Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Canada West Contenders Broken Down, CIS Coaches Top 10

This week's official CIS Top 10 determined by a poll of coaches

Courtesy of the NABCC ...

January 30, 2007

LW Votes
-- -----
1. Brandon (35) #2 496 votes
2. Concordia (7) #3 460 votes
3. Carleton #1 399 votes
4. Windsor #5 385 votes
5. UBC #6 325 votes
6. Cape Breton #7 288 votes
7. St. Francis Xavier #4 247 votes
8. Victoria #8 220 votes
9. Ottawa #9 207 votes
10. Acadia #12 72 votes
11. Toronto #15 58 votes
12. York #12 48 votes
13. Alberta #10 42 votes
14. Brock #13 23 votes
15. Queen's #11 11 votes

CANADA WEST NOTES: The battle for the Canada West Final Four tournament which determines the two guaranteed spots for the CIS Nationals in Halifax has at least 5 legitimate contenders. Note: Thanks to Nathan Schellenberg, Saskatchewan Huskies assistant coach for pointing out some corrections including the name of the Central division (which used to be the Mountain division until it was pointed out that there are no mountains in Saskatchewan or Edmonton :) CIS #1 Brandon has been on fire lately, winning 9 in a row and has great athletes in the backcourt in 6'3" 2nd Year Dany "Rip" Charlery and 6'1" 4th year point Yul Michel, a long-range shooter in 6'0" 4th year guard
Chad Jacobsen (pictured) who can keep them in games singlehandidly when he get it going and a pair of forwards who complement each other well in 6'9" 4th year Yuri Whyms and 6'5" 4th year post Adam Hartman. If there is one potential achilles heel, for the veteran Bobcats it may be the bench as only 5'10" fifth-year shooting guard Taylor Cherris-Wilding, a former CCAA All-Canadian, has made steady contributions. Second-year Head Coach Barnaby Craddock has done a terrific job with this group in a short period of time and should be strongly considered for Canada West Coach-of-the-Year... Victoria, Nationals finalists from a year ago, have found a gem at the guard spot with 6'2" 2nd year combo guard Josh Whyte, a transfer from Mount Royal College, who complements well a pair of smooth shooting wings in 6'3" 5th Year Brandon Ellis and 6'2" 5th Year Steve Moore, although Moore left Saturday's game against Simon Fraser with an undisclosed injury and his status is not certain. Vikes strength is up front as last season's 6'6" CIS Rookie-of-the-Year Jacob Doerksen leads the way with support from 6'5" 3rd year forward Tyler Haas, an explosive athlete plus 6'6" 5th year post Graeme Bollinger. 6'7" third-year forward Mitch Gudgeon and 6'0" 2nd year guard Cyril Indome have also made steady contributions to a deep, athletic and talented team that runs disciplined sets and rebounds... UBC may have the deepest team in Canada West as Coach Kevin Hansen can play 10 or more players if need be but T-Birds' keys are their pair of scoring guards in 6'4" 5th year Casey Archibald (pictured), who injured his ankle last weekend and did not play on Saturday and 6'3" 3rd year Manitoba transfer Chris Dyck, who had 27 first-half points against TWU on Thursday. But the talent in the backcourt doesn't stop there as 6'1" Brent Leversage, 6'3" Jason Birring and 6'2" Adam Freisen all provide value minutes and could start on many other teams. Up front 6'7" 3rd year forward Matt Rachar, 6'9" 4th year center Cody Berg and 6'8" Bryson Kool share minutes while a pair of highly-touted freshmen 6'6" Brent Malish and 6'2" Alex Murphy look to push for rotation time. The T-Birds went to a smaller lineup in their last meeting with UVic and took off for a big second half come-from-behind win. With their depth and Hansen's ability to adjust, UBC can play it many ways depending upon the situation, which alone makes the T-Birds a nationals contender... It would be a mistake for any team to discount the ability of the Alberta Golden Bears to contend for a spot in Halifax and three-time CIS National champion coach Don Horwood again has his side doing all the little things needed to contend. As always, the Bears usually get the ball inside and take good shots (#1 in Canada West with .540 fg% and .433 3fg%) and make their free throws (.710 ft% #2 in Canada West), so expect them to be in most games. The Bears have a legitimate point guard in 2nd Year C.G. Morrison who has benefited from the return to form of 6'2" 5th year guard Tyson Jones. Expect 6'3" Andrew Parker, a freakish athlete, to start to contribute down the stretch while guard Alex Steele and forward Scott Gordon are their two go-to guys. The Bears have lots of depth and the guidance of a veteran coach who has been there before. Saskatchewan has 6'8" Andrew Spagrud, who leads Canada West in scoring 23.9 ppg and rebounding 10.2 rpg leading the way and needs him to score and rebound to contend. The remainder of the starting five is solid with 6'2" 4th year wing Kyle Grant, tough 6'0" off guard Rejean Chabot, 6'1" 4th year point guard Jordan Harbidge and 6'7" 4th year post Mark Lynch. Depth could be an issue as only 6'2" 5th Year guard Sam Lamontagne sees significant action off the bench.

