Thursday, 31 March 2011

Latest Jim Thomas Report

It was great to catch up with Jim at the successful Wilson Cup Final Four in Hamilton earlier this month and we are glad he continues to add his thoughts on Canadian university, college and high school basketball on a periodic basis.  His latest piece, a great read as always, can be found here

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

CIS makes public statement urging UBC to stay

The best case scenario in my opinion is that the reasons for UBC's initiative to investigate becoming part of NCAA DII are heard and listened to by the CIS such that ultimately this strong, flagship University remains in Canada with the CIS.  The CIS published this public statement on the matter recently:

CIS statement regarding UBC

Monday, 21 March 2011

Rams Rana gets NIKE Hoop Summit Honours

Congratulations to Ryerson Head Coach Roy Rana who was recently named Head Coach of the World Team at the NIKE Hoop Summit, an international all-star game to be held in Portland, OR.  Below is the Press Release from Canada Basketball.


The Nike Hoop Summit’s World Select Team was announced today, with an unprecedented amount of Canadian flavor being named to the roster. Three national team members will be heading to Portland’s Rose Garden on April 9, 2011 including two rising stars Kevin Pangos (6’1”, Holland Landing, ON) and Kyle Wiltjer (Portland, OR). Roy Rana (Toronto, ON) has received the distinct title as the World Select Team Head Coach.

“This is a phenomenal honour and very exciting, not only for me but for all of the Canadians in the game,” stated Rana, who also serves as the Head Coach for Canada’s Cadet Men’s National Team. “I’ve had the opportunity to coach both Kevin and Kyle and both players represent Canada with a great deal of pride. We look forward to doing well in the game.”

The Nike Hoop Summit is one of the North America’s premier annual basketball events for senior high school-aged boys (U19). Unique to this match, the Nike Hoop Summit is an international game featuring the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Select Team competing against the World Select Team, a 10-player squad selected from six different countries across three continents.

This will be the second time that there are two Canadians on the team. In 2010, Tristan Thompson (Brampton, ON) and Cory Joseph (Pickering, ON) both participated in the prestigious game, but fell to Team USA 101-97. In fact, the USA holds a 10-3 advantage in Nike Hoop Summit history. The 2011 World Select squad will look to claim the title, a tough challenge for the newly-named coach.

“The most important thing is to build team chemistry in a short amount of time,” added Rana. “My goal is to get all of these talented young international players on the same page focused on one thing, a win.”

Aside from being part of Canada’s national team program, the three are already quite familiar with one another from last summer’s Nike Global Challenge, where Rana coached a Team Canada squad that included both Pangos and WIltjer.

“I am thrilled with the selection of Canadians on this year’s International Roster” said Mark Bayne, the North American Field Representative for Nike Basketball. “Each athlete brings something unique to the table. Kyle Wiltjer will have the opportunity to demonstrate his all-around game in front of a home town crowd, while Kevin Pangos will be counted on for his on-court leadership and ability to run the team. As well, Roy Rana was a natural choice given his success with the 2010 Cadet Team and experience coaching at the Nike Global Challenge”.

Rana has an impressive international record with Canada’s age-group teams, his most recent success coming with a bronze medal at the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men in Germany. It was Canada’s highest finish at this tournament and speaks to the development of Canadian talent.

“Thank you to Nike for providing this unique and exciting forum to showcase the talent of both our players and coaches,” stated Wayne Parrish, Executive Director and CEO for Canada Basketball. “Over the past several years our cadet(te) and junior national teams have excelled in international competitions, helping to put Canada on the global map as one of the nations to watch.”

Kevin Pangos, who is regarded as one of Canada’s best young athletes, played an integral role in podium finish at the FIBA U17 World Championship last summer. Along with the bronze medal, he was named the top point guard at tournament, averaging a team-high 15.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists, while shooting 82.8 percent from the free throw line.

In his final year of high school at Dr. John Denison in Newmarket, Ont., Pangos led the Huskies to the provincial AAA championship game. The Nike Hoop Summit will be an appropriate send off for Pangos, who will attend Gonzaga University next fall.

This marks the fourteenth anniversary of the Nike Hoop Summit and the fourth straight time it will be played at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR. It is a fitting end to the high school career of Kyle Wiltjer, who will get the chance to play on his home court once more before heading to the University of Kentucky in the fall.

A member of Canada’s Junior Men’s National Team, Wiltjer was also selected to play in the 34th Annual McDonald’s All American Game (March 30) as well as the 10th Annual Nike Jordan Brand Classic (April 16), two other prestigious high school all-star games.

Wiltjer is very familiar with the international game, having excelled at the 2010 U18 FIBA Americas Championship, helping Canada to earn a bronze medal and a berth to the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship later this summer. He was named to the All-Tournament second team after averaging 19.4 points and 6.0 rebounds a game while shooting 62.1% percent from the field.
Wiltjer’s father, Greg, was a second round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls in 1984, the year in which he also played for Canada in the Los Angeles Olympics and Greg eventually went on to win a European title with FC Barcelona. Kyle, meanwhile, led Jesuit High School to an unprecedented third straight Oregon state high school championship.

The Nike Hoop Summit has featured some American and international NBA stars over the years including: Kevin Garnett, Tony Parker, Elton Brand, Dirk Nowitzki, John Wall, Andrea Bargnani, Louis Scola, and Kevin Durant. Last year’s game featured 2011 NCAA All-American Jared Sullinger and Canadian collegiate standouts Corey Joseph and 2011 Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Tristan Thompson.

Tickets are on sale now for the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit, with reserved courtside seats priced $25 and $50 and all other general admission tickets at $6. Tickets can be purchased through the Rose Quarter Ticket Office, by calling 1-877-789-ROSE (7673) or by visiting

For complete Nike Hoop Summit rosters see below. For more information on the Nike Hoop Summit visit

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Ottawa Citizen article on Carleton

Ottawa Citizen's Martin Clearly projects comparisons with other programs and uncovers the secrets of success with the Carleton Ravens

Program loaded and ready for more

Monday, 14 March 2011

Al Robinson Update

Some may recall that there was a delay during Friday's first round game between Dalhousie and Saskatchewan but few knew what specifically created the delay.  Veteran OUA West official Al Robinson, working another Nationals, unfortunately had to leave the game as he was experiencing tightness in his chest.  (Delay was to allow the back up referee to take over for Robinson).

Apparently Robinson did not feel 100% prior to the game but chose to try to gut it out but could not finish due to the chest pains.  Robinson checked into the hospital and tests later revealed that he had suffered a coronary.  Fortunately, doctors were able to detect the issues and Robinson should be released from the hospital later this week after a stint is inserted.  Best wishes to Al as he recovers from a situation that is very familiar to some.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Post game notes

The tournament championship is the Ravens 7th in the last 9 years and sixth consecutive in Halifax... 5'10" Mike Kenny is the only fifth-year senior on the Ravens and Head Coach Dave Smart allowed the three-time National champion to come off to his own rousing ovation in the final minute... 6'3" Elliott Thompson was named MVP of the championship game, finishing with a game-high 19 points.  Doerksen led Trinity with 16 points but only 6 after halftime, adding 12 rebounds.  Kyle Coston had 15 points, 10 in the second half.  Phil Scrubb had 16 while tournament MVP Tyson Hinz had 10 of his 11 points in the first half.  50 fouls were called including 26 on the Ravens allowing TWU to shoot 32 free throws (22 made) vs. 14-17 for Carleton.  Ravens forced 18 TWU turnovers including 5 by 6'0" Tristan Smith in 27 minutes.

Hinz named Final 8 MVP

The 6'6" sophomore was named tournament MVP and received the Jack Donohue Memorial trophy.  Joining Hinz on the tournament all-star team were Jamelle Barrett, Saskatchewan, Kyle Coston and Jacob Doerksen from Trinity Western and Elliott Thompson.  Dal's Simon Farine received the R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award.  The championship game attracted a crowd of 3,407.

Carleton 82, Trinity 59 Final

The Spartans used a variety of zone presses and a long extended quarter court zone to stymie the Ravens offensively for much of the quarter drawing to within 11 by threes by Willy Manigat and Elliot Thompson, just before the buzzer restored a 17 point lead after 3.  Carleton had difficulty scoring for long stretches however their defense again kept the margin comfortable.  Later, the Spartans ran into a series of charging calls and lost their top overall defender Tyrell Mara to fouls.  Mara had done a strong job keep Tyson Hinz in check after the Moser award winner got off to a strong start.  When Phil Scrubb took Tristan Smith off the dribble and calmly knocked down an elbow jumper, Carleton led by 19 and later took their largest lead at 75-52 with a 12-1 run that all but ended the game.  Carleton allowed only 8 points in the final 8 minutes of the game.

