Wesmen, Pronghorns Highlight Week 3

 

Week 3 –  Pronghorns Go to Winnipeg, Two 3-1 Teams Tussle

Denzel Lynch-Blair and his Wesmen teammates host the Lethbridge Pronghorns this week.

William Sesay and his Wesmen teammates host the Lethbridge Pronghorns this week.    photo –    UW Athletics

Lethbridge (3-1) at Winnipeg Wesmen (3-1)  –  Here are two teams perched near the top, and a sweep for either would be a major coup.  The Wesmen are quick, aggressive on defense.  They are shooting the ball well (45% FG) and scoring more from 3 point range (10.3 per game) than in the past. The Ws also are +6 on their rebounding. Import guard Sean Tarver (15.8 ppg) has added offensive depth to the Winnipeg attack.  ’15-’16 all-star, Denzel Lynch Blair (15.5 ppg) has now expanded his game, and there are 5 more Wesmen who are contributing 8 ppg or more.

Lethbridge, like the Wesmen, are scoring just over 80 ppg, but not as much from outside.  They are also a +6 rebounding team, and the ‘Horns defense has been sharp at limiting the opponents 3 pt FG% (29%, which is 2nd in CW).  U of L have 4 scorers averaging double figures … Elliott Sentance with 18.8 ppg, Dejon Burdeaux at 17 ppg, Zac Overwater 14.8, and Mike Pierzchala 12.5.  Our call – In a tight match-up, UW has the home court.

Manitoba (2-2) at UBC (2-0)-  Manitoba won a 66-64 home court decision vs the ‘Birds last January, but that is the only time in 21 games dating back to 2001. This season the Thunderbirds are #2 ranked and unbeaten in CIS play, while Manitoba are 4-5 overall and 2-2 in Canada West play.

The Thunderbirds have scored 87 ppg and given up 63.5 ppg; their rebound margin is +19 per game! Manitoba has a strong veteran core, with a couple of key additions this season.  The problem has been that they are not consistently producing a winning team effort.   Our call – Two wins at home by UBC.

Thompson Rivers (1-3)  at Alberta (4-0)-  We were surprised to see the ‘new-look’ Wolves  steal one at Manitoba; now can they engineer another road upset in Edmonton?  Big Volodymyr Iegorov (18.5 ppg) has able assistance from 5 others in the ‘Pack, as Luke Morris, Derek Rhodes, Joe Davis, Jeff Tubbs and Mike Rouault are all 8 ppg+.  But mediocre shooting numbers and near 20 turnovers a game limit their offensive efficiency.

Mamadou Gueye leads the 4-0 vs this week at U of A.

Mamadou Gueye leads the 4-0 Bears vs TRU this week at U of A.

Alberta have Mamadou Gueye and Brody Clarke scoring and rebounding up front, plus import guard  Austin Waddoups and transfer Geoff Pippus both shooting 50% from 3 point range.  The Bears score near 87 ppg and allow only 64 ppg to their opponents, while TRU almost exactly reverses those numbers.   Our call –  The GBs in their own den, get the sweep over the ‘Pack.

Victoria (1-3) at MacEwan(1-3) –  Home court was only good for a 4-6 mark last year for the Griffs, but they look deeper this season at the point, with Adonis Monfort-Palomino, with a 10-11 man rotation, and the game-in, game-out efforts of Thadius Galvez and Denzel James. Mac needs to improve on a -5 rebound margin, and to tighten up on a defense allowing 85 ppg.

The Vikes were not sharp against Calgary last week, and they need to find their most effective combos.  Scott Kellum is a good looking rookie point man, and import, college transfer, Wayne Tucker J,r can score.  Now, do we see the typical gritty Vikes defensive effort, or do they continue to struggle ?  88 ppg against will give someone heartburn !   Our call- A split is the most logical.

Mt. Royal (1-1) at UBC-O (1-3) –  It’s very early to make this cliched pronouncement, but here goes, regardless;  neither of these teams can feel good about a split this coming weekend.  The Cougars have had a a glimmer of superior play this Fall, but this is a series where 2 games in the W column are needed.

Okanagan are even more ‘needy’ for a home sweep with a 1-3 mark.  The match-ups … Aldrich Berrios and Mitch Goodwin at guard for the Heat vs Derek Wolfe and Glen Yang for the Cougars.  Ryan Morck and David Manshrek of UBC-O with a big task facing Brett Layton and Josh Ross of MRU.   Our call-  Edge to the Cougars.

Brandon (2-2)  at Saskatchewan (2-2) –   The Huskies are coming off a tough loss to Winnipeg on Saturday, and have been leaning heavily on their versatile post man, Shane Osayande, who boasts a 22.5 ppg and 15 rebs  stat line. Alex Unruh, at the point, is 13 ppg/ 3 assists, but the shooting % for the rest of the ‘Dogs’ pales in comparison.  Sask. is last in Canada West in team FG%  at 38% and in 3 pt% at 27.4%. The talent is there.  It’s time for the Huskies to play to their strengths.

The Bobcats come in with 2-2 record, already ahead of last season !  Import guard Tyvon Cooper a proven scorer from the Jr. College ranks in the U.S. is at 19.8 ppg, but needs others to step up in the scoring column.  They allow 70 ppg … pretty good!  But score just 70 ppg, and shoot only inconsistently from the floor, and 59.8% from the line, last in CW.  This is a potentially winning defense, but they need more  shared scoring.  Our call – The Huskies should sweep at home.

The T'Wolves scoring ace, Rhys Elliot will look to get win #1 for UNBC this week.

The T’Wolves scoring ace, Rhys Elliot will look to get win #1 for UNBC this week.

Trinity Western (2-2)  at UNBC  (0-4) –  The Timberwolves at home, and they will be campaigning for a pair of wins to get their pack moving forward.  Trinity is showing signs of life, and they are not just going to roll over, however.  Rhys Elliot shoots 52% from the floor for the T’wolves, and is 19.3 ppg; he just needs Marcus MacKay, Vaggelis Loukas, and a few others to pull harder on the ropes !

The Spartans have Vartan Tanielien (14 ppg), Pogos Trunyan (13 ppg), and 3 others at or near double figures. TWU needs to shoot it better as a team, and defend the trey more consistently.  Our call-  This may be another split , we suspect. 

All 3 of Calgary, Fraser Valley, and Regina get a bye this week.


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Little Change in Top 10 –

It’s early, and some of the top teams haven’t played a League game, so not much to report.

We still have 5 OUA teams crowding the rankings, with just 2 from Canada West, 1 from Quebec, and 2 from the Atlantic.

Carleton and Ottawa join the rest of Ontario for a full slate this week. McMaster and Brock meet tonight in the only Top 10 match-up.

 


 

Overtime –

  • “I was telling these guys before the game, I’m proud of them because so far they’ve been the toughest group I’ve had,” said Brandon Coach Gil Cheung, following his team’s win over UBC-O last weekend. “I can get on them, I can coach them tough and sometimes it’s tough love. Sometimes the truth is harder to say than blowing smoke up their butt, but they’ve responded and everyone has a role. They value their role and that’s the biggest thing that everyone values each other in that room.”   From the Brandon Sun story by Nathan Liewicki         
  • “Decades have passed since CBC covered something as populist as basketball, though hundreds of thousands of Canadians play the game and 49 university teams battle on the hardcourt. And while an estimated 12 million Canadians are involved in amateur sports in some fashion (whether as participants, coaches, administrators or referees), according to the sports gurus at CBC, they’re all primarily interested in watching wealthy people leap fences while seated on a horse.”  From a story by Wayne Kondro for CIS Sport / U-Sport.

