Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Athletic backcourt propels Huskies

The Andrew Spagrud era at Saskatchewan, which ended at the end of the 2007-08 season, was one of the finest in the program's history, highlighted by a trip to the CIS Nationals in 2006. Much of the time, the Huskies played through Spagrud in the low post in what was primarily half-court oriented offense. With the graduation of five starters including Spagrud following the 2007-08 season, Head Coach Greg Jockims embarked on a rebuilding program, starting with arrival of 5'10" Showron Glover, an exciting, up-tempo guard from California with speed, quickness and a desire to push the tempo at both ends. Glover, a 1st team Canada West all-star in his first season as a Huskie, is the cornerstone of the newest era of Huskie basketball with the objective of establishing sharp contrast in style from the Spagrud era, instead predicated on getting up and down the floor and pushing up on teams defensively.

Glover burst on the Canada West scene with a tremendous performance in his first season in Saskatoon, averaging 24.1 ppg, 5.0 apg and 4.2 apg while showing an ability to get to the rim and great court vision with his passing. Glover looks to improve on his 32.7% shooting from beyond the arc. Likely to start alongside Glover in the Huskies exciting backcourt is 5'11" Mike Linklater, a veteran Saskatoon native in his fifth season of eligibility who played last season at Lakeland College where he averaged 9.4 ppg. Linklater is a natural point guard who can slash to the rim and has range beyond the three point line. Both Glover and Linklater, who will likely start at the guard positions, are quick enough that Saskatchewan will look to push up on teams to force the issue defensively. Huskies have a capable backup in 5'11" sophomore Preston O'Brien, the likely point guard of the future, who is currently nursing a shoulder injury but is more than capable of steady minutes in relief of the starters.

One of the traditional strengths at Saskatchewan has been their series of solid bigs and this season is no different with at least 5 big bodies capable of contributing, beginning with 6'8" Troy Gottselig, entering his fifth season and coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 14.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting .505 from the floor. Gottselig, big and strong at 235 lbs., is a perfect complement inside to the quick guards. Fellow 6'6" returning starter Nolan Brudehl, Saskatchewan's top freshman last season, has more of a face up game with the ability to knock down 3's and is a solid four man. 6'8" Micheal Lieffers, starting his second season as a Huskie after transferring from Lakeland College where he was the ACAC rebounding leader during his only season, has an uncanny ability to get on the offensive glass (almost 3 "o" boards per game last season) while averaging 6.6 boards per contest. 6'9" fifth-year vet Clint Unsworth, who provides strength off the bench is also in the mix, while younger brother 6'8" Chris Unsworth arrives as a transfer from Calgary where he last played in 2007-08 and should also work into the rotation up front as a tough, physical strong post.

On the wing, 6'1" Trevor Nerdahl, originally from Caronport, SK and a transfer from Trinity Western where he last played in 2006-07, looks to play off Saskatchewan's two skilled guards to get his feet set and launch 3's. Nerdahl, who has spent the past two seasons battling concussion issues, is a veteran leader type and Huskies main threat from the perimeter with range beyond the arc and a likely starter on the wing. In 6'4" Duncan Jones, a former transfer from Concordia College who missed the last 6 weeks of last season with a knee injury, the Huskies have an athletic wing who attacks the rim and has increased his overall strength. 6'3" sophomore Patrick Burns also looks to get some run at the wing positions. A potential wild card is 6'1" Truden Bofoya, who played his last high school years at Hamilton (ON.) St. Mary's before his family moved to Saskatoon. After sitting out the past two seasons, Huskies now get a closer look at his tremendous athletic ability and how that might translate into time in the rotation.

With a very quick, athletic backcourt, look for the Huskies to shift to a more aggressive, on-the-ball defense that looks to create turnovers and easy scores. With a year under his belt and more quality depth than last season, Glover and company hope to work into contention for one of the four playoff spots in Canada West Prairie division.

The Huskies visit Eastern Canada in mid-October, participating in the House-Laughton Invitational at Carleton before coming home to host their own tournament in Saskatoon. Saskatchewan also has a meeting slated with NCAA Division 1 Montana State Bobcats of the Big Sky conference in November in Bozeman, MT.

No comments: