Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wayne Thomas's Canada West - Eastern Division Preview

Part Two of Wayne Thomas's Canada West Preview in which today he takes a look at the Eastern Division of Canada West.

The Calgary Dinos are one of several teams appearing to have a good shot at the Eastern Division title in Canada West Basketball in 2009-10, but the defending Canada West Champs have rivals with experience, some key recruits, and more veteran depth at the guard spot, which can be decisive at the finish. The Dinos have a dominating trio up front, and Ross Bekkering, Robbie Sihota, and Tyler Fidler can keep the Dinos at or near the top of this new 8 team Canada West Division. The Dinos will be challenged by the Brandon Bobcats under 2nd year coach Keith Vassell, himself a CIS National Champion as a Bobcat under Coach Jerry Hemmings. The ‘Cats and their long-time rivals, the Regina Cougars, both have impressive back-courts with experience and shooting.

The Saskatchewan Huskies also appear strong in the back-court and also challenge opponents with a big, physical front line as well. This leaves 4 more teams vying fo playoff spots , starting with Coach Greg Francis’ Alberta Golden Bears. The Bears have some new faces who can contribute to a playoff run if the new-look team can gel. The two Winnipeg schools need to improve in order to jump into contention, and the Manitoba Bisons under new Coach Kirby Scheff are hopeful some new blood will replace 3 graduated starters from last season. Coach Dave Crook adds an impressive big man to a core group, who could show improvement over last year’s 5-17 squad. Lethbridge has 9 fresh faces on a 15 man roster with new Coach Dave Adams preaching patience to allow some young recruits to get their bearings in Canada West play.

Team Predictions ...

1. Calgary Dinos ... With four returning starters, the Dinos could dominate again. Solid guard recruits in Andrew McGuinness, 6’2”, Vancouver, Dan Tilleman, 6’5”, Phoenix, Jarred Ogunbemi-Jackson, 5’9”, point guard, Winnipeg, and Terrence Blake , 6’1”, Edmonton, have added quickness,shooting, and defense in the back-court. Jamie McLeod, who started at point very effectively last season, can steady the attack, and returnees Lindsay Thouret (5th), Jordan Flagel (3rd), and Trevor Debolt (2nd), add depth, but the question is: can Calgary’s guards compete with vets like Regina’s, Saskatchewan’s, and Brandon’s in the heat of Canada West play? Ross Bekkering should be an All-Canadian up front, with his incredible athleticism, and Robbie Sihota is a clutch shooter, who has added muscle and savvy heading into his 5th year. Tyler Fidler, a 6’9” swing-man will be the key. Fidler’s scoring is needed more than ever with the loss of Henry Bekkering to the Euro-League. Forward depth is left to 6’7” Dustin Reding, and rookie Patrick Walker, at 6’8”, an athletic work in progress. Should Dinos Football QB Eric Glavic, a 6’6”athlete, who showed some game with St. Mary’s Huskies, decide to suit up after the grid season is done, he could strengthen this spot.
Lost ... H. Bekkering, Dom Coward, Andy Rochon, Tony Dhaliwal, Brennen Fule. Added ... Ogunbemi-Jackson, Tilleman, McGuinness, Walker, Blake, Glavic, David Laskin. Last year ... 17-5 ... Prediction ... 14-6

2. Saskatchewan Huskies Greg Jockims has both a solid guard combo and a group of big, physical forwards, and the Huskies could surprise with their depth. Shawron Glover is flashy in the Allen Iverson mode, and was the CW leader in scoring ...25 ppg, and steals ...4 spg. 6’6” Nolan Brudehl was a good rookie, who will play the coach’s style, and Troy Gottselig has developed into a scoring threat to go with some rugged rebounding. Add in the returning Mike Linklater, a slashing guard, and 6’8” Michael Leiffers, and the Green and White could be much tougher this season. Lots of depth in the post with Chris Unsworth, a 6’8” transfer from Calgary, joining his 6’10” brother Clint ... both are rugged defenders and space eaters on the glass.
Lost ... Mac Fairbairn and Dan Brudehl. Added ... Linklater, Unsworth. Last year ... 10-12 ... Prediction ... 12-8

3. Regina Cougars ... Regina has been testing Brandon for years, and now gets a chance to contest a title on a bigger scale, and they may have the horses to get the job done. The addition of Darius Mole, a point guard from Arizona, complements an already strong guard group of Paul Schubach, who has played the point but has swing guard attributes, and Jeff Lukomski, a long-range bomber who can light it up at any time. The Cougars have veteran Jamaal Williams in the high post, teaming with the crash and bash of Kris Heshka, who can hold his own with bigger opponents down low. Danny LeBeck, another import from Scottsdale, AZ is 6’6” and an adept passer according to Coach James Hillis. Sterling Nostedt and Jordan McFarlen will give some quality minutes coming off the bench at guard spots. Lost ... none significant. Added ... Darius Mole, Danny LeBeck, Paul Gareau, 6’8”, Neil Olukoya, 6’4”. Last year ... 12-10 ... Prediction ... 11-9.