Carleton 49, Trinity Western 31 at the half

Carleton jumped out to leads as large as 13 at 36-23 as the Ravens took advantage of lacklustre Spartan rotations to go 8 for their first 14 from the line.  But then Trinity, needing to hide 6'6" Kyle Coston and 6'7"Jacob Doerksen, initially created some duress for Carleton offensively and had a 6-0 run of their own to get it 7 and it appeared we had a game once again.  However, Carleton finally got some post touches against the zone and 6'3" Elliott Thompson went off for 8 straight points, part of a 13-2 run to end the half and Ravens led by 18 at the intermission.  Except for a couple of stretches, one early and one midway through the second, the Ravens suffocating paint-area "d" and strong defensive rebounding again was the foundation of the half - although Carleton did allow 11 offensive rebounds.  Offensively, Ravens went 10 for 20 from downtown and shot 47% overall.

Trinity looks to complete unlikely rise

Wild card Trinity Western, given little chance to even advance to today's CIS championship game, has shown throughout the tournament that their big, strong front line, led by 6'6" Jacob Doerksen, can present any opponents with tough matchups and gives them an opportunity to win any game.  Doerksen poses the most challenging matchup for Carleton Head Coach Dave Smart given his strength inside and ability to knock down 3's.  Expect 6'5" Cole Hobin to check Doerksen initially but very likely with the help of doubles from the guard spot - Spartans guards Tristan Smith and Daniel Horner both have been inconsistent from the perimeter and until they can prove they can knock down shots, expect Raven guards to rover to help on Doerksen and 6'6" Kyle Coston among others.  6'3" Calvin Westbrook however is another story as he is likely the most lethal and consistent three point shooter on the Spartans.  Smart may dust off his double teaming pressure that he has gone away from the past 2 games after Laurier scorched it for easy layups - this pressure could be the ultimate test for TWU guards. Offensively the Ravens should play through Tyson Hinz and explore if/when doubles come.  Carleton can surround the sophomore Moser award winner with shooters.  We are getting close to game time so preview is short but given the Ravens likely advantage at the guard spots and Carleton's ability to rebound consistently, I give them the edge by 5 today.


Ottawa Citizen article on last night's Ravens Huskies game

Saskatchewan campus newspaper The Sheaf has a very good article on last night's game plus a video with Head Coach Barry Rawlyk

Vancouver Sun  Spartans shock T-Birds with late basket Halifax Chronicle-Herald  Spartans shock T-Birds  Vancouver Province  TWU gets huge victory

TSN article along with videos

Mild upsets in both semi-finals as Spartans, Ravens advance

A pair of very good semi-finals last night as in the first game Trinity Western Spartans finally got the monkey off their backs by defeating provincial rivals UBC for the very first time since the Spartans entered the CIS - in doing so TWU kept the proverbial monkey on the T-Birds back.  UBC has dominated Canada West regular season play for the better part of the past decade or so yet have not been able to capture that elusive CIS championship in the stretch.  The Spartans victory was the latest in several instances across the country that support the adage that it is very difficult to defeat a strong team three times in one season. 

Most already know that 6'6" lefty Kyle Coston knocked down a wide open 3 from the right wing with just 11 seconds remaining to give the Spartans the lead for good after 6'6" Kamar Burke's put back with a putback 20 seconds earlier.  Coston's shot culminated a tremendous second half for the slender southpaw who, despite a sluggish start in which he missed several easy shots inside, showed he is not afraid to take big shots throughout the final quarter.  Earlier Coston had missed a pair of free throws with the Spartans leading that kept UBC in the game.  Prior to the Coston's big shot, the T-Birds made what turned out to a be a key substitution as 6'9" defensive stalward Balraj Bains was subbed in after a timeout.  However, in what looked like some confusion with T-Birds defensively, Coston was left wide open off a ball reversal and Bains was late closing out on the perimeter, allowing Coston a clean look at the rim for the winner.

Things looked very good for the Birds in the early going as 6'1" Alex Murphy knocked down a pair of threes and hit a jumper to stake UBC to a 10 point lead after one and later extended to as much as 16.  Despite a late Spartan run that got the game back, the Birds were able to take a 9 point lead into halftime and it appeared at that point that UBC's dominance over Trinity would continue.  But TWU came out of halftime with a momentum-changing 12-2 run to start the third and as the T-Birds foul troubles mounted, the Spartans began dominating the glass and stuffing the paint defensively to set up the dramatic finish.  UBC shot just 6-21 from downtown against the Spartans last night.

Thunderbirds starters 6'1" Josh Whyte and 6'6" Brent Malish both struggled with fouls as Malish picked up two quick ones in the first and Coach Kevin Hanson was able to keep his best big man on the bench with the lead.  But Malish could never really get into a flow in the second half and later was whistled for his fifth on a charge, finishing the night with just 7 points, including a long 3 early in the first quarter and 2 rebounds in just 22 minutes.  When he played, physical 6'5" Graham Bath did his best to bang with 6'6" Jacob Doerksen but had 5 fouls in just 4 minutes.  The foul trouble forced Hanson to go smaller for long stretches of the game and in turn allowing the Spartans to dominate the glass (13 offensive rebounds/ 50-41 edge on the glass).  Doerksen took advantage of the matchups to finish with 16 points while Coston led all scorers with 23 points and 12 boards.

Whyte closed out a tremendous career with a sluggish effort, going just 3 for 15 from the field including 0-3 from downtown and 6 turnovers.  6'3" Doug Plumb, after being UBC's best player in the first round win over Acadia, was held scoreless.  6'3" Nathan Yu did his best to keep the T-Birds in it especially in the second half with a solid effort (14 points 5-10 shooting) while Murphy had most of his 21 points in the first 12 or so minutes.

On display in the night cap was the exciting, acrobatic offensive skills of Saskatchewan's 5'11" Jamelle Barrett, who many around the tournament before the game whispering that he should have been the Moser winner.  His unbelievable play in Friday's first round had many figuring the Huskies would be too much for the young Ravens and make it an All-CW championship game for the second year in a row.  But 6'6" Tyson Hinz would ultimately show why he was the CIS MVP with a spectacular performance and the Ravens, well prepared by another tremendous-engineered defensive game plan, pulled away late in what most regard as an upset. 

Hinz set the tempo for the Ravens very early by knocking down a pair of 3's from the top of the bowl off pick and pops - immediately instilling confidence back in the group after consecutive listless performances for the perimeter which quietly had Carleton questioning their confidence.  With Hinz and 6'3" freshman Phil Scrubb leading the charge offensively and 6'5" Kyle Smendziuk, in arguably his best game ever as a Raven  ripping rebounds away from the taller more athletic Huskies front line, Carleton raced out to an early double digit lead.  But Barrett finally went to work with 6'2" Rejean Chabot to bring the game back before halftime although Sask could never put together any kind of run that would allow them to pull away.  Sask did come back to take a brief lead midway through the fourth but after a Carleton timeout, the Ravens scored the next 6 points and never trailed thereafter.

Chabot was especially slick - his offensive game is as polished as any guard in recent memory given his array of moves in and around the rim coupled with solid perimeter jumper.  Barrett, while very effective when allowed to get out in transition and create at high speeds, was generally held under control when Carleton was able to keep it as a quarter-court game.  Barrett was kept away from his left hand in another in the series of stellar preps by Carleton coach Dave Smart and when he did make his way into the paint, was surrounded by well positioned help defenders. 

Although Chabot (26 points) and Barrett (28 points) did get theirs offensively, Carleton's "d" held the dynamic duo to just 16-44 shooting (36%) and only 2 for 16 from downtown, showing once again that Carleton is built from the defensive end out.

But Hinz (32 points, 9 rebounds, 3-7 threes) was the difference offensively, especially when it mattered in the fourth quarter, showing off an array of slick back-to-the-basket finishes with both hands and slithering in for 7 offensive rebounds, leading to several put backs.  Huskies decided to not aggressively double down on Hinz - in doing so staying home on 3 point shooters - but Hinz was equal to it, scoring at will on 6'6" Michael Lieffers and 6'6" Nolan Brudhel when they were left to guard one-on-one.  Scrubb, who many seem to forget is still only a freshman who is responsible for most of Carleton's main perimeter decisions, had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, knocking down 3 3's as well.

The game had strong flow in stretches but was marred by a constant, almost incessant array of whistles, virtually dispelling the notion of the "no call" as the teams combined for a ridiculous 62 fouls on the evening, the most for either team all season.  But in the end, superior defensive preparation which held reasonably in check one of the most exciting players to enter the CIS in recent memory and the tremendous offensive display by Hinz carried the Ravens into Sunday's final, where Smart will look to lead his group to the 7th National championship in the past 9 seasons.

Hope to have a preview later today.

Saturday, 12 March 2011


A nice piece highlighted Lakehead`s Benjamin Johnson

Gary Kingston of Vancouver Sun  No pressure on Spartans

Langley Times  Spartans thru to semis

Nice piece by Howard Tsumura from the Vancouver Province on Josh Whyte and Jacob Doerksen  Friends now foes

Peter James of Post Media News  UBC moves into semi-final against Spartans  and Stingers lose heartbreaker to Ravens  plus Defending champion Huskies move on 

Monty Mosher of Halifax Chronicle-Herald  Dal out of title picture  plus Acadia scores valuable experience in bowing to T-Birds

Huskies, Ravens advance

Maybe the most eye-opening element of the first day of play at the CIS Final 8 was the dominance of the Canada West teams, most noteably in the evening session Saskatchewan's guard play.  Watching 5'11" Jamelle Barrett and his ability to beat defenders off the dribble live had most observers I watched with rate the slick point as an upgrade over last season's sensation Showron Glover.  Not only was Barrett able to consistently beat Dal's defensive whiz 6'2" Stephen Lopez off the dribble, his deliveries inside to 6'8" Michael Lieffers and 6'6" Nolan Bruhdel among others set up numerous easy scores - in the case of the explosive Lieffers four big slams.  The Tigers rode the home crowd estimated at about 5,500 to an early 7 point lead but Barrett and the wily veteran 6'0" Rejean Chabot continually put pressure on Dal's "d" allowing the Huskies to comfortably pull away as the second half progressed.  The Tigers generally were able to limit easy Saskatchewan transition scores but simply could keep Barrett in front of them in the quarter court and Saskatchewan moves on to face Carleton this evening.  6'9" Joe Schow was excellent for Dal, continually challenging the Huskies front line inside and facing up from 15 feet.  Tigers 6'1" Simon Farine had a couple of stretches where he began to take over offensively however down the stretch Barrett, Chabot and Lieffers were too much for a valiant Tigers side.

After last weekend's upset loss in the Wilson Cup game in which Carleton Ravens looked like a defeated team for the first time in recent memory, most expected the OUA East regular season champs to return to their normal ways.  And the Ravens did do their usual steady job of defending and generally rebounding against Concordia Stingers.  However, for the second straight game, the Ravens, who in the regular season were arguably the best and most consistent perimeter shooting team in the Dave Smart coaching era, could not make shots in big spots.  Carleton uncharacteristically gave up a 10 point first half lead to a very well-prepared and underrated Stinger team and later in at least 3 stretches in the second half, the Ravens took 5 to 6 point leads with the ball and a chance to break the game open.  In what may be the defining reason the Ravens have struggled lately, Carleton missed several wide open looks that allowed Concordia to stay in the game and down the stretch initially struggled against the Stingers 2/2/1 three-quarter court press.  Still, behind 6'6" Tyson Hinz and 6'0" Willy Manigat, the Ravens moved on, albeit with much less of the mystique and dominance most have seen historically. 

Tonight's Carleton/Saskatchewan matchup is a rematch of last season's CIS semi-final in which the bigger, stronger Huskies held on en route to the National championship.  Carleton will have to shoot the ball and play with much more confidence offensively to defeat Saskatchewan in pulling off what I would now call an upset.  Prediction:  Saskatchewan by 7.

Speaking of predictions, I was 2-2 yesterday with two very obvious misses on Canada West teams, beginning with Trinity Western Spartans, who showed that their very talented front line, led by 6'6" Jacob Doerksen, is very formidable.  6'6" Kyle Coston also had a big game and once again watching live highlighted the very slick passing abilities Coston has.  6'6" Tyrell Mara does all the little less noticeable things really well while Spartan guards 6'1" Tristan Smith and 6'0" Daniel |Horner were more than adequate in most stretches to allow the Spartans to basically dominate Lakehead, especially in fourth quarter stretches where TWU de-bunked the notion of dominant Thunderwolves fourth-quarters by staving off every run and scoring 32 points of their own in the final 10 minutes. 

Despite a slow start, UBC was generally impressive in their win over a very game Acadia Axemen side.  The T-Birds came alive defensively midway through the third quarter, locking down Axemen penetration and 6'3" Doug Plumb took over offensively, getting to the rim in transition and in the half court as the T-Birds rapidly pulled away for what turned out to be an easy win.  UBC will have to get more consistent guard play from 6'1" Alex Murphy who was very ordinary against Acadia when it was still a game but later was able to get some of his once the lead had swelled.  6'2" Nathan Yu did not have one of his better shooting games despite some open looks yet the T-Birds still scored over 90 points and won by 20 going away. 

Tonight's UBC/Trinity matchup - the third meeting of the season between the two teams and the first since October - arguably is a mental challenge for the talent Spartans more than anything.  TWU has yet to get the monkey off their backs against UBC as the T-Birds talented front line led by 6'6" Brent Malish and scrappy 6'5" Graham Bath in past games has been able to control Coston, Doerksen and Co. despite being undersized.  The underlying keys to a Spartan victory tonight again in my mind are guard play and how well underrated 6'3" Calvin Westbrook can get off offensively. 

Prediction:  Trinity Western 92, UBC 91

Without a doubt, all three Canada West teams are deservedly through to the semi-final and without question, the Top 4 teams in the CIS are where they deserve to be.

On a side note, the return of the Nationals to Halifax has been tremendous and my experience has been great as always.  Having first come out here for the Nationals 18 years ago as a member of the Ottawa Gee-Gees coaching staff, the atmosphere remains strong, the people very welcoming and accomodating and the ability to catch up with everyone from across the country uplifting.  Also, much thanks to Bill McLean who was gracious enough to have me on SSN Canada webcasts of the first two games which was thoroughly enjoyable for me.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Trinity Western 82, Lakehead 74

6'6" Jacob Doerksen was dominant and the Spartans took charge early and were rarely seriously threatened in a comfortable win over Lakehead, setting up an all-Canada West semi-final tomorrow night against UBC.  Lakehead had no answers for the bigger, stronger and more talented Spartan front line as TWU dominated the glass at both ends.  Almost as importantly, Spartans dealt with Lakehead's defensive pressure to take an easy victory.  TWU is a much better team than prior viewings and will give UBC all they can handle.

UBC 96, Acadia 77

The Thunderbirds pulled away early in the fourth quarter by guarding the ball with much more energy and solving the Axemen zone inside to win going away.  6'3" Doug Plumb was instrumental in the run that put the game away with several transition scores and 6'2" Josh Whyte came alive with his usual array of acrobatic takes.  The game was tight through the middle of the third until the Birds took their largest lead at 8 65-57 on a turnaround in the lane by Kamar Burke.  Then Plumb went to work, ripping off at least 4 or 5 scores in a matter of a handful of possessions and suddenly UBC's lead swelled to 20.   6'9" Owen Klassen kept the Axemen in the game in the first half and showed off his varied skill set with some athletic takes and a strong power move slam off a spin that crowned Plumb.  But UBC's defense on the ball, missing for much of the first half - so much so that the Birds had to drop into a zone- picked up and Acadia was held scoreless for long stretches throughout the second half.

More Tournament Previews and Stories of note

Leith Dunick of has a great piece on the Lakehead Thunderwolves  From Worst to First

Metro-Halifax with Grant takes the long way home plus  Acadia in underdog role 

Gordie Sutherland and Monty Mosher take a video look at the Final 8

John DeCoste of Kings County Register with Axemen won the games they needed to

Vancouver Sun has a team-by-team capsule  plus Peter James of Post Media news MVP's past and present want CIS title

Canadian Press article on CIS tournament preview with plenty of quotes from coaches

Metro-Halifax  Time to hoop it up in Halifax

Martin Cleary of Ottawa Citizen on CIS All-Canadians

Thursday, 10 March 2011

T-Birds experience, depth should dominate Axemen youth, talent

After two consecutive CIS championship game appearances, the fourth-and-fifth year senior laden and #1 ranked UBC Thunderbirds are poised to take that final step to bringing home their first title since the early 70's.  The first hurdle is an early Friday afternoon matchup with startup Acadia Axemen, who only two weeks ago were uncertain as to whether or not they would even make the AUS tournament but, after a 9 game losing streak, won 3 of their last 4 games of the regular season (including a pair of four-point home wins against last place Memorial) to vault into fourth place and then staged one of the bigger post-season upsets in recent memory by defeating Cape Breton Capers in overtime last weekend to qualify as the #8 seed. 

On paper, the young Axemen have neither the experience nor depth and some would argue overall talent to stay within 20 points of the Thunderbirds.  However, stranger things have happened and with three CIS stalwards, the Axemen have a fleeting chance against the deep T-Birds who have 9 or 10 solid experienced players in their rotation capable of playing any number of different ways depending upon the situation and matchups.

Acadia, which legitimately goes only 6 or 7 deep, usually runs their offense through their 6'9" AUS all-star four man Owen Klassen who, with his back-to-basket skills, usually must be double teamed in the post but also has solid big man perimeter skills that can take advantage of favorable matchups.  The Birds have several alternatives for guarding Klassen, starting with fifth-year forward 6'6" Brent Malish, who is strong and smart enough to make Klassen work for position in the blocks and certainly quick enough with his feet to guard Klassen all the way out beyond the three point line.  Malish's offensive package is also difficult for Klassen to guard - the sophomore from Kingston, ON remains somewhat foul prone.  6'6" starter Kamar Burke and 6'6" Graham Bath, an 18 minute per game big man off the bench, are also options for guarding Klassen - expect coach Kevin Hanson to run different checks at Acadia's main offensive threat.

Acadia's 6'3" Anthony Sears is a streaky shooting guard who generally has license to take the first open look as Acadia does not mind playing fast.  Expect 6'2" Josh Whyte to push up on Sears and force him to put it on the deck and Sears will have his hands full guarding Whyte - assuming Axemen coach Steve Baur does not go to a zone defense to protect his comparatively short rotation and slow the T-Birds down offensively.  UBC starting three man 6'3" Doug Plumb is also an underrated athlete who should be able to size up with Sears if necessary.  Plumb is also very difficult to guard one-on-one and keep off the offensive glass.

6'6" Justin Boutilier was the hero against Cape Breton with 20 points after halftime including several big 3's but he can also get to the rim and is rounding into one of the finer three/fours in the CIS.  Burke has the athleticism to match and even dominate Boutilier.  6'6" Melvyn Mayott is another top defender off the bench for UBC and there will likely be little if any drop off with Mayott matching up with Boutilier.

At the point, 6'1" fifth-year senior Alex Murphy came into his own this season running the team as Coach Hanson moved Whyte to the two spot full time and gave ironman Murphy (he played in every UBC game of his career) the reigns at the lead guard full time.  BC college transfer Tyler Lutton mostly runs the point for Acadia and does an adequate job getting into the lane and distributing however more than one team gave Lutton space on the perimeter, almost daring the 5'11" guard to beat them from the perimeter.  6'3" Alex McLaughlin is the usual starter at the two spot for the Axemen and he has had several big offensive games this season and has established himself as a legitimate perimeter scorer against most teams.  With two fifth-year seniors in Murphy and Whyte, UBC has big advantages at both ends of the floor in these matchups.

Maybe only one or two other teams in the country can go to their bench and bring in the type of quality scorer that UBC can with 6'2" Nathan Yu, who usually ends up playing starters minutes and throughout his career has won games for the T-Birds with his three-point shooting - but he is much more than just a stand still shooter.  Yu should be featured if Acadia spends alot of possessions in their zone, which arguably was the defensive reason why they were able to stay in the game against Cape Breton.

The T-Birds will look to limit the Axemen's early offense and probably look to have someone else other than Acadia's Big 3 try to beat them.  Expect UBC to push up on Lutton and Sears and try to establish their defense immediately off the opening tip - in the Canada West championship game on Saturday against Saskatchewan, the Birds held the Huskies to just 9 first quarter points in forging out to a 14 point lead.  This game should be decided within 5 minutes of either side of halftime.

Prediction:  UBC 93, Acadia 66

Little to choose from between Tigers, Huskies

Another potentially extremely interesting and likely very close first round game pits AUS champion Dalhousie Tigers, characterized by their stifling half-court "d", against CW runner-up Saskatchewan Huskies and their offensive juggernaut.  Both teams feature All-Canadians in Huskies Canada West POY 5'11" Jamelle Barrett, who statistically had one of the better offensive seasons in CW history while the Tigers have fifth-year senior point guard and leader 6'1" Simon Farine.  But both teams also have several other potentially game-changing athletes, both in the back court and up front in the post, who should have an impact on who wins tomorrow night - although each team's bigs have contrasting skills and styles.

Barrett's offensive skills are at a solid D1 level as he is tremendous getting to the rim off the dribble, exciting and creative in transition and a ball hawk who can pick you and turn it into easy scores.  His clutch shot was the difference in the Huskies Nationals-spot clinching game in the CW semi-finals against Trinity Western last weekend and he has the ability to carry his team for long stretches offensively.  But the Tigers may have an answer for Barrett in 6'2" Stephen Lopez, who is earning a growing reputation for shutting down top scoring guards.  His defensive skills were on display in the AUS semi-final checking St. FX star guard Christian T-Bear Upshaw after the diminutive guard lit up Saint Mary's for 43 points in the quarter-finals; Lopez held T-Bear to just 10 points total including a scoreless second half until a meaningless three after the game had been decided.  But Barrett could be the toughest check Lopez has had all season.

The other guard matchup will likely be Farine and CW all-star 6'0" Rejean Chabot, a pair of wily fifth-year veterans.  Farine is Dal's unquestioned leader who makes the majority of the key offensive decisions for the Tigers and the player Dal usually turns to for creating and/or scoring in key situations.  Farine also brings needed energy in leading by example diving for loose balls, taking charges and ensuring the Tigers stifling half-court "d" is properly organized.  Assuming he guards Chabot, Farine will be challenged by Chabot's ability to get in the lane and use his body, a skill which allowed Chabot to get to the foul line consistently (more than 6 free throws on average per game).  Chabot also is lethal in transition and from beyond the arc.  How the game is called in the matchup between two guards who can find their way to the rim will be key.

Where Dal may have an advantage is with their depth in the back court and on the wing that includes 6'3" Juleous Grant, 6'1" Peter Leighton and 6'3" Alex Arthur while Saskatchewan rides both Barrett and Chabot for virtually the entire game in big spots.  Sharing time on the wings for Saskatchewan are 6'5" Duncan Jones and 6'2" Trevor Nerdahl with 6'3" freshman guard Ben Baker likely to see some limited minutes also.  Both teams have great athletes who can play in the back court, making these matchups extremely close.

The battle up-front will offer an interesting contrast as the Tigers strong duo of 6'9" Joe Schow and 6'7" Sandy Viet are much more comfortable bruising it inside in half-court battles at both ends and stuffing the paint defensively in the half court while the Huskies key tandem of 6'8" Michael Lieffers and 6'6" Nolan Brudehl want to get out and run to get on the back end of feeds from Barrett and Chabot on the break.  Both Brudehl and especially Lieffers have explosive finishing skills at the end of transition and on the offensive glass - Lieffers has already authored numerous highlight-reel slams with his quick, powerful dunks.  The ability of Dal's bigs to get back in transition and not getting beat down the floor will be critical to limiting easy scores for the transition-hungry Huskies.  If the game does turn into a slower, quarter-court affair, Saskatchewan has a strong, burly center/5 man type in 6'8" Chris Unsworth, who is happy to mix it up physically underneath.

Saskatchewan will be happy with a game in the 80's or 90's that involves up tempo defense and transition opportunities.  Huskies will attack the offensive glass and attack the rim, hoping to keep things at high speeds.  Dal's ability to convert defensively and stop the ball in transition to get their half court "d" set up will go a long way in helping the Tigers win - a game in the 60's will suit Dal just fine.  Again, Dal's bigs need to get back defensively on misses while Saskatchewan must rebound the ball to start their break and deal with Tigers more physical front line.

Prediction:  Dalhousie 76, Saskatchewan 75 in a game that may go into overtime and/or ends on a last second shot.

All-Canadians and other National Awards announced

Here is the list with my comments below...


Mike Moser Memorial Trophy (player of the year): Tyson Hinz, Carleton

Defensive player of the year: Greg Stewart, Thompson Rivers

Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy (rookie of the year): Philip Scrubb, Carleton

Stuart W. Aberdeen Memorial Trophy (coach of the year), presented by Coaches of Canada: Dave Smart, Carleton

Ken Shields Award (student-athlete / community service): Jérôme Turcotte-Routhier, Laval

First Team All-Canadians
6'6" Tyson Hinz, Carleton 2nd Year, Ottawa, Ont. 
5'11" Jamelle Barrett, Saskatchewan 3rd Year, Rancho Cordova, Cal. 
6'6" Jacob Doerksen, Trinity Western 5th Year, Abbotsford, B.C. 
6'1" Joey Haywood, Saint Mary's 4th Year, Vancouver, B.C. 
6'2" Josh Whyte, UBC 5th Year, Calgary, Alta. 
Second Team All-Canadians
6'3" Isaac Kuon, Windsor 5th Year, Mississauga, Ont. 
6'1" Simon Farine, Dalhousie 5th Year, Toronto, Ont. 
6'2" Kyle Desmarais, Concordia 2nd Year, Montreal, Que. 
6'5" Kale Harrison, Laurier 4th Year, Stratford, Ont. 
6'4" Daniel Ferguson, Alberta 4th Year. Malton, Ont. 

All-Rookie Team
6'2" Philip Scrubb, Carleton, Richmond, B.C. 
6'5" Matt Letkeman, Calgary, Chilliwack, B.C. 
6'2" William McFee, UNB, Northbridge, Aust. 
6'6" Alexandre Bernard, UQAM, Gatineau, Que. 
6'1" Jahmal Jones Ryerson, Mississauga, Ont. 

Moser:  Certainly Barrett had tremendous numbers, one of the statistically-best seasons in CW history however the voters clearly rewarded Hinz who was the most effective player on the top team in the country through the regular season.  Voters in general appeared to reward players on teams that were successful:  six of the 10 All-Canadians came from teams that are participating in the Final 8.  Exposing my poor journalistic skills, a more complete analysis would have a comparison with other years but alas back soon to watching the markets tank (and my clients make money !)

Defensive Player:  No doubt Greg Stewart deserves this award even with the tremendous defensive players across the country including Greg Carter, Cole Hobin, Stephen Lopez and Phil Nkrumah.

Top Rookie and Top Coach:  Again rewards for great individual performances that equated to tremendous team success.  Smart did arguably his finest job ever given the pre-season expectations and the lack of a senior class.

All-Rookie Team:  It is a terrible travesty that Ottawa's 6'3" Johnny Berhanemeskel didn't make this team.  His season was monumentally better than at least two players named however it appears that for some reason each conference had to be represented.  This season, that custom has served Berhanemeskel and CIS basketball poorly. 

Articles from across the country

Darren Zary of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix continues his excellent coverage of this season's nationals at which the hometown Saskatchewan Huskies look to win their second consecutive title; this morning's piece is on interim Head Coach Barry Rawlyk who feels no pressure

Monty Mosher's piece in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Dal's Juleous Grant  Time is right for Grant

Although not specifically basketball related, Chris Cochrane of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald has some thoughts on some of the CIS playoff systems currently in place

Gary Kingston of the Vancouver Sun  T-Birds rely on Big Game know-how

Matthew Wuest of Metro-Halifax on the accomplished Dal coaching staff  Tigers housing group of top hoop minds

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Contrasting strengths, styles highlight T-Wolves, Spartans matchup

Plenty of contrasts in the second game of the first round between Trinity Western Spartans and Lakehead Thunderwolves which goes Friday afternoon.  Although at least 5 of the 8 teams in the Final 8 (including UBC, Carleton, Dalhousie and Concordia) can point directly to their team defense as a main reason for qualifying for Halifax, OUA champion Lakehead may be the most intimidating defensive team in the draw, given how well their defense becomes as games wear on and the waves of energy in and out of the lineup has it's ultimate effect.  At no time was that defensive effectiveness on better display than in the Wilson Cup Final when the T-Wolves held the high scoring Ravens to just 62 points - the game was all but over late when Carleton had under 60 points.  Generally speaking, Lakehead, led by a deep set of guards and wings that lead their pressuring "d".  Contrastingly, there is no front line in the tournament that can match the size, depth and quality that the Spartans bring to bear with 6'6" Jacob Doerksen, 6'7" Kyle Coston, 6'6" Tyrell Mara and 6'5" Tonner Jackson.

Key to Lakehead's perimeter "d" is 5'9" OUA West Defensive Player-of-the-Year Greg Carter who has arguably the quickest feet in the country and is a nightmare to bring the ball up against.  But 6'2" Venzal Russell, another starter on the wing, loves to push up on defenders to create turnovers and get out in transition.  Off the bench, 6'1" Benjamin Johnson, who is having a homecoming of sorts (he is a native of Pictou, NS) and 6'2" Joseph Jones both can provide a defensive presence on the perimeter, although both were more noteable over the weekend with their three-point shooting - the two combined to shoot 10 for 17 off the bench whith Johnson knocking down 4 vs. Ottawa and Jones hitting 4 vs. Carleton.

Carter will likely get the start checking TWU's 6'0" guard Tristan Smith, who was brought in by the Spartans exactly to deal with these types of defenders and Smith has had a nice season setting the table for Trinity's stable of excellent forwards and wings, led by Doerksen, who will be the toughest defensive matchup the T-Wolves had to deal with probably all season long.  6'1" Daniel Horner, a fifth-year guard, shared time with Smith in the CW Bronze medal game and instrumental in the win with 13 points and 7 rebounds in only 21 minutes.  Doerksen, who in any other year would be in line for his second Moser Award, has a fine array of inside moves around the rim and can step out beyond the three point line as well.  Without any prior knowledge, I would expect 6'6" Ryan Thomson to start on Doerksen however Lakehead Coach Scott Morrison is likely to use several different defenders to try to limit the touches and good looks of the former Moser Award winner. 

The fiery Coston, a former sometime-starter with Portland State (NCAA D1) before transfering to TWU, adds strength and power to the Spartans front line and his forecasted matchup with slick 6'6" Yoosrie Salhia and his array of go-both-ways post moves with his back to the basket and underrated passing skills when doubled should be a wonderful contrast.  At the 2 spot, Trinity Western features 6'3" Calvin Westbrook, another transfer from NCAA DII, their most consistent and confident 3 point shooter who played 79 of 80 minutes last weekend at the CW Final Four.  Westbrook, who will look to take most of the big perimeter shots for Trinity, should expect to be guard by the athletic Russell.  Another Spartan workhorse is Mara, a scrappy, underrated do-everything wing/forward who should be on the floor for virtually the entire game for TWU - he may be the best matchup for Lakehead's Wilson Cup MVP Jamie Searle who could have difficulties shooting over Mara, although Westbrook could also guard Searle.  Mara might have the most complete game of any player on either team.

Lakehead brings in a couple of strong, scrappy bigs in Andrew Hackner and Brendan King who are great positional defenders inside and back down from no one.  6'6" Tonner Jackson is the first big off the bench for Trinity, usually spelling Coston up front.  6'7" veteran Lance Verhoeff can also play the five but can also knock down shots on the perimeter if left alone.

Trinity will be happy if the majority of their shots come inside the paint or from the three point line.  Lakehead did a wonderful job with their double downs on Carleton's 6'6" Tyson Hinz, turning the OUA East MVP into a bothered passer and then rotating very well to limit open looks on the perimeter.  Expect more of the same for Doerksen.  The Thunderwolves simply need to stay within 5 points entering the final 10 to 15 minutes of the game and then if history serves, their defense and three-point shooting could take over.  If the contrasting team strengths hold and better guard and wing play wins out over big men play, then expect Lakehead to win - the opposite will occur if TWU bigs dominate.  I tend to favor stronger guard play, especially late in the year when it matters most and thus expect the Thunderwolves to come out on top.

Prediction:  Lakehead 73, Trinity Western 70

Ravens look to regain confidence vs. pressuring Stingers

Some of the more concerning issues for Carleton Ravens coaching staff and fans eminating from last Saturday night's drubbing at the hands of Lakehead Thunderwolves in the Wilson Cup include the uncharacteristic lack of second-half scoring/generating good shots, very chubby 25 turnovers and undisciplined fouls.  But maybe the most unsettling take away from arguably Carleton's worst effort in a big spot in the Dave Smart coaching era was the dwindling confidence the group showed as the game progressed.  It seemed that the more success Lakehead had, the more the Ravens body language and demeanor wilted.  Generally a group that shows little emotion but an underlying confidence and even swagger, Carleton player's faces displayed a look of defeat, something uncommon to this program under Smart.  Getting that confidence and quiet swagger back may be Carleton's greatest challenge as they prepare for arguably the most athletic team in the Final 8 in the Concordia Stingers.

Led by QUBL co-Player-of-the-Year 6'2" Kyle Desmarais, the Stingers feature a very quick and opportunistic backcourt and wings who defensively can wreak havoc in big spots.  Concordia's pressure defense has been instrumental in numerous game-deciding runs that can turn outcomes around sometimes in a matter of seconds.  The Stingers overcame second half deficits in both of their QUBL playoff games with momentum-changing runs off their defense and in fact Concordia staged second-half comebacks in a remarkable 8 of their 12 regular season victories, many in the fourth quarter.  In many cases, the press created several consecutive turnovers that almost instantaneously turned games around, allowing Stingers to outscore opponents by wide margins in the second half of their victories. 

Desmarais, 6'2" Decee Krah and 6'4" Evens Laroche usually are the keys at the top of the press, creating bad passes, deflections and uncertainty in opponents and multiplying the turnovers to author runs like six points in the final 10 seconds against McGill to avert a possible third place finish and instead help capture the Q regular season pennant.  The Stingers also had an 8-points-in-under-a minute run against UQAM in the semi-finals, all bouyed by their pressure, which ultimately can physically and mentally wear teams down. 

The pressure does a good job of masking Concordia's lack of an imposing paint-area defender - something they arguably have not had since Stingers Assistant coach Ernie Rosa dared anyone to enter his lane during his fine career in the 1990's.  It is when opponents get the ball below the foul line that Concordia can be had with 6'5" James Clark, more of a 3/4 playing in the paint and 6'7" Zack Brisebois, who should have a fine career but is somewhat foul prone and becoming more aware defensively deeper into his freshman season.

The Stingers rode their five starters (Desmarais, Krah, Laroche, Clark and Brisebois) during both QUBL playoff games - most played 35+ minutes with 6'7" Kafil Eyitaya spelling Brisebois for about 13 minutes each game up front.  6'1" Morgan Tajfel, 6'1" Aamir Gyles and 6'7" Taylor Garner may also get some first half action if the rotation stays as it did during the Q playdowns.  6'2" second year guard Jean-Andre Moussignac was not available in the final two league games and both playoff games and his status for the Nationals is not known.  Both playoff games were played in the tight, friendly confines of Concordia's gym, the smallest in terms of dimensions in the CIS so much more conducive to pressing all night.

Expect Carleton to rotate both 6'2" Phil Scrubb and 6'5" Cole Hobin on Desmarais, who will likely be forced to his left hand more often than not, a strategy used very successfully this season by McGill Redmen, against which Desmarais averaged only 14 points per game this season, well below his average of 21.6 ppg against the rest of the league. Desmarais also turned it over 24 times (6 to's per game) against McGill - Desmarais had only 40 turnovers in 12 games against the rest of the league. 

