Hanson and Vanhooren Lead FISU Team


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

Canada West Coaches Guide Universiade Squad

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

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

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


‘Local Heroes’  Highlight Recent Signings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

More signings – 

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

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

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

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


These 7 Teams Look to Move Up in Canada West



Brandon Tull will be a senior leader for the Regina Cougars.      photo – Arthur Ward

 Regina – The Cougars go 9-11 and are good at their best, but are troubled by injuries in the 2nd semester.  Coach Steve Burrows will enter his 5th year at the helm, and faces the task of ‘renewing’ a roster which loses 3 veteran mainstays.  Travis Sylvestre, Stephen Shields, and Matt Augustine graduate, and more size will be crucial in the recruiting project.  The Cougs have dependable vets returning in Brandon Tull, Alex Igual, and Brian Ofori.  Burrows looks to the younger Hillis bothers, Ben and Samuel, and rookie star, Johneil Johnson to pick up some of the slack.  An infusion of talent, especially in the bigs, will be necessary if UR is to move up.

Thompson Rivers –   Coach Scott Clark loses a ‘franchise player’ in import forward, Volodymyr Iegorov, who graduates this Spring.  Clark could anticipate that challenge, but the veteran bench boss also has his rookie stand-out, Trent Monkman,  transferring to Victoria. The Wolf Pack, 8-12,  have been a play-off team in recent years, and Clark has worked successfully to develop his young talent. This coming season will test his resolve once more.  The Orange returnees include import guard, Derek Rhodes, strong forward, Luke Morris, guard, Michael Rouault, and scrappy point man, Madhu McConnell.  TRU will also be looking for some size in the recruiting process, and certainly more depth for this young group.

MRU’s import star, Josh Ross,  returns for his 5th year        Photo – Cougars Athletics

Mt. Royal –  The ‘Blue Cougars’ face a familiar challenge, as Coach Marc Dobell sees 2 big post men, Brett Layton, and Ray Goff leaving the roster along with 5th year guard, Derek Wolf .  Layton is wanting to start Law School, and Goff has had very tough nagging leg injuries, and is graduating early next year.  MRU does return guards Glen Yang, Noah Lewis, and Craig Martin along with import  scoring leader, Josh Ross, Ryan Cunningham, and forward, Nick Tancon.  Coach Dobell is waiting to announce his signees, and has not quite finished the process.  We do understand that L.J. Hegwood is looking to transfer in from SAIT, and that McNally HS (Calgary) star, 6-7 Diew Moses, may be headed to the Cougars as well.

MacEwan –  There will be significant change with the Griffins, as they say goodbye to Denzel James, Thomas Jereniuk, Cole Aikens, Keith Gerdes, and Tyler Wise as 5th year grads.  Thadius Galvez, their outstanding lead guard, is also on the move, and Coach Eric Magdanz is left with a major recruiting task.  Returnees Ryan Coleman, Harrison Lane, Adonis Montfort -Palomino, Ali Raza, and Atlas St. Paul-Butler will be counted on next Fall. The Griffs have younger players like British import, Jake Notice, along with 3rd year guard,  Tarik Scott, coming off an injury rehab, and a local red-shirt freshman, Deonte Doslov-Doctor.  Recent signees include Lincoln Anderson, a 6-3 guard from Cardston, AB, who comes off a 2 year Mormon  church mission, and 6-8, Ben Niles, from Kamloops (Valleyview Sr Sec).  Coach Magdanz is also excited about Dustin Gatski  (Westlock, AB), a 6-4 transfer after  1 year of Junior College in Wyoming, and Moreau Amadou  a 6-4 wing from   Sir Winston Churchill, Calgary.

Marcus MacKay will carry a big scoring load for the Timberwolves.

UNBC –  Starting last season at 4-4 last Fall, The T’Wolves struggled through 12 straight losses to finish at 4-16, well out of play-off contention.  They lose their slick guard, Rhys Elliot, along with Elliott Rowe, and Sam Zhang to graduation. Coach Todd Jordan will be looking to add some size and more punch to his roster this Spring and Summer.  The UNBC returnees should include big shooting guard, Marcus MacKay, lead guard, James Agyeman, Vaggelis Loukas, an active forward, and Anthony Hokanson, who is a skilled wing man.   Adam Pahl, a  6-6 wing from Okotoks (Foothills HS) , AB was announced in January, and he comes with high hopes.  Volodymyr Pluzhnikov, is a ‘tough-minded’ guard coming off the red-shirt list, and Jordan has a few more prospects he hopes to sign in the next few weeks.  “We need to get bigger, and to make big improvements in our rebounding”, says the 5th year Head man.

Trinity Western –  The Spartans, 3-17 last season, do not graduate any 5th years, and Coach Aaron Muhic suggests that his returnee list should include all of his current roster players. We have mentioned veteran guard, Tyus Allen, who is rehabbing his injured knee, but who will not be ready until at least the Fall of 2018.  The Spartans will return  import guard, Pogos Trunyan, their high scorer (15 ppg), along with 6-10 post Patrick Vandervelden (13 ppg/7.2 rebs), and Vartan Tanielian, a 12 ppg scorer at wing. Among his younger contributors will be guards Max Viitala, and Josiah Meppelink.  TWU have not announced any new signees or transfers.

UBC-Okanagan –  After an 8-12 record in 2015-16, the Heat cooled off to just 2-18 last season.  Coach Peter Guarasci, in his 5th year, loses guard Mitch Goodwin to graduation.  But, he also has 7 other roster players (Cam Friesen, Randy Jernidier, Ryan Morck, Austin Penrose, Buster Truss, David Manshreck, and Davide Ciancio) who will not return, which obviouly leaves a daunting task of recuiting this Spring. Aldrich Berrios, his high-scoring (17.6 ppg) guard is back for his 4th year, along with back-court rookies, Matt Lafontaine, and Tristan Matthews.  Noma Obeseki, an athletic small forward,  will be entering his 3rd year.  Owen Keyes, a 6’9” Kelowna Sr Sec. stand-out has already signed, and looks like a strong prospect. Jake Stokker, Penticton Sr. Sec  is another big man signee , details in this story from Kelowna Capital News 


Overtime –

  • Mason Foreman, a 6-7 forward from Winnipeg, who most recently attended Athlete Institute Prep just outside Toronto, has signed with the Calgary Dinos for next Fall.  Mason’s father is Jeff Foreman, who was a 3-time CIS All-Canadian with the Winnipeg Wesmen (Great Plains Athletic Conference)  in 1992, ’93, and ’94. ( In 1994, Jeff was CIS Player of the Year, and he was also a member of the Canadian national team.)
  •  UVic will, later this week, induct two former basketball stars into their Vikes Hall of Fame. Spencer McKay , was a dominating post man for Vikes teams of the late 1980s – early 1990s, and Carol Turney-Loos, was a key to their 1980 National title.   More details in this Oak Bay News article   

Gee Gees Capture Shoveller Title



  Ottawa win in Halifax … primed for OUA action

Caleb Agada is a the top player for Ottawa in their win at the Shoveller.