Key Clashes in Saskatoon, Victoria

 

Saskatchewan Hosts Winnipeg, and Calgary in Victoria for Key Series’

The Winnipeg Wesmen and guard, Jamar Farley, invade Saskatoon this week.

The Winnipeg Wesmen and guard, Jamar Farley, invade Saskatoon this week.

The Winnipeg Wesmen are hoping to carry the 7-0 momentum they have built this past month as they travel West to Saskatoon to face the Saskatchewan Huskies.  The Ws, in the minds of many CIS coaches are be facing their biggest test to date, and Coach Mike Raimbault and his charges hope to repeat their sweep of the U of S from last year.

The 1-1 Dinos are in Victoria to face the 1-1 Vikes, as two other squads with ‘big plans’ match-up on Ken and Kathy Shields Court at the Blue and Gold hued CARSA Centre.  It’s a test of the #4 ranked Dinos’ and the un-ranked Vikes’ ability to pull tgether after key line-up changes for both teams.  The match-ups in our ‘key clashes’ …

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan –  Despite their 7-0 record  this Fall, the Wesmen get no mention in the CIS Top 10 poll.  Last January they got a pair of home wins over these Huskies in Winnipeg, but this road series may prove a bit more rugged. The Ws have skill and depth at guard, with Denzel Lynch-Blair, William Sesay,  Jamar Farley, and import transfer, Sean Tarver.  It remains to be seen if Billy Yaworsky and Ryan Oirbans have enough help up front to hold off a bigger U of S squad.  The Huskies feature Shane Osayande, Trevor Severinski, and Matt Forbes , 6-5 Jaylan Morgan adding another weapon. The U of S guards have to hold their own, then the ‘Dogs may howl.  Our Call –  A split is in order, especially if Winnipeg’s full court defense can be effective.

 

The Vikes and Dinos go at it out on The Island this week.

The Vikes and Dinos go at it out on The Island this week. photo – UVic Athletics

Calgary at Victoria – Two traditionally competitive teams, both in search of a sweep this weekend.  The Dinos and the Vikes had 1 impressive win last week,  and 1 ‘not-so-much’!   Thomas Cooper is a deadly offensive threat for UC, and he has Lars Schleuter, a long range bomber, alongside. The guards are explosively quick.  David Kapinga, Jhony Verrone, and newcomers Max Eisle and Mambi Diawara can be suffocating at the defensive end. Victoria are leaning heavily on 5th year forward, Grant Sitton, for scoring, and he now has Wayne Tucker Jr. (tsf Olds College) and Jake Newman (tsf Lafayette U) for assistance.  There is new depth at the guard spot where  Scott Kellum, JJ Hamel-Carey, and Hassan Abdullahi may prove an effective combo. Our Call –  The best guess might be a split, having seen just that result for the past 2 seasons in League play.


The Original ‘Mad Viking’  … screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-55-23-pm

The Calgary Dinos, when they play on The Island this week, should be thankful that they will not be ‘greeted’ by the original ‘Mad Viking’ mascot.  Jim ‘Mother’ Hubbard prowled the court perimeter for Coach Ken Shields and his championship UVic teams of the ’80s.  This was not a rubber axe, and ‘Hubb’ was not a subtle fan!  Opposition players of the day couldn’t help but look over their shoulders to keep an eye on his menacing presence.

Coach Shields remembers ‘only a couple of occasions ‘ when ‘Hubb’ actually did any notable damage with his weapon! One of the great characters in Canada West history.

 


And, the remainder of the Canada West slate for week 2 –

Thurs –      Lethbridge at Mt. Royal –  This is the Cougars’ home opener, and they face a Pronghorns team that has 2 wins from last week.  U of L has some building confidence in 2 import lynch-pins, guard, Dejon Burdeaux, and wing man, Elliott Sentance. The ‘Horns seem to have all their ‘antelopes’ match-fit, and they may have the local talent to compliment the skills of Bordeaux and Sentance.  Zac Overwater and Mike Pierzchala, an LCI and Winston Churchill HS grad,  can be impact players in their own right. MRU were up and down in the pre-season, and there may be some depth concerns, especially on the forward line.  The addition of the multi-talented Josh Ross (tsf Vancouver Island U.) will help, and he should combine nicely with 2nd year all-star forward, Brett Layton.  Guards Derek Wolfe and Glen Yang will have to be sharp if the Cougars are to come out on top.  Our Call –  Lethbridge could sweep, we feel.  MRU will be fighting for a split.

Coach Gil Cheung and his Brandon Bobcats are home to the UBC-O Heat.

Coach Gil Cheung and his Brandon Bobcats are home to the UBC-O Heat.   photo – Brandon Athletics

Friday / Saturday –     UBC-O at Brandon  –  This is a true mystery.  Okanagan travels to Brandon so rarely ( well, actually just once … an 8 point loss in 2014).  The ‘Cats need these wins on home court.  The Heat have some chemistry building with Aldrich Berrios and Mitch Goodwin at guard, but they also need their big men, Ryan Morck and David Manshrek to battle the BU front line.  Those ‘Big ‘Cats’ are led by the strong efforts of Earl Thompson Jr., and the  improving  John Paul, a 6-11 ‘handful’.  Import guard Tyvon Cooper seems to be the scoring guard Brandon needs, as he averaged  17 ppg last week at Alberta.    Our Call –  Who feels comfortable down the stretch?  This is a toss-up on paper, but an edge to the home team.

Thompson Rivers at Manitoba –  The Wolf Pack have a tough task in facing the Herd out in ‘Ft. Garry’.  Manitoba has the fire-power that TRU lost to graduation.  The ‘Pack still have Volodymyr Iegorov, Micheal Rouault, and Jeff Tubbs, but they are a team in the -re-building process.  The Bisons are packed with talented veterans, like Keith Omoerah, AJ Basi, Justus Alleyn, Ilarion Bonhomme, and Jonathan Alexander.  At their best, the Herd will Stampede all over many Canada West teams.  Our Call – Two decisive Manitoba wins.

Regina at MacEwan –  This is a test for two teams with playoff potential. The Cougars have the ultimate ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ team so far.  They win by 20 vs UVic last Saturday, after dropping a 95-77 home opener to the Vikes on Friday. Brian Ofori has looked like a leader on their forward line, and they have 5th year vets Travis Sylvester and Stephen Shields in their top 9.  Guards Brandon Tull, Aaron McGowan, and Alex Igual get help from newcomer, import Johneil Johnson.  MacEwan, too, have a good core of vets, with Thadius Galvez and Denzel James, their backcourt strength.  Keith Gerdes and Harrison Lane head-up a ‘medium sized’ front court  in need of some scoring punch.   Our Call –  Regina wins at least one, but MacEwan is ‘sneakily competitive’, and may surprise us.

Matt Hayashi and his TWU teammates will be up for their 'Valley Series' with UFV.

Matt Hayashi and his TWU teammates will be up for their ‘Valley Series’ with UFV.   Spartans Athletics

Trinity Western at Fraser Valley –  Flush with their Saturday win at UBC-O, the Spartans are set to challenge for ‘Kings of the Valley’ !  UFV have won all 6 games in the past 3 seasons, and will be a tough out for TWU.  The Cascades guard corps look best in this match-up, with Manny Dulay, Vijay Dhillon, and 6-4 transfer (College of the Desert) Anthony Gilchrist off the bench.  The Green start 3 forwards … Nav Bains, Andrew Morris, and Mark Johnson, and they are part of a pretty effective defensive unit. Trinity have bigger, but less mobile forwards in Patrick Vandervelden and Matt Hayashi.  There is  some developing strength in import, Pogos Trunyan, along with scoring wing, Vartan Tanielian, and lead guard, Tyus Allen.   Our Call –  Has TWU turned a corner?  We don’t have the ‘faith’ of their followers yet, but they will give UFV a good challenge this week.

Alberta at UNBC –  The Bears go on the road with their 2 opening wins from last week, and the T’Wolves will hope the friendly environs of the Northern Sports Centre in Prince George will give them an edge.  Alberta comes with the ‘golden duo’ of Mamadou Gueye and Brody Clarke at forward; this a severe challenge for the ‘Wolves’ Vaggelis Loukas and Anthony Hokanson. Rhys Elliot and Marcus MacKay give UNBC a pair of able scoring guards, who will have to out-play U of A’s new arrivals Austin Waddoups and Andre Kelly.  Our Call –  The Golden Bears have an edge here, and will be aiming for the sweep.  A top effort from the T’Wolves will be necessary for a win.

Saturday –  Mt. Royal travels to Lethbridge for game 2.

UBC has the bye this week.


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UBC Climbs to 2nd in Week 2

The UBC Thunderbirds, looking strong in the early-going this season, were voted #2 in this week’s coaches’ poll for the CIS. Calgary, who dropped their opener to Manitoba, were demoted to the #4 slot.

There are 6 OUA teams in the 12 mentioned in the poll , including the ‘Mighty Ravens’ of Carleton at #1. The Alberta Golden Bears appear as an ‘honourable mention.

 


 

Overtime –

sask-camo

Trevor Severinski (L) and Chan De Ciman model the ‘camo gear’ the Huskies will wear to observe Remembrance Day.

  •   The Saskatchewan Huskies will be wearing special ‘camo’ game jerseys when they host Winnipeg this weekend,  in tribute to those Canadians who served / serve in the military.  Coach Barry Rawlyk says, “Remembrance Day is reserved in Canada for us to honour and remember those who bravely served and scarified for our great country,” said head coach Barry Rawlyk. “We also believe it is a time to express our appreciation to all of the men and women in uniform that courageously and unselfishly serve our nation.”  From U of S Athletics
  •   TRU Coach, Scott Clark, on the new scheduling format for Canada West  , “ …  there are not two teams in the conference that play the same schedule,” Clark said. “To call it a schedule, I think, is a misnomer, in that I believe we just play some games and at the end they’re going to compare everybody.  It’s no fault of whoever makes the schedule. It’s a 17-team conference — it’s monumental.  Really, you can’t [have a schedule] with 17 teams. But my opinion was always that the conference needs to be divided.”   From Kamloops This Week.
  • We have the first of several home and home series which are part of that somewhat disjointed League schedule this season.  Mt. Royal hosts Lethbridge on Thursday, then travel South for the return bout on Saturday, while the ‘Valley Neighbours’, Trinity Western and Fraser Valley exchange home courts on Friday/Saturday. This would seem like a great way to build on regional rivalries.

 

 

Tight Finishes For Top Teams

 

 

Calgary Catches Huskies to Win U of S Tournament 

Thomas Cooper leads Calgary to Saskatchewan Tournament

Thomas Cooper leads Calgary to Saskatchewan Tournament – photo –  David Moll, UC Athletics

in Saskatoon – Calgary 74 at Saskatchewan 69 –  Not for the faint of heart, this defensive struggle between old rivals.  Calgary trailed by 9 (36-27) at the half, but a big 27-15 final quarter earned the tourney win. Neither team got the breathing room to shoot it well, with the winning Dinos at 35%  and the Huskies 36%.  Calgary (5-0)  hit 7 treys to 6 for the Sled Dogs, and Calgary got to the foul line for 21/26 vs 15/18 for Saskatchewan.  Dinos’ Lars Schleuter’s last minute trey proved the winner, as he scored 15. Thomas Cooper displayed his big games creds, posting 28 points/9 rebounds/ 4 steals, and Mambi Diawara had 14/ 7 boards. “ We played exceptional defense”, says Calgary Assistant, Matt Skinn. “It was a tough game, and our guys really hung in there in the clutch.”

