Final 4 ‘Wide Open’ – Friday Semi-Finals

 

 

Berths in U-Sports Nationals Up for Grabs

One win away.  For the 4 teams in this week’s Final 4, their clearest focus may well be the one major step they have to take to get to the National Championship tournament in Halifax on March 9-12.   Win Friday, and you’re in.

This makes for as intense a game as they will have played all year.  The host Calgary Dinos won last year’s Canada West Final, and went on to reach the championship game vs Carleton last March in Vancouver.  The largely veteran Dinos are aiming for a repeat appearance, but will have a real tussle with the Manitoba Bisons. The Herd have not played in a National Final 8 Championship since 1985, and they are aching to seize this opportunity.

Both Alberta and Saskatchewan have had fairly recent runs to a Nationals Tournament, with Alberta in 2014 and Saskatchewan in both 2014 and 2015.  The Bears and Huskies split their regular season series in Saskatoon in early February, and their Friday tip-off at 3 pm will continue a fierce rivalry .

5th year Huskies forward, Trevor Severinski, hopes to find some magic against the Golden Bears                  Photo – Huskies Athletics

# 9 Saskatchewan Huskies  vs #8  Alberta Golden Bears –  Saskatchewan are worried about the Bears’ ability to put up points, and Alberta’s staff will be devising strategies to defend the post combo of Shayne Osayande and Matt Forbes.  The 3 point shot could obviously be a difference maker, as it has been for Canada West’s best long-range shooting team, U of A,  much of the regular season.

The Bears’ Mamadou Gueye shoots 41.5% from 3 point range, and he’s the 5th best of the GB’s shooters from outside the arc ! (Gueye is 12th in CW, and, of course, he has a few other skills to bring to the party.)  Austin Waddoups 46.8%, Andre Kelly 44.7%, Geoff Pippus 42.6%, and Ivan Ikomey 42.2%.  Hot.  And the Bears still have the inside threat of all-star post man, Brody Clarke.

The Huskies Osayande can take over a game.  He’s a walking, leaping, shot-blocking, double-double.  And his muscular ‘mate,  Forbes, has that 5th year zeal as he steps on the stage for one of his last performances. The ‘Dogs may live and die with the 2 -way games of their guard corps, Lawrence Moore, Jaylan Morgan, and Alex Unruh.  Getting Morgan back is vital to their cause, as is the rejuvenation of the offensive threat posed by ‘small forward’, Trevor Severinski.  This 5th year shooter has found his shooting eye at just the right time.

This is a ‘street fight’ kind of game, which we see as a toss-up.  Shake hands and go to a neutral corner.   It’s a matinee game time of 3 pm .   Canada West TV

Calgary’s Mitch Ligertwood should be a key figure vs the Bisons.                   Photo- David Moll – UC Athletics

#5 Calgary Dinos  vs  Manitoba Bisons –  The Bisons come off a 2 game road sweep of the previously 25-1 UBC Thunderbirds.  They should be on a ‘Wanted Poster’ !  Armed and dangerous !  The 4 pillars of this team, Ilarion Bonhomme, A.J. Basi, Keith Omoerah, and Justus Alleyn averaged 33.5 minutes apiece, and tallied 88% of the Herd’s points in Vancouver.

Bonhomme is most dangerous as a penetrator, and Alleyn has been their ‘drop dead’ scorer for most of the season.  Omoerah is a multi-faceted weapon, with his rebounding, scoring, and leadership.  Basi has been a streaky shooter, but has a knack at crunch time.  The Dinos will know that they can’t give him too much free room.  Off the bench Coach Kirby Schepp utilizes veterans Malik Irwin and Joey Nitychoruk along with all-rookie forward  James Wagner.

Calgary will be playing a variety of ‘small ball’, very likely.  Mitch Ligertwood had a strong series in the post against TRU, and he has the experience from last year’s Final 4 to inspire his efforts.  The ‘overall team effort’ is the key factor, according to Coach Dan Vanhooren, and he looks to the defensive skills of perimeter  players led by ultra-quick David Kapinga,  shooting guard Thomas Cooper, and his side-kicks, the gritty Jhony Verrone, the spidery, energetic, Mambi Diawara, and skilled rookie, Max Eisle.

Veterans Dallas Karch and Jasdeep Gill are 5th year players who are wanting to go out as winners, and they have both shown an ability to make an impact.  This match-up produced a split on the season’s opening weekend at UC;  we should expect a rousing affair, and quite possibly a ‘down-to-the-wire’ finish.           8 pm on Canada West TV

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In the East –    

Carleton’s Connor Wood, OUA Player of the Year.
photo – Ottawa Citizen

The Ontario Wilson Cup Final 4 has  #1 Carleton vs  #4 Brock at 4:50 Eastern time , and #3 Ottawa vs #2 Ryerson  7:50  from Carleton U. in Ottawa   Both on  OUA TV   The OUA Final and 3rd place game are the next afternoon.   For more detail, check in with Mark Wacyk’s comprehensive  CANhoops.ca  blog, with great OUA coverage.

Atlantic  –   The festive annual tradition of the Atlantic Tournament at the Halifax Scotia Bank Centre will tip-off on Friday with the two Quarter-Finals –  Acadia vs  Memorial  at 6:30  Atlantic time , and  St. Mary’s vs  St. FX  at 8:30.  Both of these games are available live on AUS TV    .   Friday’s winners will play the 2 top seeds , UNB and Dalhousie on Saturday (6:30 and 8:30)  with the championship final going Sunday at 4:30.   Dalhousie will be the host team for the U-Sports Nationals.

Quebec –   Top seeded McGill will host the RSEQ Tournament in Montreal starting Friday as well  – The Redmen meet  4 seed, Laval, in one game, and Concordia plays UQAM in an all-Montreal affair in the other semi.  The Quebec Final goes Saturday.

 

Overtime –

  • There is some heated discussion surrounding the one ‘At-Large or ‘Wild-card’ spot in the March 9-12,  U-Sports Final 8 Nationals  to be awarded by a Coaches Committee after play this Sunday.  We wrongly suggested that Canada West has a rule that only Final 4 teams can be considered.  Apparently not, so UBC is able to receive consideration, despite having lost 2 straight to Manitoba in CW Quarter-Finals.  Who knows how this will go?  The results this weekend will be a big factor, of course.  It seems to suggest in the U-Sports Final 8 Selection Criteria  that teams advancing further down the play-off trail be placed in a category 1 ‘cluster’ of teams for consideration.  This is one of the sections which lends more subjectivity to the exercise.
  •  Calgary Coach Dan Vanhooren, on his feelings about 4th year guard, David Kapinga’s absence from the CW all-star list.   “Vanhooren was pleased with Kapinga’s performance, calling him an “unrecognized all-star.”  “It’s a shame that a player with that level of talent doesn’t get recognized by our league in that fashion,” he said. “I think that he’s clearly one of the better players in the league and he showed that in the fourth quarter (in last Friday’s win over TRU) . He’s an all-star in my mind.”   From a story in UC’s student newspaper, The Gauntlet. 
  • Forward Lars Schleuter is side-lined for the Dinos

  • Two significant absences last week as their teams qualified for the  Final 4  were  Jaylan Morgan of Saskatchewan  and Lars Schleuter of Calgary.   Huskies Coach Barry Rawlyk suggests, “ He’s worked hard to recover, and made significant progress, so  we are expecting Morgan to be back in the line-up for the Semi-Final Friday vs Alberta.”  Schleuter, however, doesn’t expect to be in action this week for the Dinos, and he said “It’s tough to watch from the sidelines, but I have confidence in my teammates this week”.

 

 

 

League Championship Week Across Canada

 

All 4 League championship tournaments set to tip-off Friday

This is U-Sports Play-off week right across the country, from the big AUS Tournament in Halifax to the Canada West Final 4 in Calgary.  Besides determining League champions, the 4 tournaments will go a long way to deciding the field for the U-Spots Final 8 Nationals in Halifax – March 9-12.

Here are the match-ups and schedules for the week –

 

Note the unusual times for the Canada West Final 4  draw-  The UC has decided to divide the Final 4 games with a Dinos 1/4 Final Volleyball match (both for Friday and Saturday).  Unfortunate for basketball fans, and not really the way to host a League championship tournament, in our opinion.

Saturday sees the 3rd place game at 3 pm and the Canada West Final at 8 pm. (Both finalists will have qualified for the Nationals in Halifax.) 

 

The Wilson Cup semi-finals and finals are being played in Ottawa this weekend, with the Carleton Ravens a decided favourite.  The 2 semi-final winners will qualify for the Nationals, and will play for the OUA title on Saturday .

 

The Quebec Finals are  hosted by the top seed , McGill Redmen.  The Final will be played on Saturday, with that champion looking like the lone RSEQ rep in Nationals.