#4 Ottawa Gee Gees 78 Saint Marys  Huskies 69 –  Caleb Agada posts yet another double-double, as his 25 pts/ 12 boards lead the Gee Gees to the tournament title.  Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles has another strong game with a double of 12 points/ 10 rebs. Brian Rouse scored 19 to pace Saint Marys, while Theon Reefer scored 15 plus grabbing 14 rebounds.  Now 16-3 overall in U-Sport competition, UO are starting to look like prime contenders for an OUA and National crown.  With a line-up bolstered by 5th year McMaster transfer, Adam Presutti,  they win their 14th straight.  Resuming league play next week, Ottawa will be prepping for their mid-January showdown with the #1 Carleton Ravens.  Box Score   

  #10 Dalhousie   76  St. FX  71 – (  3rd place game) The Tigers take down AUS rival  X-Men, as Jarred Reid counts a game-high 25 points, while Kashrell Lawrence had 17 points, eight rebounds.  Cameron Walker led the St. FX scorers with 20. Box Score

 Acadia Axemen  89  Mt. Royal Cougars  75 –  (7th place game)  Not the deepest team in the country, MRU cannot be at top form without forward, Brett Layton, who sat this one out with an ankle sprain.  The Axemen out-shoot the Cougars 42% to 36% from the field, and use a big 20/29 to 9/15 free throw edge to distance themselves. Kyle Arsenault scores 29 pts and Erik Nissen 20 pts/ 9 rebs to lead Acadia.  Josh Ross responds with a double of 15 pts/ 11 boards for Mt. Royal, while guards Glen Yang and Craig Martin tally 12 pts each.  Box Score   

UPEI  Panthers  96  Queens Golden Gaels 86   – (5th place game)


Classique Olga Hrycak at UQAM, Montreal –

Memorial Seahawks 79 UNBC  Timberwolves 70 –  Up 3 at the half, then tied after 30 minutes, the T’Wolves cannot hold back the Seahawks in the 4th.  Memorial scores 30 points to claim the tournament title at 3-0, while UNBC finishes 2nd at 2-1.  23 points for MUN from MVP, Vasilije Curcic, the 6-9 Serbian big man, and 19 by Davion Parnsalu.  The ‘Wolves  get 21 from tournamentt all-star , Rhys Elliott and 22 from wing man, Marcus MacKay.  Again without forward, Vaggelis Loukas, UNBC hang tough for most of the way, but fade in the final minutes.  (again, thanks to UNBC Coach Todd Jordan for texting us the stats )

 Guelph Gryphons 85  UQAM  Citadins  84


 Vanguard U. (CA) 89  Saskatchewan 72 –  Shane Osayande tops the Huskies with 22 points.

Hope International (CA) 82  MacEwan   56 –  MacEwan is ‘not the same team’ that beat Vanguard last night.  Hope recovers from a loss to Saskatchewan.


Overtime –

  • Happy New Year to you all !  Safe travels to all the teams still on the road back home.  And good luck as the League play starts up again this coming week .

Arizona Christian Sure-Fire in OT



Overtime loss for sharper Dinos squad

Arizona-Christian logo

Firestorm pull out an OT win over visiting Calgary

Arizona Christian 91  Calgary Dinos 84  OT –  The Firestorm were taken to the wire by the Dinos, as the home team used a 20-13 OT spread to claim the win.  With far better team defensive form from Tuesday’s game, UC were paced by Thomas Cooper’s   27 points/ 5 rebs/ 4 steals  in their 3rd game against NAIA (small) schools.   Mambi Diawara added 23 points/ 6 rebounds before fouling out, as he took turns at the point  with  David Kapinga, having returned  to UC for a scheduled exam.  Diawara’s  old-style 3 point play at the end of regulation forced the overtime.   Arizona Christian hit 12 treys to Calgary’s 6, which eclipsed the edge the UC had with 50% FG shooting to 43% for A-C.  Calgary takes a short break, then returns to Holiday action with games in Montana next week.   Box Score   



Overtime –

Adam Pahl commits to UNBC

Okotoks, AB’s Adam Pahl signs with UNBC.

  • There is a flurry of recruiting announcements this Holiday season, and we see a big one for UNBC with a video celebration of the commitment from Adam Pahl a 6-6 forward from Foothills High School , Okotoks, AB.    “It was a very unique experience. Todd (Jordan, Head Coach) and all the players really made me feel like I was at home. I knew right then it was the place for me. I went on other visits, but I knew no other school had the atmosphere and opportunities that UNBC did,” says Pahl.    (From Rich Abney, Timberwolves Athletics)
  • The defending champions are ready for the 50th Annual Wesmen Classic, scheduled for Dec 28-30 at U. Winnipeg.  Bison’s 8th year Coach, Kirby Schepp, and his home-town Manitoba squad hope to repeat.  ”We are really looking forward to competing once again in this years’ Wesmen Classic. It is always a big event in the basketball community in Manitoba bringing out many familiar faces and great memories from past tournaments”, said Schepp.  (From UM Athletics)
  •  Winnipeg are not the only school to host a big high school tournament this Christmas season.  The UVic Vikes  (Alumni)  in cooperation with Greg Wallis of Passion Sports are holding their inaugural 12-team  senior varsity invitational at the CARSA Centre from Dec 28-30. More info in this UVic announcement. 


TWU / UNBC – Small School Challenges


Spartans and Timberwolves Face an Uphill Path

–  2016-17 Canada West Basketball Previews –

These 2 B.C. schools are among the smallest, by population, in Canada West, and have quite a task in trying to match the resources and recruiting power of many of the larger programs. Despite this, the TWU Spartans, about 6-8 years ago were very competitive in this League with the likes of Jacob Doerksen, Brian Banman, and Jason Keegstra.  UNBC has yet to make that kind of impact, but  Coach Todd Jordan and his boys were 12-8 just 2 years ago with Rhys Elliott and Franko Kouagnia leading the way.