Saskatchewan (4-1) hurt themselves with 23 turnovers, negating their big 48-30 rebounding edge.  Shane Osayande earned a big double of 25 points/ 15 rebounds plus 3 blocked shots. Alex Unruh scored 14, including 4/8 from beyond the arc, and Jaylan Morgan hit 13 points/ 3 assists.    Box Score

 also  … Algoma  97 Red Deer Coll. 69

 

Wesmen Run Record to 5-0      

at Winnipeg – Winnipeg 71  Brandon 57 – 

late game …   Manitoba 93   Dakota College 67

 

in Edmonton –  UBC 83   Nipissing 59 – The T-Birds are now 4-0 …                            late game … Alberta 103 Western Ontario 73 –  The Bears (5-1) leave no doubt, as they race to a 93-53 lead after 3/4s, with 58% Field Goal shooting, including 12/26 from 3 point range.  Alberta murders the Mustangs on the boards … 44-20!  Mamadou Gueye weaves through the Western defense for 25 points on 10/11 shooting, while Brody Clarke hits 20 points and 8 rebounds, and Andre Kelly scores 15 off the bench.  A hot-shooting Jedson Tavernier nails 14 points in 15 minutes off the bench for the Mustangs, as he is 6/6 including 4/4 from outside the arc. Box Score   

>   at Lethbridge 77 Bishops 71 –  The ‘Horns overcome a very slow start with a 6-17 opening 10 minutes, and a 42-26 halftime spread for the visiting Gaiters.  But, the home team storms back with 53 points in the final 20 for the 2 game sweep.  Mike Piezchala is emerging as the scoring leader for this re-formed UL crew, as he throws in 23 points (6/9 from outside) and snares 10 rebounds.  Elliott Sentance has another strong effort, with 21 points/ 8 rebs/ 5 assts.  The Pronghorns shoot 42% to only 35% for Bishops, who get 18 points from veteran guard, Jona Bermillo. Box Score

>  at Thompson Rivers 92   Trinity Western  78  –  The Wolf Pack tear out to a 52-34 lead at the half, then coast to a comfortable home win behind 19 points and 10 rebounds from Luke Morris.  Noah Kaefer scores 13 off the bench, and Made McConnell and Volodymyr Iegorov post 11 points each. TRU is 50% from the floor, and 12/27 from 3 point range.  Trinity has 17 points from Vartan Tanielian and 16 pts/ 6 rebounds/ 4 assists by Tyus Allen.    Box Score

Mitch Goodwin fills it up for UBC-O in an OT loss against McMaster

Mitch Goodwin fills it up for UBC-O in an OT loss against McMaster

in Montreal –   McMaster 84   UBC-Okanagan 82 – On any given Saturday …. Thewinless UBC-O Heat (0-4) take the undefeated (8-0) Marauders to overtime!  The Heat were hot!  Shooting 51% from the floor, Okanagan were 12/19 from 3 point range, as Mitch Goodwin hit 5/6 from outside for 29 points/ 6 rebs.  Ryan Morck scored 15 plus 5 boards.  Mac hit 14 treys to squeeze out a win, despite shooting just 39% from the floor. Connor Gilmore led the Maroon with 24 points/ 9 boards.   Box Score                         also … McGill 74  Laurentian 62

 

 

in St. Catharines, ON –  Regina 74  UQAM 65 –  The Cougars  seem to have found their groove, with a 2nd straight win at the Brock Classic. , and their 3rd in a row, after starting 0-6.  21 points by Alex Iqual, and 10 pts from Brian Ofori.                                                            And, In a battle of two very strong teams, it’s Dalhousie 74 Brock 72 …  Ryerson 89 Niagara  52,      Windsor 93 York 85

in Sydney, NS –  St. FX 73 Acadia  66, St. Mary’s 96  Cape Breton  87, PEI  97 Thetford Prep 77 

Also – Laval 77  Queens  69 , Toronto 81  Guelph 70      

 

 

 

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.

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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.