Thursday, 26 April 2007

Canada West Great Plains Pre-Summer Look

The usually competitive Great Plains division comes off another solid year in which Brandon represented the division in the National championship game, playing Carleton as tough as anyone to lose by 3. Generally speaking, teams in the division return the majority of their top players with Winnipeg and Manitoba not losing anyone of note and the Wesmen returning All-Canadian Erfan Nasajpour while Brandon and Regina lose some quality yet hanging on to the basic core of their teams. All teams will be experienced and with solid recruits the division should be more competitive. Brandon still looks to be the class of the league but expect the other 3 teams to challenge the Bobcats more next season than they did this season when Brandon went 15-2 including 8 in a row after the holiday break against their Great Plains division rivals en route to the division championship.

Brandon Bobcats Key Losses: 6'0" Chad Jacobsen (graduation), 5'10" Taylor Cherris-Welding (graduation). Key Players scheduled to return: Dany Charlery 6'3" (3rd), Yul Michel 6'1" (5th), Adam Hartman 6'5" (5th), Yuri Whyms 6'9" (5th), Stevens Marcelin 6'7" (3rd), Nathan Grant 6'0" (3rd), Jon Thomson 6'5" (5th), Chris Schmidt-Watt 6'6" (3rd). Comments: The bulk of the national finalist team returns led by the versatile Charlery, a top scorer and defender. Michel is one of Canada's top lead guards who distributes and defends the ball. Hartman is a very underrated offensive player in the post with his blend of scoring and passing skills. The combination of Whyms and Marcelin in the post is athletic, long and provides plenty of defensive presence inside. Grant is an emerging point with the ability to finish in transition and get to the rim who is the heir apparent to Michel while Thomson and Schmidt-Watt contribute solid, underrate minutes off the bench with their rebounding and defending. Expect the Cats to continue their entertaining, up-tempo style and be one of the pre-season favorites in the CIS. Key Recruiting Targets: The Cats lost their two primary spot up three point shooters and will need to find at least one more guy who can stretch defenses from the perimeter. Brandon looks to fill this void with 6'7" Kevin Oliver, the MVP from the high school side of the Wesmen Classic, who comes in with a reputation as a solid shooter with range. Oliver's fellow starter on last summer's Manitoba's provincial team, which lost in the national finals, 6'6" swingman Kyle Vince from Winnipeg J.H Bruns will also join the Cats in the fall. Coached by ex-Winnipeg Wesmen All-Canadian Norm Fromel, Vince should add depth at big forward spot behind Adam Hartman after leading Silver Heights Huskies, the #1 Ranked team in Manitoba.

Winnipeg Key Losses: Will Bergmann 6'7" (graduated) Key Players scheduled to return: 5'9" Erfan Nasajpour (5th), 6'6" Matt Opalko (5th), 6'4" Ryan Roper (4th), 6'9" Ivan Saric (4th), 6'6" Dan Shynkaryk (4th), 6'0" James Horaska (2nd), 5'10" Nick Lother (2nd) Comments: With every key player returning including All-Canadian Nasajpour to score and lead, the Wesmen are well stocked offensively. Up front, Winnipeg has at least three experience contributors led by Shynkaryk, who with more consistency has potential to be an all-conference player, the athletic Saric, a solid defensive and low post presence and Opalko, who missed significant time because of injury last season. Roper is a big wing who can be a threat from the perimeter while Lother, who can run the point for stretches, and Horaska, both look to improve on their freshman seasons. Key Recruiting Targets: With all key players returning, not alot of time is available but the Wesmen welcome 6'0" Cam Hornby, (originally from Winnipeg Glenlawn) who returns home after a season and a half with South Dakota State Jackrabbits, where he redshirted in '05-'06 and then played sparingly last season before deciding to transfer. Hornby becomes eligible on November 17th and could get his freshman status after playing in only 4 games at South Dakota State. Hornby will fit into the Wesmen back court as a combo guard. Winnipeg could use another "3" man who can create, defend and rebound and also bring in another forward with a view of restocking their front line for after next season.

Regina Key Losses: Brad Fekula 6'2", Drew Kuzminski 6'5", Michael Enns 6'6" Key Players scheduled to return: Bryden Wright 6'3" (5th-injury redshirt last season), Jeff Lukomski 6'0" (2nd), Jamal Williams 6'5" (3rd), Paul Schubach 6'2" (3rd), Sarain Soonias 6'6" (5th), Jordan McFarlen 6'2" (2nd), Adam Huffman 6'7" (5th). Comments: The Cougars return White who was one of the top offensive players in Canada West prior to injuring his knee on the eve of last season's first exhibition game causing him to miss the season. Schubach emerged as the Cougars most consistent and accurate shooter from both inside and beyond the arc and at the free throw line. Canada West Freshman-of-the-Year Lukomski knocks down the "3" with consistency while Williams emerged as a legitimate all-conference candidate in the post down the stretch last season. Soonias provides depth up front and can be a presence in the paint defensively. Recruiting Focus: After losing 3 of the top 8 players in the rotation, including point guard Fekula and leading scorer Kuzminski, the Cougars look to fortify the lead guard and forward spots. 6'7" Brett Weiss, a versatile wing who can play anywhere from the "2" to "4" spots, could be an immediate impact player for the Cougars with his combination of size and athleticsm. Weiss, originally recruited by Regina out of high school in Wilkie, SK, spent the last 2 seasons at Montana State-Billings, an NCAA Division 2 school, redshirting for one of the seasons before transfering back and will be starting his second season when he becomes eligible immediately in the fall. The Cougars also will bring in a pair of big two guards who can shoot the ball in 6'5" Reid Quest (Regina Winston Knoll) and 6'5" Lance Aldcorn (Regina Balfour), both freshmen directly out of high school who should push for time on the wing. Coach James Hillis may also look to bring in one more player later in the summer.

Manitoba Key Losses: None. Key Players scheduled to return: 6'1" Issac Ansah (4th), 6'4" Darcy Coss (5th), 6'5" Brian Crowe (5th), 6'1" Chris Pereira (4th), 6'9" Sean Landry (3rd), 6'1" Joel Pankewich (2nd), 5'9" Graeme Mitchell (4th), 6'4" Myron Dean (4th), 6'5" Grant Rayner (3rd). Comments: The Bisons have a possible All-Canadian candidate in Ansah, an all-around scorer who shoots it beyond the arc and gets to the rim. Coss is a veteran three-point threat with the size to shoot over smaller defenders. Crowe provides a solid inside presence at both ends while Pereira is another long-range threat. Landry provides size and is a nice complementary player inside. Pankewich was Bisons top freshman last season while Mitchell provides depth in the back court. Dean is a wing off the bench. Recruiting Focus: With every top player scheduled to return, Manitoba can recruit for both this year and subsequent years - targets are up front, depth at the point and wing players. In 6'8" Clarence Smith (Lakeland College - Alberta colleges league), one of the leading scorers and rebounders in the ACAC, the Bisons get a formidable post presence who can score, rebound and protect the paint defensively. Smith, who is originally from Fort McMurray, Alberta - Lloydminister Composite, will be in his third year of eligibility with the Bisons. The Bisons also welcome another 6'8" post from Lakeland, Trevor Assels (Stonewall MB, Stonewall Collegiate), also entering his third year of eligibility, fortifying Manitoba's interior even further.

No comments: