CW … Series of the Week –
#9 Saskatchewan Huskies (1-1) at Victoria Vikes (2-0) – The Victoria Vikes
are having yet another ‘Official Home Opener’ for the their bright new, yellow -themed CARSA Centre, as the Saskatchewan Huskies return for this week’s League series. Fans will remember the October opening for the Guy Vetrie Tournament, when the Sled Dogs won 3 games over ‘heavy-weights’, Fraser Valley, Carleton, and the Vikes … that one was 95-72 !
But … this is now. UVic is 2-0, and ‘finding a different way to get things done on the court’. A shaky pre-season brought some doubt, but Mack Roth, Reiner Theil, and Grant Sitton are hoping to lead a quick resurgence for the defending Canada West champs. They, like the Huskies, will be playing a more guard-oriented game, even though both teams pride themselves in getting the ball into the paint. It’s just not your classic back to the hoop , Chris McLaughlin – type attack.
- Key Huskies – Evan Ostertag, Jauquin Bennett -Boire, Shawn Lathan, Trevor Severinski
- Key Vikes – Grant Sitton, Brandon Dunlop, Mack Roth, Reiner Theil.
One notable match-up is the grizzled 5th year vet, point man Brandon Dunlop (left, above), in his 3rd ‘Tour of Duty’ on the Viking ship, going up against ‘raw rookie’, Jauquin Bennett-Boire (right), the Huskies QB on offense. JB-B is more likely to be a scoring threat, but Dunlop is a cagey and tireless worker, who will give all he has for a Vikes win in both these games.
#6 Calgary Dinos (2-0) at Manitoba Bisons (1-1) – Home-opener for the Bisons, who have big dreams, but they’ve dropped 5 of their past 6 meetings with the Dinos, and need to find a way to control the diverse Calgary attack. The trio of Wyatt Anders on the boards (#1 in CW at 12.5 rpg), AJ Basi (21 ppg) with the deep treys, and point guard Justus Alleyn (4.5 assts, 9 ppg) are central to the Bisons game plan. Calgary has a 10-11 deep rotation, led by 4th year import wing, Thomas Cooper, averaging a double/double of 25 ppg/10 rebounds. Dallas Karch (11 ppg, 5 rebs) and Lars Schleuter (10 ppg/ 4.5 rebs) are a pair of 6-7 forwards who got off to a good start in week 1. Both these games should be nip and tuck, and won in the final few minutes.
Winnipeg Wesmen (0-2) at Alberta Golden Bears (1-1) – Second prize for the Ws is another weekend in Sunny Alberta ! Tough scheduling start for the Wesmen, who need a bigger dose of offensive flow against a Bears team intent on leading with their aggressive defense. UW’s Jelane Pryce is expected to produce 15+ ppg, and needs a better shooting performance this week. Jamar Farlay (14.5 ppg) looks to be a big cog in the offense, but the Wesmen need more ‘hands on deck’. Alberta are good at home, and had Mamadou Gueye, Sebastian Denault, and 1st year import guard, Colby Jackson, score in double figures vs UBC last week.
Brandon Bobcats (0-2) at Lethbridge Pronghorns (0-0) – Opening night for the ‘Horns, who have one of the longer returnee lists in the League. Guards, Jared Baker, and Rob Olsen, along with forward, Brandon Brine, are ‘prime-time players’, and import guard Dejon Burdeaux (Fresno CC) is a potent back-court addition for U of L . For the revamped Bobcats, DJ Jordan scored19 ppg in Brandon’s 2 losses vs Regina last weekend, and he gets help from Chris Stanhope (17 ppg) and Earl Thompson Jr., a beast on the boards (10 rpg) who scored 11 ppg .
Trinity Western Spartans (0-2) at UBC Thunderbirds (1-1) – Trinity may encounter a flock of angry T-Birds this week, after UBC dropped their home opener to Alberta last Friday. Conor Morgan, David Wagner, and Jordan Jensen -Whyte and company figure to do some damage to a TWU squad trying to establish some team cohesion; Dean Richey (import guard, Spokane, WA) looks like a leader, and Kelvin Smith has the tools; team shooting and rebounding need to pick up. We note the Spartans improved turnover ratio, as new Coach Aaron Muhic works for a more efficient style.
The 2-0 Regina Cougars get the bye this week.
Explorer Division –
MacEwan Griffins (1-1) at Fraser Valley Cascades (2-0) – Another test for the defending Division champions, as they host a veteran-laden Mac team. UFV may not overwhelm, but they get the job done, with their experience and toughness. Mark Johnson (3rd year tsf from Coll. of the Desert, Palm Springs, CA), is obviously a great addition, and he joins battle-tested vets, like Kevon Parchment and Nate Brown to form another strong Cascades squad. The Griffins will have to earn everything they get; Denzel James and newcomer Thadius Galvez look like a dynamic pair for the Griffs.
Thompson R. WolfPack (2-0) at Mt. Royal Cougars (1-1) – The ‘Pack come in with an 8-0 record over the pre-season and opening week. Josh Wolfram, Reese Pribilsky, and Vololodymyr Iegorov are a ‘wrecking crew’ on offense. The Cougars respond with new-found size and scoring by 1st year post Brett Layton, a 6-8 returned Mormon missionary, who retained and refined some of his hoops skills last summer. James Lefebvre and Derek Wolfe are seniors that MRU will rely on, if they are to get a win vs the ‘Pack.
UNBC Timberwolves (0-2) at UBC-Okanagan Heat (0-2) – Here are 2 teams looking for their first victory of the young season. Both coaches see these as ‘winnable games’, and a split is a necessity, even on this 2nd weekend. The T-Wolves ride the scoring touch of Aussie guard, Rhys Elliot, and an increasingly confident Billy Cheng, who scored 32 in the first of 2 strong team efforts against TRU last week. Okanagan also came to play on the road at Fraser Valley, and they showed more offensive depth, with Dean Johnston, Mitch Goodwin, Aldrich Berrios, and newcomer, Randall Mosca all averaging double figures.
- TRU’s Coach Scott Clark appreciates the impact that Vololodymyr Iegorov the 6-7, 3rd year forward, from Donetsk, Ukraine is making on his WolfPack team. “He scores in a variety of ways, “ Clark explains. “He doesn’t score in your face. He got to the line, he scores in transition. He scores a three or two. He got a couple from the post some from the back cut. He is like a ‘silent assassin.’ He is a good player and that is the way good players go about their business.” (From News Kamloops ). Iegorov scored 29 ppg on opening weekend, and he is a huge addition, playing beside TRU’s other ace big man, Josh Wolfram.
- You are Thompson Rivers, at 8-0 vs CIS and U.S. Colleges, but do you get even a sniff from the CIS Top 10 voters ? Ah-h-h, NO! Why you say? Well, it’s obvious that the Canada West Explorer Division is considered a ‘B League’ . Any team in the Explorer, even the consistently competitive Fraser Valley Cascades, are passed over by this perception. These teams may have to live with that until 2016-17, when Canada West again merges the teams into one almost unfathomable 17 team League.