Long Road for 1st Round Play-off Teams

 

 

 4  Competitive Series in 1st Round of Playoffs

              … Thursday start for ‘Play-in’ series’ in Canada West

As the top 4 seeds, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and UBC rest-up, heal, and prepare, there is no slow-down for the 8 teams heading into the ‘Play-in’ series this weekend.  Games start at Manitoba and Winnipeg on Thursday night in two of the best of 3 sets, with Brandon and Lethbridge hosting series’ to begin on Friday.

Here are the match-ups –

Keith Omoerah contributes to the Bisons offense in many ways.      Photo – J. Miller, UM Sports

#12 Regina Cougars at # 5 Manitoba Bisons –  If we look at the past history between these teams, we might be tempted to call this a lock for the Herd.  Manitoba has beaten Regina in 15 of the most recent 16 meetings, including a January sweep at Regina (84-75, and 93-81).  But the Bisons have not been as convincing over the past month, with a couple of losses at Brandon, then close calls with UNBC, and both nights last weekend against Mt. Royal. Regina comes off a solid weekend at home, where they swept the TRU Wolf Pack.

The Cougars and Bisons are both laden with experience;  Regina features guards Alex Igual (14.7 ppg/ 4.6 rebs/ 3.3 assts), Brandon Tull (13.5 ppg/ 4.5 rebs) and rookie, Johneil Johnson (12.2 ppg/ 3.7 rebs). Forwards, Brian Ofori (13 ppg/ 6.3 rebs) and  Travis Sylvestre (9 ppg/ 3.6 rebs) have played well of late.

Manitoba have a strong, veteran group, with Justus Alleyn their top scorer at 17.4 ppg/3.6 rebs, and the all-around play of Keith Omoerah (13.2 ppg/ 8.7 rebs).  AJ Basi (13.3 ppg) and Ilarion Bonhomme are dangerous back-court threats.  James Wagner, a big rookie can give the Bisons a boost inside, along with veteran post, Brett Jewell .  The question remains, ‘Which team can pull together and win 2 games this weekend?’  The home court favours Manitoba, and UBC awaits the winner .  (Central) 7:30 pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if a 3rd game is necessary)

Winnipeg’s William Sesay will be a key factor vs Fraser Valley.

#10  Fraser Valley Cascades at #7  Winnipeg Wesmen –  This is the other Thursday start, and we have two guard – oriented teams facing off after both just had road trip weekends.  The Cascades have the quick turnaround from a bus-trip up and back on the icy, snow-packed Coquihalla Highway to Kelowna last weekend.  Wash the uniforms, pack the bags, attend a brief 2 days of classes, and off they go to Winnipeg.  The Wesmen come off a 2 loss weekend in Victoria, and somehow have to ‘right the ship’ , and win the home series vs a UFV squad that has won 4 straight to finish the season.

5th year Cascades back-court shooters, Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon against  Winnipeg’s Denzel Lynch-Blair, Sean Tarver, and rookie,  Narcisse Ambanza. The much improved Fraser Valley post man, Nav Bains, battling with the Ws’ big Aussie import, Ryan Oirbans.  Talented complimentary players like the Wesmen’s William Sesay and Jamar Farley  vs Fraser Valley’s Denver Sparks-Guest, Mark Johnson, and Andrew Morris.

The Cascades have won 5 of the past 7 meetings, but the Wesmen have home court.  This is looking like a 3 game series.  Note the different game times (Central) –  Thursday at 7 pm, Friday at 3 pm, and Sat. , if necessary, again at 3 pm.  The Saskatchewan Huskies will host the winner in the quarter-finals. 

UVic’s Grant Sitton will be a focus for ‘Horns defenders this weekend.        photo – UVic Athletics

#11 Victoria Vikes at #6 Lethbridge Pronghorns –  Prior to last weekend’s play, the Vikes were literally hanging by a thread, and needing a home sweep of a good Winnipeg team to make the post-season.  They got that sweep, and now are in S. Alberta to face the ‘Horns, who own 2 League wins over the Vikes in January at Victoria.

The Pronghorns are the clear favourites with their guard leader, Dejon Burdeaux (17.1 ppg/ 5.4 rebs/ 4,5 asst/ 3.6 steals) , taking the team on his back, and leading them to key wins.  3 of Burdeaux’s main ‘wing men’ are the sharp-shooting British import, Elliott Sentance (17.6 ppg/ 7 rebs/ 40% from 3 pt),  Mike Pierzchala (11 ppg/ 6 rebs), a threat to ‘run the table’, and 6-8 Zac Overwater (11.6 ppg/ 4.3 rebs.

The Vikes have leaned very heavily on 6-8 Grant Sitton, who’s surely a Canada West all-star, with his 20 ppg/ 6.8 rebs/ and 1.2 steals.  UVic’s only other double digit scorer is rookie import guard Scott Kellum (13.2 ppg), who hits 44% from 3 pt range, and chalks -up 2.4 asst per game.  Justin Kinnear is close to 10 ppg at forward, and he will need help from  Jake Newman and Hassan Abdullahi on the glass, if the Vikes are to stay with the ‘Horns.

We like Lethbridge as the home team here;  Victoria will have to make another jump forward if they hope to get the wins.  Game times are (Mountain) 7 pm on both Friday and Saturday, and 3 pm for a Sunday game, if it’s needed.  The winner here travels to Edmonton to play the Bears in the quarter-finals.

#9 Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack   at  #8  Brandon Bobcats –  The Bobcats host their 1st play-off series since 2009 in the old gym  ( SI Director Matt Packwood tells us).  This is the 1st one in their new ‘Healthy Living Centre’.  These teams have only played 9 times, ever, with the most recent a BU home win over TRU in January of 2014, so we can’t rely on trends!

We will watch a compelling battle of the big men, as the ‘Pack bring 5th year, 6-7  import, Volodymyr Iegorov, along with 6-5 Luke Morris, and 6-5 Joe Davis, who are all double digit scorers , with Iegorov among the League’s top rebounders at 9.1 rpg. Brandon responds with high-scoring Earl Thompson Jr (16.2 ppg/ 8.6 rebs), 6-5 Chris Stanhope, and a surging giant in 6-11 John Paul from St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean.  Brandon’s guards are led by shooter, Tyvon Cooper, while TRU has wing man, Michael Rouault, and import guard, Derek Rhodes.

There will be some new-found excitement surrounding this Bobcats team at home, and, if they can limit their turnovers and continue their improved shooting, they may pull this off.  The ‘Pack played in the CW Final last year, and this young team are looking to take another crack at it.  Only improved guard play and team defense will get them to the next round.  It may take 3 games to sort this out.  Winner goes to Calgary to face the Dinos in quarter-finals. 

 

________________________________________________________________________

Overtime –

  • UBC Coach, Kevin Hanson, with comments about the RPI system, whereby his 19-1 T-Birds finished as the  4th play-off seed,  “Overall, it’s frustrating but we have known that it’s been coming for a few weeks,” said Hanson.   “It is out of our control and we’re not whining about it. Our players are long over the shock. We are getting prepped to play whomever is put in front of us.  (From  Howard Tsumura’s ‘Varsity Letters’ blog  )
  • In that same ‘Varsity Letters’ posting from last weekend, Hanson reports that Conor Morgan has an ankle injury, but is expected to be ‘shooting by the end of the week.’  Guard Phil Jalalpoor is also getting treatment for an ankle injury. UBC has a bye as a top 4 team this week, and will be at home vs the winner of the Manitoba – Regina series Feb . 23-25.