With this new 17 team League, there are now games against some of the much bigger schools for the T’Wolves, and Trinity is definitely in a ‘re-building phase’.  Both teams have some new faces who should help the cause for the upcoming year, but ‘it’s never easy’.

Trinity Western Spartans
No playoffs                  1 win   19 losses      (Pioneer Division)

Returnees – TWU copy
4th years –  4th years – Peter Spangehl, 6-3 wing, Surrey, BC.  Pogos Trunyan, 6-2, guard, (red-shirt last yr), Sacramento, CA … 3rd years – Tyus Allen, 6-1, guard,  White Rock, BC.  Vartan Tanielian, 6-4 guard, Surrey. Patrick Vandervelden, 6-10 forward, 3rd, Abbotsford.  Josiah Allison,  6-2, guard, 3rd, Abbotsford.  Eric Rogers, 6-4 guard,  Chilliwack.   2nd year –  Matt Hayashi, 7-1 post,  Langley … 1st year- Nathan Allison,  6-0 guard (redshirt ’15-’16), Abbotsford.

New faces –   Nick Smith, 6-4 fwd, 3rd,   Surrey (Kwantlen Poly U.). Max Viitala, 3rd, G, 6-5,  Melbourne, AUS  , Ambrose Univ. Coll., (Calgary).  Taturs Maberry, 6-6 post, 3rd, Pasadena, CA  (Los Angeles Valley Col.), Josiah Meppelink,  6-3 guard, 1st,   Langley ( Lynden Christian) Nigel Boyd, 6-3 guard, 1st,   Richmond  (Steveston- London), Aaron Paetkau, 6-5 wing, 1st, Parksville BC (Ballenas), Daniel Stead, 6-7 Wing, 1st, Langley (Walnut Grove), Justin Robinson, 6-1 guard, 1st,   Maple Ridge,  ( Maple Ridge Christian), Ben Reddy, 6-3 guard, 1st,  Victoria (Lambrick Park)


California transfer, Pogos Trunyan (L) and returnee post man, Patrick Vandervelden (L) will be key to the fortunes of TWU.

With a young team coming off a very difficult ’15-’16 season, Coach Aaron Muhic starts his 2nd season at TWU counting on some of his returnees to bring a higher skill level and the determination to help the team move up. “The guys have a good team attitude, and we’re happy with how they work together”, said Muhic. “We certainly have challenges, but we also feel we have the pieces to make things better this year.”

Guard, Tyus Allen, who returns after a year off, “ … may have to shake the rust off,” says the coach, “but he has the skill and experience to be a leader.”  Muhic also points to 3rd year guard, Josiah Allison, who has shown “an aggressive style, and looks good in early workouts.”  Guard, Vartan Tanielian, and big forward, Patrick Vandervelden, should be set for impactful seasons with more playing experience.  Coach Muhic also has high hopes for 2nd year tower, Matt Hayashi, who, the coach tells us, “Is working hard, and starting to get more comfortable with his role.”

Pogos Trunyan played for Coach Muhic in the California College League, and he will be expected to give the Spartans scoring and floor leadership, after red-shirting in Langley in 2015-16. “He is eager to go, and has adapted very well to the International style of play, and his academic program at TWU”, says Muhic. Another import, Taturs Maberry, is a candidate for valuable contributions in scoring and rebounding. Local recruit, Joseph Meppelink, is a very capable high school grad, who has the size and skill to get him into the playing rotation.

Schedule –  Nov/Dec – at UBC-O, home and home vs Fraser Valley, at UNBC, vs Regina, vs Lethbridge   …  Jan/Feb –   at Winnipeg, vs Manitoba, at Victoria, at Mt. Royal, vs UBC   Prediction –  Will improve, but tough to reach the top 12

U. Northern BC Timberwolves
’15-’16 – No playoffs                 4 wins    16 losses  (Explorer Division)

Returnees – 5th years – Rhys Elliott,  6-1 guard, Adelaide, Aus. Elliot Rowe, 5-9 guard, Victoria   … 4th years –  Marcus MacKay, 6-4 wing, Terrace, BC.  Nolan Hanson, 6-1 guard, Prince George.  Austin Chandler, 6-6 fwd, Wenatchee, WA  … 3rd years – Vaggelis Loukas, 6-5 fwd, Athens, GR  … 2nd years – Anthony Hokanson, 6-5 fwd, Vancouver.  Saje Gosal, 6-5 wing, Golden, BC.  Neal Randhawa, 6-4 guard, Golden.UNBC copy
New faces –   James Agyeman, 5-11 guard, 3rd,  Brampton, ON (tsf- W. Laurier). Sam Zhang, 6-4 fwd, Pitt Meadows, BC (tsf Capilano Coll.) . Tyrell Laing, 6-0 guard, 1st year, Prince George (Prince George).  (RS) Volodymyr Pluzhnikov, 6-0 guard, Kharkiv, Ukraine (MBC Mykolaiv – Ukraine Superleague).

Todd Jordan, now in his 8th season in Prince George as Head Coach, is hoping 2016-’17 brings a little less pain than last year.  Injuries took away key players for far too many games, and it was tough to get any continuity.  “We were were going with a patch-work lineup from one series to the next”, said Jordan.

The Timberwolves get Nolan Hanson back after he missed almost all of ’15-’16, and Anthony Hokanson, Sam Zhang, and James Agyeman are now available.  Agyeman, a transfer from Laurier of the OUA, can step in as a skilled point man, and boost the guard corps. He and a healthy 5th year stalwart, Elliot Rowe ,should be a good combo at that spot. Rhys Elliott, another 5th year player,  returns as the ‘Wolves leading scorer (18 ppg, 7th in Canada West, 5 rebs and 2.3 assists.)

Two offensive threats for UNBC - Rhys Elliott (L) and Marcus MacKay (R)

Two offensive threats for UNBC – Rhys Elliott (L) and Marcus MacKay (R)

“We’ve had a good ‘off-season’”, says Jordan. “The guys have come back in great shape, and we have more experience as a whole team.”   Jordan says he is looking to several returnees to have significantly better campaigns, including wing, Marcus MacKay, a real 3 point threat.  Vaggelis Loukas will also be a key leader, with his toughness, scoring ability, and maturity as a player.

Rebounding is a focus for UNBC, as they struggled to meet their goals last year.  Jordan says, “We definitely know we have to improve, and everyone needs to play a part, if we want to get our share every game.”  The ‘Wolves take care of the ball very well, and have quality depth on the perimeter to ensure that continues.  Finding an interior presence on offense, and at least fighting to a draw on the boards are top priorities.

“This League gets very interesting as we meet the ‘Pioneer‘ schools, and every weekend is big if we are to contend for a playoff spot”, says Coach Jordan. “Maybe we can surprise a few favourites as our team comes together; we know the guys will work hard, and we think we will give it a good run.”

Schedule –  Nov/Dec – at Winnipeg, vs Alberta, vs Trinity Western, at Fraser Valley, vs Thompson Rivers,   Jan/Feb –  at Lethbridge, vs Mt. Royal, at Manitoba, at UBC, vs Saskatchewan     Prediction –  Tough road to  playoffs


Does size of schools matter ?inthebleachers-jumpball

If we looked at Canada West as an ocean, we’d be seeing whales, shrimp and everything in between.  From UBC, the big whale, to Northern B.C. a relative minnow in school population, this League has a wide array of school sizes.

Can schools the size of an average city high school hope to match the ‘big boys’?


The big fish, like UBC, Alberta, Calgary, and Manitoba very much dwarf the Trinity Westerns and UNBC’s out there.  It means financial resources, facilities, and ‘name recognition’.

Brandon is one school that, in the Coach Jerry Hemmings era, overcame this disadvantage, and the ‘Cats won multiple Great Plains titles and 4 National Championships.  But this may be too big a stretch for most of our really small schools.

TRU went to Nationals with a strong core of experienced and talented players last season, and Fraser Valley has had a couple of championship looks.  It remains to be seen how often the ‘small guys’ can buck the trend.

After all, who has won Canada West?   It has been Victoria 16 times, Alberta 11, UBC 9, Calgary 5, and Saskatchewan, Lethbridge, and Brandon 1 apiece.

(Note- We are not counting Great Plains titles won by Brandon, Manitoba, Regina, or Winnipeg)


Overtime –

  • The Guy Vetrie Invitational (Sept. 29 – Oct. 1) has Victoria  hosting McMaster, McGill, and Regina , and fans can watch live video on Canada West TV .   Thursday games – 6 pm (Pacific) McGill vs McMaster, 8 pm Vikes vs Regina, Friday – Regina-McMaster at 6, UVic – McGill at 8, and Saturday – Regina-McGill at 5 pm ,  Victoria vs McMaster at 7 pm.

Season Previews – MRU, UNBC


Season Previews – Explorer Division –

Mount Royal Cougars –  Coach Marc Dobell, 12th year

Not unlike the majority of teams in the Explorer Division, the 2015-16 Cougars are, in many ways, a ‘new-look team’, having graduated seniors, Manok Akwl, Awet Abraha, Kyle Wilson, and Deng Awak, all of whom played significant roles on last year’s 10-10 squad.  The ‘Cougs’ do return 6-5 post man, James Lefebvre, and also get back the 6-6 Ray Goff after a year away with a knee injury. Jalen Gardner is the likely floor leader, with the added confidence of a 4th year point man, and shooting guard Derek Wolf will be a bigger factor this campaign, as will the irrepressible Noah Lewis, with his enthusiastic effort.

Coach Marc Dobell will look to improved size up front as a lever to bump MRU into the post season, as he adds a trio of 6-9 forwards in T.T. Thokbuom, a slim, shot-blocker,  Aussie import, Ty Cuperis, who has displayed a good scoring touch, and a large body in Brett Layton, with the maturity of a returned Mormon missionary. “Layton plays both ends of the court, has great hands, and is athletic and pretty quick for a 6-9 player”, says Dobell.

Another impressive rookie is point man Matt Gray, a 5-11 fire-ball from Victoria’s Oak Bay HS. “We love this guy,” says his Coach. “ He has looked great in work-outs so far, and we think he can be a very good point man in our League.”  Tyis Yellowhorn, from nearby Chestermere HS, has the size and shooting ability to make an impact in his 1st season as well. Nate Wall is a 6-7 rookie wing man who has long-range shooting ability, “… and has good ball-handling skills, as a big man”, according to Dobell.


James Lefebvre is a 5th year mainstay for Mt. Royal

James Lefebvre is a 5th year mainstay for Mt. Royal

Player Profile –

Mount Royal captain, James Lefebvre, voices a refrain we hear quite often from Canada West veterans entering their 5th and final season – “ I can’t believe how fast this has all happened … suddenly, I’m the more experienced player who other guys are looking to for leadership !”    The rugged forward can lead by example, with his hard-won 13.5 ppg / 8 rebounds last season, and the hard work he’s done in the weight room is evident on a muscular frame, which is still under-sized for the position he plays. The Didsbury, AB native says he sees …“an opportunity for this year’s team to ‘change the culture’ for the better; we can play with heart, play tough, and we have a group with great potential”, says James. 

Within a year’s study of a Sociology degree, Lefebvre says that he’s enjoyed his academic program, and feels he’s learned a lot in his years at MRU. “This last year will be very interesting; we veterans can make a positive difference on and off the court. I’m optimistic that we can make ourselves a contending team with the guys we have”, says Lefebvre.  He will have bigger teammates ‘riding shot-gun’ for him this year, but it’s a good bet that the MRU ‘go-to’ post man will still be this wily 6-5 battler.

MRU Team Roster – 

1 Ty Cuperus   Fwd,  6-9, 1st year, Perth, Aus

2  Ray Goff    F     6-7, 3rd,  Okotoks, AB – Foothills  HS

3  Shay Foggo    G      6-4,  1st,  Calgary- Crescent Hts HS

4  Jalen Gardener    G     6-1,  4th ,  Calgary – Bowness

5  Ryan Cunningham     G     6-2,    3rd,  Calgary – E. Manning

6  Matt Gray      G      5-11,  1st,  Victoria, BC – Oak Bay

7  Neil Phillip   G     6-5,     2nd,  Calgary – Forest Lawn

8 Derek Wolf     G     6-2,  4th,  Penticton, BC – Penticton

9 Tyis Yellowhorn G     6-4,  1st,  Piikani Nation, AB – Chestermere

10 Nate Wall      F     6-7,  1st,  Okotoks, AB – Holy Trinity

11 James Lefebvre    F     6-5,  5th,  Didsbury, AB – Didsbury

12 Noah Lewis     G      6-4,  4th,  Comox, BC- Highlands

13 Glen Yang   G    6-2,  2nd,   Calgary,   Churchill

14 TT Thokbuom    F    6-9,  1st,  Calgary,  Western Canada

15 Brett Layton      F    6-9,  1st,  Calgary,  Churchill

RS  Wiande Kier   G      6-4,  2nd,  Calgary,  Grandin – awaiting knee surgery


U. Northern British Columbia –  Coach Todd Jordan, 6th year

UNBC copy

In 2014-15 the 5th year forward pair of Devin McMurtry and Francko Kouagnia accounted for 27 ppg and 18 rebounds for a 12-8, 3rd place Timberwolves team.  The key question for Coach Todd Jordan, “How do you replace that kind of up-front power?”  Well, Coach Jordan, ever the competitor, and one to see the glass at least half-full, feels he has a ‘high potential’ team once again.

Rhys Elliott, T'Wolves top scoring threat.

Rhys Elliott, T’Wolves top scoring threat.  photo – UNBC  Athletics

UNBC’s recruiting, according to Jordan, has to be somewhat “tailored to kids who may come from smaller communities, or players who may be looking for a smaller university where they feel they can make an impact”.

When he signed with the ‘Wolves this summer, 6-7 Austin Chandler from Wenatchee College (WA) , echoed those thoughts, as he described the appeal of UNBC, with a similar feel to the country around his home town in Washington State.  “Austin will be one of our key forwards defensively, he runs the floor well, and we think he’ll develop into a very good player for us”, says Jordan. Another significant addition is 6-5 forward, Anthony Hokanson, a Vancouver (Kitsilano) product who flew a little under the radar due to an injury keeping him off the court for much of his grade 12 year, but with a 210 lb. ‘big body’ and a fine shooting touch, he may get floor time right away.

T’Wolves Returnees –

UNBC point man, Billy Cheng on defense.

UNBC point man, Billy Cheng on defense.               photo from UNBC Sports

Billy Cheng (5th year) 5’8″ G , Richmond, BC  

Rhys Elliott ( 4th ) 6’2″ G , Adelaide, Australia  

Nolan Hanson (4th) 6’0″ G, Prince George  

Gagan Sahota (3rd) –  6’5″  F, Surrey, BC

Colin Plumb ( 5th) 6’5″ F , Pitt Meadows, BC  

Marcus MacKay (3rd) 6’2″ G, Terrace, BC

Elliot Rowe (4th) 5’8″ G , Victoria, BC  

Vaggelis Loukas ( 2nd) – 6’6″ F, Athens, Greece  

New Players –

Haydn Molcak – (1st) 6’5″ F,   Prince George – DP Todd Secondary 

Anthony Hokanson – (1st) 6’5″ G,  Vancouver – Kitsilano Secondary 

Austin Chandler –  ( 3rd) 6’7″ F,   Wenatchee, WA – Wenatchee CC 

Saje Gosal –  (1st)  6’4″  G,  Golden, Golden Secondary

Neal Randhawa – (1st ) 6’3″ G,  Golden, Golden Secondary

Red Shirts –  Sam Zhang, 6-4 wing, Pitt Meadows*  has 2 years of academics left… will play out his 5th and final year next year . James Agyeman – 5’11 PG (Transfer from Wilfred Laurier… will begin his 3rd year in 2016/17)


Dinos Up One, and TRU Advance


Schleuter Leads Dinos to Game 1 Win –

Rookie import, Lars Schleuter, scores 21 in Dinos win.

Rookie import, Lars Schleuter, scores 21 in Dinos win.       Photo- David Moll, Dinos Athletics

at Calgary Dinos 92   Manitoba Bisons 81 –  After starting fast, then seeing the visiting Bisons blitz them with a 30 point 2nd quarter, the Calgary Dinos were looking for something to set them on course in the 2nd half.  Up steps rookie forward, Lars Schleuter, with his parents in the stands from Germany,  counting 14 of his game-high 21 points, and hitting 5/9 from 3 point range and grabbing 6 boards. The Dinos defense put more pressure on the ball, and Manitoba shooting cooled off.  All 5 Calgary starters were in double figures, with the team shooting 53% on the night, as Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson added 15 pts, 6 rebs/ 3 assists.  The Dinos were in a battle on the boards with the Herd, and a strong team effort evened things up (41-41) in the last 20 minutes.

Manitoba were led by 21 points from Amarjit Basi, who connected on a couple of very deep treys; Wyatt Anders was a force inside, as he collected 16 rebounds/ 9 points before fouling out in the 4th. Stephan Walton, their 5th year point man scored 14 and added 5 assists. Game 2 in this best of 3 will go Saturday at 7 pm at UC.    Box Score


Cold Shooting Night Seals Wesmen Fate

at TRU Wolf Pack 62  Winnipeg Wesmen  61 –  In a tense struggle at TRU, the ‘Pack

TRU's Tallon Milne has a big rebounding night, as the 'Wolves win the series.

TRU’s Tallon Milne has a big rebounding night, as the ‘Wolves win the series.            Photo- A. Snucins, TRU Athletics

hold on for their clinching win, as Winnipeg, with a chance to win turns it over before getting a shot up in the last second.  The Wesmen never got the feel on offense, as they hit just 32% from the floor, and that included 1/18 from 3 point range. The visitors stayed in the game at the foul line, as they are 18/26 vs the Wolves’ 7/10, plus TRU committed 15 turnovers to just 10 fror the Ws.

The offensive star for Thompson Rivers was 5th year guard, Brett Parker, with 17 points / 4 rebs, while forward, Tallon Milne  collected a game-high 11 rebounds and scored 9 points.  For Winnipeg, who are eliminated in 2 straight, it was Jelane Pryce scoring 22 points, and Chris Baxter chipped in with 15 plus 8 boards.  TRU will now meet the #1 seeded Saskatchewan Huskies  in a best of 3 quarter-final in Saskatoon next weekend.  Box Score


 Other CIS Games on Friday –

AUS …  UNB 85 Memorial 66, Cape Breton 80  Dalhousie 74,  St. Mary’s  91 St. FX 72,  UPEI  Acadia

 Ontario –   Carleton 85  Laurentian 39, Ottawa 117 Nipissing 55, Ryerson 94 Queen’s 67 , Guelph  69  Lakehead 66,


Questions ? 1.)  Is a week off a good thing before Quarter-finals ?  And, 2.) Do you think Canada West has a disadvantage vs the rest of the CIS, with the length of our play-off process ?