4. Brandon Bobcats - At times, Dany Charlery is impossible to guard ... the times he is on the court! The 2009 All-Canadian will spark a Brandon back-court with his speed, scoring touch and defensive larceny. He has Tarik Tokar as one of the league’s premier set-up men at the point, as well as having added Andrew Kraus, who shone for Acadia in their CIS Finals run in 2008. This has to be one of the CIS’ top back-courts and, if the Bobcats can get their forwards to fight off bigger opponents, Brandon could do better than 3rd. Rejean Chabot, himself a solid scoring guard, is sitting out the season, but Coach Keith Vassell, taking a page from Coach Hemmings’ book has recruited Terri Thomas, a 25 year old guard from Chicago, and Kyrie Coleman a 6’7” wing from Washington, D.C., who should see some floor time.
Lost ... Chabot, Stevens Marcelin, Erik Holm, Lonnie Duncan. Added ... Kraus, Coleman, Thomas, Martin Lawrence, 6’11” rookie, James Elias, Jelani Deliovsky. Last year ... 13-9 ... Prediction ... 10-10

5. Alberta Golden Bears - In the year 1AH (after Horwood), incoming Coach Greg Francis follows the most successful coach in Bears basketball history, and his roster has 8 new faces to add to key returnees, Scott Leigh, a feisty point guard, who can hit the trey, and 6’4” Harvey Bradford, who battles in the post giving away size in every match-up. 6’8” Jeff Stork is returning after time away, and he should help in the post. The rookie group is as hyped as any in the CIS starting with 6’7”Jordan Baker, a lefty wing offensive threat, who learned the game from father Doug and mother Trix, both of whom were stars at U of A in days past. Todd Bergen-Henengouwen, a 6’5” wing was recruited from Pronghorn country in Picture Butte along with Ken Otieno, a 6’2” guard from Lethbridge. Rob Dewar,a 6’11” post from the NEDA program in Ontario followed Francis out west, and he is joined in the post by Jamaal Bucknor, a 6’7” Concordia College transfer. Khas Tokar, a guard from Grande Prairie College, should see minutes right away.
Lost ... C.G. Morrison, Neb Aleksic, Justin VanLoo, Eric Casey and 5 more. Added ... Storck, Baker, Bergen-Henengouwen, Otieno, Dewar, Tokar, Bucknor, Nikola Manojlovic, Jordan Hone.
Last year ... 13-9 ... Prediction ... 9-11

6. Winnipeg Wesmen - Coach Dave Crook can’t be happy at 5-17,and neither can his veteran team led by Peter Lomuro, a very athletic swing man, and Nick Lother a headsy guard, who was the top scorer last season at 15 ppg. Eric Zimmerman, a 2nd year, 6’5” wing man, can score as well. James Horaska, another 4th year forward, was limited by injuries, one of several last season for the bad-luck Wesmen. Mike James started every game last year and led in rebounds with 7 rpg and he hopes to get a lot of help from Adam Dobriansky, a 6’10” transfer from Monmouth U., an NCAA school. If Ben Kingdon, at 6’7”, stays healthy after knee problems a year ago, he can be a rebounding plus. Crook also added two Winnipeg high school stars, Brayden Duff and Mark Ridd, both small forwards. Look for marked improvement from Winnipeg if Dobriansky can make as big a difference as his coach thinks he can, and if the injury bug stays away.
Lost ... none ... Added ... Dobriansky, Duff, Ridd.
Last year ... 5-17 ... Prediction ... 8-12

7. Lethbridge Pronghorns - Dave Adams wants to win a National Championship in Lethbridge, but he knows it will take a few years to reach that promised land. In basketball-crazy Southern Alberta, Adams has a reputation as a good teacher and motivator, and he will need these strengths as he tries to incorporate 9 new faces to his 15 man roster. Adams is fortunate,however, to have a few key pieces returning including high scorer Danhue Lawrence a sharp-shooter (20 ppg) who can hit from outside, and take it tough to the hoop. Derek Waldner enters his 2nd year after leading the ‘Horns in rebounding (6.5 rpg) as a rookie, and returning after resting an injury last season is Quinn Van Gaalen, a shooting guard who will be helped with the arrival of Jeff Price, a transfer point guard from the Dinos, who instantly upgrades the Lethbridge back-court. Robin Cooper is a tough forward who can help with rebounding along with Brandon Thomas-James, a 6’5” 2nd year post, while Randy Davis, a transfer from Red Deer College should help at the offensive end, bringing a 17 ppg scoring average last year in the ACAC. High school recruits include 6’7” Taylor Norum and 6’5” Sean McCormick.
Lost ... Allan Kadima, Sean Nelson, Sephton Spence. Added ... Price, Davis, Norum, McCormick, Kyle Wilson.
Last year ... 5-17 ... Prediction ... 7-13

8. Manitoba Bisons - Kirby Scheff comes in to try and revitalize a Manitoba program, which had fallen on hard times ... 4-18 is very rocky! Nathan Dixon is the returning leading scorer from 08-09, but the Bisons lost Chris Pereira, Myron Dean and C.J. Wicker, who were all starters. Eric Garcia, another returning guard is a good three point shooter, and can distribute the ball. Key recruits for Schepp, who comes from the Winnipeg high school ranks, are two 6’ guards who played at Sisler HS for their championship team in 2007-08 ... Jonar Huertas and Kurtis Sansregret played at Red River College last season and can step in immediately. Sean Maxwell, a 6’7” forward transfer from UBC can play inside and outside, and should provide some needed scoring, and will be joined up front by Richard Reimer, a 6’7” forward who returns after 2 seasons off.
Lost -Dean, Wicker, Pereira Added- Huertas, Sansregret, Maxwell, Reimer.
Last year ... 4-18 ... Prediction ... 6-14

New Coaches at Three Schools

Dave Adams, Lethbridge, and Kirby Schepp, Manitoba are homegrown leaders in their basketball community, while Greg Francis, Alberta, is a high profile import from the Canada Basketball program based in Toronto. These three fresh faces join a group of four veterans and one young playing legend as the Head Coaches in the Eastern Division of Canada West.

1 comment:

life insurance broker said...

Oh you bet the Dinos will dominate again. I expect nothing less from them :) Thanks for your great analyses of the teams.

Take care, Lorne