
Anika Peter-McNeilly is a 6-3 guard, who scores 15 ppg / 5.5 rebs, and is also a 1st team OUA all-star.
Ammanuel Diressa – a tough, 6-4  competitor at the guard spot, he’s a 2nd team All-OUA … averaging 14.9 ppg, 5.3 rebs, 3 assists.
Kadeem Green , at 6-8, is a defensive stopper in the middle … 7 rebs and 2 blocks a game
Their confidence is way up there, and they are primed to go deep in this year’s Final 8 Tournament.

Overtime –


  • UBC Thunderbirds’ Head Coach, Kevin Hanson, on the impact of hosting the CIS Nationals at UBC,  “When you think about it, it’s absolutely amazing that the last time the event was held at UBC was over four decades ago,” said Hanson, whose team sat at No. 6 in the national rankings this week. “That is a phenomonal amount of time to pass when you are trying to build a brand for CIS basketball in this country.  So we have to share our love of basketball … and the Final 8 is a tournament that needs to be shared.”  Nice story from Howard Tsumura in The Province. 
  • Ryerson Rams star, Aaron Best, after they win the OUA championship for the 1st time in school history.  ”It’s big for the university, it’s big for all of us, it’s big for the alumni, the players who’ve played here, it’s a testament to all the work that everybody’s put in,” said Best standing on the court post-game with the OUA banner draped around him. “Just to see this come to Ryerson and to win it this way
    Ryerson Coach, Patrick Tatham

    Ryerson Coach, Patrick Tatham

    is a really good feeling.”  From the ‘Eh Game’ – Yahoo Sports 

  • J-u-u-u-s-t in case there’s any confusion as to the goals / expectations of the #1 ranked Ryerson Rams going into this week’s CIS Championship, here’s Coach Patrick Tatham’s take on it, “I think the guys want a different colour medal, something other than the bronze medal we got last year at CIS finals,” said the interim head coach “The guys are hungry and they’re definitely ready to go.”  From The Star, Toronto
  • Torrez McKoy , Dinos rookie point guard, on the experience of playing in Nationals early in his career, “Just getting the opportunity to play as a rookie is really special and I don’t take it for granted either,” said McKoy. “It’s awesome how we have a group of guys where everyone can come off the bench and contribute. We don’t just have six or seven guys deep; we usually have 10, 11 guys. It’s hard not to feel the pressure because it’s everyone’s first time. But after that first couple of minutes from the first game, it’ll be easy from there.”  From Rita Mingo, The Calgary Herald

Bisons Advance in OT, ‘Birds Fly High


Bisons will take the series win, and head to the Final 4 !

Justus Alleyn leads his Manitoba Bisons past UFV for a Q-Finals series win.

Justus Alleyn leads his Manitoba Bisons past UFV for a Q-Finals series win.  photo- UM Athletics

at Manitoba  77 Fraser Valley  72  OT –  It never seems completely easy when you have wanted something so badly for quite some time. Coasting along with a 12 point lead midway in the 4th quarter, the Bisons might have been making more detailed plans for their trip to Canada West’s Final 4 next weekend.  But then …  they pull the chute, and nothing goes in for the home team for the last 4:20.  The Cascades score 12 unanswered to take the game, incredibly, to over-time !  But the Herd steady themselves and win the  extra session to take the series 2-0. The scores for artistic merit are pretty low in this defensive struggle, with neither team hitting shots – 39% for UM and 35% for UFV from the floor. Manitoba control  the boards 51-43, and hit 8 treys to 5 for Fraser Valley, but the turnover was a large feature of the Bisons’ attack, as in 25 for the game, and that gave UFV a sliver of light at the finish.
Justus Alleyn hits 23 for the Herd, including 9/10 from the line, while A.J. Basi tallies 16; Wyatt Anders with 13 and Keith Omoerah with 12, led UM rebounders.  Kevon Parchment  finishes a great CIS career  with 21 points/ 9 rebounds/ 5 steals for Fraser Valley, while Nate Brown earns a 19 point / 10 rebound double.  Manitoba earns a spot in the Final 4  for the first time since they moved from the old Great Plains Conference . Box Score
at Calgary 89  Alberta 76 – Down 42 – 26 at the half, the Golden Bears refuse to ‘follow Dinos14the script’, as they come with a 50 point barrage in the final 20 minutes, giving the Dinos all they can handle. Alberta goes 12/25 from 3 point range, and Mamadou Gueye is at his slashing, rebounding best, in an inspired effort.
Calgary responds with 11 treys of their own, but shoot a far lower % ( 46% – 40% to Alberta from the floor), but UC makes hay from the foul line, as they attack the rim, led by Thomas Cooper (9/12 FT) and David Kapinga (7/7 from the line).  The Dinos are 24/31 from the stripe to the GB’s 12/17, and the Bears turn it over 20 times to the Dinos’ 11.
UC’s Cooper leads all scorers (as is his habit), with 27, plus 9 rebounds / 5 assists, and Kapinga provides 16 points / 3 steals, with some clutch play in the 4th quarter to seal the win. Jasdeep Gill connects on 4/6 shots from the outside, and gives Calgary a huge lift with his 14 points off the bench. The Bears get  26 from Gueye on 9/16 shooting, and he adds 11 boards, while Jackson has a terrific game at the point, hitting 6/9 from beyond the arc, and 3 assists +. (He is, indeed, one of Canada West’s top rookies !)
Game 2 is Saturday at 7 pm, and we might expect more of the same, as U of A has come to play, obviously!  Box Score

Volodymyr Iegorov lights up Regina for 32 points as the Wolf Pack even their series.

Volodymyr Iegorov lights up Regina for 32 points as the Wolf Pack even their series. photo – TRU Athletics

 at Thompson Rivers  90  Regina  85  –   There’s a battle out in Kamloops, with TRU fighting off a highly motivated Cougars crew, to force a 3rd game Saturday at 7 pm  . It’s a 1 point game, 42-41 ‘Pack, at the half, but Regina hangs tough and ties it with 7 minutes left in the game.  Some lead changes, and definitely some nervous minutes for The Wolves and their fans; but the home team gets the key plays in the final minutes to grab the win after a frenzied 48-44 2nd half .
TRU’s Volodymyr Iegorov hangs 32 points on the board, hitting 11/15 from the floor, and he gets help from Josh Wolfram’s double -double of 18 points / 14 rebounds/ 7 assists.  Reese Pribilsky adds his 16 points, 9 big helpers, and 4 steals, as the ‘Pack hits 46% from the field and 23/32 from the line.  For The Cougars , it’s a career game from Aaron McGowan, with his 28 points/ 6 rebs/ 4 assts; Brandon Tull scores 14, while his brother, Jonathan is held to just 7 tonight. Regina are 40% from the floor and hit 13/18 free-throws. Huge game for both teams on Saturday  !   Box Score


at UBC   85   Lethbridge 57   –    The ‘Birds fly right over the Pronghorns, with a ‘deja-vu’ performance in game 2, as UBC shoots 53% from the floor, leads 32-9 after 10 minutes, and has 5 players in double figures on the scoresheet.  Lethbridge, in contrast, finishes up their season with perhaps their worst shooting night of the year (31% from the floor), as they just run out of steam, again without star guard, Dejon Burdeaux, out with injury.  UBC wins the rebounding 41-33, and the game gets a bit sloppy, with both teams at 20+ turnovers. Phil Jalalpoor , with 13 points is high for the T-Birds, with rookie guard , Taylor Browne adding 12 points/ 8 boards.  Michael Pierzchala has a game-high 15 points for Lethbridge, but he’s the only one of the ‘Horns in double digits. So UBC claim a place in the Final 4 next week, and await the Calgary – Alberta and Regina – TRU series’ to see where that will be played.  Box Score


Other CIS Scores –
Atlantic Championship Tournament – Q-Finals
Acadia  69  Cape Breton  68
St. Mary’s 102  UNB 93
…    St. Mary’s vs Dalhousie  ,  Acadia  vs UPEI   in Saturday’s semi-finals.


Overtime –

  • TRU guard Reese Pribilsky, After game 1, on playing a dangerous Regina team, “They are an emotional team,” said WolfPack guard Reese Pribilsky about the Cougars. “When they get out and run. When they get momentum they start to pop some shots and play well. We need to limit their runs. Basketball is a game of runs. We need to limit theirs. They had 11 and 8 point runs tonight. We need to cut that down to six or five points.” “We let their shooters where they wanted to be on the floor,” Pribilsky continued. “We can’t do that.”  From News Kamloops.
    This will be, according to Manitoba experts, the first series win for the Bisons since 2001, and their first shot at getting to CIS Nationals since 1986. “Not since the G-PAC era”, they tell us !  Big night for UM , Coach Kirby Schepp, his team and his coaching staff.
  •  CW Women’s Q-Finals on Friday Night – Game 1 of best of 3
    • Regina 69 – Calgary 55
    • Saskatchewan 77 UBC 56
    • MacEwan 78  Victoria 69
    • Alberta 62  Thompson Rivers 56 –  Game 2 here, and the Pandas go to Final 4