Thanks again to Wayne for his tremendous work keeping fans across the country updated on Canada West
Dinos Getting Healthy
The Calgary Dinos literally limped into the exam break with their scoring and rebounding leader, Tyler Fidler missing much of the regina series with a sprained ankle, and jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson still rehabbing from his serious pre-season ankle injury.
Things are looking up for both key starters, as Fidler is better now, according to Coach Dan Vanhooren, and Jarred is starting to jog in preparation for a possible return to action on their post-Christmas California trip or the resumption of league play .
We are disappointed with where we are (in the league standings), said Vanhooren, and we look forward to getting some players back. Andy Rochon will get an assessment of his shoulder injury upon his return to Chicago later this month, and the team will await word on his situation. Post man, Youri Anissovets, has been bothered with a foot problem, and he is getting orthotic help from former Dino, Greg Engen.
Calgary has 3 games scheduled in Southern California starting Dec. 28 vs. Concordia, then Azuza Pacific on the 30th, and Biola on the 31st. They will have a couple of workouts in Calgary prior to leaving for California.
Canada West Mid-Season Review
A perusal of the Canada West team statistics for the 1st half of play shows just how strong both Trinity Western and UBC have been to this point. They lead the league in scoring at 95 and 93 points Victoria Vikes, who are at 72 points against.
Canada West Standings ... Dec. 5
Trinity Western ... 12-2
UBC ... 10-2
Saskatchewan ... 7-3
Manitoba ... 7-3
Alberta ... 7-5
Victoria ... 7-5
Regina ... 7-5
Calgary ... 4-6
Brandon ... 4-6
Fraser Valley ... 4-8
Lethbridge ... 3-9
Winnipeg ... 1-9
Thompson R. ... 1-11
The Spartans (12-2) and T-Birds (10-2) are not invincible, but they are the most consistent of the leading group of 7 teams at 7-5 or better. We include all those because Alberta, tied for 5th at 7-5 owns one of the 2 victories over the T-Birds this season ... 88-86 in Edmonton. The 2nd UBC loss was at home, on the opening weekend ... 97-96 to Saskatchewan.
Trinity, meanwhile, has an unblemished card except for their 2 losses to the T-Birds in the 2nd weak, at Langley, no less. So these powerhouse teams can be beaten. We suggest their most dangerous playoff foe would be the physical Huskies (7-3), who not only have a tough, experienced front line, but a dynamite guard pair of Jamelle Barrett and Rejean Chabot. This is a very similar recipe that Coach Greg Jockims used to bring the U of S Canada West and CIS Championships in 2009-10.
The outstanding 1st half by Manitoba (7-3) was accomplished in games against 5 teams, where only Victoria (7-5) own a winning record. The Bisons certainly have a program which has shown vast improvement thus far, but their 2nd half includes meetings with UBC, Trinity, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Regina. A tough january and February, to say the least.
UBC has Victoria, Manitoba, and Regina among these top 7, while Trinitys remaining schedule includes Saskatchewan, Victoria, and Manitoba. These 2 shouldnt lose more than a game or 2 in their 2nd halves, and Saskatchewan, with 14 games left, will have to be very sharp to claim a top 2 spot. The Huskies have Trinity, Alberta, Regina, and Manitoba as part of their 2nd half schedule. The Golden Bears have just Saskatchewan and Manitoba as the only 2 teams with winning records left to play after Christmas, and Alberta could improve their position come February.
The Calgary Dinos will get back the services of both Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson and Tyler Fidler, and they will need all the horses they have in facing a rugged slate of 14 january/February games ... at home to Trinity, Fraser Valley, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan ... on the road at Alberta, UBC, and Thompson Rivers. If the target is at least a .500 record to secure a playoff spot, the Dinos will have to use home court to get at least 5 wins over 4 good teams, then hope to get 3 for 6 or better on the road. This is a tall task, requiring some outstanding contributions from vets and rookies alike.
First - Half Stars
There were many fine performances in the half-season, and we refer to statistics for a big factor in our choices, which are, of course, largely subjective. past performances do come into play, and we lean to players from the top 3 or 4 teams, since theres a reason theyre at the top of the standings, besides brilliant coaching, of course !
Here is an extended list of players who have had a great 1st half
Guards ... Jamelle Barrett (Sask.), Rejean Chabot (Sask.), Kevin Pribilsky (TRU), Josh Whyte (UBC), Eric Garcia (Man.), OBrien Wallace (Brandon), Tristan Smith (Trinity), Zeon Gray (UFV), Alex Murphy (UBC), Josh Ogden (Man.), Jeff Lukomski (Reg.).
Wings/Forwards ... Daniel Ferguson (AB.), Jordan Baker (AB.), Tyler Fidler (Calgary), Ryan McKinnon (Vic), Calvin Westbrook (Trinity), Tyrell Mara (Trinity), Randy Davis (Leth.), Kamar Burke (UBC), Joel Friesen (UFV) , Nolen Brudehl (Sask.) , Brent Malish (UBC).
Posts ... Jacob Doerksen (Trinity), Isaiah james (Brandon), Paul Gareau Reg.), Kris Heshka (Reg.), Michael Lieffers (Sask.), Mike Berg (Vic), Richard Reimer (Man.), Graham Bath (UBC).
And the top 10 players so far ...
Josh Whyte - UBC T-Birds ... when it counts. So many strong facets to his game.
Jamelle Barrett - Sask. Huskies ... puts U of S in the running again. Dynamic ball handler.
Tyler Fidler - Calgary Dinos ... top rebounder. Steps up to carry his team.
Jordan Baker - Alberta Golden Bears ... multi-talented. Scores, rebounds, set-up man.
Jacob Doerksen - TWU Spartans ... big man on a deep squad.
2nd five ...
Tristan Smith - TWU Spartans ... directs the offense. Key addition if they are to win.
Rejean Chabot - Sask. Huskies ... tough, steady, and very tough to guard.
Ryan McKinnon - Victoria Vikes ... defends, scores, and sparks Victoria.
Paul Gareau - Regina Cougars ... he is Reginas ace up front. Big scoring games.
Michael Lieffers - Sask. Huskies ... tough post man with efficient scoring touch.
CIS Coaches Poll ... December 7
The Coaches poll at the exam break reveals the usual democratic spread of teams throughout the 4 leagues in Canada, with the top slot deservedly going to Carleton, with UBC in 2nd spot, and Saskatchewan 3rd.
Trinity Western is not, apparently, impressing voters, despite their 14-2 record, 2nd best in the country. Concordia seems a bit over-rated in the 4th slot, and St. FX seems to be trading on past rep, or their potential at playoff time.