 

 

Vikes Sweep Over Winnipeg Gets Them In

 

 

 

 

Grant Sitton’s shooting propels Vikes to a sweep over Winnipeg. photo- Vikes Athletics

at Victoria 79  Winnipeg 78 –  A massive win for the Vikes, who avoid a tiebreaker scenario for the final spot.  They look to be 11th, with their 9-11 record, while Winnipeg are either 7th or 8th, awaiting the Bears-Horns Sunday game. Grant Sitton, on his Senior Night, lights it up for 27 points/ 12 rebounds for Victoria, and his 5 points in the final 30 seconds snatches victory for the home side, who trailed by 4.  Sean Tarver led the Ws with 23 points, while Narcisse Ambanza added 19, and Denzel Lynch-Blair 18.   Box Score    

at #7  Alberta  97  Lethbridge 86 –  The 2 Alberta rivals warmed up cautiously in the opening 10 minutes , then hit the ‘Go button’ with the Bears winning the last 3 stanzas by an 81-75 count. Geoff Pippus is hot for Alberta, with 24 points and 5/8 from deep, to go with 5 rebs/ 4 steals. Mamadou Gueye tallied 19 pts/ 7 rebs, as Alberta (14-5) is 1 win away from claiming the top seed for playoffs. Lethbridge (12-7) shoots it well, but hits 3 fewer treys, and 14/20 from the line vs 26/29 for the home side. Dejon Burdeaux has a big scoring night for the Pronghorns, with 35 points/ 5 rebs/ 3 steals .  UL are looking like 6th place finishers on the play-off seeding, regardless of their  result tomorrow against U of A.   Box Score          2nd game, Sun at 7 pm

at Manitoba  71  Mt Royal  68  –  In the 2nd close win in a  Bisons sweep, the home team hits 10 treys on 18 tries, and snares 46 rebounds vs 35 for the Cougars.  Down by 9 at the half, MRU won the 2nd, but couldn’t quite catch Manitoba.  Mt. Royal falls just short of a play-off spot, with their 8-12 record tying them for 12th with Thompson Rivers.  On the 2nd tie-breaker (since the 2 teams did not play each other), TRU come out on top with a split vs Manitoba back in November ; they were equal in results with other common opponents.  Justus Alleyn leads Manitoba with 20 pts/ 8 rebs, while MRU have 4 in double figures with both Josh Ross (15 pts/ 10 rebs) and Brett Layton (15 pts/ 12 boards) with a double-double again tonight.    Box Score  

at Regina 79  Thompson Rivers 74 –  Closer tonight for the Wolf Pack, but Regina (9-11) comes from behind in the 4th quarter to nab the sweep, and claim a play-off spot.  TRU (8-12) are in as well, but go back to B.C. after their 4th straight loss. Brian Ofori pours in 22 for the Cougars, and grabs 8 boards;  rookie guard, Johneil Johnson has 17 and 7 rebs.  Volodymyr Iegorov scores 16 for the ‘Pack, and adds 12 rebounds.   Box Score  

Calgary’s Dallas Karch enjoys a strong game on his Senior Night.  photo- UVic Athletics

at #6 Calgary 95  MacEwan 87  – It’s another free-wheeling affair, as the Griffs work hard trying, in vain, to nab a post-season berth, as the 2nd half, in particular, was played at high speed. Thomas Cooper posted 32 points for Calgary, and had 10 rebounds on a very successful Senior Night. Jhony Verrone was solid again for the Dinos, scoring 20 pts/ 8 rebs.  Thadius Gálvez was his elusive best for GMU, hitting 30 pts, and had 6 boards, while Denzel James  totalled 19 pts/ 8 rebs/ 3 assts.  The Dinos can finish 1st or 2nd in the play-off seeding, depending on the result of Sunday’s Alberta-Lethbridge game.  Box Score 

#9 Saskatchewan 77  at UNBC 57  –  The Huskies leave no doubt at the half, with a 37-16 spread, and their defense stifling the Timberwolves’ attack. U of S look set in either 2nd or 3rd seed for the play-offs.  Saskatchewan hits 53% from the floor, with Trevor Severinski the top man with 20 points on 6/10 from 3 point range.  Sam Zhang, in his final game for the ‘Wolves, is their leading scorer with 18 points/ 5 rebs.  Box Score  

#2 UBC 104  at  Trinity Western 72 –  Even without an injured Conor Morgan in the

UBC’s Conor Morgan sits out with a leg injury. photo- UBC Athletics

line-up tonight, the Thunderbirds (19-1) are too much for the Spartans (3-17) in the final game of the  regular season. 5 ‘Birds in double figures, with Jordan Jensen-Whyte cashing 23 pts / 8 rebs/ 4 assists, and Isaiah Familia adding 20 points/ 11 rebounds. TWU have Pogos Trunyan with 21 points on 5/11 from outside, but the next highest was Tea Mayberry’s 10 points.  UBC finishes 4th in the final Ratings Percentage Index, based on strength of schedule.  Box Score  

Fraser Valley 85 at UBC-O  78 –  Tied after 3/4s, the Cascades win the 4th quarter and the game by 7 points, with 5th year guard, Vijay Dhillon, hitting clutch shots down the stretch. With the team shooting 54% from the floor, Andrew Morris led UFV with  14 points, with Dhillon and Manny Dulay both scoring 10.  Fraser Valley finish 11-9, and are bound for 10th place in the RPI table.  UBC-O finish their season at 2-18, as Aldrich Berrios leads all scorers with 24 points.   Box Score   

 ___________________________________________________________________________

 

In the East on Saturday  – 

Atlantic – at UNB 99 St. FX 86, at St. Marys 93 Acadia 90, at Memorial  106 UPEI 92

Quebec – Laval 70 at Bishops 68,  Concordia 63 at UQAM 52

Ontario –  #1 Carleton 114 at York 50,  Western Ont 88 at Laurier 65,  at Waterloo 84  Windsor 69, at Guelph 74  Lakehead  62,  #3 Ottawa  72 at  Queens50  , at McMaster 76 Algoma  61

_________________________________________________________________________

Canada West  play-off grid – Sunday

Buenos Noches !

 

 

 

 

Final Weekend Features Scramble for Play-offs

 

 

Final games bring so many permutations and combinations ….

Brandon Tull and the Cougars are at home to TRU.       photo – UR Athletics

Thompson Rivers (8-10) at Regina (7-11)-  This series has implications not only for the 2 teams, but throughout the CW standings.  We have to see Regina as the favourites, being at home, or do we?  The baffling Green Cougars are 3-5 on home court, and 4-6  on the road?  The Wolves are 4-4 on the road this year, and have won 6 of the last 8 meetings with Regina.  TRU are the younger team, but have Volodymyr Iegorov, a tough match-up inside.  It’s a toss-up, with both teams scratching for a play-off berth.   Fri /Sat  at 8 pm

Winnipeg (12-6) at Victoria (7-11) –  Another series where the results will affect all teams in the RPI ratings.  The Vikes would kill for a sweep, and a guarantee of getting into the post -season.  UVic is not keen on missing 2 years in a row. The Ws have won 6 of 8 in the season’s 2nd half, and want to assure a home court for round 1 of play-offs.   These teams are 7-7 over their last 6 seasons’ meetings;  we think a split may be the most likely scenario.   Fri  8 pm / Sat 7 pm

Mt Royal (8-10) at Manitoba (10-8)   –  Both these teams are coming off losses, and we’re not sure how they will respond to these games.  The Bisons are going to be 5th, so there’s no pressure there, but they will want to sharpen -up prior to play-offs.  The Cougs may find themselves in a math tie-breaker for a play-off spot if they can’t get that 9th win.     Fri 8 pm , Sat 6 pm

David Kapinga is having an impressive campaign for the Dinos.         photo – David Moll – UC

