2016-17 Canada West Basketball Previews –
Vikes and Wolf Pack With Big Roster Changes
Volodymyr Iegorov (L) , TRU, and Grant Sitton (R) , UVic , are 5th year leaders for their B.C. schools.
The Victoria Vikes and Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack each had 3 key players graduate last Spring, and lost several other roster players through attrition of one type or another. Coaches, Craig Beaucamp of UVic and Scott Clark, TRU, were hard at work in the off-season ‘re-filling the tank’.
There are 8 new ‘Wolves in Kamloops, and 7 newcomers for the Vikes on the Island. This brings the challenge of ‘major renovation’ and integration of many who are new to the staff, the systems, and their new teammates. There’s also the anticipation and eagerness of every team member to work together to form a competitive team.
The ‘Pack come off a record-breaking, historical season, while Victoria, uncharacteristically, missed the post-season. Both coaches relish the process of building a new team, and their returnees and recruits, in both cases, hold the promise of good things ahead.
Wolf Pack Focus on the New Season
Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack
2015-16 – Canada West finalists 16 wins 4 losses (Explorer Division)
Returnees – 5th year – Volodomyr Iegorov, 6-7 fwd, Donetsk, Ukraine … 4th year – Luke Morris , 6-4 fwd, Mission, BC. 2nd years – Michael Rouault, 6-5 wing, Vernon, BC. Jeff Tubbs,6-2 guard, Kelowna, Joe Davis, 6-5 fwd, Kamloops, Kyler Eckess, 5-9 guard, Prince Rupert
New faces – Derek Rhodes, 6-5 guard, 3rd year, Sacramento, CA (tsf Sacramento CC). Maalik Hazziez, 6-9 fwd, 3rd, Sacramento, CA (tsf American River Coll.). Noah Kaefer, 6-4 fwd, 1st, Courtenay, BC (Mark Isfeld Sec.). Jordan Komarniski, 6-0 guard, 1st, South Kamloops Sec. Madhu McConnell, 1st, Victoria (Oak Bay Sec.) . Ryan Miller, 6-6 fwd, 1st, Kamloops (Valleyview Sec.). Trent Monkman, 6-1 guard, 1st, Telwa, BC (Smithers Sec.) . Jass Singh, 6-0 guard, 1st, Abbotsford, BC (W J Mouat)
Coach Scott Clark says, “This is a new team, and a new challenge. It’s fun! We start the journey, and work together as hard as we can to prepare to play in this League. Who knows how things will turn out? “ The veteran coach, who is in his 7th year at TRU, was previously 15 years as the Head Coach at Simon Fraser. His ’15-’16 ‘Pack won the Explorer Division, beat Regina in the 1/4 Finals, then beat UBC in game 1 at the Canada West Final 4. TRU lost to Calgary in the Final, but represented Canada West at the CIS Nationals in Vancouver.
Wolf Pack forward, Luke Morris (L), and lead guard, Jeff Tubbs (R)
But as the coach insists, this is a new team, and they really are, with just 6 returnees, one of whom, Joe Davis, did not play last season. So Clark and his staff do face a challenge with 8 newcomers to integrate into the squad. He does benefit from the power of 5th year import, Volodymyr Iegorov (18.5 ppg/ 7 rebs), a Canada West all-star in ’15-’16, and a leader all summer in team training these past months. Promising to do his part as an aggressive scorer (12.5 ppg) / rebounder (6.3 rebs) on the forward line is Luke Morris, who had a terrific playoff last year. Coach Clark says, “Joe Davis has come back in great shape, and looks much improved; he trained hard, and should really contribute.”
Jeff Tubbs, a selection on the all-rookie team last year, will be the lead guard, and he should follow nicely in the footsteps of Reese Pribilsky, now graduated. Michael Rouault is another 2nd year player, who shot it at 47% from the floor and proved to be a solid rebounder in year 1 in orange.
Among the newcomers, it’s Derek Rhodes who’s turning heads with his ball-handling skills, and his ability to shoot the trey. Rhodes set school records at Sacramento City College with his long-range sniping. Post/forward Maalik Hazziez is a hard-working big man, who will give help to an already strong group. Madhu McConnell comes in as a 1st year lead guard with skills and confidence, and Noah Kaefer is a promising looking wing man with good size.
“We will do the best job we can to prepare this team for the games we have coming up; every time out, we want to have each guy prepared to do his job, and to have our team compete for a win ”, declares Coach Clark. The Wolf Pack have great skill and size at key spots, and they should be competitive again this year.
