Thursday, 24 February 2011

Canada West Playoffs begin tonight

The most potentially interesting of the four Canada West quarter-finals gets going tonight in Edmonton as the Alberta Golden Bears host Victoria Vikes in a 7 PM MT/9 PM ET start (game available on SSN Canada).  (Note that in my opinion Bears webcasts are among the highest quality viewing and most professional of all CIS basketball web casts that I've seen).  Also Live Stats available

Head Coach Greg Francis has qualified for the Canada West playoffs in both of his seasons at the helm of the Bears.  Last season, with a freshman-laden lineup, Alberta was soundly defeated in a two game sweep to the hands of eventual CIS nationals finalist UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver.  The maturing Bears moved into a position to host a first round playoff game with a solid year in which 6'8" Jordan Baker continued to emerge as one of the best all-round players in Canada West in only his sophomore season and 6'4" Greg Ferguson, transfering from NCAA Division II, finishing second in conference scoring at 23.0 ppg and quickly became regarded as one of the smoothest pure shooters to enter CW play in many years.  Much of the offense runs through Baker and Francis next important piece to building a legitimate Nationals contender is the addition of a top flight point guard.  As has been the norm for much of Craig Beaucamp's tenure at UVic, defense and rebounding are the staples that keep Vikes in most games.  This season Beaucamp installed a version of the Princeton/West Virginia high post offense that, when run properly, can cripple opposing defenses with back door cuts and 3 point shots.  The Vikes were probably not consistent enough offensively this season but have shown flashes that their read-and-react offense can work.  The teams split a pair of games prior to Christmas in Edmonton this season with the Vikes winning the second game in overtime behind 32 points from 6'4" Ryan MacKinnon who rescued Victoria after they gave up a double digit lead.  Ferguson had 36 in that game and a game-high 23 in the first game when Alberta won despite going only 3 for 10 from downtown and getting only 1 offensive board.  In Langley, Trinity Western Spartans return to the playoffs after last season's disappointment of not making the playoffs, meeting Valley rivals Fraser Valley Cascades.  The addition of Tristain Smith and others in the backcourt addressed their point guard issues and 6'6" Jacob Doerksen has had a Moser-like year after falling back a bit last season.  Spartans coach Scott Allen recently refered to the Cascades as the best three-point shooting team in Canada and that may be so, however in the two meetings this season between these two teams, it was the Spartans who were on fire from 3.  After jumping out to a 22 point lead and cruising to a 19 point win in the first game, TWU broke open a two point halftime game with a 20 for 41 effort from downtown to win going away the next night.  Coach Barnaby Craddock has had to re-invent his team on the fly this season after losing his projected starting front line due to injury.  6'3" Sam Freeman and 6'4" Joel Freisen are UFV's top two scorers and U.S. import point guard Zeon Gray sets the table.  Live video

No comments: