Trinity Western Spartans –
3rd year Coach Aaron Muhic will be counting on his 7 returning 4th and 5th year players to help his Spartans turn the tide on 2 rough seasons for the Langley, BC crew. 5th year, 6-0 guard, Pogos Trunyan, a 3 point shooting threat from Sacramento, CA, led Trinity scorers with 14.7 ppg last year, and 4th year wing, 6-4 Vartan Taniellian (White Rock, BC) was 11.8 ppg / 3.6 rebs. Expect 4th year, 6-5 wing, Max Viitala (Melbourne, Aus) to up his 11 ppg scoring, with his 49% accuracy from the floor.
Josiah Meppelink, a 2nd year, 6-3 guard from Langley stepped in as a rookie to post a solid 1.5 assist to turnover mark as a 24 mins/game rookie. Newcomers this Fall include 3rd year transfer (Briercrest, SK), Ethan DaSilva (Calgary), a slick lead guard with an eye for the hoop.
‘Walk-on’ at the forward spot is, Steve Sesink, a 6-8 big body, who Coach Muhic feels, ‘can help us inside’. The Spartans also added 6-7 Daniel Stead from a good program at Langley – Walnut Grove, and 6-6 Aaron Petkau, Ballenas HS, Parksville
Coach Muhic describes himself as a ‘builder’, and he wants to develop a winning program and to graduate his players. This may be a challenge for one of Canada West’s smaller schools, but Muhic’s track record as one of the NAIA’s winningest coaches while at William Jessup University (CA), suggests that he is up for it. This may be a ‘transitional year’ with as many new faces as returnees.
Last year – 3-17 ….. Prognosis – Aiming for 10-10, but with a very rugged schedule in 2017-18.
Tanielian Trains in Homeland
5th year Trinity Western Spartan, Vartan Tanielian, went ‘home’ for much of this Summer. In his case ‘home’ is all the way back to childhood, in Lebanon. The trip was, however, primarily to take advantage of an opportunity to work-out with National Basketball Team players in the country of his birth.
“It was brilliant”, gushes the enthusiastic Tanielian, who made a big enough impression that he made the top 15 on this National squad. “It was a real eye-opener, to see how these pros prepared for competition. To see how hard they trained, and took care of physical conditioning. I certainly learned the level of dedication it takes to reach their level, to succeed in the pros, and to stay there over a number of years.” Vartan was invited to travel to Serbia with the team, and he was part of their training for a series there.
A key returnee for the Spartans in his final season, Vartan believes this overseas experience will help him give more to TWU over the Fall and Winter. Asked to comment on the challenges for Trinity with a very rugged League schedule, the young man said, “I like the tough slate of games. We’ll know where we stand. I think this can be our year, and I’m looking at 10-12 wins as a team goal.”
Moving from Lebanon to Los Angeles at 6 years old in 2001, Vartan said he had to learn resilience as he faced cultural biases from Americans shortly after 9-11. “But I found friends, and I discovered how much I loved playing basketball”, he said. Vartan’s enthusiasm for life and basketball allowed him to get through this traumatic time in his life.
Moving on to B.C., his family settled in White Rock/ Surrey, and he made more friends who were basketball players. One of these was fellow TWU player, Tyus Allen. “We grew up together”, says Tyus. “He is like a brother to me; I loved playing with him (at White Rock Christian Academy, then on to TWU).
Allen, whose Dad, Scott, coached the Spartans for their 1st 3 years at the school, is a talented point guard, but has, in the past couple of years, had several knee injuries. The latest, he suffered in a game last season (one in which Tyus was headed for a triple -double’ on the stats sheet). “It’s hard for me to see my friend have to struggle through these injuries”, says Vartan. “He will be a player-coach with us for now, but I realize how hard it is for him to deal with his severe injury.”
Tanielian, who was disappointed in his season last year, suggests, “I am better prepared now, and in much better physical shape. I’m looking for us to have our bgest season yet.” If this new-found determination and confidence can be matched by the rest of the Spartans, they just may surprise many observers.