Schedule – Nov-Dec … UBC, at Manitoba, at Alberta , UBC-O, at UNBC Jan-Feb … Victoria, Winnipeg, at Fraser Valley, Calgary, at Regina
Prediction – Tough schedule, but TRU still in the running.
’15-’16 – no playoffs 9 wins – 11 losses (Pioneer Division)
Returnees – 5th year – Grant Sitton, 6-9 wing, Brush Prairie, WA … 4th year – Hassan Abdullahi, 6-3 guard, Montreal … 3rd years – Justin Kinnear – 6-6 fwd, Montreal, Hayden Lejeune – 6-8 fwd, Chilliwack … 2nd year – Taylor Montgomery Stinson – 6-3 guard, Victoria … 1st (RS) – Jason Scully – 6-4 fwd, Victoria (St. Michael’s Sec). Graeme Hyde Lay – 6-0 guard, Victoria (St. Michael’s)
Newcomers – Jake Newman – 6-6 fwd, 3rd, White Rock, BC (tsf Lafayette Coll., PA). Scott Kellum – 6-1 guard, 1st, Issaquah HS, WA. Noah Charles – 6-5 fwd, 1st, Duncan, BC (Cowichan Sec.) . Wayne Tucker -6-1 guard, 4th, Oakland, CA (tsf Olds Coll., Alberta). JJ Hamel Carey – 6-0 guard, 1st, Montreal, (Cegep Champlain- St. Lambert) . Vlad Zasmolin – 6-5 wing, 1st, Calgary (Sir W. Churchill). Ty Stewart Nelson – 6-1 guard, 1st, Toronto (Shannon Forest Christian, SC)
Starting his 14th season as the Vikes head man, Craig Beaucamp will be intent on getting his new team back into the upper reaches of Canada West and CIS Basketball. After 3 straight UVic appearances at the CIS Nations from 2013-2015, the Vikes missed the playoffs last year. But this 5-time Canada West Coach of the Year is certainly up to the task.
“Our guys are working hard, and did so with their summer program as well”, says Beaucamp. “Our big men, Justin Kinnear and Hayden Lejeune, are stronger and ready to give us a strong play inside.” The coach tells us that 5th year leader, Grant Sitton, has moved to the wing/small forward spot, taking advantage of his perimeter skills.
Rookie import guard, Scott Kellum, has impressed the coaches, and is penciled in as the starter at the point. “We’ve watched his progress since early in high school, and this true freshman can really play”, offered Beaucamp. Another import, Wayne Tucker Jr., has more experience, as a 4th year transfer from Olds College (Alberta), where he was the Alberta Colleges scoring leader last year. “Wayne is quick with the ball on offense, and quick on the ball defensively; he’s a skilled shooting guard”, says his new coach. The guard play is further enhanced by the experience of JJ Hamel Carey, a 2 year CEGEP transfer, along with returnees Hassan Abdullahi, and Taylor Montgomery-Stinson.
Two new additions to the Vikes roster, Wayne Tucker Jr. (L) and Scott Kellum (R)
Noah Charles, the 3rd brother from ‘up-Island’ to play for UVic, is “ a tireless worker”, with a big, strong body (6-5, 240) for a young guy. Jake Newman, a 2013 White Rock Christian grad “come home” to UVic after 2 years at Lafayette (PA) and a red shirt year at Carleton. His father, Jamie, was a member of national championship Vikes teams in the 1980’s and his sister, Jordyn, played with the women’s Vikes through the 2012-13 season. Newman is “ … ready to make a big contribution to our team”, says Coach Beaucamp.
The pieces are there, it would seem, and now we see how they will all fit together.
Schedule – Nov-Dec – at Regina, Calgary, at MacEwan, UBC home/home (4) Jan-Feb – at Thompson R., at UBC-O, Lethbridge, Trinity W., at Fraser Valley, Winnipeg (6)
Prediction – Very different team. We doubt they miss 2 years running.
CIS Scores from Thursday –
- at the Guy Vetrie Memorial in Victoria … McMaster 69 McGill 62 – A come from behind by McMaster. Turnover and foul-filled, with Mac shooting 44 free throws. no box score
- Victoria 76 Regina 67 – Grant Sitton and Wayne Tucker Jr., with 15 points each, as UVic survive a shaky start. . Box Score
- Saskatchewan 66 Medicine Hat College 65 ( OT) Box Score
Games tonight –
East – Concordia Queen’s, Ottawa UQAM, Toronto Memorial, Ryerson Mohawk Coll., Bishops Maine – Ft Kent , UNB St. Marys, Acadia St. FX , Carleton Laval , Algoma Laurentian, Nipissing Laurier
West – Lakehead Winnipeg , Victoria McGill , McMaster Regina