Bears path is the rockiest
The Alberta Golden Bears are in 1st place in Canada West, with their 11-1 record, but their path to a title is still a rocky one. At #6 in the U-Sport Coaches Top 10 this week, the Bears got there by virtue of a 1 point win over the Calgary Dinos, to earn a split in last weekend’s home and home series.
There is no let-up this week, as the Bruins travel to Vancouver for a clash with the #3 UBC Thunderbirds. Historical record – Bears are 89 wins – 90 losses vs the T’Birds ! And that may well reflect the 2 teams’ competitiveness this season. The top 2 in the standings, and both with only 1 loss.
From there, Alberta hosts the improving Fraser Valley Cascades (5-5) on January 20-21, then they get a bye week before travelling to Saskatoon Feb 3-4 for a predictably tough assignment against the Huskies (6-4). U of A finishes up at home against another contending team, the Lethbridge Pronghorns (8-4). All – in – all, a rugged path through the decisive 2nd half of the schedule.
Calgary hosts Fraser Valley in a Thursday-Friday series –
The Calgary Dinos (8-2) will be looking to maintain their position near the top of the Canada West standings with 2 wins this week against the visiting UFV Cascades. (Game 1 is Thursday – 8 pm Mountain at UC, and available on Canada West TV with ace play-by-play man, Lucas Meyer, and colour from John Tramble.) The Dinos come off a close loss to rivals , Alberta, and will need to re-focus on a dangerous UFV squad.
Cascades guards, Manny Dulay (15.9 ppg/4.6 rebs/5.4 asst/2.7 steals), and Vijay Dhillon (12.4 ppg/3 rebs/ 3 asst) will go head to head with UC’s David Kapinga (10.3 ppg/ , and 6-5 Mambi Diawara (13.1 ppg . Lars Schleuter, at 6-7, (brings a 3 point threat for the Dinos , as does 6-5, 5th year, ‘designated shooter’ Jasdeep Gill (47.6% from 3)
The pairings up front have UFV’s Nav Bains (8.3 ppg/ and Mark Johnson (9.4 ppg/6.8 rebs) facing Calgary’s Matt Ellis, Conor Morgan, and Mitch Ligertwood (a combined 14.1 ppg/9.4 rebs). The Cascades’ 6-5, 3rd year transfer (UVic), Andrew Morris, is a strong 6th man, who can score, and is shooting close to 50% from the floor. Starter at the wing, Anthony Gilchrist (8.3 ppg), may be the man trying to contain the Dinos high-scoring wing-man, Thomas Cooper (24.3 ppg/ 6 rebs/2 steals).
The Dinos have an edge in most key offensive categories, but Fraser Valley looks like they may have found a groove lately, and could come on with their attack. The Cascades big threat is their guard combo, and Calgary will be sure to have defensive harassment as a weapon against Dulay and Dhillon. Home court, and a more productive offense gives the Dinos a decided edge.
Canada West Schedule this week-
Thursday, Jan 12 –
Fraser Valley Cascades at #5 Calgary Dinos
Friday, Jan 13 –
Fraser Valley Cascades at #5 Calgary Dinos
#6 Alberta Golden Bears at #3 UBC Thunderbirds – Preview of this feature series tomorrow .
Saskatchewan Huskies at Lethbridge Pronghorns
Mt. Royal Cougars at UNBC Timberwolves
Winnipeg Wesmen at Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack
Manitoba Bisons at Regina Cougars
Victoria Vikes at UBC-Okanagan Heat
MacEwan Griffins at Brandon Bobcats
Saturday, Jan 7 –
Bears at Thunderbirds
Huskies at Pronghorns
Vikes at Heat
MRU Cougars at Timberwolves
Wesmen at Wolf Pack
Bisons at R. Cougars
Griffins at Bobcats
Trinity Western Spartans at home, resting …
Scores from the East –
Atlantic – at St. FX 96 Cape Breton 80, at U-Sp #8 Dalhousie 84 Acadia 81 OT
There were losses for Top 10 teams last week, including a split between #3 Calgary and #8 Alberta (69-60 UC at U of A, then 81-80 for the Bears in Calgary) . Also in Canada West, it was un-ranked Saskatchewan winning game 1 of their series with UBC by a 95-78 count. The Nipissing Lakers beat #6 Brock 69-66, and Laurentian rose up to topple #9 McMaster 95-87. In Quebec, #7 McGill lost a mid-week game to Laval 70-63. Memorial is not ranked, even though they lead the AUS standings?
- As of last week’s games, we have no undefeated teams left in either Men’s or Women’ s play in Canada West. In Men’s play, Saskatchewan (6-4) beat UBC (9-1) on Friday, and Calgary (8-2) had beaten Alberta (11-1) in a Thursday contest. On the Women’s side, both Winnipeg (11-1) and Alberta (11-1) were handed Saturday night losses by Trinity Western (7-5) and Calgary (7-3) respectively.
- The Dinos and Cascades have not met since February 2015, when UFV beat UC in 2 straight in the CW Q-finals in Abbotsford. The ‘Trees’ have won 5 of the last 7 games between these 2 teams.
- Quebec Standings – There is not much to choose between the top 4 teams, and McGill, the favourites, have yet to distance themselves from the pack. After having seen Bishops out West in the Fall pre-season, we are surprised at the struggles for the Gaiters to this point. # 9 McGill has a big home and home this weekend with cross=town rival, UQAM, while Laval has a H/H against Bishops .