MacEwan (7-11) at #6 Calgary (14-4) –  “They’re pretty good!”  So says Dinos Coach Dan Vanhooren as he reviews MacEwan game tape.  “Their post guys are tough, and work hard.  (Thadius) Galvez and (Denzel) James can play.”  Yes, the Griffs are under-appreciated by some, but will not go down without a fight.  Calgary are without Lars Schleuter, who is nursing a ‘lower-body injury’.  Closer than we might expect.  Intriguing match-up –  Adonis Montfort – Palomino (former Dino) returns to his home-town  vs the Dinos super-quick point , David Kapinga.   Fri  8 pm/ Sat  7 pm

Matt Forbes, U of S ‘big dude’         Photo – GetMyPhoto.ca

#9 Saskatchewan (12-6) at UNBC (4-14) –  This does not look like a good match-up for the smaller T’Wolves, as the Huskies bring the ‘big meanies’, Shane Osayande and Matt Forbes.  U of S has a shot at the #1 seed (slim as it might be), so they will have that incentive.  Vaggelis Loukas needs help inside, while Rhys Elliott and Marcus MacKay shoot lights out.  Still a tall order for UNBC.   Fri 8 pm / Sat  / 7 pm

#2 UBC  (17-1) at  Trinity Western (3-15) –  The Thunderbirds are, make no mistake, peeved that they will not be the #1 play-off seed.  So they can be expected to be in a surly mood as they travel to Langley to finish their League slate.  TWU won their last, and are playing better, but this should not be close.   Fri and Sat  at 7 pm

Fraser Valley (9-9) at UBC-O (2-16) –  The big question might be, “How do we get to Kelowna, with all the deep snow on the Coquihalla Highway?”  Assuming the Cascades can ‘plow their way through’, they will be excited for a chance to  get to 11 wins, and to host a play-off series the following week.  Their senior guards, Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon will give the Heat’s 3rd year points leader , Aldrich Berrios, and rookies Triston Matthews and Matt Lafontaine  all they can handle.    Fri  8 pm / Sat at 7 pm

Saturday/ Sunday , Feb. 11/12

Andre Kelly’s return should help Alberta vs Lethbridge  Photo – UA Athletics

Lethbridge (12-6) at   #7  Alberta (13-5)   –  The Bears are the ‘odds-on’ to finish as the top seed for play-offs wither tough schedule giving them a boost in the RPI.  This holds true, if they sweep, for sure, or maybe even if they allow Lethbridge a split? ( There are other possibilities, but let’s just wait.)  The Bears look to have an edge at home, and they’re playing better with Andre Kelly back in the line-up.  The ‘Horns will need a 3rd,4th, 5th guy to assist Dejon Burdeaux and Elliott Sentance, if they are to get a win.   Weird game times, with a volleyball conflict.        Sat at 4 pm / Sun at 7 pm

Brandon Bobcats are 9-11, in the play-offs,  and lounging contentedly in their ‘dorm rooms’ this weekend

 ___________________________________________________________________________

In the East –

Tues –  #10  Dalhousie  77 at  St FX  65

Upcoming –  In the OUA – Waterloo at Western Ont,  Laurier at Windsor

Quebec – UQAM  at  #8 McGill

___________________________________________________________________________

There are no changes this week, as Ottawa lost to Carleton (doesn’t everybody?), and the Bears and Huskies split.

On the basis of the Top 10, it looks like the OUA has the lead in the ‘At Large Berth’ competition. The U-Sports Final 8 in Halifax March 9-12 will have 2 Atlantic teams, 2 OUA teams, 2 Canada West teams, and 1 Quebec team . An ‘At-large team’ (Wild-card)  will be chosen by a committee of U-Sports coaches. There are many more criteria besides this Top 10  (More later).

 

____________________________________________________________________________

Overtime –

  • We think Saskatchewan will be cheering for a split between Alberta-Lethbridge, then Regina -Thompson Rivers, and, finally, a Winnipeg sweep at Victoria.  Then, according to ‘Dr. Timmerman’s Magic Calculator’, the Sled Dogs are CW #1 play-off seed !    (But, those are a whole lot of dominoes magically falling in the appropriate direction!)  Probably Alberta #1.
  • What looks more predictable is some kind of tie for the last play-off spot … involving some of, two of, several of  UVic, Mt Royal, Regina, TRU, or MacEwan.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Huskies Grind Out a Split With the Bears

 

Alberta makes it close, but the Huskies grind-out a big win

at # 9 Saskatchewan  68  # 7  Alberta  65 –   Facing a 43-28 half-time deficit, Alberta charged back to tie it, then lead it several times in the 4th quarter.  Saskatchewan (12-6) finally wins it on free throws in the last seconds, and get a crucial split.  Defense over-shadows offense in this one, as both squads settle for 39% FG shooting. Shayne Osayande has another notable outing for the Huskies with 23 pts/ 11 rebounds , while Seniors, Matt Forbes (14 pts/ 7 rebs) and Trevor Severinski (12 pts/ 5 boards) are also difference-makers.  Alberta are now 13-5, as they get 19 pts/ 6 rebs from Brody Clarke, and both Austin Waddoups  and Mamadou Gueye scoring 17 each.   Box Score    

at Brandon  92  Manitoba  77  –   This is a banner weekend for the Bobcats , as they clip their provincial rivals, Manitoba, twice, and on Saturday they fashion as good a game as they’ve had all season. The ‘Cats out-shoot (44%-38%), out-rebound (58-40) the Bisons, while beating UM to the ball on most chances.  Earl Thompson Jr racks up 27 points/ 12 rebounds to lead the way, and Tyvon Cooper is good for 22 points, including 12/12 from the line. BU’s 6-11 post man, John Paul, is a force, with 18 points/ 15 boards and 4 blocks. Manitoba have Justus Alleyn with 26 points/ 6 rebs, but they never real threaten as the Bobcats build on their lead in the 4th quarter.   Box Score  

at  Winnipeg 87 Regina  81 –    Replicating their late surge for a Friday win, the Wesmen

come-from-behind for the sweep with a 26-19 4th quarter.  The senior guard, Jamar Farley goes 6/10 from deep, and leads Winnipeg scorers with 22.  Sean Tarver has a strong finish and tallies 20 points, as the Ws move up to 12-6, and in good shape to claim a home play-off start. Regina (7-11) may be on the outside after these 2 losses, as the Cougars just could not finish either game. They get 18 points each from Alex Igual (5 asst/ 5 steals)  and Johneil Johnson (9 rebs)  Box Score

Calgary 76 at Thompson Rivers 60 –   The Dinos have control of this one with a dominating 24-10 spread in the 3rd quarter.  Despite an unusually cold weekend for 3 point range, UC gets a valuable sweep, and move  up to 14-4.  Thomas Cooper has 19 pts/ 8 rebs to lead the way, with David Kapinga tacking on 17 points/ 5 rebs/ 6 assists/ 5 steals. Buzz-saw.  Calgary is aided by an aggressive defense, forcing 24 TRU turnovers to only 11 for the Dinos.  Volodymyr Iegorov notches 16 pts/ 8 boards in his final home game for the Orange, while rookie Trent Monkman pours in several late hoops to post 15 pts.  The Wolf-Pack are now 8-10, and still having to scrap for a post-season next weekend.  Box Score 

 

at  MacEwan  93  UBC-Okanagan  64 –    A decisive win for MacEwan on their Senior Night, as they  improve to  7-11, with a chance of a play-off berth still alive.  51 points in the 2nd half presses the issue, as GMU shoots 52% from the floor, getting 25 points/ 8 rebs from Thadius Galvez.  5th year wing, Denzel James, adds 22 pts/ 4 rebs/ 3 blks, and Keith Gerdes has 18 pts.   UBC-O (2-16) are led by Aldrich Berrios’ 21 points, and 19 pts/ 8 boards by rookie Triston MatthewsBox Score