(Our thanks to these coaches for their responses) –

Todd Jordan, UNBC

Todd Jordan, UNBC

 Todd Jordan, UNBC , who play at UBC next week – “It has positives and negatives.  We were playing very well at the end of the season so it does break your momentum a bit.  That being said, it has been good for us to have an extra week to allow a  number of nagging injuries to heal.  It is nice to have the extra prep time as well.  Given the choice I am happy to take the week of rest.  We are in an interesting situation as the Canada Winter Games have taken over our facility and all the high schools in Prince George.  UNBC has extended their reading break to two weeks because of the games so we have been hotel living in Kamloops and training out of the TRU facility for the past week since we left Kelowna and will be here right up until we fly to UBC on Wednesday. It has created a training camp type of feel for our guys.” (2nd question – “No.”)

Kevin Hanson, UBC

Kevin Hanson, UBC

Kevin Hanson, UBC, who host the T’Wolves – “In general I think bye weekends are bad. It is not a horrible thing for us and UNBC to play each other since we both have a bye. You just can’t simulate a regular week of practice since routines change with a bye weekend. (Coach Hanson also suggested we check for results after byes in the regular season – Amongst the playoff teams – teams coming off a bye are  2 wins vs 10 losses !  You’re right, coach !)

As a conference you want to send your best teams to the Nationals. I am an advocate for best of 3 series but not for 2 series and then also add a final four. A team may have to play 8 games to win Can West. The least amount is 4 which is reasonable.

Craig Beaucamp, UVic

Craig Beaucamp, UVic

Craig Beaucamp, Victoria, whose Vikes host Alberta in the most anticipated of all the quarter-finals – “ At this point of the season I would rather just play. The season is long enough. It does not help you from a competitive stand point. The only good thing is that our opponent also has a bye this weekend.”

” I think the playoff format is too long. My preference would be a conference tournament that we could market. I think people will travel for an event like a conference tournament. Not many are traveling for a best of three. Most fans may catch 1-2 games in a weekend. An 8 team conference tournament would be an event people could get excited about. The current format is impossible to explain or support. “


Other CIS Games on Friday –

Atlantic …  UNB  Memorial , Dalhousie  Cape Breton ,  St. Mary’s   St. FX ,  UPEI  Acadia

Ontario –   Carleton  Laurentian , Ottawa  Nipissing , Ryerson  Queen’s



Coach Crook makes a ‘guest appearance’ !

Overtime –

  •   That was Dave Crook on the Winnipeg Wesmen bench for the series with TRU !  Added insight from the former head man at Lethbridge and Winnipeg, as ‘Crookie’ whispers in Mike Raimbault’s ear.  All’s well if the Ws can come back and get the last 2 games and advance, but what if …?
  • The  Atlantic League wraps up this weekend, as does the OUA.  Quebec still has regular season games through Feb. 27/28.  These are the playoff dates for each of these 3 Leagues –

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 1.08.45 PM

Pioneer Leaders Need Momentum



It Could Be a  ‘Trap Game ‘ ?images

One would be understandably influenced to predict success for both Fraser Valley and Thompson Rivers this coming weekend, when they visit Edmonton and Prince George respectively.  We would look at Calgary at 9-2 and figure them being able to get wins at Lethbridge.    But, not so fast.  As coaches will always preach, we can take nothing for granted, and “each game is an important game’ .  The thing is, can players bring themselves to be equally up for each and every game?  We think not.

Hence, the term, ‘Trap Game’ –  When a supposedly superior team might be underestimating or looking past an upcoming opponent, and where that opponent could rise up and beat them ?  Consider  the Pronghorns, who, despite their current struggles, could be considered the slight favourites, having won 5 straight on home court vs the Dinos.  And, even though they seem invincible, with their 24 straight Canada West League wins, might the Cascades underestimate the ‘newbies’, the MacEwan Griffins?

At their peril, we suggest, since the Griffs have 3 home wins in this inaugural season in the League.   So too the Wolf Pack, as they head to Prince George, where the T’Wolves enjoy one of the best home crowds in Canada West, and UNBC is looking like a much better team than at the start of the campaign.  So beware the potential trap game.  Danger lurks.

Pioneer Division  Games This Week –

 Can Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson's return spark the Dinos at Lethbridge ?

Can Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson’s return spark the Dinos at Lethbridge ?








# 8 Calgary  (9-2)  at Lethbridge  (5-7) –  The Dinos come off a busy Holiday schedule, Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 6.02.30 AMwhere they lost 4 of 5 games,  but have had a bye week to allow ace 5th year scorer, Jarred Ogungbemi – Jackson, to heal up and return to action. Now, can they get a win at Lethbridge, where they are 0-5 in the past several seasons?  The ‘Horns Coach, Mike Hansen, suggests these are very big ‘rivalry games’, and ones his boys need to win.  Dinos Coach Dan Vanhooren wants to see his # 3 back on the court, and for his Dinos to return to the form that got them to 1st place.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 6.10.25 AMRegina (7-5) at  # 9 Saskatchewan (6-4) – Regina has won 5 straight League games, and added a sharp-shooting guard in Mike Malecha.  But ( a big BUT), the Cougs haven’t won a game in Saskatoon since November of 2003 !  The Huskies have been a bit of a yo-yo team this year, as they’ve split with Alberta, and Winnipeg, beaten the highly regarded Vikes, then been cowed twice at UBC. U of S come off a pair of road wins at Brandon … so, do we get a heated Saskatchewan Civil War, or will the ‘Dogs do the usual, and dispense with Regina in short order at the PAC ?

Winnipeg (5-5)  at  # 5 Victoria (8-2) –  Winnipeg, like their home-town rivals, the Herd, come off 2 losses on their own court, and the challenge is to get back into a competitive groove.  This is a tough place to carry out that mission, however, since UVic has won all but 1 of 10 games these teams have played on the Island since 1977. That game was last February, in the playoffs, so maybe there’s hope for the Ws after all.  Victoria looks like a team on the rise, and will be the favourites here, nonetheless. With these 2 defenses, ‘bet the under’.

Andriy Halushko, Bears' rookie 3 pt. shooter

Andriy Halushko, Bears’ rookie 3 pt. shooter

Manitoba (8-4) at Alberta (6-5) –  The Bears have won 5 straight games, if we include the Wesmen Classic, and they got 2 road wins at Winnipeg last week.  Manitoba will have a big mental hurdle to clear if they are to put the 2 UVic losses behind them. Alberta has won 9 of the last 11 meetings, but the Bisons offensive power will give them a test.  Alberta are the clear favourites as the best FG% team in Canada West, and allowing just 71 ppg .

Brandon  (1-11) at  UBC (5-5) – The Bobcats should try and enjoy the perennial ‘warmer West Coast weather’ , because the surging – 5 League wins in succession – T’Birds will not give them any quarter on the rippling hardwood of War Memorial.  Brylle Kamen should return, Tommy Nixon is inspired, and UBC is back playing defense. Brandon has some talent, but are among the worst shooting teams in Canada West coupled with surrendering 89 ppg against .

Trinity Western (1-11) gets a bye week.


Explorer Division –

Reese Pribilsky, the Wolf Pack point man is a reliable floor leader.

Reese Pribilsky, the Wolf Pack point man is a reliable floor leader.

Thompson Rivers (6-4) at UNBC (4-6) – The Wolf Pack play good team defense, they Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 6.26.59 AMshoot it well from everywhere, and they limit their turnovers.  TRU has a deeper rotation, featuring scorers Brett Rouault and Josh Wolfram.  UNBC’s Coach Todd Jordan says, “We are starting to learn how to play together, and guys like Francko (Kouagnia), Rhys Elliot, and Billy Cheng should have a strong 2nd half of the season.” The T’Wolves would surprise ‘experts’ if they beat the ‘Pack, but they will have to shut down the Wolves’ shooters, and crack the TRU zone.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 6.19.12 AM# 7  Fraser Valley (10-0)  at MacEwan (4-6)  –  The Cascades get it done at crunch time.  They are an excellent 4th quarter team, and are getting great leadership from a veteran line-up, including a more mature QB in Manny Dulay, and big man, Jasper Moedt.  UFV’s attack can come from their whole line-up, short as their bench might be. The Griffins trio of Ryan May, Lee Danderfer, and Denzel James could improve any line-up in Canada West, and the home team will ‘mix it up’ quite willingly with the Division leaders.

Mt. Royal (4-6) at UBC-Okanagan (2-8) –  (Yes folks, this weekend the Heat really are at home!)  Mt. Royal fly to B.C for the 2nd straight week, suffering through a sub-par 3 game losing streak with some poor team shooting, and too many turnovers.  Can their more experienced line-up get back on track against a much younger UBC-O aggregation ?  Coach Peter Guarasci holds out hope for an improving defensive effort, and for continued good long-range shooting from the likes of veteran David Manshrek. Let’s call these ‘must wins’ for the Cougars, and possible upsets for the Heat.


Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.01.48 PMScores from the Atlantic  –  

Memorial 83  Cape Breton 62

Dalhousie  72   St. FX  48

Saint Mary’s  89  Acadia  75



Overtime –

  • ‘Major Kulpa‘  (sic) …  we really should know where the games will be played.  We reported the Okanagan Heat as ‘hosting’ the TRU ‘Pack last week, and failed to pick up our error until Monday.  The games were always scheduled for TRU’s home court. Pay attention editor !
  • Bisons Coach, Kirby Schepp

    Bisons Coach, Kirby Schepp … in a calmer moment.

     Coaches in shirt-sleeves … as true fans, we’ve all seen it (and some of us may have done it in a former life) … the game gets heated, a call is made, a play is thwarted, a turnover occurs … the emotional coach rips off his snappy blazer and throws it angrily to the floor.  It happens, and, really, it has some entertainment value. Coach Kirby Schepp admitted he (and his suit jacket) got too carried away last week, as he witnessed the on-court mayhem which was negatively affecting his Bisons vs UVic.  But, at some point, so many bench bosses have done it.  ‘Let ye who’ve never tossed a coat in anger ….‘  We also note Todd Jordan, UNBC,  sans jacket at MacEwan last week, roaming the sidelines, exhorting his troops to re-double their efforts to aid the T-Wolves cause. Way to get involved, Coach !

  • The Alberta Golden Bears have 3 of the top 5 3 pt % shooters in CW –  Andriy Halushko is 47.6%, Youssef Ouahrig-46.4, and Ken Otieno – 46.3.  (Tops in the League?  Tommy Nixon, UBC – 51.2%, 2nd – Dominique Brooks, UFV – 48.1.)  Alberta is, by far, the best 3 pt shooting team , at 42.5% … next is Regina at 36.4 !

Week 3 All-Stars in Canada West


Weekly All-Stars in Canada West –

Josh Wolfram carries TRU to a sweep over UNBC.

Josh Wolfram carries TRU to a sweep over UNBC.

MVP – Josh Wolfram rolls on with 44 points and 26 rebounds in the Wolf Pack sweep of UNBC.

1st Team –

Chris McLaughlin of UVic stands out again, as his 42 pts/ 12 rebounds boost the Vikes to 2 big wins at UBC.

Mamadou Gueye again sparks the Alberta attack with 45 pts/20 rebounds as the Bears maul the TWU Spartans twice.


Brandon Tull of Regina totals 43 points in the Manitoba series, as the Cougars get a split.

 Brandon Tull  is at the heart of Regina's drive for wins.

Brandon Tull is at the heart of Regina’s drive for wins.

Denzel James for MacEwan tallies 41 points and 20 rebounds as his Griffs open Canada West play with a home split vs Mt. Royal.

Francko Kouagnia pours in 40 pts and grabs 17 rebounds for his Timberwolves, who come up just short in a pair of losses at TRU.

2nd Team  –

Jonathan Alexander  of the Bisons nets 35 pts/16 rebounds vs Regina

Mark McNee stirs up the offense for Winnipeg with 18 pts/10 rebs as the Ws get the sweep at Lethbridge.

UBC-O's David Manshrek gives the Heat 'grit' in the paint.

UBC-O’s David Manshrek gives the Heat ‘grit’ in the paint.

L.J Hegwood rising up for the Dinos with his 30 pts/15 boards in the 2 UC wins over Brandon.

Earl Thompson Jr. , Brandon’s import wing man,  displays his power with 29 pts/15 rebounds vs Calgary.

Nate Brown has 28 pts/15 rebs for UFV in their 2 close wins at UBC-Okanagan.

David Manshrek for Okanagan scores 35 and claims 18 rebounds to lead the Heat as they push the Cascades in both games in Kelowna.


Notes from Around Canada West …

Pioneer Division –

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 2.45.06 PM

Alberta –  Y. Ouahrig just 1 minute on Sat. vs TWU ?  Trio of Ken Otieno, Joel Friesen, and Mamadou Gueye  drive this team.  Brett Roughead rebounds and blocks shots.  Rookie, Sheldon Pittman (Calgary, St. Mary’s HS) getting 5-10 mins/game.