The 6'2" Krah can expect to have to shoot over either Scrubb or Hobin while the task of keeping Laroche off the offensive glass may be more challenging for the Ravens, especially in light of inconsistent defensive performances by 6'3" Elliott Thompson.  The front court matchups will likely be 6'6" Tyson Hinz guarding Clark (and vice versa) and 6'8" Aaron Chapman and Brisebois matching up.  Carleton is much deeper at the guard spots with 5'11" Willy Manigat and 5'10" Michael Kenny bringing starter-like quality off the bench while 6'5" Kyle Smendziuk and 6'5" Thomas Scrubb allowing Carleton four quality bigs - Ravens can go at least 9 deep with little drop off.

The game will be going Concordia's way if the Stingers remain on track to score it in the 80's - which could happen if they can turn the Ravens over and/or if they make shots - Krah is Concordia's only real, consistent three point threat although the streaky Desmarais can also carry Concordia from downtown.  The ability of Clark to score with his back-to-the-basket - teams rarely double down on him during the regular season - will also dictate how well the Stingers do offensively in the quarter court when transition is not there.

Carleton must deal with the pressure and - like the Laurier Golden Hawks did to the Ravens - make the Stingers pay quickly for pressing.  Converting defensively is also important, but most important is to get their confidence back scoring the ball.  Expect Carleton to run more patterned sets rather than try to take advantage of one-on-one matchups, something they sort of fell in love with this past weekend.

Prediction:  Carleton 87, Concordia 69

Dom Coward & two others commit to Pronghorns

Big get for Dave Adams and his program... with thanks to our always-informative-yet-still-anonymous Western Canada CIS guru.  Lethbridge is quietly bringing in a solid class with 6'6" Coward thus far the gem.  Whispers about others including dynamic program-changing point guard who did not play last season but has been back at Lethbridge taking classes continue.

Trio of Kodiacs join the Horns

Coward was said to have made his decision in February and officially signed last Wednesday; he apparently very much enjoyed his time in Calgary, where he averaged 6 ppg as a freshman on a veteran laden team that made the CIS National semi-finals, and had a difficult time moving on but there appear to be many pluses for him at Lethbridge. 

Coward (3rd Year) and 6'7" Derek Waldner (4th Year) should make up a dynamic forward combination for the 'Horns.  Add in the ever-developing 6'10" Nico Kovac (3rd Year), who gives the 'Horns another credible CIS post and 6'5" Brandon Thomas-James, a solid defender, including in the post and the Horns are building a very strong front line.  Two Lethbridge starters from this past season:  6'5" Randy Davis and 6'3" Danhue Lawrence, completed their fifth and final seasons of eligibility.

The Horns have now signed four Lethbridge College Kodiaks including Coward, Morgan Duce (rising 3rd Year shooting guard who led the ACAC in scoring this season with over 20 ppg), true point Dallon Martin - a high school teammate of Coward - and 6'2" wing/point Logan Reiter, who committed in December. 

The Kodiacs have had a great year at 17-1, but got whacked by NAIT in the ACAC final last week after soundly defeating NAIT at home in the regular season.  The Kodiacs won a wildcard bid to the CCAA nationals at Durham College in Oshawa and will meet UNBC in the first round.

Wayne Thomas looks at First Round games at Final 8 plus others

UBC Thunderbirds look to take the next step

Also Saskatoon Star-Phoenix article by Darren Zary on  Chris Unsworth who is eager to face his old teammate Joe Schow as Saskatchewan meets Dalhousie in the first round on Friday.  Metro-Halifax has a piece on Schow: Third team may be a charm

BCLocal News has Spartans go National 

The Sheaf, Saskatchewan's campus newspaper has  Huskies hoops head to Nationals

John DeCoste of Kings County Register describes the how of Acadia's improbable appearance at the Nationals

Leith Dunick of  Halifax has always been Thunderwolves focus

Final 8 Television Coverage Update

See below for a note from long-time CIS and Carleton basketball supporter Dave Whitfield hopefully clarifying television and webcast coverage of CIS Final 8 this coming weekend in Halifax.  Thanks to Dave for passing this along.

After several emails to TSN and the CIS I now have the "definitive" answers on the CIS/TSN2 broadcast plans for the Nationals--but I'm not sure that you're going to be happy with all the answers.

1. According to Bill McLean in Halifax, SSN Canada will be allowed to stream the webcast for the first two games on Friday:
#1 UBC v. Acadia 2 PM Eastern
#2 Trinity Western v. Lakehead 4:15 PM Eastern

These games are NOT being televised by TSN2.

2. The Sunday Bronze Medal game between the Saturday night losers will be played at 2:15 PM. This game is not being televised on TSN2, but will be streamed to the internet by SSN Canada.

You can find the SSN webcasts at:

This is the first time (at least in my memory) that they've had a "Bronze medal" game on the Sunday. Normally, only the "Consolation" (5th place) final game has been played.
These are the only games being streamed to the internet according to Peter Metuzals, the CIS Director of Marketing.

3. TSN2 will broadcast two games live on Friday night.

#3 Saskatchewan v. Dalhousie 7 PM Eastern will be broadcast live on TSN2.
#4 Carleton v. Concordia 9:15 PM Eastern will be broadcast live on TSN2

Both these games will be broadcast live, but there will not be any streaming to the internet. The only source of live scoring for these games, other than the TSN2 broadcast, is "Live Stats" which you can access by going to:,

and clicking on "Live Stats" which is located beside each game. "Live Stats" is a bit like the old fashioned ticker tape broadcast of baseball games--it's text only, no commentary. You'll normally see a graphic of a basketball court with the names of the players currently playing, a game clock and scoreboard, along with a streaming text description of what is happening on the floor. It's not quite "live" and it certainly is minimalist, but it's better than nothing.

4. TSN2 will broadcast the two semifinal games on Saturday night both on a tape-delayed basis.

Semi-final #1 will feature the winners of UBC v. Acadia, against the winners of Trinity Western v. Lakehead, and TSN2 will broadcast the game tape-delayed starting at 7 PM Eastern. The actual game starts at 4 PM Eastern, so it should be completed well before it's broadcast by TSN2.

Semifinal #2 will feature the winners of Saskatchewan v. Dalhousie, against the winners of Carleton v. Concordia and TSN2 will broadcast the game tape-delayed starting immediately following the completion of Semi-final #1 (probably at 9 PM Eastern). The actual game starts at 7 PM Eastern

Please note: Until this evening the CIS webpage for the Final 8, contained a great deal of wrong information abut the broadcast schedule. The information I set out above has been confirmed by Peter Metuzals, the CIS Director of Marketing in emails I received from him today. The CIS website has now been corrected.

There will not be any streaming webcast of games which TSN2 is televising. You're only source of "live" scoring information on the internet is the "Live Stats" facility available at:

5. On Sunday, the Championship game will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis on TSN2 starting at 6 PM Eastern. The game will actually start at 4 PM Eastern. Once again, there will not be any webcast of this game which TSN2 is broadcasting, just the "Live Stats".

For those of you who are not sure where to find TSN2 on your cable or satellite service, here's where you'll find it for most viewers in Ontario:

Rogers Cable 98 or 507 (HD)
Cogeco Cable 156 or 792 (HD)
Bell TV 401 or 851 (HD)
Shaw/Star Choice 401 or 269 (HD)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Preview Articles

Darren Zary of Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on Huskies forward Nolan Brudehl and his battle scars plus Top Dogs times two

Ed McHugh from the Beckford/Sackville Community Herald with  CIS hoops tourney back in Halifax - where it really belongs

CIS Tournament Preview from Michel Belanger (CIS) and John Keefe (AUS)

SSN Canada to do Friday afternoon games

Got word overnight that SSN Canada will carry the first two games of the CIS Final 8 on Friday afternoon with local Halifax announcer Bill McLean doing the play-by-play.  SSN Canada will also have the bronze medal game on Sunday
Friday's Games on SSN Canada (Atlantic Time)
1:00 UBC vs Acadia
3:00 TWU vs Lakehead

Monday, 7 March 2011

Queen's Men's Coaching Job Posted

The Gaels look to fill their vacant coaching position after the departure of Rob Smart Sr. earlier this season with what has been described as a national search by several Queen's alumni who were addressed by the Queen's athletic department at a recent fundraising event.  Assistant coach Duncan Cowan took over for Smart on an interim basis and led the Gaels to a 6-16 record and a 7th place finish in the OUA East this season. 

Cowan should certainly be a candidate for the position however there are at least four others, all with impressive credentials, who should also garner an interest in this position at a prestigous University with several generations of loyal alumni hungry to win. 

