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 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 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. 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 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 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 poll