Thursday, 28 February 2008

Canada West Final Four Preview by Wayne Thomas

Friday's Final Four Games Promise Fierce Action Four Canada West teams have dreams of a trip to CIS Nationals, and each are one win away from achieving that goal. These are the four best in the league over the entire season, and each team has reason for optimism when considering their chances of success.

Alberta Golden Bears (16-8) vs. Brandon Bobcats (22-3)
#4 seed - unranked in CIS #1 seed - # 3 ranked in CIS

The Bears own a 2-0 record over the Great Plains Champions this season, with one win in October 86-80 at Victoria, then their league win at home 106-93. Alberta has played four games on the Calgary floor, albeit with no joy in any of them, but they have played in front of this crowd, and they may have some 'familiar court advantage'. Alex Steele, their 5th year Canada West MVP can score from anywhere on the floor, and his match-up with David Yul Michel, the defensive player of the year in the league, should be a classic. Brandon has a scoring advantage in the post, as both Yuri Whyms, their big man down low, and Adam Hartmann, who can wheel and deal in the high post, are bigger threats to score than Alberta's Richard Bates, Harvey Bradford, or Justin VanLoo. Andrew Parker, Neb Aleksic, and CG Morrison must out-play the veteran Bobcat back-court, and corral their dangerous scorer, Dany Charlery. Both these teams like a fast pace, and the Bears can match Brandon defensively; Coach Don Horwood may find a way to convince his team they can be winners in this gym, and Brandon may find Alberta just as tough the 3rd time around. The Bobcats have made a habit, in the last 30 years, of representing Canada West at Nationals, as they have 24 appearances at the Finals, with 4 Canadian Titles. Alberta has 14 appearances with 3 National Crowns. Game time is 5:00 pm MST on Friday.

Calgary Dinos (20-4) vs UBC T-Birds (20-5)
#2 seed 4th ranked in CIS #4 seed - 5th ranked in CIS

Calgary is 14-0 on their home court this season, and they will be playing in front of a full house, mostly of Dinos fans, and they come off an impressive pair of wins over their Alberta rivals, the Golden Bears. The last time these two teams met was in November as the Dinos opened the season with a 73-68 win over the T-Birds. In that game, Calgary's 6'8" post, Ross Bekkering, had a 20 pt. and 14 rebound double- double, while his more ballyhooed brother Henry was held to 14 pts., and got a bit of a rough ride from UBC's Bryson Kool. The Thunderbirds Coach Kevin Hanson has made a point of urging more physical play from his posts, so Friday's match could be hammer and tong time. Calgary's three men up front will present a problem for UBC, as the two Bekkerings combine with Robbie Sihota to average over 50 points and close to 30 rebounds a game. UBC counters with Kool at 6'8", and Brent Malish at 6'6" with 6'10" Balraj Bains off the bench seeing more action late in the season. On the perimeter, both squads have capable point guards who will look to run ... Calgary's Jeff Price has been a tenacious defender, and a threat from 3 pt. range, while UBC starts Brett Leversage at 6' , but plays Alex Murphy, 6'2", who has more offense, and will look to penetrate. UBC's Chris Dyck is a shooter who must be respected by the Dinos defense, as he averages 18.4 ppg, and he has Matt Racher, a 6'7" wing man to help with 10.3 pts. UBC, in fact has more scoring by committee, and they put up 84 pts. a game, which is on par with Calgary's 85, and UBC limits their opponents to 74 pts. a game compared to Calgary's 75. The stats seem to even out, and we can expect a close game. The X-factor for Calgary has to be the home court, and also their shooting guards Cody Darrah and Tyler Fidler. Both can hit from long range, and they compliment their teammates well. Calgary only has 4 appearances in the CIS Nationals with no National titles as yet, while UBC has made the trip 15 times and captured 2 Championships, the last being in 1971-'72. The last time these teams met in the Canada West Final Four was in Brandon in 2004 with Calgary defeating UBC 92-87 to claim the Canada West Title. This should be another high scoring game with great intensity from both teams ... Calgary looks to extend their home streak to 15 games, and carve out some history of their own in CIS play. game time is 7:00 pm MST.

Notes ... Do not call anyone ... anyone ... looking for free tickets to this Tournament. There are none to be had, and you will be disappointed at the door. Heightened interest in CIS Hoops in Calgary as the gym is expected to sell out with 4,400 tickets printed, and sales racing towards capacity. Phone 220-7749 or online at the lines should be easier this week with two games on tap and fans trained to arrive early. The attendance at the U of C far out-strips that in any of the other playoff venues this season, and could set a record for the Final Four.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's ridiculous that three of the top five ranked teams in the CIS are from CW...I have no problem with Calgary or Brandon, but UBC at #5 is a joke.
I mean, with the fishing bait that poses for competition in that weak Pacific division, UBC should have run the table.
I believe the record will be set straight in Calgary when the Dinos will eviscerate the highly inflated T-Birds.
And I also think the Birds will get crushed in the 3rd place game, so kiss a wild card goodbye,too.
At least this year UBC fans won't have to endure another first round flameout at nationals, which has become a recent UBC tradition.