Monday, 22 January 2007

UBC at UVic Weekend Review

The top two teams in Canada West's Pacific Division, UBC and Victoria, met in Victoria on the weekend in a two-game set, renewing their bitter rivalry and adding another pair of classics to the growing list between the 2 B.C. rivals, played before a sellout crowd of 1,800 on Friday and then an over-flow crowd of 2,000 or more on Saturday for Ken & Kathy Shields Night. SPLIT WEEKEND: Both games had similar patterns as early on both nights Victoria used turnover-creating pressure defence and one-and-done rebounding for easy transition scores to establish large, early leads. On Friday, Vic was able to triumph down the stretch despite losing a 23 point lead. The T-Birds adjusted on Saturday, going to a small lineup in the second half and a 4-out, 1-in offense, forcing the larger Vikes to guard the perimeter, which set up easier penetration leading to open looks off the draw-and-kick. The result was a come-from-behind win on Saturday. UBC leads the Vikes by one game although both teams will have home-court advantage in the first round of the Canada West Pacific playoffs, best-of-3 affairs with all 3 games played on the higher seed's home court. VIKES GUARD EMERGES: The biggest question mark coming into the season for the Vikes was replacing their All-Canadian point guard Chris Trumpy. After the tremendous work this weekend from 6'2" second-year guard Josh Whyte (transfer from Mount Royal College in Alberta), consider the question answered as the athletic combo guard flourished, especially in transition, knocking down shots, finding people and wreaking havoc on the defensive end. During Friday's win, Whyte dominated, nearly authoring a triple/double with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists against only 1 turnover with 3 steals added. He followed it up with 25 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists against only 2 turnovers. Whyte shot a terrific 71% from the floor for the weekend including 5-8 from 3 with an assist to turnover ratio of more than 4:1. The emergence of Whyte as one of the top young guards in Canada will take some of the pressure off veteran Brandon Ellis, who has been hobbled all season by an ankle injury. With one of Canada's biggest and most athletic front lines in 6'6" Graeme Bollinger, 6'6" Jacob Doerksen and 6'5" Tyler Haas and 6'2" veteran Steve Moore and 6'7" Mitch Gudgeon off the bench, Victoria is poised to make a run at a National championship. T-BIRDS REBOUND ON SATURDAY: T-Bird's team statistics from Friday to Saturday are a tremendous indicator of the adjustments made and how their small ball lineup shared the ball and got better shots in the second half of their win. Friday night, UBC succumbed to Vic's "d", turning it over 22 times against only 10 assists while shooting only 45% and collecting 28 fouls. On Saturday, the Birds got 17 team assists against only 10 turnovers and shot 53%, committing only 22 fouls. As well, star guard Casey Archibald, despite scoring 26 points, rebounded from a 1 assist, 7 turnover night on Friday to go 9-17 from the floor and dish out 5 assists as against zero turnovers. Archibald did not make a 3 in the game on Saturday and UBC made only 5, yet the Birds won going away. Expect these teams to meet in a Best-of-3 Pacific division championship series and then more than likely both make it to the Canada West Final Four at the winner of the Great Plains conference playoffs. It would not be surprising to observers if both these teams travelled to Halifax in March.

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