To determine Canada West champion and the 2 automatic bids for the CIS Nationals, Canada West holds a four-team "Final Four" tournament, this season hosted by the Great Plains conference champions. The 3 division playoff champions qualify for the Final Four and the fourth team is invited as a wild card selection. Barring a huge upset, the Canada West Final Four should include four of these top 5 teams with the wild-card likely to come from the Pacific division as UBC and Victoria have been among the top teams in the CIS since the beginning of the season. Likely the odd team out of this equation will be the loser of a projected Saskatchewan at Alberta best-of-3 Central division final.

WEST IS BEST WITH CIS ATTENDANCE: Although detailed attendance statistics for all teams across the country are not kept, a quick check of the available data and anecdotal discussions points to Canada West drawing the most fans to their games day-in and day-out when compared to the rest of the country. Canada West does a tremendous job keeping accurate attendance statistics as well as their entire statistical package on their web page Detailed Canada West Statistics The good news attendance-wise is that 6 teams are regularly drawing 1,000 or more fans, led by Winnipeg, which has drawn an average of 1,725 fans for conference and non-conference games this season including a season-high of 2,500 to the Duckworth Center for the championship game of the Wesmen Classic in December plus 3 more crowds of 2,000 or more and 8 crowds of better than 1,500. Regina, which has had to deal with the pre-season loss of All-conference candidate Bryden Wright who was lost for the season due to injury sustained just 2 days prior to their season opener, also has drawn very well (~1,100 fans per game including a season-high 1,497 against Winnipeg this past Saturday). The Alberta Golden Bears also average over 1,100 fans per game while Victoria (with a season-high 2,521 fans last week against UBC on Ken & Kathy Shields Night), UBC (season-high 1,600 fans against Vic) and Lethbridge each average over 900 fans per game. The next challenge for Canada West is to think bigger as was done recently in Ottawa with the Capital Hoops Classic at Scotiabank Place (almost 10,000 fans), in Halifax with the annual AUS tournament at the Metro Centre each year and the old Great West Shootout concept at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton in the late 80's and think about a larger venue for their Final Four which has the potential to attract much larger crowds. Each of these aforementioned events had 5,000+ fans at a minimum. With this season's Canada West Final Four tournament slated for the winner of the Great Plains conference, there could be a situation, assuming Brandon wins their division, where the conference's flagship basketball event is played in a facility with a capacity of less than 1,000 people. Although not getting the advantage of playing in your home gym would likely hurt the Bobcats if they make it, a more sensible marketing-based decision could be to host the tournament at a facility such as the Duckworth Center with its larger capacity and more appealing asthetics.