Brandon – Low team shooting % has really hurt.  Earl Thompson Jr. is a great addition, with his power, and skills at the hoop. Not sure they’ve settled in with effective court leadership as yet.  It’s a bit early to panic, but if 0-4 becomes 0-6 …?

Rookie guard, Adonis Monfort-Palomino shows poise coming off the bench for the Dinos.

Rookie guard, Adonis Monfort-Palomino shows poise coming off the bench for the Dinos.

Calgary – One of our highly respected regional sources suggests that, with the return of post man, Mitch Ligertwood, the Dinos may have the most depth in the League.  The emergence of Dallas Karch, L.J. Hegwood, and Adonis Monfort -Palomino gives so many options.

Lethbridge –  Maybe the ‘Horns just ran into a highly motivated Wesmen team, but 2 home losses were a surprise.  The offensive numbers were not good, and the turnovers could become a major issue; they have the talent, and should get back on track.

Manitoba – The Herd get a split with another high-scoring game at Regina Saturday.  Stephan Walton plays 22 minutes Friday, then not at all on Saturday, with a leg problem.  (May be able vs Brandon this week). Justus Alleyn (2nd yr., Montreal) steps in Saturday to score 20 / 4 steals.

Regina – Cougars get the win Friday with 40 pts, 13 rebs, 6 steals between the Tull bothers (Brandon, Jonathan).  Alex Igual (6-4 Spaniard via Cuesta Coll., Calif.) is a real find as a big guard, at 6-4.   6-7, Will Tallman, in his 2nd ‘tour’ with the Cougs’ is hitting his stride as a rebounder/scorer.

Saskatchewan –  back in action at home this week vs Manitoba.

Trinity Western –  Coach Allen starts 3 rookies vs the Bears on Saturday; searching for the ‘ignition switch’ for his Spartans.  The 1st year trio of Nick Tancon, Vartan Tanielian, and Kosia Cauw  give future promise.  Now time for some of TWU vets to turn things around.

UBC's Tommy Nixon and his 'mates meet the Bears in Edmonton this week.

UBC’s Tommy Nixon and his ‘mates meet the Bears in Edmonton this week.

UBC – Losing 2 at home vs Victoria has to be a major disappointment, but no reason topanic just yet. The ‘Birds do, however, need to re-focus this week as they prepare for a trip to play U of A in the unfriendly confines of the Saville Centre in Edmonton.

Victoria –  A confidence building weekend over in Vancouver, as they play the defense expected of them, but also have their offense clicking with McLaughlin stepping up, and both Reiner Teil and Marcus Tibbs showing toughness in the clutch. 4-0, with a bye week.

Winnipeg – the Wesmen get just the bounce-back Coach Raimbault would have wanted, as his defense puts the shackles on U of L, and they find scoring from several key players … Jelane Pryce, Mark McNee, Chris Baxter.  The schedule does not let up, however, as they now go to Saskatoon to face the Huskies.


Explorer Division –

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 2.45.29 PM

Fraser Valley – Tighter games at UBC-O than might have been predicted, but the ‘Cades find ways to win and players to take charge … Kadeem Willis, Manny Dulay, Jasper Moedt, and big Nate Brown are prominent.

MacEwan Griffins – The ‘newbies’ will surprise people with scorers Lee Danderfer and Denzel James plus some big men who will battle … Ryan May, Keith Gerdes, and Brandon Sackey.  Can they get one vs the heavily favoured TRU Wolf Pack this week?

Jalen Gardner is an up-and-comer for MRU.

Jalen Gardner is good young guard for the  MRU Cougars.

Mt. Royal – The Cougars, at their best will pressure on defense and hit open shots with good ball movement; however, 35% from the floor won’t get it done.  Jalen Gardner looks good at Mac, but more guards will have to make an impact.

Northern B.C. – The T’Wolves will give anyone a tough game.  Coach Todd Jordan is right when he says , “I like our toughness and competitiveness … “  Francko Kouagnia is solid, and he gets back-up from Devin McMurtry, Marcus MacKay, Rhy Elliot.

Thompson Rivers –  Coach Clark worries about his defense, but he has the scorers in Josh Wolfram, Brett Rouault, Reese Pribilsky.  Big man, Tallon Milne, is showing his best stuff this early season.

UBC-Okanagan –  This year?  Maybe … they play UFV tough, and some young players look ready to contribute to some wins – David Manshrek is a beast, and Buzz Truss, and Aldrich Barrios don’t shy away.  Mitch Goodwin must keep playing like a leader, and their defense has to be a steady force.


Overtime –

  • In answer to Joe Scanlon,  Carleton’s #1 fan/writer :  Joe, this situation with 5 OUA teams at the top of the CIS rankings begs for some scheduling changes.  If the rankings are to be even marginally reliable, it is necessary to have more inter-regional play.

    Joe Scanlon, in the stands covering Carleton Ravens basketball.

    Joe Scanlon, in the stands covering Carleton Ravens basketball.

     How about this –  in the Fall, have several more tournaments which include teams from different regions … teams wishing to be ranked would be encouraged to schedule themselves into these events.  Do the same at the Christmas break – at  existing tournaments, like the Wesmen Classic, the Shoveller Memorial, the Ryerson National plus a couple of new ones, we could create some more meaningful  inter-League play.
    The finances would, presumably be a hurdle, but perhaps we can get more excitement with ranked teams meeting others from other Leagues.  The increasing number of Canada West teams choosing to play in California, Arizona, or Nevada does nothing to promote the CIS brand.  Nor the OUA or Quebec teams holding Florida training camps or playing small U.S schools.
    If we establish a network of competitive inter-regional tournaments, the rankings make sense. Now, not so much, especially once pre-season ends, and we are only comparing within our own region.
  • UFV’s Coach Adam Friesen on his 2014-15 Cascades, “This Fr Valley copyyear, we’re big enough to match up inside with height and with size, but it’s definitely going to be a big challenge,” head coach Adam Friesen said. “I think the challenge for us this season is getting used to being the hunted instead of the hunter. There’s unique and different challenges you have to face in that role, which is new for us.”

Big Changes for UNBC and Okanagan




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


UNBC Adds Talent, Depth

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

Big 'Francko' grabs a rebound for the 'Wolves

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Chu hangs in the lane.

Jeff Chu hangs in the lane.

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

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

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

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




Youth is Served at Okanagan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Roster Turnover is Inevitable

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

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

2010-2011 University of Victoria Vikes Basketball

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

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

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

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


Overtime –

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