At the top of this list is likely to be Craig Norman, a former CIS Coach-of-the-Year at RMC, where he led the Paladins to their only winning seasons in their CIS history, and former McGill Head Coach, giving him the experience of having worked at one of Canada's finest academic institutions.  Another former CIS Head Coach, Thom Gillespie, currently an Assistant Coach with Dalhousie Tigers also has been the Head man at Thompson Rivers University and at UNB where he led the Varsity Reds to their last CIS Final 8 appearance in the mid 2000's. 

Two other viable candidates include Rick Dilena, currently an Assistant at U of Toronto under Mike Katz, and Darrell Glenn, former Humber College Head Coach with several years experience working in Canada's national team program.  Dilena has prior Head Coaching experience at Humber, where he led the Hawks to a CCAA championship, and at Seneca College before joining his long-time colleague Katz at U of T.

As well, there are two other coaches with serious track records in the OUA West:  Ken Murray and Joe Raso, who built perennial national championship contenders at Brock (where Murray won two CIS National championships) and McMaster (where Raso qualified for 13 CIS national tournaments, getting to the championship game on 4 occasions and winning 4 Wilson Cup OUA championships) respectively and who would be tremendous additions to any basketball program although both have deep roots in Southern Ontario.

Expect a decision to be made as quickly as May 1st with applications being taken up to March 17th according to the job posting.

Bill McLean's Look at the AUS tournament

In typical fashion, Bill provides a unique look at the just completed tournament with a view to this weekend's Final 8.
Vancouver Province  UBC wins top seed; TWU in also  Vancouver Sun  Birds set to make noise at Nationals

Ottawa Citizen  Ravens #2 seed for Nationals

Saskatoon Star-Phoenix  Huskies heading to Halifax

Halifax Chronicle-Herald  Tigers blast Axemen; Capers denied plus  Tigers roll to basketball title  Metro-Halifax  Clock strikes midnight at AUS Final 6  plus  Bracket set for Final 8

Sunday, 6 March 2011

First Round Thoughts

Look for UBC's 6'5" Kamar Burke and 6'4" Melvin Mayott among others to draw the task of slowing down Acadia's multi-talented 6'9" Owen Klassen.  For those who have not yet seen Acadia, Klassen has three-man skills with range beyond the three point line and is strong enough to score inside with his back-to-the-basket.  Off the top of my head, a favorable comparison for Klassen is Alberta's 6'8" Jordan Baker although Baker has a more versatile perimeter skill set while Klassen is a better low post offensive threat.  Acadia showed they can win without Klassen for short stretches as Klassen fouled out early in the overtime period against Cape Breton and 6'3" Anthony Sears and 6'6" Justin Boutilier picked up the slack.  Boutilier had an injury-plagued second half but appears all the way back after scoring 20 of his team-high 24 points after halftime in the shocking win over the Capers.  Acadia is not very deep or experienced at the guard spots and on paper the Thunderbirds back court featuring 6'1" Alex Murphy, 6'2" Josh Whyte and 6'2" Nathan Yu appears to have an advantage.  But we all thought that the Capers had the same type of advantage also... Expect Carleton to pound the ball inside to 6'6" Tyson Hinz and test Concordia's ability to guard the paint inside:   6'5" James Clark and Co. will be on display defensively and it will be interesting to see how Stingers Coach John Dore chooses to deal defensively when the ball gets into the low post.  Lakehead did a tremendous job with their rotations out of the double down against Hinz on Saturday night - the Wilson Cup tape is likely to be a prized possession for coaches facing the Ravens going forward.  Carleton should expect pressure and are likely to present a form of their own pressure on Concordia's guards as depth can be an issue for the Stingers.  Carleton must keep Evens Laroche and others off the offensive glass and convert in defensive transition.  It would likely be surprising to many if Carleton does not find a way to go back to shooting 20 to 25 3's once again after a weekend in which the Ravens decided to attack off the dribble and try to get to the rim... Dalhousie gets a tough first round matchup in Saskatchewan, arguably the best game on Friday as both teams have tremendous guards and strong front lines.  The Huskies have relied heavily on 6'0" Rejean Chabot and 5'11" Jamelle Barrett for 38-40 minutes each in their biggest games and Coach John Campbell has a big decision to make with respect to who 6'2" defensive lock-down guard Stephen Lopez will check, at least initially.  Chabot, who when right lives on the foul line, uses his body very well getting into the lane and typically tries to overpower defenders getting to the rim while contrastingly Barrett is quick, smooth and crafty, especially in transition getting to the rim or feeding his stable of athletic wings and forwards.  My guess is that Lopez is the better check for Barrett and that 6'1" Simon Farine is strong and intelligent enough to not get overpowered and/or outfoxed consistently by Chabot in a battle of fifth-year seniors.  Up front, the athletic Huskie forwards are likely to have their hands full with 6'9" Joe Schow - expect burly 6'8" Chris Unsworth to play more than the 17 total minutes he logged over two weekend games in the Canada West Final Four.  At the other end of the floor, Schow and 6'7" Sandy Viet will have to contend with how quickly 6'8" Michael Lieffers and 6'6" Nolan Brudehl get out in transition and attack the offensive glass.  Lieffers is arguably the most explosive athlete in the tournament and is a constant threat to crown opposing forwards with spectacular put-backs and transition dunks.  Dal does have a bit more depth in the backcourt and although 6'5" Duncan Jones can handle decision making in a pinch, Huskies do drop off considerably if either Chabot and/or Barrett get saddled with foul trouble... Lakehead's ability to push up on the ball, starting with 5'9" Greg Carter could expose what many feel might be the achilles heel of Trinity Western:  their back court where 6'0" Tristan Smith did have a solid season.  6'0" Dan Horner showed that he has big game abilities with his display against Alberta in the Bronze medal game however Spartans test will be their ability to get the ball below the foul line against Lakehead's ball pressure.  However, once things get inside, Trinity's array of talented bigs are likely to give the Thunderwolves front line trouble if left alone one-on-one.  6'6" Jacob Doerksen and 6'7" Kyle Coston among others are versatile and experienced enough to deal with double teams.  6'3" Calvin Westbrook's ability to knock shots down out of double downs - something he has shown he can do in big spots already this season will be tested.  Naturally, TWU must find the proper check for 6'2" Jamie Searle, coming off his OUA Wilson Cup MVP performance.  Plenty of plot lines and set ups for the weekend... we're just getting started.

CIS Final 8 Seedings are in !

#1 UBC
#2 Carleton
#3 Saskatchewan
#4 Lakehead
#5 Trinity Western
#6 Dalhousie
#7 Concordia
#8 Acadia

setting up the following first round games beginning on Friday:

Early Games:
UBC vs. Acadia
Trinity Western vs. Lakehead

Night Games:
Dalhousie vs. Saskatchewan
Carleton vs. Concordia

Reasonable draw and I'm hoping to get some clarity on the Wild Card situation and how it was arrived at.

Defensive Domination leads Tigers to AUS Championship

Dalhouise 78, Acadia 46  Holding the Axemen to just 6 first-quarter points, the Tigers rolled to leads larger than 30 before the third quarter was over in capturing their second AUS championship in three seasons with a go-away victory at the Halifax Metro Center.  6'1" Simon Farine led all scorers with 24 points and added 8 steals and 6 steals, leading the Tigers into the CIS Final 8 in his fifth and final season.  6'9" Joe Schow had 11 points and 10 rebounds in another solid performance inside while first-yeat Tiger Juleous Grant had 14 points.  Dal once again shut down their opponents top offensie threat had only 15 points and turned it over 6 times.

The CIS Final 8 seeding committee made up of Saint Mary's Ross Quackenbush, Rod Gilpin of Bishop's, Mike Katz of the University of Toronto and Dan Vanhooren of Calgary and chaired by James Hillis of Regina meet via conference call at 5 PM ET today to decide the 8th and final "wild card" entrant into the tournament and then the seedings.  We hope to have this information early this evening as the lead up to the return of the CIS Nationals to Halifax, beginning this Friday afternoon, continues.

New Ranking Speculation

Last night's results should create some churn in the CIS Final 8 seedings including in my opinion UBC taking over the #1 ranking.  Key point in seeding the Final 8 in my opinion:  if the weekly CIS coaches Top 10 is to valued at all during the season, it must be used as a reference point for the seedings.  One can debate the merits of how that Top 10 is voted on with conditions and other elements, however if the Top 10 is to have any relevance, it must strongly be considered in the seedings.  That said, here is last week's Top 10.

March 1, 2011

1. Carleton
2. UBC
3. Saskatchewan
4. Trinity Western
5. Cape Breton
6. Lakehead
7. StFX
8. Dalhousie
9. Concordia
10. Windsor

In my view, Carleton's loss and UBC championship win means the Thunderbirds go #1 with Carleton at #2.  Saskatchewan stays at #3, losing only to UBC on their home court.  Trinity Western loses a two point game to Saskatchewan (ranked ahead of them) and then wins the third place game against a team that defeated UBC earlier in the year.  Lakehead defeats #1 so the T-Wolves should move up to #4.  Now here's where the crux of the discussion lies - if Trinity Western is the wild card - which by this argument says they should be - higher ranked in the coaches poll last week and for much of the season and Cape Breton lost to an unranked, 7-15 team in the most important game of the year - then only dropping the Spartans to #5 is reasonable.  If Dalhousie wins today, the Tigers should move up 2 positions to #6 (last week's #7 X, who Dal beat 3 times including last night) is out.  Then Concordia gets #7 and Acadia #8. 