 

We expect this to be an unpredictable 6 team event, with 1 spot in Nationals on the line.  The AUS gets a host spot as well, so teams will be fighting their way through to the Final.

 

Overtime –

  • Emotional and admirable statement from 5th year UBC team captain , Jordan Jensen-Whyte, after the team’s play-off loss to Manitoba last Friday,  “It’s tough man. It’s a great year. Couple of things didn’t go our way,” said Jensen-Whyte. “ … and Manitoba is a great team. I have nothing but respect for my coach and the players. I have nothing but love for this place.”  From a story in UBC’s student news, The Ubyssey. 
  •  The annual guessing-game surrounding the choice of a ‘wild-card’ team for the U-Sports Final 8 Nationals is starting in earnest.  If we look at the criteria for the committee to consider, we note the subjective nature in some areas.  League records may have a 16-4 team ‘equivalent’ to a 15-4 team, and so on.  To be clear … despite their high marks in every category, the UBC T’Birds are out, with their play-off record, and Canada West’s rule to have only teams from the Final 4 considered. We expect the 8th team to almost be a sure thing for the OUA, but we’ve been wrong before.  U-Sport announces their decision next Sunday, after the AUS Tournament is complete.

 

 

 

Holiday Hoops Frenzy This Week 

 

Wesmen mascot photo

‘Wes-Lee Coyote’ , the mascot at UW, is eager foe the 50th Wesmen Classic

Wesmen Classic Highlights Holiday Week

There’s a profusion of university basketball scheduled for play in the next week, as teams play post- Christmas tournaments and make exhibition game trips.  Starting on Wednesday, Dec 28, here are the games for Canada West teams   –

Dec 28 – 30   … 50th Annual Wesmen Classic at the U. of Winnipeg –     The longest running Canadian University Tournament has a full roster of U-Sport teams for this anniversary edition. Algoma  from Sault Ste. Marie are the only 1st timers in the field) The Wesmen last won in 2006, and they’d dearly love to capture the 50th !   An 8 team ‘Oregon Draw’  1st Day –  noon Brandon vs Victoria, then 2 pm  #8 Alberta vs Lakehead (side B)  … To start the evening action at  6 pm, the host Winnipeg Wesmen will tip-off  against the  Algoma Thunderbirds , and at  8 pm, the defending champions,  Manitoba Bisons take on the Regina Cougars (side A)   …  all games on Canada West TV

UQAM Citadins logo Dec 29 – 31 …  UQAM – Classique Olga Hrycak –   This Montreal event honours the Citadins long-time Coach, who is (to our This 4 team round-robin draw  features 1 team from each of the 4 U-Sport Conferences –  On Day 1 we have    the Citadins vs U.Northern BC,  Guelph vs Memorial (NL)

Dalhousie Tigers logo

…  Dalhousie – Shoveller Memorial  –  8 team Draw –  Another traditional event, this Halifax showcase has representation from 3 of the 4  U-Sport Leagues.  1st day –  A side  #4 Ottawa vs UPEI, St. FX vs Acadia , and the B side   #10 Dalhousie vs Mt. Royal, St Marys vs Queens  Mt. Royal makes the long trip for the 1st time, and draw the host Tigers.  The tournament games will be shown live on AUS-TV.

 

Tours and Single games –  Dec 28-30

 #3 Calgary in Montana for  U. Great Falls, 28th … Rocky Mountain College, 29th … Montana-Western, 30th  Live at 4 pm Weds.

#2  UBC in Arizona – Future College (Club team), 28th … Phoenix JC, 29th, Cochise JC, 30th

 Thompson Rivers in California vs TBA, 28th … vs West Coast Baptist Coll., 29th … vs Antelope Valley U, 30th

Saskatchewan in CA  vs Hope International, Dec 30 … vs Vanguard U., Dec 31

MacEwan in CA  vs Vanguard U., Dec 30 … vs Hope International, Dec 31

at  Lethbridge   vs  Montana State-Northern  ,  28th

at UBC-O  vs Camosun College (Victoria), 30th

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Overtime – 

photo - Ron Wuotila

Ron Wuotila takes on key coaching development role with CAC and Own The Podium.

  • The Coaching Association of Canada and Own The Podium announced that our friend and former Athletic Director at U. Calgary, Ron Wuotila, has been contracted as a High Performance Coaching Advisor “to bring leadership and focus”  to high performance coaches and their professional development.   “Ron will assist the CAC and OTP in supporting National Sport Organizations to create a sustainable coaching development system by designing and activating customized high performance coach professional development plans.”With his extensive background as a coach of basketball at all levels (high school, Mt. Royal College, U.C., NCAA), and  his sports admin work with Mt. Royal, UC, then with British Sport, and British Basketball, Ron is eminently qualified.  Since leaving UC, he has formed RW Consulting and been busy working with various Sport Associations across the country.
  • The challenges of the Holiday basketball schedule include travel, for the student athletes to get home for Christmas and back for practice, then to get the team to the competition sites. Winnipeg looks to be a ‘balmy -5 C with a chance of light snow, but Montreal has a more fierce looking storm front to greet the UNBC T’Wolves. Halifax is not only a long flight, but also promises the classic ‘snow-rain mix’ to greet the MRU Cougars and other visitors.  The bus trip to Montana holds unpredictable delights, but California and Arizona will offer friendlier temperatures.  Good luck to all travelling teams and to those hosting the tournaments this week!

Canada West Teams – Busy Weekend

 

 

Big Tournament weekend for Canada West teams

Aldrich Berrios and his UBC- Okanagan Heat host an all-Canada West Tournament this weekend in Kelowna.

Aldrich Berrios and his UBC- Okanagan Heat host an all-Canada West Tournament this weekend in Kelowna.

This is the big opening pre-season  weekend for several Canada West squads, and others continue with more non – League fixtures.  Coaches, of course, get to determine just how many game they will play prior to the November 4/5 start of League action.  We will get a better sense of the way things might shape up in Canada West after this week’s action.  There are now 3 weeks of non-League play left prior to the games that ‘really count’.

This weekend – 

Manitoba's all-star wing man, Keith Omoerah will be missed this weekend.

Manitoba’s all-star wing man, Keith Omoerah will be missed this weekend.

Starting Thursday  –  Manitoba Bisons are in Waterloo , ON for the Naismith Classic . The Herd play the 3-0 UQAM Citadins on Friday, and finish with the  host Waterloo Warriors on Saturday.  Thursday Scores – Humber College, ON  82  Manitoba 71 –  Missing the injured Keith Omoerah, the Bisons suffer 23 turnovers and a 2nd quarter 23-4 blitz from Humber.  UQAM 99 Waterloo 71

Also Thursday –  Guelph 60  Laurier 52

 

The Victoria Vikes are making another trip to Carleton’s House-Laughton Tournament, where they will face the vaunted Ravens (Fri), the Western Ontario Mustangs (Sat), and the Laval Rouge et Or (Sun).

The Alberta Golden Bears are also down East,  in the Queens Golden Gaels ‘Tindall Invitational’ – vs Ottawa Gee-Gees on Friday, host Queens on Sat., and the Memorial Seahawks (Nfld) on Sunday.

Jordan Jensen-Whyte and the T-Birds host Lethbridge in a pair of games.

Jordan Jensen-Whyte and the T-Birds host Lethbridge in a pair of games.

Friday- Sunday – Lethbridge Pronghorns, have 2 wins under their belts vs Alberta Colleges squads, Lethbridge CC, and Medicine Hat College (83-75). The ‘Horns are in Vancouver area this weekend for 2 games at UBC (Fri and Sunday)  and 1 at Fraser Valley on Saturday.  Assistant, Alex Fletcher, will be the bench boss for Lethbridge, as Head Coach Mike Hansen is having hip surgery, and may be out for at least a couple of weeks.

 

Also Friday to Sunday In Kelowna, the UBC-Okanagan Heat welcome the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies, MacEwan Griffins, and Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack.  This will be the first CIS action for both the Heat and the Huskies.

Trinity Western meets the traditionally strong BC Colleges power,  Vancouver Island  University,  in Langley on both Friday and Saturday.

Brandon is busy as well, as the Bobcats host Regina Cougars on Friday, then the ‘Cats travel to North Dakota to meet Valley City State for a pair of contests on Saturday and Sunday.


 

Overtime – 

scott-c-tru-copy

  •  TRU Coach, Scott Clark (right) … “We need to play some games. It gives us a chance to evaluate things against two pretty good basketball teams. MacEwan made it to the playoffs and went three with Alberta. They have most of their players back. They are good.  Saskatchewan had a good season last year. They had some unfortunate injuries which set them back but they are back healthy. They are a quality team as well.  Getting a chance to play two good teams this early in the season is great for us.”  (From Larry Read, TRU Athletics)