Monday, 16 November 2009

Canada West Recap

In the first weekend of Pacific Division/Prairie Division Canada West interlocking play, the west coasters dominated, winning 9 of 12 games including 5-3 on the road. Five of the six teams in Canada West have records above .500 while only 2 Prairie teams (Calgary and Alberta) have records greater than .500 (see standings at the end of this post). There are plenty of games remaining however it is quickly becoming clear that the Pacific Division is very strong and could conceivably have five teams in the playoffs (I will endeveour to understand if there is a cross-over playoff possibility much like the CFL and advise in a future post).

Here is a detailed recap albeit a bit dated but hopefully still worth the read...

TWU/Simon Fraser sweep Regina/Brandon on the road: After a beat down on the road at the hands of #2 UBC T-Birds two weeks ago, Trinity Western Spartans bounced back strong with a pair of solid road wins over the weekend, beginning with an 83-63 win at Brandon on Friday as 6'8" Jacob Doerksen dominated with 25 points and 12 boards while TWU "d" held Brandon to 32% shooting including only 3-20 from 3. In a POY candidate showdown between Doerksen and 'Cats 6'3" Dany Charlery, the Spartans (2-1) held the smooth wing to only 10 points (4-13 shooting) and 6 turnovers. TWU also overcame a tilted 27-13 foul count which sent Brandon to the line 27 times against only 6 f.t's for the visitors. Still Trinity led by 10 at the half and 21 after three quarters to claim the win. The following night in Regina, before a nice crowd of 1,142 spectators, it was raining 3's as the Cougars and Spartans combined for 54 shots from beyond the arc and it was the Spartans who outlasted Regina (1-3) 81-74. The teams were never separated by more than eight points and the game wasn’t decided until late in the fourth quarter when TWU's Tyrell Mara hit a pair of free throws to put the Spartans up by eight with just over a half minute remaining. Mara ended up with the game’s lone double-double, scoring 11 points and leading all players with 16 rebounds. Lance Verhoeff had 22 points and seven rebounds for the Spartans, while Louis Hurd (5-12 from three point land) and Calvin Westbrook chipped in with 16 each. Making his first start of the year, Jeff Lukomski was 7-for-14 from three-point land and piled up a season-high 25 points for the Cougars. Kris Heshka had 20 points and eight rebounds for Regina, while Jamal Williams had 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Regina had also lost the night before as undefeated Simon Fraser (3-0) defeated the Cougars 91-76 before another great crowd of 1,225 fans. Once again, the three pointers were pouring down as the Clan hit 18 for 35 from beyond the arc led by 6'4" Kevin Shaw who had 20 points on 6-8 from downtown. Fellow big guard Sean Burke added 10 points, 5 rebounds and 11 assists in the win for SFU which opened up a 17 point lead after 3 quarters using a 35-22 run in the third quarter to open the game up. Simon Fraser then went into Brandon and held off a great start by the 'Cats to come back and win 69-63, holding Brandon to only 24 second half points and only 38 in the last 3 quarters. Once again, Shaw was dynamite from beyond the arc, going 5-11 for a game-high 19 points, finishing the weekend 11-19 from downtown. Charlery had only 12 points but added 4 rebounds, 7 assists with 6 turnovers for reeling Brandon (now 1-5 on the season).

UVic/UBC sweep Saskatchewan & Alberta: In the highlight game of the entire weekend, the Huskies took a 7 point lead into the fourth quarter on Friday night at UBC but watched Josh Whyte take the game over including a couple of fourth-quarter picks of Saskatchewan's POY candidate Showron Glover as the T-Birds prevailed 90-83 in front of another solid Canada West crowd of 1,367 fans in Vancouver. Glover had almost singlehandidly propelled Saskatchewan into their lead, scoring 31 of his game-high 34 points in the first 3 quarters but Whyte stole the ball from him twice in the fourth as the #2 Birds remained undefeated. Glover was 4-10 from beyond the arc while the rest of the Huskies went only 2-19. Still, the Huskies showed the country they are more than worthy of a Top 10 ranking, despite falling flat in Victoria the following night. In another game Friday night, UVic knocked Alberta from the ranks of the undefeated after a second quarter 30 point scoring spree propelled UVic to a 74-66 victory. Fifth-year guard Cyril Indome netted eight points during the decisive stretch and finished with 19 to lead all scorers as Vikes led 46-28 at halftime. The Vikes also received a big boost on the 'boards and owned a 38-30 advantage on the glass. Forwards Mike Berg and Wendell Thomas had 10 rebounds apiece and both players completed the double-doubles with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Ryan MacKinnon rounded out the Vikes scoring leaders as the third-year guard from Comox contributed 14 points after knocking down three from behind the arc. The Vikes collective made eight three-pointers and shot 45 percent overall. The Golden Bears also owned a 79-63 decision over the Vikes in the pre-season. Rookie guard Jordan Baker led Alberta with 14 points on 6-10 shooting. Sahr Saffa came off the bench to provide 12 points, and Jamaal Bucknor shot 5-9 for 11 points. The Golden Bears shot 45 percent, which included 10 three-pointers (with thanks to Mike Tucker from UVic SID). On Saturday, UVic won again, shutting down Saskatchewan's Glover, the league's leading scorer, in a dominating 82-54 win over the Huskies. All 12 players scored for UVic with Cyril Indome led all scorers with a game high 19 points, shooting 7-11. Jeff Cullen came off the bench to add 11 and Zac Andrus and Nick Adair chipped in 10 apiece. Canada West's #1 ranked defence five years running limited the Huskies to 31% shooting, holding Glover, who averages almost 30 ppg, to 14 points. Glover made his first shot of the night, a three-pointer right off the opening tip, but Saskatchewan only scored six more points the rest of the quarter and the Vikes opened up a nine-point lead. A 20-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters salted away the game during which Vic shot 6-8. UBC was again pushed at home on Saturday against Alberta, finding themselves in a tie game with 8 minutes remaining but reserve guard Nathan Yu had a big night, coming off the bench to score 23 points. Yu was key down the stretch, hitting big shots including a three-pointer with less than a minute remaining in regulation. Yu’s performance was especially timely, stepping in to support the illness-stricken Josh Whyte. As Head coach Kevin Hanson explained on “Josh was sick this week. He missed the first two days of practice and we needed him to play big minutes last night, so his energy level was a little depleted. [Yu’s performance] is a sign of our depth - someone is eventually going to get hot and come around and do things for us. Tonight it was Nate.” The Bears came out on an 8-0 run to start the second breaking a tie that ended the first quarter. However after Hanson took a time out, the T-Birds grabbed the momentum back and proceeded on a 16-2 run to take a lead they would never relinquish. The run was characterized by several consecutive defensive stops and subsequent transition points. The Bears had a couple of runs left, tying the game after forward Jamaal Bucknor hit a three-pointer from the top of the key in the third quarter. But Whyte responded with a three-pointer of his own, and the ‘Birds went on another run, finishing the quarter with a seven-point lead. Alberta drew even again with eight minutes remaining but never took the lead and then Yu and Whyte drained shots in the final minute, putting the game out of reach. UBC remains undefeated, having played all three of their league games and six games overall against CIS competition at home.

Calgary Report from Wayne Thomas... Strong Finish Stops Cascades The Dinos looked to be on the ropes in the second half Friday against the visiting Fraser Valley Cascades as the visitors went on an 18-4 run to tie the game at 44. Robbie Sihota and Tyler Fidler were both on the bench; Fidler with the effects of the flu, and Sihota with foul trouble. Not to worry ... Jarred Ogunbemi-Jackson (left) showed off his defensive quickness with 6 steals, and scored 16 points in his best game of the season, as Calgary (5-0) blitzed Fraser Valley 80-62 to put the Cascades at 2-1. Ross Bekkering after having sat out much of the first half with 2 quick fouls, took over the boards in the second, and he finished with 25
points and 11 rebounds. Calgary scored in bunches, and while locking down the UFV
offense with a swarming zone in the 3rd quarter, the Dinos got hot at the other end, and quickly built a 15 point margin to take a close game, and put it out of reach. Consecutive treys by Bekkering, Ogunbemi-Jackson and fellow rookie Andrew McGuinness gave the Dinos an instant cushion. The relatively young UFV team got 16 points from 1st year wing Joel Friesen , while both Kyle Grewal and Zeon Gray tallied 12 pts. Last year’s Canada West rookie of the year, Sam Freeman was held in check most of the way. Both coaches used their benches well, and Calgary got some timely play from 3rd year post Dustin Reding, as he covered for the loss of Sihota and Bekkering at some crucial moments. After a rough start, Jamie McLeod played a very sharp second half with steals and some key baskets, finishing with 11 pts., 5 boards, and 5 steals. The teams both shot 40% from the floor, and the rebounding was 38-37 for UFV, but the Cascades turned it over a devastating 32 times, and Calgary converted many into scores... SATURDAY Calgary over Thompson Rivers... Sihota Hot, Then Hurt in Dinos Win... Robbie Sihota was hot in the first half, as he rang up 23 points, hitting from everywhere, but he and his teammates cooled off in the 3rd quarter as the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack outscored Calgary 24-13 and narrowed the score to 62-54. The Dinos stormed back with 33 in the
final frame to defeat TRU 95-68, and run their Canada West record to 6-0. Sihota
finished with 27 points, but rolled an ankle with about 5 minutes left. He was joined on the bench by Tyler Fidler, who was hurt on an attempted lob play. The Dinos got good games from Ross Bekkering, with 18 pts. and 9 rebounds, Dustin Reding, who finally found his shooting range, to tally 15, and Jared Ogunbemi-Jackson, who had 13 pts., including 3/4 from 3 pt.range, and added 8 assists. The ‘Pack, who dropped to 0-4 on the season, got 18 pts. from 5th year guard Sean Garvey and 14 from Greg Stewart, the 7’ post man with the left arm prosthesis. Calgary got 44 boards to TRU’s 41, but the real telling stat was the 9 Dino turnovers compared to 29 from the Wolfpack. Calgary was also 14/28 from beyond the arc, compared to 9/22 for the squad from Kamloops.
Notes ...
• Correction ...Taylor Norum, 1st year, Lethbridge, started high school at Highwood HS in High River, then finished at Holsby Brunn School in Sweden. He also played a couple of seasons with the Junior Dinos, and for Alberta’s Provincial Juvenile team. Norum, Jeremy Stanley, and Sean McCormick, all rookies, are getting just a few minutes each game with the ‘Horns, as they are behind veterans in the rotation.
• “With this young group of players, we are trying to reduce the number of breakdowns. “ This is a quote from a CIS coach, who, you would guess, has a whole lineup of 1st and 2nd year players ... not so, in fact ... they have one 5th year, 4
fourth years, 4 third years, 4 second years, and 1 first year who is playing. Young, in that you’ve lost a couple of 5th year stars, but not young relative to other teams. We always get an even bigger kick out of a high school coach describing his
‘Young team’. Ah ... yes ... they’re high school students. It’s really a coach’s hedge on his team’s performance.
• Jeff Price had 26 pts., 10 rebounds and 7 assists in the ‘Horns (2-3) win over TRU.
• SFU shot 63% in their big win at Regina, with Matt Kuzminski hitting for 14, and grabbing 10 rebounds. The Clan hit 18 treys to 8 for the Cougars. Canada West • UBC coach Kevin Hanson, after Friday’s win over the Huskies ... "That's the best Saskatchewan team I've seen since I have been coaching here. "They have size, they have athleticism and they have one of the best scorers in the country so that was a really good win against a really good basketball team." Saturday, Huskies get Viked by 28 on the Island ... tough ferry trip ? • Very uneven game as both Calgary and TRU had early foul trouble ... play got ragged and there were bodies on the deck quite often in the second half. • Nice to see former Dinos players Chris Wright, Jeremy Odland, Josh Feist, Brendan Groat, and Adam Ford in the stands this weekend. Ford and Feist are working downtown and Wright and Groat back in school pursuing teaching and medicine respectively. • Where the blazes are ‘The Leaders’ ... this active group of student supporters were not evident either night ? • Calgary travels to Saskatoon next weekend for two games with the Huskies (2-2), and these look like the strongest two clubs in the Prairie Division.

Lethbridge report from the top anonymous contributor to this site... In Lethbridge on Friday night Lethbridge 84 Thompson Rivers 75 ... University of Lethbridge Pronghorns (2-3 in Canada West), ultimately emerged victorious besting the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack (0-3 in Canada West) 84-75, before an announced crowd of 941 in Lethbridge. Thompson Rivers led 20-13 after 10 minutes and 37-35 at the half. Lethbridge was up 55-49 following the third frame. Thompson Rivers tied the fray mid-way through the final stanza, but the 'Horns, led as per usual by 6', 4th-year point guard Jeff Price, closed the show. Price finished with 26 points (including 5-8 on 3s), 10 rebounds and seven assists. He was a one-man-gang. Jeff Friesen, Wolfpack's 6'7", 4-man, had 16 points and 10 boards. Greg Stewart, the 7'2", Thompson Rivers 5-man, scored 11 points, hauled in 10 rebounds, blocked seven shots and perhaps affected at least 10 more. Stewart plays with a prosthetic lower left arm. In every other way he is seemingly a fellow NBA franchises would evaluate. Lethbridge's truly dismal shooting season continues. On this night the 'Horns made 32.1 percent from the field. Thompson Rivers connected on 36.7 percent. The statistical advantage for Lethbridge came in rebounding (56-44) and turnovers (11, as compared to 17 for Thompson Rivers.)... On Saturday night, Fraser Valley 82 Lethbridge 77 Fraser Valley improved to 3-1 in Canada West subduing 2-4 Lethbridge 82-77 in Lethbridge. Perhaps the most impressive note regarding Fraser Valley's record is that they have played all four of their league tilts on the road. Lethbridge led 17-15 after 10 minutes, but Fraser Valley outscored the homeside 31-19 in the second frame to take a 46-36 edge into to locker room. Fraser Valley was up 63-54 at the end of the third quarter. Lethbridge exceited the announced crowd of 914 with a late-game run and actually shot to tie the fray, but Fraser Valley got it done. Five Fraser Valley players hit double figures, led by 5'10" American junior college transfer Zeon Gray with 14. Kyle Grewal (6'6"), and Craig Bauslaugh (6') netted 13 markers, while Sam Freeman (6'3") and James Elliott (6'8") added a dozen. Fraser Valley are quite vertically challenged, but they spread the floor effectively. Seven different lads connected from three-point country. Those money balls were was important as they only connected on 35.7 percent overall from the floor as a team. Another strength for Fraser Valley was the fact they only committed eight turnovers as a team as opposed to eight for Lethbridge. Lethbridge had it's best shooting game of the season, making 44.6 percent. Danhue Lawrence (6'3") was strong scoring 18 points and hauling in seven rebounds. Jeff Price (6') finished with 17 points, while Randy Davis (6'4") and Rob Cooper (6'6") tallied 11 for the home boys. Lethbridge won the battle of the boards 45-39.

Calgary 6-0
Alberta 4-2
Saskatchewan 2-2
Manitoba 2-3
Lethbridge 2-4
Regina 1-3
Brandon 1-5
Winnipeg 0-5
Simon Fraser 3-0
UBC 3-0
UFV 3-1
Victoria 2-1
Trinity Western 2-1
Thompson Rivers 0-4

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