Trinity Western  71 at  Mt. Royal  54   –  It’s 48-18 TWU in the final 20 minutes, as the visitors grab a satisfying split after a dispiriting loss Friday.  The Cougars, overall, seemed listless in this one, with 28 turnovers providing Trinity all the extra chances they needed. Max Vitala, scores 21 points/ 5 rebs/ 5 steals, while the Spartans also get 17 points and 10 big rebounds from Patrick Vandervelden Pogos Trunyan looks steady at the point for TWU, and ge records 16 pts/ 5 rebs/5 steals, and his team gets to 3-15 in the standings.  MRU (8-10) shoot just 37%, with Josh Ross grabbing 16 rebounds to go with 8 points, and the 2 graduating players, Derek Wolf and Brett Layton (9 boards)  hit 11 and 10 points respectively.   Box Score  

logo UFV

at Fraser Valley  89  Victoria  79 –   A sweep for the Cascades, raising their play-off chances , at 9-9, and dimming UVic’s with their drop to 7-11.  UFV ring up 8 points in the final 20 minutes to pull away, as 5 Cascades go for double digits on the score-sheet. Denver Sparks-Guest has a good outing off the bench, with 19 pts/ 6 rebs, while 5th year guard, Vijay Dhillon, scores 17/ 6 rebs/ 4 assts, and Nav Bains records an 11 point/ 11 rebound double. The Vikes’ Justin Kinnear stands out with a 24 point/ 5 rebound game, and rookie Scott Kellum hits 17 pts/ 4 assts.  Box Score   

 at   UBC  109  UNBC  61   –   It may have been a slow start for the Thunderbirds, but they got rolling to the tune of 72 points in the 2nd half !  UBC are now 17-1 heading into the final week of League play, while the T’ Wolves fall to 4-14. Jordan Jensen-Whyte scores 24/ 5 rebs for the ‘Birds, and Conor Morgan tosses in 20 pts/ 6 boards, as the whole line-up is utilized in this blow-out.  Rhys Elliott has a good one for UNBC with 23 points, and Vaggelis Loukas adds 16 pts/ 9 rebounds.  Box Score   

___________________________________________________________________________

Scores from the East –

Atlantic –  at #10 Dalhousie 91 Memorial  69, UNB 107 at UPEI  92 , at Acadia 114 Cape Breton 99

Quebec – # 8 McGill 87 at Bishops 59 , Concordia 57 at Laval  55

In the OUA …  at # 4 Brock 71 W. Laurier 58, Waterloo 83 at McMaster 62 , at Lakehead 68  Nipissing  57,  Western 86 at Algoma 75,  at Laurentian 79 Guelph 50 , at Toronto  85 Queens  77

 _________________________________________________________________________

 

Overtime –

  • Why didn’t Manny Dulay and Nav Bains of UFV start vs UVic  in Friday’s big game?  Here’s the story from Dan Kinvig, Fraser Valley Communications Coordinator, ‘ With the Lower Mainland of B.C. buffeted by a rare snowstorm  … Dulay and teammate Nav Bains, traveling from their hometown of Surrey to UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre, were stuck  … and the clock ticked ever-closer to game time. We’ll let Dulay pick up the story from here.’  “We were in the left lane (headed eastbound), and the right lane opened up,” he began. “As we switched, Nav’s car started swerving and we actually did a 360 (degree spin) in both lanes. We ended up in the left lane, but now we’re facing these cars (going in the same direction). Luckily, no one was coming right behind us, and everyone went around us. We didn’t end up in the ditch, and no car hit us.  We didn’t want to tell anyone (when we got to the gym), but we actually almost died.”
  • Jamar Farlay, Winnipeg’s 5th year guard, knows how to celebrate Senior Night, as he buries 6 treys for the Wesmen, and breaks away for a buzzer-beating flush to finish the 3rd quarter.  His efforts pace the W’s to a sweep, and well on the way to a good play-off seed.  And how about the final home appearance for Brandon’s Earl Thompson Jr, who goes for 27 points/ 12 rebounds  in the ‘Cats 2nd consecutive win over Manitoba.
  • Not sure why it would be a violation for several players to leap up off the bench and cheer the efforts of teammates on the floor.  Enthusiasm, joy, congratulations.  If it’s not ‘excessive’ , why create an unnecessary rule conflict ?
  • Fitting congratulations from Trinity Western Coach, Aaron Muhic, for his troops after their fine effort in a win at Mt. Royal, “It was a good win for our guys tonight,” said  .. Muhic. “I’m very proud of our toughness and willingness to compete. We finally had a game where we put the little things together and we attacked for most of the game. It was a great overall team effort.”  (From TWU’s Mark Janzen). 

 

 

The 2 Hottest Teams in Canada West

 

 

 

Thunderbirds and Bisons both on a roll in League play 

5th year defensive stopper, Will Ondrik and his T’Birds teammates move to 15-1 on the season.   photo – Richard Lam  ,  UBC Athletics

The 2 hottest teams in Canada West continued to reel off the wins this past weekend. The UBC Thunderbirds, as expected, swept their 2 game set with the Brandon Bobcats in Vancouver, and the ‘Birds are now 7 wins in a row, 2nd only to the Manitoba Bisons in winning streaks, with the Herd up to 8.  Manitoba got a scare on Friday at home against the UNBC T’Wolves , but pulled it out, and won more easily on Saturday.

But, in this ‘Year of the RPI Monster’, both teams lost ground in the ‘order of finish’ race.  Last week the T’Birds stood at .6559 , but dropped .109, still in the top spot for the moment.  The Herd, after their 2 wins, fell 149 points from last week’s .5842.  (I guess you just play your best, and let the chips fall …. ).  UBC looks to be destined for the 3rd or 4th play-off seed, even at 19-1, while Manitoba are likely 5th in the RPI ordered seeding list.

Both these teams will be ‘tough outs’ in the post-season , and may be good picks for the Final Four.  Our best guess for the hosts may be either the Alberta Golden Bears or the Saskatchewan Huskies, who seem to rise to the top spot as we try various guesses for the results of remaining League games.  The Dogs and GBs meet in saskatoon this coming weekend to decide the issue.

Who else is going well?  The Lethbridge Pronghorns have won 4 straight, and locked up a play-off spot, and have a bye week to marshal their forces before their final week’s appointment vs the Bears in Edmonton.

 

15 League All-Stars will be tough to decide

Shane Osayande, Huskies          photo – Huskies Athletics

Coaches across Canada West are nominating top players for all-star consideration at season’s end.  They have 15 players to select, and we thought we’d look at an expanded number of possible candidates.

Keith Omoerah, Justus Alleyn of Manitoba  … Denzel Lynch-Blair- Winnipeg … Earl Thompson Jr – Brandon … Brandon Tull – Regina … Shane Osayande, Matt Forbes – Saskatchewan … Dejon Burdeaux, Elliott Sentance – Lethbridge … Brett Layton, Josh Ross – Mt. Royal  …  Thomas Cooper, David Kapinga – Calgary … Brody Clarke, Austin Waddoups, Mamadou Gueye, Alberta … Thadius Galvez – MacEwan … Rhys Elliott – UNBC … Volodymyr Iegorov – Thompson Rivers …  Aldrich Berrios – UBC-Okanagan … Patrick Vandervelden – Trinity Western … Manny Dulay – Fraser Valley … Conor Morgan , Jordan Jensen-Whyte – UBC … Grant Sitton – Victoria

So, there are 25 of the best.  We know we could form a play-off team with 10 who we left off this list, but this is a pretty good crop from which to select.

Top 10 Rookies –

Scott Kellum, UVic import guard

Narcisse Ambanza – Wesmen,   James Wagner – Bisons,  Johneil Johnson –  Reg. Cougars,  Max Eisle – Dinos, Scott Kellum –  Vikes,  Brett Warren  – Pronghorns, Craig Martin- MRU Cougars, Trent Monkman – Wolf Pack, Isaiah Familia – T’Birds, Matt Lafontaine – Heat

_____________________________________________________________________________

92 Years of Refereeing Experience

Richard Schear (L) and Art Unsworth (R) team up at a recent high school tourney .

Richard Schear, who lives in Redcliff, AB, began officiating basketball (and, eventually, football) after he had completed his Education degree at University. The 72 year old has been active as a ref now for 48 years, while his taller, much younger side-kick, the irrepressible Art Unsworth, has been a ‘zebra’ for 44 years.  Schear explains why he enjoys officiating …  First, the camaraderie  with the other officials.  Second, it forces him to keep in good physical shape.  Third, being a referee in high school sports, gives Richard a chance to  interact with the youth of today.  “By and large those young people who play high school sports are great kids, they will be the leaders of tomorrow,” says Schear.  Unsworth, a farmer-rancher near Maple Creek, SK, has 2 sons,  Clint (6-10) and Chris (6-8) who both graduated from U. Saskatchewan, having won a Canada West and CIS Championship with the Huskies in 2010.

As well as cheering his boys through high school (Medicine Hat, AB)  and university ball, Art, has been a mentor for many young refs in the latter part of his career. We congratulate these two fine gentlemen on their amazing contribution to the game over the years.

Overtime –  

Coach Steve Burrows         photo –  Regina Leader-Post

  • Regina Cougars head coach Steve Burrows on his team’s effort in topping the Calgary Dinos on Saturday,  “I wish I could say it was something I said or did, but these guys stuck together and they kept on working at it and kept on going,” Burrows said. “A couple of things went our way and we made some shots. It was just that whole thing of believing and trying to stick with what we were doing.”  From a Regina Leader-Post article by Rob Vanstone 
  • Huskies Coach, Barry Rawlyk, celebrated his 100th and 101st Canada West conference wins as head  man for the U of S  team with a two-game sweep at home over the Mount Royal  Cougars. Rawlyk spent the majority of his long coaching career as a high school coach, before taking over at U. Saskatchewan in 2010.  The leading active coach, in his 17th year at UBC is Kevin Hanson with 270 wins in Canada West play.  2nd is Calgary’s Dan Vanhooren, who, over the same 17 years has 201.  3rd – UVic’s Craig Beaucamp with 191 in 13 seasons. 4th – TRU’s Scott Clark, in his 17th year has 179. 5th – Barnaby Craddock of Alberta has 153 in his 12 years at 3 different schools.
  • Derek Wolf plays his final home game at MRU on Saturday.         photo – MRU Athletics

     This , of course, is the time of year for ‘Senior Nights’, as senior players finish their eligibility, and most also finish a degree. The  MRU Cougars graduating players, Brett Layton and Derek Wolf, will be honoured on Saturday night between the 4 pm Women’s game and the 6 pm Men’s contest.  TRU’s big man, Volodymyr Iegorov, plays his last home game this Saturday for the Wolf Pack, and 6 other schools will recognize the accomplishments of their senior grads this weekend.  UFV –  Manny Dulay, and Vijay Dhillon, Winnipeg – Jamar Farley, Brandon – Earl Thompson Jr, Chris Stanhope, Denham Buchanan, and Esmat Atem, MacEwan-  Denzel James, Keith Gerdes, and Thomas Jereniuk,   Saskatchewan – Matt Forbes, and Trevor Severinski,  UBC – Jordan Jensen-Whyte, and Will Ondrik.

 

‘Upon Further Review’ … Not UBC

 

UBC, ‘upon further review’ of the baffling RPI rankings, is not #1 in Canada West

As a legendary Canada West coach used to say, “Assumption is the mother of all ****-ups!”   This is certainly the case with our careless deduction regarding final play-off seedings for Canada West.  Trusting (gullible) souls that we are, we reason that a 19-1 record will give a team a better spot than a 16-4.  Well, not so fast!

In the mysterious world of the RPI, we wrongly assumed that ‘things would eventually ‘balance out’ over the season.  But no ….  There is, in fact, no logical scenario for wins and losses over the final weeks where UBC can finish at #1.  Using the brilliant Canada West Playoff  what-if planning tool , as devised by the incredible Dr. Martin Timmerman as part of his amazing  U-Sports Hoops web-site, we can plot these possibilities.  Go to the site.  Follow the link.  Feed in your game by game predictions, then hit the ‘Press this button to see the overall ….” , and Shazzam !  You get the final RPI ratings using your guesses.

Are the T-Birds on top of the RPI stats, even when they win-out, and have a clear best of 19-1?   No.    Redo it, with some other results;  maybe someone will sweep, or another pair will split.  Do it many times over (using common sense picks, however).  UBC is not #1 in any case we’ve tried.   UBC Coach Kevin Hanson doesn’t want to focus on this, as he says, ” … there are 3 weekends left to play. We all knew the RPI rule was being used with the intent to help balance an unbalanced schedule.  I will reserve to comment until the rest of the league games are completed.”   The #2 ranked team in U-Sports Canada rankings will not, it appears now, have the inside track at hosting the Canada West Final 4.

We have to move on, and talk about the week’s schedule.  If you want to look ahead to play-off probabilities, you can use the ‘Shazam ‘  planning tool at U-Sportshoops.

________________________________________________________________________

The Ravens knocked their Ottawa cousins down a notch, and UBC are back at #2.  Ryerson are unbeaten in OUA action, and will be pointing to their game at McMaster, then on to Brock later in the week. Calgary goes on the road to Regina, and will be ‘circling the wagons’ to try and maintain their clean slate of away wins. A move by the Saskatchewan Huskies into the #9 spot, as they are tougher as the season progresses.  Neither McGill nor Dalhousie demonstrate total confidence in their Quebec and Atlantic races.  Threats to their position from Concordia, Laval in the RSEQ and UNB, Saint Marys, St. FX in the AUS.These are both play-off questions.

________________________________________________________________________

Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-28

UNBC   at Manitoba –  The Timberwolves are clearly the underdogs against the surging Bisons.  UNBC will be scratching to add scoring, and to slow down Justus Alleyn, AJ Basi, Keith Omoerah and the rest of the Herd.   8 pm Central on Fri, the 6 pm Sat.

 

#5 Calgary  at  Regina  –  The Dinos, with their more vigorous and ‘all-in’ defensive effort should frustrate the sputtering Cougars. Calgary will be looking for efficient offense, and more cohesion from their 12 man rotation. Regina is at home, and need a win to help with playoff hopes.  8 pm Central both games.

Josh Ross and the Cougars face a tough task at U of S.

Mount Royal   at  #9 Saskatchewan –  Nobody said it would be easy, and MRU, after 2 losses to UBC, are now at Saskatchewan, the only team to have a win over the Thunderbirds.  Tough indeed.  Brett Layton and Josh Ross will have their hands full with Shane Osayande and Matt Forbes.      8 pm Central for both.

Winnipeg  at MacEwan  –  Is Winnipeg for real?  They are ‘under the radar’, even at 9-5.  Some say ‘easy schedule’, but the Wesmen face road games against an experienced and under-rated Mac crew. Not a runaway here for Ryan Oirbans, Sean Tarver against  Adonis Monfort- Palomino, Keith Gerdes and company.    8 pm Mountain on  Fri, 7 pm Sat

UBC-Okanagan  at  Lethbridge  –  The Pronghorns are motivated by play-off possibilities, while the Heat have to be content to play ‘spoiler’ here.  Dejon Burdeaux and Elliott Sentance vs Aldrich Berrios and Mitch Goodwin  is an interesting match-up.      Games are Friday at 8 pm Mountain, and Sat at 7 pm .

5th year forward, Volodymyr Iegorov , TRU ace

Thompson Rivers at Fraser Valley –  This is the ‘Feature Series of the Week’, and one with so many possibilities.  Old foes dating back to College League days, these two schools have both had success in Canada West .  UFV’s guard play (Manny Dulay, Vijay Dhillon)  make them slim home favourites.  But can the Cascades handle rebounder/scorers Volodymyr Iegorov and Michael Rouault off the Wolf Pack?   Fri – 8 pm and Sat – 7pm Pacific

Brandon   at    #2  UBC  –  Just when the Bobcats were building some momentum, they fly to the Coast for a most demanding test against the League -leaders.  UBC’s Conor Morgan vs Brandon’s Earl Thompson Jr.  Tyvon Cooper for the ‘Cats and Jordan jensen-Whyte of the ‘Birds.  Too much firepower from the Thunderbirds, you would think.     These games are 7 pm Pacific both Friday / Saturday

Trinity Western  at Victoria –  Two ‘must-haves’ for the Vikes.  Grant Sitton welcomes more help;  he has Scott Kellum, Justin Kinnear, now who else will step up?  TWU have a new spirit in their ‘team under construction’.  If their guards can compete, their big men can give UVic some trouble.     Friday at 8 pm Pacific, and Saturday at 7 pm.

Alberta gets the bye this week.

_________________________________________________________________________

 

Overtime –        

  • Canada West corrected their RPI calculations (which, admittedly, can be very tricky), and the Manitoba Bisons are at .5872, the 5th highest in the League.  That makes more sense, since they won 2 games.  Teams can drop, if they play a lower-ranking opponent, as the Herd did with TWU.  The Manitoba drop first reported as .4964, however, seemed far too great. MRU was also corrected to .4964 (not .4704 as originally posted).
  •  If teams are tied for the final playoff spot, the tie breakers will be – 1. Results between the 2 teams  2.  Record vs common opponents 3. RPI rating Once the 12 teams for play-offs have been decided, they will be seeded 1-12 by their RPI ranking.
  • UFV Coach Adam Friesen with his thoughts about TRU this week.  ““We know they’re going to be hard-nosed, they’re going to be tough inside, and they’re going to be throwing a bunch of different defences at us to try to throw us off,” UFV bench boss Adam Friesen said. “Volodymyr Iegorov is one of the best players in our league, if not the country, so we’ve got our hands full with him.”   From Adam Kinvig  , Fraser Valley Athletics
  • From the OUA tonight – #4  Ryerson 99 at McMaster 77

 

 

T-Birds and Dinos Pulling Away

 

Top two teams pulling away from the field with wins in Calgary

Dinos Thomas Cooper with a 3 -way gem in a winning effort over Saskatchewan                                   photo – David Moll – UC Athletics

at  Calgary Dinos 82   Saskatchewan Huskies  69  –  In a fairly scrappy game, the teams went to the line a total of 56 times, and there were ice packs and bandages on the bench and after the tussle.  The Dinos defense limited Saskatchewan to just 37% from the floor vs 47 % for UC.  Thomas Cooper played an inspired game for Calgary, with his 23 points/ 14 rebounds/ 7 assists, as he lays it all out at crunch time.  Shane Osayande was top man for the Huskies with 23 pts/  7 rebs, while Matt Forbes fought hard for his 18 pts/ 7 boards.  Calgary climbs to 11-2, while the Dogs drop to 8-5.   Box Score     The  2nd game is 7 pm Saturday

 UBC Thunderbirds  81  at  Mt. Royal Cougars 60  –  Up by 9 at the break, the T-Birds padded their lead by another 13 with a dominating 3rd quarter. UBC (12-1) shoots 49% to only 31% for the over-matched Cougars. Conor Morgan leads the ‘Birds with 24 points/ 7 rebs, and the rest of the team in in single digits. Brett Layton shines for the Cougars (7-6) with a double of 19 pts/ 10 boards, and Derek Wolf adds 13 points.  Box Score   It’s an early 6 pm tip on  for the Saturday contest.

logo UFVFraser Valley  73   Alberta Golden Bears 71 –  In the night’s only big upset, it’s he UFV version of the ‘Splash Bros.” , Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon with 9 treys between them, including Dhillon’s ‘dagger’ 3 with 45 seconds left. Dulay scores 20, and Dhillon cashes 14 as the Cascades gut out a road win to advance to 6-7.  The Bears (11-4) shoot just 35% from the floor, one of their coldest games of the year, and they are in it late through their 16/22 from the foul line vs 5/6 for the visitors. Mamadou Gueye is the U of A leader with 24 points/ 7 rebounds, while Brody Clarke hits 18 pts/ 9 rebounds/ 4 assists.  Box Score     It’s 7 pm Sat. for game 2

Lethbridge Pronghorns  76  at   Victoria Vikes 58 –  Two hot quarters do the trick for

Elliott Sentance enjoys 6th man success in ‘Horns win at UVic         photo – UL Athletics

the visiting Pronghorns, as they go a combined 47-27 in the 1st and 3rd.  The Vikes are as cold as they can be at 24% from the floor, while Lethbridge manages 43% , including 9/18 from 3 point range. Elliott Sentance plays the 6th man role to  perfection for the ‘Horns, with 22 points in 18 minutes off the bench, going 4/5 from deep.  Zac Overwater scores 15 in a similar role as a sub for the visitors as Coach Mike Hansen rolls his whole line-up at UVic.   Grant Sitton’s 18 points and 12  rebounds pace the Vikes, and Scott Kellum scores 15, including 4/5 from 3 point territory.  Box Score    7 pm Saturday

at Brandon Bobcats 95 Regina Cougars 91  –  This was a very well played game by both teams, and a couple of extra finishes off turnovers salted it away for the ‘Cats. Brandon (6-9)  scores 55 in a wild 2nd half, including the winning 5 points straight in the final minute.  Regina (6-7)  has several chances to close the gap, but gets nothing to drop at the end.  30 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists for a career effort by the Bobcats Tyvon Cooper, with Chris Stanhope pouring in 26 pts on 10/13 and 5/6 from outside.  Both teams are over 40% from 3 point range. Regina has 5 starters in double digits , led by the 19 with 9 boards by Alex Igual, and a tidy 10 points/ 8 boards from Samuel Hillis.   Box Score    7 pm Saturday for game 2.

Manitoba Bisons 108  at Trinity Western Spartans  76 –   It was 57 – 29 Manitoba at the half, and the teams basically traded hoops for the 2nd half.  The Bisons (7-6) destroy the Trinity defense, shooting 59% from the floor, led by 20 points from Justus Alleyn.  Rookie forward James Wagner scores 18 for the Herd off the bench, and Joey Nitychoruk adds 16.  TWU’s Pogos Trunyan tallied a game high 24 points on 6/8 from beyond the arc.    Box Score             Game 2 is 7 pm Saturday

__________________________________________________________________

In the East – 

AUS – Thurs. –  #9 Dalhousie 101 at Acadia  84 –  The Tigers are the AUS leaders, and they go to Wolfeville and play one of their better offensive games.  Dal plays at home vs  UNB on Saturday.            Friday –  Saint Marys 101 Cape Breton 70

Quebec –  On Thursday –   at Concordia 66   #7 McGill  56 –  Stingers avenge big 96-56 drubbing from the Redmen at McGill back in late November.  ‘The Beehive’ proves to be a friendlier venue as this Quebec League seems less predictable /  more competitive as we get deeper into the schedule.           Fri –  UQAM 70 Bishops 61

OUA – #1  Carleton 90  Guelph  54 , #2 Ottawa  89  Lakehead  60,  #8 Brock 77 Queens  63,  Windsor 89  Algoma 47, Nipissing 69  Laurentian 66, York 71  McMaster 68,

__________________________________________________________________

Overtime – 

  • Canada West Women’s scores … Regina 77 Brandon 40, Mt. Royal 80  UBC 75 !!!  ,  Saskatchewan 62  Calgary 53 , Alberta 63  UFV  51, Trinity W 70 Manitoba 65,  Victoria  84  Lethbridge 59

Foothills City Hosts Two Feature Series’

 

Huskies and Thunderbirds visit the Alberta Foothills 

5th year wing, Dallas Karch of the Dinos              photo – David Moll

The Saskatchewan Huskies (8-4) are on the road for the 2nd straight week, again in Southern Alberta, in a ‘throw-down series’ with the Calgary Dinos (10-2) . Surely with added confidence from 2 wins at Lethbridge last week, the ‘Dogs will be looking to their big forwards and team rebounding for an edge here.  Guards Jaylan Morgan (Toronto) and Lawrence Moore (Chicago) are working well as a pair, and give good back-court leadership and scoring. Forwards,  Shane Osayande  and  Matt Forbes, are both capable of double-doubles in scoring/ rebounding every night.

Shane Osayande is the Huskies scoring-rebounding ace.  photo – U of S

Calgary have the higher scoring rate, and use an 11 + rotation to increase the pace at both ends.  The Dinos defenders have picked the opponent’s pockets the 2nd most in the League, led by guard David Kapinga, a consummate disruptor. Inside, UC has a 3 1/2 man post crew ( Matt Ellis, Mitch Ligertwood, Connor Foreman, and a bit of rookie Jeff Rodehutskors) , who will work at containing the Huskies stars.  2015-16 CW MVP, Thomas Cooper can score inside or out, and he will demand extra attention from U of S defenders.

It may be the depth of Calgary (Lars Schleuter, Jasdeep Gill, Dallas Karch, Jhony Verrone et al …) , or the inside game of Sask.  But, we can also expect foul shooting to play a part as it has done in recent, passionately contested games.  The series can put Calgary firmly at the top of the standings, or it could vault Saskatchewan into championship contention.    Games at UC – 8 pm Friday, 7 pm Saturday

 

The 11-1  UBC Thunderbirds, riding a wave after topping the U of A last week in Vancouver, bring an assured squad to S. Calgary for a 2 game set with the Mt. Royal Cougars.  Conor Morgan,  Jordan Jensen-Whyte, Will Ondrik, and A.J. Holloway lead a deep and experienced crew, who are scoring 88 ppg vs 72 pts for their opposition.   Coach Kevin Hanson has more talent at his disposal, with Patrick Simon, Luka Zaharijevic, and  Harpreet Randhawa ready on the front line.

The Cougars (7-5), who won 2 last week at UNBC,   answer with Josh Ross, Brett Layton, and Nick Tancon at the forward spot, but they will need the perimeter to assist on the boards, where UBC is +5  and MRU at -1 reb/game . The Cougars guards have taken good care of the ball, and the trio of Derek Wolf, Glen Yang, and Ryan Cunningham have been scoring at a more consistent pace.  We might, but won’t, call this an up-set possibility.  UBC is a heavy ‘over-dog’, but  MRU will compete.   Fri at 8 pm and an early 6 pm tip on Sat.

Fraser Valley (5-7) are also returning to Alberta, but this time to Edmonton for 2 against the 11-3 Alberta Golden Bears.  The Bears, smarting from a 2 game lost weekend in Vancouver, will be determined to get things back on course. That means Mamadou Gueye and Brody Clarke firing away up front, and Austin Waddoups playing his ‘whirling Dervish ‘ style on offense.  The Cascades need an exceptional effort both ways, but they do have shooters, in Manny Dulay, and Vijay Dhillon.  The UFV defense will be challenged by Alberta’s long-range snipers.  Bears a favourite, with a chance of a Cascades upset.       Friday at 8 pm Mountain, Sat at 7.

Lethbridge Pronghorns (8-6) fly to the Island, to meet the 5-7 Victoria Vikes on Ken and Kathy Shields Court this Fri/Sat. Two wins could serve to put the ‘Horns back in the top 4 mix, but they lost 2 at home to Saskatchewan last week, and weren’t really near their best on Saturday. The Vikes won 2, and now need to step it up even more against a better opponent in Lethbridge.  It’s Grant Sitton and rookie Scott Kellum leading the Vikes, and Dejon Burdeaux with Elliott Sentance called on to shepherd the Pronghorns.  We’ll suggest a split .   Friday tip at 8 pm / Sat. at 7 pm Pacific

 Regina Cougars (6-6) at Brandon Bobcats (5-9 ) –  One highlight this week will be to listen in again to the unmistakable colour commentary of ‘Cats coaching legend, Jerry Hemmings.  Keep it coming Coach !  Meanwhile, both Coach Steve Burrows (Green Cougars) and Coach Gil Cheung (Bobcats) are losing sleep trying to get their respective sides to ‘put it together for 40 minutes’. Twice.  Good match-ups – BU’s Tyvon Cooper vs Reg’s Aaron McGowan.  The Cougars’ Brian Ofori working full-out to control Brandon’s ‘Big Cat’, Earl Thompson Jr.   Guessing a spirited split, harkening back to the Great Plains rivalry.      Friday at 8 pm Central, and Sat. at 7.

Manitoba Bisons (6-6) at Trinity Western Spartans (2-10) –  A chance for the Herd to thaw-out in the Fraser Valley.  And to duplicate their 2 game sweep of the Spartans at the same venue last February.  All the signs point to Keith Omoerah, Justus Alleyn, A.J. Basi and friends extending their unbeaten string to 9 games (including their Wesmen Classic title).  But they’ve fooled us before. Trinity come off a bye, and may have their Spartans in a row, with bigs Max Vitala and Patrick Vandervelden becoming more convincing.  Guards Pogos Trunyan, and Vartan Tanielian can score; now can Trinity defend well enough to stop a Herd of Bison ?         Fri and Sat. at 7 pm Pacific.

________________________________________________________________________

Scores from the East   –   Carleton  81  at Ottawa 40 –  And, this was the away game.

Carleton’s Connor Wood attacks the hoop at Ottawa. photo Verelie Wutti

A sobering realization for all other U-Sports teams across Canada, as the Ravens pick the bleached bones of the fallen Gee-Gees so meticulously.  UO are 9-1 in OUA action, and ranked #2 by coaches;  and they are allowed to shoot just 21% !?  The utterly commanding Carleton performance spread from shooting to rebounding, and ball-handling to all-out aggression. By half-time, witnesses to the dismantling just wanted to look away.   Two periods where the Ponies tallied single digits on the scoreboard.  The grey-clad victims were shooting a deathly 7% from the floor for much of that ugly opening 20 minutes.  The Blackbirds feed off this kind of physical superiority and mental torture.  Ottawa had no 2nd -chance points, according to their own stats crew.  Smothering team defense is a given, then Connor Wood  shoots, Kaza Kajemi-Keane penetrates, and the duo of Eddie Ekiyor and Ryan Ejim rule the inside for the reigning National Champs.   This is what they do, even to their toughest opponents.  Again this season.  Beware the Raven !    The Official Autopsy  

____________________________________________________________________

 

Overtime – 

  • Are there different rules in the OUA?  Was there as much give and take in post offense-defense, or defending the dribble penetration as it appeared in the Carleton-Ottawa ‘bare-knuckler’ last night?  We don’t see the same accumulation of bruises and finger-prints on opponents’ bodies after a Canada West game where there are just 23 total fouls called.

    MRU’s Ray Goff

  • Our best in his recovery to MRU’s Ray Goff, a 6-7 post man (4th, Okotoks, AB), who suffered a head trauma in a recent practice.  Goff is expected to return, but is undergoing ‘watchful monitoring’ for concussion symptoms.  Already dealing with nagging knee issues, the likeable veteran didn’t need this latest episode.
  • When you have success as Carleton has had, in spades, over the past 17 seasons , you tend to attract talent via recruiting.  Players want to win.  Apparently some want to do that more than they wish to play.  Ravens’ redshirts would look pretty good on the active playing rosters of many teams across the country.  And, how many more stars from other programs might decide to play year 5 at a ‘winning’ program, rather than graduate in the same colours you’ve worn for the previous 4?  (These player decisions are made in other places as well, of course.  We just notice them more at Carleton, Ottawa, and some other traditional powers.

Bears Have Toughest Path to Title

 

 

 Bears path is the rockiest 

photo- brody clarke, Alberta

Brody Clarke and his Alberta team have a very tough schedule in the season’s 2nd half.

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.

logo UFV

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?

_______________________________________________________________________

Overtime –

  • 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 .

 

 

 

Spotlight on UBC and Saskatchewan

 

Thunderbirds will be tested in road series in Saskatoon

 This opening week of play in January is a mammoth one for our projected top 3

Jordan Jensen-Whyte of UBC - photo

Jordan Jensen-Whyte is a veteran floor leader for UBC. photo- Thunderbirds Athletics

teams.  We’ve previewed the Calgary-Alberta match-up, and now we take a look at the T-Birds and Huskies (Friday and Saturday in Saskatoon).  UBC is 8-0, and, if they get 2 wins this weekend, they may be the odds-on favourites to get the coveted #1 seed at year’s end.  They have home court vs Alberta, then they will be heavily favoured in the last 4 series.

 No, you say?  Too early?  Well, the ‘Birds are 9-1 vs the Sled Dogs over the past 5 seasons, and have these factors going for them this week –  UBC have a 30 point average winning margin in 8 games. The ‘Birds are one of the top shooting teams @ 46% from the floor vs the 2nd worst 38.6% of the Huskies.  UBC goes 10 deep in most games, while Saskatchewan have been 7 to 7.5 so far.  The Thunderbirds boast the talents of 6-9 wing, Conor Morgan, who averages 25 ppg and leads Canada West with a 61.5% FG average. They have the battle-hardened Jordan Jensen-Whyte (14 ppg/ 6.5 rebs/ 3.5 asst) who is hitting 50% of his shots.  2nd year guard, Taylor Browne is starting to show his exceptional talent with 46% from 3 point range and 48% overall FGs.

On the other hand, U of S has home court, and they have the indomitable Shane Osayande.  The 6-6 forward averages a double-double of 20 ppg and a League-leading 11.6 rebs.  The Huskies have a dominant rebounding margin to go with the League’s top defensive numbers, thusfar.  Guards, Chan De Ciman, Alex Unruh, and Jaylan Morgan are all scoring in double figures, and are all playing valuable minutes on the perimeter.  We expect UBC to win at least 1 of the 2, but Saskatchewan will be up for this at home series against old rivals.

Victoria at Thompson Rivers –  This is the other series needing deeper scrutiny.  The

photo, Jeff Tubbs, TRU

TRU point man, Jeff Tubbs – photo TRU Athletics

‘Pack (5-5) are riding a 6 game win streak, including 2 vs NAIA schools last week in California.  UVic have lost 8 of 10 since the start of League play, with 2 losses at the Wesmen Classic last week.  The once pre-eminent Vikes defensive squad have given up 84 ppg in League play. Victoria at 2-6 in Canada West, simply put, need to get it back on the rails quickly.

TRU are ‘re-building’ after a dream season in 2015-16.  They do still have the stellar work of 6-7 Volodymyr Iegorov, their 5th year all-star forward, who averages 18.6 ppg/ 9 rebounds/ 4 assists.  Forwards Luke Morris and Joe Davis have been complimenting Iegorov.  Import Derek Rhodes, and locals Mike Rouault and Jeff Tubbs have been contributors on the perimeter.   This is a big opportunity at home for Coach Scott Clark and his Wolves, and a critical ‘must have’ for UVic.  Something has to give.

UNBC at Lethbridge –  The Timberwolves  (4-6) desperately need the services of Vaggelis Loukas, their top forward on the season.  Loukas was nursing an injury last weekend, but his 11 ppg and 8 rebounds can add so much. Rhys Elliott ( 19 ppg/ 54% from the floor) is having another outstanding year at the guard spot, and 4th year Marcus MacKay (13.5 ppg) is becoming a bigger factor every game out.  But, we’re in Lethbridge this week, and the ‘Horns are tough at home.  We see lead guard, Dejon Burdeaux, causing UNBC real headaches, along with big Zac Overwater and shooters Elliott Sentance and Mike Pierzchala.   ‘Horns will be hoping to sweep here, and the T’Wolves will need an exceptional team effort.

Brandon at Mt. Royal –  The Cougars (4-4) have had post man, Brett Layton, on the shelf as he struggles with a ‘wonky’ (medical term) ankle.  Obviously he makes a big difference with his rebounding and scoring.  Josh Ross, Derek Wolf and company will want to get back on track after 3 losses in the Dalhousie tournament last week.  Brandon (3-7) was less than impressive  in 3 losses in the Wesmen Classic.  They have the always tough Earl Thompson Jr., but are so inconsistent as a group.  Cougars will be too much with Layton back in action.

Trinity Western at Winnipeg – The Wesmen were not at their best in their 50th Classic, but Denzel Lynch-Blair, William Sesay, and Ryan Oirbans will have big motivation to make this a 2- win weekend.  TWU are making some progress, but the loss of Tyus Allen at the lead guard spot puts them in a difficult spot.  Winnipeg to sweep.

Regina at UBC-Okanagan –  The Green Cougars are not the most predictable team in Canada West.  They’ve won 5 and lost 3.  Beaten Saskatchewan, MacEwan, and Victoria, but twice they lose by 20 and win by 10?!?  What’s up with that?  UBC-O (1-9) is at home, and they are in great need of a win.  This is looking very much like an ‘upset special’ in Kelowna.

Vijay Dhillon can shoot the deep ball for UFV.

MacEwan at Fraser Valley –  The 3-5 Cascades host the 3-7 Griffins in a match-up where we see very little to choose.  UFV Coach Adam Friesen had his troops down in California for 3 games (3 decisive losses),  but he says, “ … it was great to get the group back on the court and get up and down the floor. We got a lot of people a lot of playing time, and we’re ready to get back into league play.”   Veteran guards are the strength of both teams – Thadius Galvez and Denzel James for Mac,  and Manny Dulay with Vijay Dhillon for the Cascades.  The teams split in Edmonton last seaon, and we foresee the same result this time around.

All these game are broadcast on Canada West TV  

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Overtime – 

photo- Shane Osayande

The U of S Huskies Shane Osayande is the League’s top rebounder.

  • Canada West’s top rebounders – Shane Osayande, Sask – 11.6, Josh Ross, MRU – 10, Brett Layton, MRU- 9.3, Volodymyr Iegorov, TRU- 9, Matt Forbes, Sask – 8.9, Keith Omoerah, Man – 8.6, William Sesay, Wpg – 7.8, Earl Thompson Jr, Bran – 7.6
  • The physical part of refereeing has become so important, with a faster pace of play using a 24 second clock.  Why then, do we not see a concerted effort on the part of the officials associations to move out some of the older officials and move in more young refs?
  • Name the only team in Canada West to be playing without an import player.  It’s not UBC-O , with their Randy Jernidier from Guadaloupe.  It’s not Manitoba, who have Ilarion Bonhomme from Washington, DC (even though he’s been here so long, we should be a ‘naturalized Canadian’.)   No, it’s the Saskatchewan Huskies, who have, in the recent past, had at least 1 key player from South of the border, but are now ‘all-Canadian’.