ATTENDANCE ACROSS THE COUNTRY: Data is scattered and sometimes estimated instead of properly counted but there are teams that draw quite well for games - still, Canada West basketball games appear to be the best-attended across the country. Among the teams that regularly draw well in other parts of the country are in Ontario West: Windsor (usually 1,500-2,000 fans for big games at St. Denis Center), Waterloo, Guelph, McMaster and Brock; Ontario East: Carleton (unconfirmed but likely to be averaging over 1,000 fans with many sell-outs of 1,800), Queen's (recently has had more fans) and Laurentian (small but boisterous gym that holds about 800); Ottawa will sell-out their Carleton home game (1,200 fans) well in advance however attendance is usually about 250 or less for other games. Quebec: Laval (likely average over 1,000 fans/game), Bishop's (have had 1,000 fans this season); Atlantic Canada: St. FX(sell-outs of 2,000+ at least a couple of times this season), Acadia (1,289 on Jam-the-Gym night last week against X) and UNB (averaging just over 600 fans per game).

CANADA WEST TO EXPAND AGAIN?: There are at least 5 schools that are on the horizon of CIS membership in the Canada West division including Grant MacEwan College (Edmonton), Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Mount Royal out of Calgary, UNBC in Prince George and UBC-Okanagan. The Gateway, U of Alberta's student newspaper, again does a tremendous job reporting on some of the challenges these schools can expect if and when they join the CIS The Changing Face of Sports in Canada West

Recap of a pair of terrific games in the "Q" between Laval and Bishop's including the exciting double overtime win by Rouge et Or at home Bishop's Laval home-and-home review

Sean Anthony Article in McGill Tribune


Anonymous said...

I hope more emphasis is placed on the strength of each team's schedule when the wild card team is selected for the national tournament, than it seems to be for the weekly polls. Without a doubt the toughest conference if men's basketball is Ontario East. Those teams have to battle week in and week out with each other and consequently, they slip down the rankings. While teams in Quebec and out East play the same sub par teams, and a mediocre team can work their way up the standings. Just look at how teams for the Ontario East conference have doen against those areas and I'm sure you will find the proof is in the pudding.

Anonymous said...

I agree teams like Toronto, York, Ottawa would have a greater chance to win nationals than the number 2 seed Concordia. Didn't Concordia lose to Laurentien (3-14 in Ontario East) at home this year.

Mark Wacyk said...

Here is a very good note from a great site supporter from Windsor...

Windsor does count heads. When you walk in, everyone is handed an actual ticket by paying or showing a student card. (Free for students) Ticket stubs are then counted.

Windsor draws well for several reasons. Windsor is close to the US and basketball has been a popular sport for generations. The only Canadian Olympic team to win a medal are the Windsor Ford V-8's of 1936 in Berlin.

Windsor students get in for free. The athletic department does a fine job of promoting varsity sports by advertising all over campus. Lancer athletics routinely gets front page coverage in the student newspaper.

The 2 local television stations do a great job of covering the team. They always send a camera crew for game highlights. Also, they usually come out to practice once a week for a special story. The Windsor Star could do much better in my opinion. Cogeco Cable 11 televises 2-3 games a year. This Saturdays Laurier game is on TV in Essex, Kent and Lambton counties.

There is a hardcore following from the general community at large. Even when Windsor was bad to mediocre, you could count on 500-700 fans.

If WIndsor stays a top ten team and starts winning some championships, you'll see a consistent large turnout for games. As OUA/CIS champs, you could see Windsor attract 2,000-2,500 fans for most games next year.

Should Windsor host the West and Wilson Cup finals...St.Denis has the space for 3,500 or so fans. They might just get it although Wilson Cup is the first March break weekend.

BTW, did you know that most low level NCAA D1 teams average about 1,500 to 2,000 fans per game? For example, the U of Detroit Titans, have averaged about 1,500 fans per game this year. I think Windsor has them beat!

Anonymous said...

I’d be careful writing off some of the sub par AUS teams.

Many of these sub par teams have knocked of the above par teams come show time.

I recall no name UNB scaring the daylights out of the Ravens a few years ago. UNB, barley ranked, blasted mighty Brandon 94-71 (2004), then lost to the Ravens 77-75. Anyone that saw that game could tell the Ravens were lucky to win.

The host berth in 2005 (Smu) won its first game over Waterloo 78-66. In 2006 the host berth (CBU) wins its 1st game 62-53 over Lauier then comes close to beating the Ravens 68-57.

So please don't be condescending towards AUS teams as they have proven year after year to be competitive come March.

Paul F - Go X Go