Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Wayne Thomas's Dinos/Stingers Preview

DINOS HOOPS NEWS by Wayne Thomas

March 10

Canada West and Quebec Champions Tip-off the Nationals

The opening game in the 2009 CIS National Tournament features two league champions ... the Calgary Dinos, 21-5 Canada West titleists meet the Stingers of Concordia University (Montreal), the Quebec Champs, who were 19-4 against CIS teams this season, including an early season win over St. FX. The 12:30 game tips off this year's tournament and can be followed on Streaming Sports Network Canada at 10:30 MDT , Friday

The Stingers, under Head Coach John Dore, have been regular participants in the Nationals, and won the Championship in 1989-90, while the Dinos have made infrequent sojourns to this event, with the last being 2003-04. Concordia has made 16 tournament appearances compared to just 4 previous for Calgary, and you can almost throw out the seeding numbers when you compare the two squads.

The Dinos won their spot by defeating the CIS #2, UBC, out in Vancouver, while Concordia won a close (79-76) come from behind game in their own gym against UQAM in the Quebec Final. This was the 17th title in the 34 year history of the downtown Montreal school, while the Dinos have claimed 6 Canada West crowns in 44 years of competition. Coach Dan Vanhooren, in his 9th year as head coach, won CW in 2004, and led the Dinos to a Semi-final heartbreaking 69-67 loss to eventual champions, Carleton. Coach Dore has been head man at Concordia for 20 seasons, winning the National title in his first year in Montreal.

Here are the likely starting line-ups ...

Calgary Dinos
Jamie McLeod, 4th, 6'2", Calgary point guard
Tyler Fidler, 2nd, 6'9", Calgary wing
Henry Bekkering, 5th, 6'7", Taber wing
Ross Bekkering, 4th, 6'8", Taber strong forward
Robbie Sihota, 4th, 6'6", Calgary post

Concordia Stingers
Damian Buckley, 4th, 6'1", Montreal
Dwayne Buckley, 5th, 6'3", Montreal
Adam Carneol, 1st, 6'3", Los Angeles, CA
Evens Laroche, 1st, 6"4", Montreal
Jamal Gallier, 5th, 6'7", Toronto
(Note: this is simply Wayne's view of who might start.)

Buckley Brothers a Big Buzz in Beehive

Damian Buckley is the Quebec League player of the year, and his brother Dwayne, despite knee surgery in 2008, is a senior with great defensive ability , who can score in bunches, and is 'improving every game out", according to his Coach, John Dore. " Younger brother Damian is the 'best guard in Canada' according to the Concordia publicists, and he leads the Stingers in scoring ... 19 ppg, steals ... 3+ spg, FT shooting ... 80%, and he plays 34 minutes a game at a very high pace.
“The best way to describe us is we’re a very athletic team,” Dore says. “Down the stretch we played with patience and poise. We win all our close games. Mentally, we are very tough.” Team captain and fifth-year veteran Dwayne Buckley had a similar take. “We’re fast,” he said, “and we play in-your- face defence. At the nationals we’re there talent-wise. For us to win, we have to play harder and smarter than the other teams.”

The big man in the middle is Jamal Gallier, and he is big ... 275 lbs. worth! Gallier is the leading rebounder at 7.4 rpg., and he was the QSSF defensive player of the year. Concordia could start two rookies in this game, including their 3rd leading scorer, Evens Laroche (12 ppg), who scored 28 points in the Quebec Final. The other 1st year stand-out is Adam Carneol, an all-rookie team selection hailing from California.

This Stingers team is on a roll, having won 8 straight going into the championship, and they have the confidence of a veteran team with great guard leadership, lots of depth, and some talented youth. They will be a tough hurdle for the Dinos in the quarter-final.

Dinos Looking For Big Win To Start Tournament

Coach Dan Vanhooren has made a point of getting his Calgary Dinos to focus on their own level of intensity and concentration ... to focus on the process of playing good team basketball. Vanhooren also relies on the magic provided by his 'Big Three' ... Henry Bekkering responded to the challenge of Canada West playoffs in Vancouver with a sparkling performance, which vaulted the Dinos to the Championship over a stunned Trinity Western and a #2 host team, UBC, who could not catch Calgary in the clutch. Coach Vanhooren points out that Henry is "seen only as a dunker .... “For a guy who averages 20 points and seven rebounds, he has All- Canadian numbers, and for the last two years all the expectation about winning around our program has been because he joined the lineup. “He hasn‟t really gotten his due as a great basketball player, and I think this tournament is a good chance for him to showcase his talents. "

Another Dinos stalwart who brought his best to the big games is Robbie Sihota, the 6'6" , 4th year,shooting star, who bombed both UBC and Trinity as well as several other CIS teams at crucial times this season. Sihota said this week, "We gained a lot of confidence by winning the way we did in Vancouver, and we want to keep it going at Nationals." Robbie is a tough match-up for any big man, because of his ability to score from anywhere in the front-court, with his tremendous range and power.

Ross Bekkering, another 4th year, has matured as a player this season, and, on many nights has carried the Dinos with his dominance on the boards, and his ability to defend the paint. Vanhooren says of his 1st team Canada West all-star forward "Offensively he can explode for bigger numbers, and he has great basketball skill for a big man. He can handle the ball, he can shoot the three, and his versatility makes him our everybody man.” Ross' excitement for the game, and his drive to excel was evident from his first days as a Dino right out of W.R. Myers HS in the farming centre of Taber in Southern Alberta.

The other two starters, Jamie McLeod and Tyler Fidler both graduated from Western Canada HS in Calgary ... McLeod went to SAIT for 3 years, but received a call from Coach Vanhooren in the summer, with a chance to join the Dinos, and he has performed extremely well. Jamie can shoot the 3, when given the chance, but his real forte is delivering the ball to his scorers up front, which he has done as the top assist man in CW playoffs. Fidler, who was recruited heavily by both CIS and NCAA schools out of Western, joined the Dinos last season with lots of encouragement from the brothers Bekkering, and he was selected CW rookie of the year in '08. Tyler, at 6'9", has slick ball - ,handling skills, a deadly outside shot, and can be effective as a quick-handed defender in the zone.

This game really may be too tough to call ... Dinos have the power, and Concordia the veteran guard play and defensive pressure. This is a classic match-up in the opening game of the tournament, with both teams going in on winning streaks, and both teams confident in their ability to win the big games. Coach Dan Vanhooren sums it up this way “Concordia is completely different than us. They‟re a shooting team, they‟re quick, and they have a number of things going for them that could cause us some problems. But as long as we take care of the ball and we play the way we have been, the outcome will take care of itself. The whole thing is focusing on the first quarter and even the first four minutes of the first quarter.”

Notes ...

This note from a proud big brother ... "Janelle just won yesterday! Going to the NCAA tourney! She played great!!" This from Henry Bekkering, celebrating his younger sister Janelle's big game ... 14 pts. with 3/7 from 3 pt. range ... as Gonzaga beat San Diego 66-55 to win the West Coast Conference Championship and move on to the Women's NCAA Tournament, with the 1st round March 21-24.
Quiz ... name the 3 members of this year's Dinos team who also participated in the 2004 CIS Nationals in Halifax.

No comments: