Thursday, 3 December 2009

Canada West First Half Recap

INTERLOCK SUMMARY: After the Pacific Division dominated the first weekend of interlocking games against Prairie Division foes, winning 9 of 12 overall, last weekend the divisions split 12 games - overall now the Pacific Division leads 15 wins to 9.

TEAM-BY-TEAM UPDATES: Much is usually made of the strength of Calgary Dinos front line with 6'8" Ross Bekkering, 6'9" Tyler Fidler and 6'6" Robbie Sihota, each of them Canada West all-star and All-Canadian material. However, it is becoming more apparent as the season progresses just how important freshman guard Jerrod Ogungbemi-Jackson is to Calgary Dinos success. Ogungbemi-Jackson leads the Dinos in minutes played (30.3 mpg) and Calgary has taken to letting the slick guard create when the offense breaks down, something the quick, dynamic first-year point from Winnipeg has done very well. Ogungbemi-Jackson (10.2 ppg) and fifth-year guard Jamie McLeod (7.8 ppg) have combined for 18 points plus about 9 assists and 5 steals per game. There is still an entire second half of a season plus playoffs to play and many freshmen do hit a wall toward the end of their initial campaigns, but Ogungbemi-Jackson thus far has proved to be one of Canada's top freshman. Bekkering continues to be Calgary's most important player overall - witness the results during his absence against SFU - as the solid post (18.3 ppg/9.6 rpg/53.4% field goals and an incredible 9.2 free throw attempts per game - all team-highs). In Bekkering's absence, whispers started about the supposed drop-off in talent and production beyond the first five and 6'7" sophomore Dustin Redding, 6'1" SAIT transfer Terrence Blake and 6'3" freshman Andrew McGuiness are among the reserves who will be pushed in big games when Coach Dan Vanhooren has to use his bench... Solid guard play has been the most noteworthy aspect of Saskatchewan Huskies first half as 5'10" Showron Glover (CW leading scorer - see league stats summary below) and 5'11" Mike Linklater have combined for almost 40 ppg (just about 50% of the Huskies scoring) and both average over 34 minutes per game. Glover (33 assists, 42 turnovers, 26 steals) is given plenty of rope making decisions offensively and is able to gamble defensively, both of which generally play to the U.S. import's strengths while Linklater has range beyond the three point line and his experience is necessary given the comparative lack of depth in the back court. Huskies Head Coach Greg Jockims has used several different starting lineups with only Glover, Linklater and 6'8" Troy Gottselig starting all 8 league games with 5 others getting turns starting games, displaying the great depth Saskatchewan has in the 3 through 5 spots. After missing the league opener and then playing very sparingly in the next 3 games, 6'9" fifth-year senior Chris Unsworth started both games against Calgary, the team he transfered from, and then followed those starts up with a career-high 22 points/12 rebounds at Alberta... There was some stirring in Canada West circles after it was announced that Regina Cougars were adding a pair of U.S. imports to their roster however as has been proven time and time again, there is no substitute for experience and the familiarity of playing together for several seasons. Given the veteran experience on the Cougars roster, it is no surprise that the incumbents are on the floor when it counts and expect Regina to contend primarily for these reasons. With the return of 6'0" Jeff Lukonski from football, the Cougars start three fifth-year and two fourth-year seniors who have playing together for at least three years, led by 6'1 fifth-year Academic All-Canadian Paul Schubach, the main decision maker in the backcourt. 6'5" Jamal Williams (3.5 apg/8.1 rpg) is an unselfish forward who likes to operate in the high post while opponents should expect 6'7" Kris Heshka (12.6 ppg/8.1 rpg) to be much more productive in the second half. The veteran Cougars, who have forced at least 20 turnovers out of their opponents in each of the last 4 games, are only 1-3 at home so expect that to change as well... After a quick start to the regular season, Alberta Golden Bears dropped 5 consecutive games including 3 straight at home and had the second of back-to-back games against Saskatchewan Huskies staring them in the face this past Saturday night. Worse still, the Huskies had embarrassed the Bears one night earlier, running them off the floor in probably the worst loss in Coach Greg Francis' first season in Edmonton. Trailing by 14 entering the fourth quarter, the Bears appeared destined to enter the break losers of six straight. But then one of Canada's top freshman saved the day as 6'7" Jordan Baker hit a buzzer-beating three that emotionally could be the play that saves Alberta's season. Baker has backed up the heavy expectations of being one of Canada's top incoming freshmen, leading the Bears in scoring, starting every game and averaging about 30 mpg. A big guy with very strong and fundamentally-sound perimeter skills, Baker has a chance to be one of the best players in the CIS when all is said and done. Meanwhile Coach Francis has had to use 9 different players in the starting lineup, with 6'5" veteran Harvey Bradford and college transfer Jamaal Bucknor two others who have started all 10 games. After starting the first three games of the season (all wins), 6'2" Ken Otieno returned to the lineup this past weekend after missing 5 subsequent games. 6'9" freshman Rob Dewar also started five games however the Bears were only 1-4 (win at Winnipeg) in those starts. Veteran Scott Leigh has shown his versatility, leading the team in minutes played and three-pointers made despite starting only 5 games. He had 24 points off the bench in a win against Lethbridge. When healthy, the Bears can throw 10 players at teams and once the numerous newcomers are comfortable with the system, expect Alberta to contend... Fans in Southern Alberta have seen a strong turnaround in Lethbridge Pronghorns, highlighted by a road victory this past weekend, knocking Simon Fraser out of the ranks of the undefeated. 6'1" Jeff Price has been the catalyst on most nights, making virtually every key decision, knocking down threes and shooting 88% from the foul line among other things. In 6'2" Danhue Lawrence and 6'6" Robin Cooper, the Horns have a pair of athletic wings/forwards who attack the rim, get on the offensive glass and allow Lethbridge to push the tempo defensively. Mainly due to their great work, Lethbridge leads Canada West with 45 rpg and is second with 16.3 "o" boards per game. After 3 straight losses to open the season, a home win over Regina seemed to bring confidence and the Horns proceed to win 4 of 5 culminated in one of the biggest wins for the program in recent memory at Simon Fraser. Price had 25 in that game and was the catalyst in the overtime. 6'4" Randy Davis has been a revelation up front and Derek Waldner continues his fine play as a sophomore, more evidence that suggests Lethbridge, led by poised veteran guard Price, is a legitimate contender for a Canada West playoff spot in new coach Dave Adams first season... Despite ending the first half on a four-game winning streak, it has been a disappointing start to the season for Brandon Bobcats as Coach Keith Vassell has used 8 different starters as part of a 9 man rotation in an effort to find proper roles for his stable of talent. During the recent win streak, the three constants have been 6'3" Dany Charlery, 6'1" point Andrew Kraus and 6'2" fifth-year wing Tarik Tokar, each of who average over 27 mpg - the six others in the rotation average under 20 mpg. The Bobcats have been especially on fire from the perimeter during the win streak, going 32 for 61 (53%) from downtown. Charlery again is the go-to guy offensively but the scoring after that is much more balanced. This is a group with numerous new players that appears to be gelling and a team that come February could be ready to return to the upper echelon... Manitoba Bisons have had a couple of milestone wins, including their first victory in Brandon in many years plus this past weekend's improbable come-from-behind miracle over UVic. The undersize Bisons spread the floor and play draw-and-kick in an attempt to set up open perimeter shooters, much like the old Phoenix Suns in the days of Thunder Dan Majerle and White Chocolate Rex Chapman did when they were devoid of low post play. It is no wonder then that over 44% of Manitoba's field goal attempts have come from beyond the arc. Their tallest regular, 6'7" Sean Maxwell, leads the team in 3's attempted with 72 (8 per game). Maxwell has been on fire recently, averaging 26 ppg vs. Vic and UBC over the weekend... Winless Winnipeg simply is having a tough time scoring, averaging only 63 ppg while shooting 35% as a team (26% from three) with only 3 games over 70 points scored. The Wesmen did play Brandon tough in two consecutive games at the Duckworth Center where they unofficially lead the country in attendance (already three crowds over 1,500 fans in their very nice facility) but this is a team that is reeling with their two leading scorers Peter Lumuro and Nick Lother, taking over 70% of their three pointers (together averaging about 27%)... Justifiably, the depth and quality of UBC T-Birds roster (11 players averaging 12 or more minutes per game) has been highlighted in numerous instances with redshirts on the roster who would likely start at some other programs in the country. However, simply put, UBC would not be undefeated were it not for the efforts of 6'2" Josh Whyte, who thus far is likely the Canada West MVP. The Birds have had three tight games thus far and Whyte has been the catalyst in two of them, most noteably a come-from-behind win at home against Saskatchewan, going head-to-head against Huskies own CW MVP candidate, Showron Glover, and Whyte, when it counted down the stretch of that game, got the better of Glover with a couple of picks and several big shots to lift the Birds. Later in Kamloops, with UBC on the brink on an enormous upset loss to winless Thompson Rivers, Whyte was at it again in the late going, culminating in an "and 1" in the waning moments to provide the margin of victory. The slick lefty has let the game come to him for the most part until it is clear he needs to take over. As a group, UBC has been getting it done with defense and rebounding as their foundation, as the Birds give up only 67 ppg and have held teams to under 39% shooting while holding a +8 rebounding margin including only 9.5 offensive rebounds per game, many usually after the result was well decided. Nathan Yu, who has started only 1 game, is UBC's leading three-point shooter at 46% and was also a catalyst in many wins, especially against TRU in the close encounter. This group remains one-through-twelve Canada's top team currently... In some ways, Simon Fraser Clan can be tagged as "Lakehead West" given the guarded pre-season expectations followed by the tremendous first half (7-1) including the signature victory over Calgary on Saturday. With a veteran backcourt and ability to go 8 deep, the Clan has the makings of a championship contender and like most good teams, SFU has been impressive in the second half of most games, outscoring opponents by 41 points in the third and fourth quarters, usually with lock-down "d". With 6'4" Sean Burke, 6'4" Kevin Shaw and 6'4" Matt Kuzminski, who missed this past weekend, the Clan is strong at the guard spots and savvy enough to run their Princeton stuff properly - these three usually take more than half SFU's shots. Up front, 6'5" U.S. import Chas Kok is emerging as a strong contributor and 6'7" Eric Burrell (8.6 ppg/9.3 rpg) and 6'5" reserve Greg Gillies are supporting talents. The second half will show how far their veteran guards can take this team... With a growing stable of touted and talented transfers including the reigning CIS Moser Award winner in 6'8" Jacob Doerksen, Trinity Western Spartans talent on the wings and at the forward positions compares favorably with any team in Canada. Many will agree, however, that down the stretch of the season, it is guard play that is a strong determining factor in success and the Spartans continue to look for that consistent decision-making from the backcourt to complement their fine front court and wings - 5'11" U.S. import Tristan Smith, currently listed as a redshirt after transfering from Fraser Valley, waits in the wings. Turnovers have been an issue in several games (TWU averages about 19 turnovers per game) as 6'5" Calvin Westbrook and 5'11" Daniel Horner among others have shared time at the point. Beyond that, Doerksen again is having an All-Canadian season up front and the versatile 6'6" Tyrell Mara brings D1 experience and many intangibles to the table. With several newcomers added to the roster, coach Scott Allen's troops are beginning to find a rhythm - the Calgary game last Friday night was a strong effort against a top team - and look to peak at the right time - recall last season's exciting run that ended in the third place game of the Canada West Final Four... Defense continues to be the foundation of Victoria Vikes - UVic again is at the top of Canada West team defense stats (#1 at 67.3 ppg allowed). Coach Craig Beaucamp has gone at least nine deep in most games, spreading floor time reasonably equally (6'4" Ryan McKinnon averages a team-high 27 mpg while 6'8" Nick Adair averages almost 15 mpg - ninth highest). Fifth-year guard Cyril Indome leads the Vikes, although he spent the last two weeks playing on a bad ankle/leg after being hit by a car while crossing the street in Langley hours prior to Vic's second game at Trinity Western - Indome played that night but was nowhere near 100% and didn't start this past weekend. Jeff Cullen was bumped into a first-five role in Indome's place and has averaged 17 ppg since starting including a 24 point effort at Manitoba. Vikes are very encouraged by the play of U.S. import Zac Angus, who has only 4 tunrovers all season against 20 assists while playing 22 minutes per game at the point. MacKinnon averages 12 ppg and has usually been opponent's focus defensively. The Vikes are through a difficult portion of their schedule, having played at TWU twice (split) and made their longest trip of the season to Winnipeg, although the Vikes still have to travel to Calgary and Lethbridge and play back-to-back games at UBC in early February - Victoria has been saddled with a very tough road schedule this season. This team defends and rebounds and appears to have a steady, tough point guard to position themselves to play into March... Like many teams across the country, Fraser Valley Cascades have dealt with injuries and rarely have had a complete roster but one consistent contributor has been 5'10" point guard Zeon Gray (15.4 ppg/32 mpg) who is a threat to shoot 3's (5-7 3's for 23 points in victory over Regina) and can also find people; he has reached double figures in 7 of 8 games. Last season's ROY Sam Freeman has been consistently inconsistent: when he's got it going (6-7 3's & 32 points vs. Simon Fraser; 4-5 3's vs. Thompson Rivers) he can carry the Cascades. Unfortunately there have been the 0-6 and 2-7 games from downtown and finding that consistency is a big key for Fraser Valley. 6'1" OUA transfer Craig Bauslaugh missed the first two games of the season, worked his way into the lineup off the bench and started the final two games of the first semester, scoring a team-high 15 points against Brandon. 6'4" redshirt freshman Joel Freisen, touted as one of the top newcomers in Canada West, started strong, averaging 15 ppg in the first couple of games but his productivity regressed as the term wore on and he did not play in the final weekend of the season (injury ? - we hope to find out more). 6'7" Kyle Grewal had a couple of very strong efforts against Lethbridge and Simon Fraser. Fraser Valley has played 6 of their 8 games on the road so with plenty of home games in the second half, the Cascades should remain in contention for a playoff spot in the very tough Pac division... Although only one of three winless teams in the country, Thompson Rivers have played like anything but a team that started the season 0-8. The WolfPack had the lead for much of the late going before losing in the last 22 seconds at home against #1 UBC, took Regina into overtime on the road before falling and losing by only 2 at home against Fraser Valley. It is clear this group is vastly improved and ready to start to take some of these seemingly-winable games. Losing tight games generally is part of the evolution of breaking a losing culture which has been the situation for the past few seasons in Kamloops. But thanks to 6'7" fifth-year forward Jeff Freisen (13.1 ppg/8.3 rpg/35 mpg), veteran 6'4" fifth-year guard Sean Garvey (15.3 ppg/34 mpg) and 7'2" fourth-year center Greg Stewart (14.8 ppg/10.4 rpg), the WolfPack is very competitive virtually every night. Despite shooting 43% as a team including 38% from downtown, the 'Pack still must improve in the following areas: taking care of the basketball (22.3 turnovers per game including 5 per game by Garvey), giving up almost 20 offensive rebounds per game, giving up 11 3's per game and closing out games (outscored by 43 points in fourth quarters). Still, this is a much stronger team than 'Pack teams of the past 3-4 seasons.


Calgary 8-2
Saskatchewan 4-4
Lethbridge 5-5
Brandon 5-5
Alberta 5-5
Regina 4-4
Manitoba 3-6
Winnipeg 0-9
UBC 7-0
Simon Fraser 6-1
Victoria 4-3
Trinity Western 4-3
UFV 4-4
Thompson Rivers 0-8

Next Games (interlocking games):
Friday, Jan. 8th


Saturday, Jan. 9th

1. Showron Glover-SASK ...23.8
2. Dany Charlery-BRAN ...22.1
3. Jacob Doerksen-TWU ...21.3
4. Josh Whyte-UBC ...19.1
5. Ross Bekkering-CGY ...18.3
6. Jeff Price-LETH ...17.6
7. Robbie Sihota-CGY ...17.3
8. Michael Linklater-SASK ...16.1
9. Zeon Gray-UFV ...15.4
10. Sean Garvey-TRU ...15.3
11. Nathan Dixon-MAN ...15.0
12. Peter Lomuro-WPG ...14.9
13. Greg Stewart-TRU ...14.8
14. Tyler Fidler-CGY ...14.7
15. Sam Freeman-UFV ...14.5

1. Greg Stewart-TRU ...10.4
2. Ross Bekkering-CGY ...9.6
3. Troy Gottselig-SASK ...9.5
4. Eric Burrell-SFU ...9.3
5. Jeff Friesen-TRU ...8.3
6. Danhue Lawrence-LETH ...8.2
7. Kris Heshka-REG ...8.1
Jamal Williams-REG ...8.1
9. Tyrell Mara-TWU ...8.0
10. Jordan Baker-AB ...7.9
11. Kamar Burke-UBC ...7.3
12. Kyle Watson-UBC ...7.1
13. Rob Cooper-LETH ...7.0
14. Tyler Fidler-CGY ...6.6
15. Jacob Doerksen-TWU ...6.6

1. Ross Bekkering-CGY .593
2. Michael Lieffers-SASK 1 .585
3. Lance Verhoeff-TWU .576
4. Kyle Watson-UBC .548
5. Nathan Yu-UBC .544
6. Zac Andrus-UVIC .529
7. Greg Stewart-TRU .528
8. Eric Burrell-SFU .524
9. Dany Charlery-BRAN .512
10. Jacob Doerksen-TWU .504

1. Showron Glover-SASK 36.1
2. Jeff Friesen-TRU 35.2
3. Tyrell Mara-TWU 35.1
4. Jeff Price-LETH 34.9
5. Tarik Tokar-BRAN 34.4
6. Michael Linklater-SASK 34.2
Sean Garvey-TRU 34.2
8. Danhue Lawrence-LETH 34.2
9. Sean Burke-SFU 33.7
10. Jacob Doerksen-TWU 33.4

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