Saturday, 29 August 2009

Capers should be right there again

Always providing fans an entertaining, up tempo brand of basketball under veteran Head Coach Jim Charters, the Cape Breton University Capers have been on the doorstep of an AUS championship and CIS Nationals for several years, including a spot in the Final Four a few seasons ago. For much of the past few seasons, disappointing losses in the AUS tournament have overshadowed what has been one of the better runs of any program in Canada over the past decade or so. With at least 10 players on this season's roster that would fit into almost any rotation in Canada, the Capers again expect to sit in the upper echelon of the Atlantic conference this season.

A breakout last season provided the springboard for 6'4" Philip Nkrumah to make an international appearance for Canada at the FISU games and, now in his fourth year, consideration as one of the top players in the AUS if not all of Canada. Nkrumah, who was not a high profile recruit coming out of the GTA four seasons ago, is an undersized paint area player who is strong and explosive and has continually ratcheted up his scoring and rebounding numbers every season, emerging into Cape Breton's go-to guy up front. Another fourth-year Ontario product, Guelph-bred 6'7" Scott Jaspers-Fayer has paid his dues playing behind higher profile stars like Eric Breland and also has overcome injuries to become another stalward for Cape Breton up front. Jaspers-Fayer has steadily improved all areas of his game and he plays off Nkrumah nicely.

Setting the table for bigs and wings is 5'11" Tremaine Fraser, a Nova Scotia native, who fits the Capers style, excelling in transition and, as he matures now into his third season, playing with the consistency required to become an all-AUS performer. Throughout the first two seasons of his career, Fraser has not backed down from taking big shots and key moments and has had his share of successes to that end. Also likely to push for starting roles are a pair of fifth-year sharpshooters who represent Cape Breton's three-point shooting threats in 6'2" Mark McGarrigle (9.0 ppg/39% 3's last season) and 6'4" Ryan Roper (10.0 ppg/39% 3's last season), finishing his career at Cape Breton U. in the MBA program after three seasons at Winnipeg. Both should be willing recipients of draw-and-kick looks from Fraser with his ability to create off the dribble.

Despite the loss of forward 6'5" Courtney Thomas (Baltimore, MD) who was usually the first big off the bench last season, the Capers have a strong, deep bench that will allow them to continue to play pressure "d" and run for all 40 minutes. 6'6" Al Aliovic, who started in the first half of last season before being sidelined with an injury, was a noteable recruit from Milton, ON a couple of seasons ago. The third year swingman can knock shots down from beyond the arc and also work in and around the paint. Athletic 5th year 5'11" guard Chris Noddle, another GTA product from Brampton, ON, provides energy off the bench, usually spelling Fraser while 6'2" Justin Roper battled through an injury-plague freshman season but his broken foot, which nagged him all season after sustaining it in the pre-season, appears healthy and much is expected of him. Up front 6'6" Lassario Burrows, a native of the Bahamas who transfered to CBU after one season at Barrie's Georgian College, begins his third year as a solid rotation guy up front.

As usual, Charters was able to attract a solid top recruit to Sydney as 6'4" Cameron-John Procter, originally from Father Goetz H.S. in Mississauga via Vincennes (IN) Junior College where he averaged 4.0 ppg in 27 games during the 2006-07 season, should immediately plug into the rotation as a solid 3/4.

The Capers have a solid pre-season schedule highlighted by a trip to the Nation's Capital for the Jack Donohue Memorial Tip-Off tournament as well as a trip through Quebec to face UQAM, McGill and Bishop's.

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