The # 6 Ranked Vikes are at # 10 Calgary in This Week’s Feature Series
It’s hard to pick a favourite in the Pioneer Division in Canada West as , each week, we get ‘upsets’, hard-fought split series, and unpredictable results. No team has convinced us that they’re clearly number 1. (That’s with apologies to the 12-0 Explorer leaders, the Fraser Valley Cascades – they just don’t have the same level of competition).
Victoria are a 1/2 game behind Calgary going into the weekend, and the Vikes seem to be the team that CIS coaches suspect might come out on top out West when the dust settles in March. Calgary had a strong 1st half of the season, but now face a ‘Murderers Row’ of teams to finish the schedule – UVic, at UBC, 1 at home vs Alberta, then at Saskatchewan. Rugged. The Dinos will get the full treatment from a perennially stingy Vikes defense, and have to respond with an exceptional effort to get results this Friday/Saturday.
We have Canada West games starting Thursday –
Winnipeg Wesmen (6-6) at Brandon Bobcats (1-13) – This is the opener of their home and home series this week, with the 2nd game Saturday in Winnipeg. Fresh off an intense weekend at Victoria, the Ws need to keep their focus against the lowly ‘Cats. These
provincial rivalry games somehow draw out more motivation, and can produce improbable results. Saying that, we note that Winnipeg has won 10 of the last 12 meetings. The Wesmen have Jelane Pryce scoring 17 ppg, and Travis Krahn seems to have found the range recently in this last semester of his 5th year. Brandon shot it well at UBC, but turnovers and a rebounding deficit torpedoed their chances. The Bobcats’ 5th year import guard, Kenonte Ramsay (16 ppg) has been stellar of late.
#6 Victoria Vikes (9-3) at #10 Calgary Dinos (10-3) – Last January the Vikes pummeled the Dinos 92-64, and UVic has won 4 of the last 5 games between these teams. This series may decide top spot in the Division, but the top 4 or 5 teams are so close now, that it may not, either. (Thanks for that vague analysis!) Calgary’s inside defense will be examined by Victoria’s aim of getting the ball to 6-10, Chris McLaughlin (19 ppg, 10 rebs). Matt Letkeman and Phil Barndt’s ability to stay out of foul trouble could be key to the Dinos fortunes here. Marcus Tibbs should be back for the Vikes, and he will help their attack. How will Calgary fare on offense against the Vikes tenacious D ?
#8 Saskatchewan Huskies (8-4) at Manitoba Bisons (9-5) – Is Manitoba a contender this season ? We think so, but they’ll have to prove it against a Saskatchewan team that’s beaten the Herd 10 of the last 11 times out ! The Bisons may have the strength inside to fend off Matt Forbes, Conner Burns and company … Manitoba’s Wyatt Anders is 2nd in CW rebounding at 10.2 rebs/pg, and he gets help from Alfreeman Flowers (6.4 rpg), and Jon Alexander (5.5 rpg). Ben Baker is the ace for Saskatchewan , with his 7.8 rebs from the guard spot. We would bet the games are in the 80s, and we may well get a split.
Alberta Golden Bears (7-6) at Regina Cougars (7-7) – The Bears and Cougars are in the ‘pack of chasers’ in the Division race at this point, and both teams will dream of a sweep to help them move upstairs. Regina has won just 1 of 5 games vs Alberta in 3 seasons, and despite the home court, they go in as ‘under-Cougars’. The Bears, the defending Canada West champs, have the experience (Ken Otieno, Mamadou Gueye, Joel Friesen, Youssef Ouahrig), and a recent tradition of winning, but have been up and down this campaign. The Cougars, with the League’s scoring leader , Jonathan Tull (20.2 ppg), along with younger brother Brandon (15 ppg), and Travis Sylvestre (13 ppg), are a more confident team, and may give U of A all they want, and more.
UBC Thunderbirds (7-5) at Trinity Western Spartans (1-11) – The Spartans come off a bye week and step right into the path of a fast-moving freight in the form of the surging T-Birds, who’ve won 6 in a row, and have their eyes on further glory. Could TWU catch UBC looking ahead to ‘bigger, more dangerous prey’ ? Perhaps, but the disparity in recent form may be far too great to make a difference. Tommy Nixon, Conor Morgan, Brylle Kamen, and Jordan Jensen-Whyte have this Thunderbirds team playing like some of their better teams of the past. Trinity hasn’t shown that they have enough support for Justin Bakuteka, and their defense will have trouble containing the ‘Birds.
Explorer Division –
UNBC Timberwolves (5-7) at Mt. Royal Cougars (6-6) – Here are 2 teams fighting for the 3rd and final playoff spot (10th seed in CW) in the Division. The Cougars have home court, and come off 2 wins at UBC-O, and they may have found their offensive mojo. “We shared the ball better last week … we got (or chose) better shots”, says Coach Marc Dobell. They also got a super weekend from their ‘Little – Big Man’, James Lefebvre, who posted 44 pts / 14 rebounds in the 2 games; Lefebvre’s challenge this week will be to combat the power of the ‘Wolves big post man, Francko Kouagnia (15.7 ppg / 6.6 rebs). UNBC also has the brawn of Devin McMurtry (8.5 rebs), and MRU has to get all hands on deck to do battle on the boards.
MacEwan Griffins (4-8) at Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack (7-5) – TRU forward, Josh Wolfram, will be getting a lot of attention from the Griffins defense, with his League -best 10.7 rebounds and 19.3 ppg. Mac’s Ryan May and company will have their hands full. One of Canada West’s under-rated players is Reese Pribilsky, the 4th year Wolf Pack point man from Victoria’s Oak Bay HS; Pribilsky averages 11 ppg, 4.2 assists, and has a 2.0 asst/turnover ratio. MacEwan counters with another relatively anonymous character in Denzel James, a 3rd year, 6-2 wing from Edmonton, who scores 18 ppg, delivers 2.8 assists, and 1.4 steals.
Okanagan Heat (2-10) at #7 Fraser Valley Cascades (12-0) – The spirit may be willing for the Heat, but they are up against a buzz-saw here with the Cascades on their home court. UFV are an experienced crew, with Manny Dulay, Kevon Parchment, Jasper Moedt and their predecessors having reached the Canada West Final Four the past 3 seasons. UBC-O are the youngest team in the League, and, even with a possible rookie of the year – Aldrich Berrios at point guard – the Heat can’t match the Cascades. Okanagan will hope to get a strong team performance and keep it close.
Lethbridge gets a bye this week
Saturday in Canada West –
Pioneer – Victoria at Calgary, Brandon at Winnipeg, Saskatchewan at Manitoba, Alberta at Regina, UBC at Trinity Western
Explorer – UNBC at Mt. Royal, UBC-O at Fraser Valley, MacEwan at Thompson Rivers
CIS Scores From the East –
Tues – Cape Breton 83 St. FX 65
Weds – Guelph 92 Waterloo 60, Acadia 72 Saint Marys 62
Tonight we have … a downtown Montreal affair with UQAM at Concordia.
Friday’s ‘Big Games in the East ‘ –
A 4 pt game in the AUS as #9 UNB hosts the inconsistent CBU Capers
Bishops is at Laval in the ‘Q’ (They play a Fri/Sat home and home. )
#2 Carleton is on the road at #5 Windsor, while #3 Ryerson plays a cross-town game against an up and coming York Yeoman team, and #1 Ottawa is in London to play a very tough Western Mustangs crew.
Saturday – It’s Carleton at Western and Ottawa at Windsor in key OUA contests, while UPEI plays at UNB in the Atlantic.