These scenarios set up these seedings and first round matchups:

#1 UBC
#2 Carleton
#3 Saskatchewan
#4 Lakehead
#5 Trinity Western
#6 Dalhousie
#7 Concordia
#8 Acadia

setting up the following first-round matchups:

UBC vs. Acadia  winner then plays winner of Lakehead vs. Trinity Western
Carleton vs. Concordia winner then plays winner of Saskatchewan vs. Dalhousie

Four very good, regionally-seperated first round games with Ontario and AUS teams on opposite sides of the draw.

Let the debate begin !

Official announcement should come out sometime between dinner and midnight tonight. 

Lakehead puts up a Championship Banner

Congratulations to Coach Scott Morrison and the Lakehead Thunderwolves for capturing their first OUA Wilson Cup championship ever with a superlative defensive effort against previously-undefeated Carleton Ravens.  Kitch McPherson Trophy winner Jamie Searle shook off a lacklustre offensive effort against uOttawa in the semi-final on Friday with a 22 point performance to take MVP honours while Ben Johnson again lit it up in bunches from the perimeter and Yoosrie Salhia and others combined to disrupt Carleton offensively, especially when the ball got in the post.  Lakehead showed that defensively they are among the very best teams in the nation and should get a favorable seeding tonight when the CIS Final 8 first round pairings are announced.

OUA hoops crown heads north   Mike Bennett Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal

Wolves stun Ravens, win OUA championship  Leith Dunick, TB Newswatch

Carleton suffers double defeat  Ottawa Citizen


Underdog Acadia Prevails

Monty Mosher provides a detailed look at the AUS semi-finals in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald

...Read More

UBC takes Canada West Title

UBC 107, Saskatchewan 100  Fifth-year senior Alex Murphy had 34 points, eight assists and four steals in his final game at home and fellow fifth-years Josh Whyte and Brent Malish had 19 and 14 points respectively as the Thunderbirds made a case for the #1 seed at the CIS Final 8 by capturing Canada West championship with their 18th consecutive victory, now the longest winning streak in the nation.  Murphy and Malish each had 4 points in a 17-8 early in the fourth that broke open a two point game and Murphy later went 6 for 6 from the free throw line in the final minute to clinch it after Saskatchewan's Rejean Chabot brought Huskies back to within 4 with just under one minute to play.  Both teams advance to next weekend's CIS Final 8 in Halifax.

In front of 1,743 fans, UBC jumped out to leads as large as 17 at 23-6 late in the first quarter but 5'11" Jamelle Barrett, 6'1" Rejean Chabot and 6'7" Michael Lieffers led a 22-8 Saskatchewan run that got the game back to within 3.  But Murphy then had 11 points in a late second quarter run that restored a double digit lead and ultimately the Birds went into halftime leading by 9.

The lead got back up to as high as 15 early in the third but the Huskies had another run left and after a Lieffers dunk late in the quarter, Sask was back to within 1 at 67-66.  Murphy and Malish then key the big run that brought the Canada West championship back to Vancouver.  Chabot finished with 29 points and Barrett poured in a game-high 35 to go with seven assists.

Box Score
Gary Kingston from Vancouver Sun   Birds rely on Murphy's Law to win CW

Howard Tsumura of Vancouver Province  Birds tops in West, Spartans in limbo

Howard Tsumura of Vancouver Province  T-Birds, Huskies move into Final 8

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Trinity captures CW Bronze medal

Trinity Western 82, Alberta 74  Coming back from a double digit deficit and holding the Golden Bears to just one point in the final 3+ minutes, the Spartans strengthened their case for a Final 8 wild card berth with a victory in the Canada West Bronze medal game.  Down 1 at 63-62, 6'6" Jacob Doerksen started a 7-0 run with a pair of free throws that gave Trinity the lead for good and later 6'3" Calvin Westbrook had 5 straight points in the run.  The Bears got it to 1 at 74-73 before Doerksen (21 points/11 rebounds) answered again, this time with a three with 2 1/2 minutes remaining that gave TWU some breathing room, leading by 4 and then Spartans clinched it primarily on the foul line.  Earlier, Alberta twice had 10 point leads, the last time at 46-36 before 6'6" Kyle Coston keyed a 14-2 run with a three pointer and a slam dunk - Coston had 7 points in the run and 14 overall for the Spartans.  6'8" Jordan Baker shook off a tough night on Friday with a tremendous 23 point/12 rebound effort for Alberta while Daniel Ferguson added 14.  Trinity got a wonderful effort from 5'11" fifth-year backup point guard Daniel Horner who had 13 points and dished out 7 assists in 21 minutes in the biggest game of his career to date.  TWU awaits tomorrow night's CIS Final 8 seeding announcement.

Box Score

Lakehead 77, Carleton 62

In a dominating defensive effort that created 22 Carleton turnovers, the Lakehead Thunderwolves captured their first-ever Wilson Cup OUA championship with a convincing win over the Ravens.  Lakehead doubled down on 6'6" Tyson Hinz at virtually every opportunity and rotated with purpose and energy.  T-Wolves also guarded the ball very well and pressured in certain situations, taking numerous charges on Raven drives and the Ravens displayed little confidence as the game progressed.  MVP Jamie Searle had 22 points as the Thunderwolves put another wrench into the seeding committees job.

Dalhousie 79, St. FX 68

The Tigers dominated inside, especially on the glass at both ends, and held Christian Upshaw scoreless for the first 19 1/2 minutes of the second half to advance to within one win of their second AUS championship in 3 seasons, locking up a berth at the Final Eight.  X had no answers for 6'9" Joe Schow and 6'8" Sandy Viet inside as both Tiger bigs finished with double doubles while defensively the Tigers, mainly 6'2" Stephen Lopez, locked up Upshaw in his final game of his fine career as Dal kept X under 70 points for the second time this season.

Tigers built leads as large as 20 early in the third quarter, leading 49-29 before 5'9" Will Silver, also playing his final game, knocked down a three and then followed with a lay-in, to start an 18-8 run that got the game back to 10 by the end of the third.  Silver had a valiant effort with 20 points and several rebounds and assists with a gritty effort while 6'5" Jeremy Dunn (19 points) made several big shots that helped get the game back to within 5 midway through the fourth.  But Schow (23 points, 16 rebounds) had a big block, several in traffic rebounds and a couple of layups while Viet (13 points, 11 boards) shook off 4 consecutive free throw misses with a 7 point fourth quarter including a couple of clutch elbow jumpers that restored a double digit lead and Tigers were celebrating.  6'2" Simon Farine was a rock once again for Dal with 21 points playing virtually the entire game. 

Dal looks for the AUS championship tomorrow afternoon against upstart Acadia.

Revised more Final 8 seeding speculation after Acadia's win

Now that Carleton, UBC, Saskatchewan, Lakehead, Concordia and Acadia are confirmed in, we await the Canada West third place game and Sunday night's committee meeting for the wild card and seedings announcement. 

After Acadia's upset, here are the seedings in my opinion:

#1 Carleton
#2 Canada West champion (UBC or Sask)
#3 X/Dal winner
#4 Canada West runner-up (Saskatchewan or UBC)
#5 Lakehead
#6 Trinity Western (if they win CW third place game)
#7 Concordia
#8 Acadia

setting up:
#1 Carleton vs. #8 Acadia
#2 CW winner  vs. #7 Concordia
#3 X/Dal winner vs. #6 Trinity Western
#4 CW runner-up vs. #5 Lakehead

Committee could also swap Lakehead into #3 slot and place X/Dal winner into #5 slot since Lakehead was ranked ahead of Dal and X in the final coaches poll.  If Trinity loses, then the debate rages over whether Spartans or Cape Breton should get the wild card - there is a comprehensive list of criteria that should properly address which team gets in.

AUS semi-final #1: Acadia 83, Cape Breton 81

6'3" Anthony Sears made a pair of free throws with 4.3 seconds remaining in overtime as the Axemen shocked the Capers, putting Cape Breton's Final 8 hopes in serious jeopordy.  Sears was fouled in the front court about 85 feet away from the Acadia basket by 6'3" Paris Carter who had just tied the game on a driving layup.  Looking for the game-changing steal, Carter knocked into Sears and the second-year guard made no mistake.  Earlier, Sears' driving and 1 layup gave Acadia the lead but Sears had two chances to clinch it on the line but went 1 for 4.  6'1" Jimmy Dorsey's drive to the rim at the buzzer came off and the Axemen and their throng of fans celebrated wildly on the floor.  Acadia won despite having 6'8" Owen Klassen fouling out early in the OT with 17 points and 5 rebounds.

The Capers looked to pull away late in regulation until 6'5" Justin Boutilier singlehandidly awoke the Axemen with 10 consecutive points midway through the fourth including a pair of long 3's that got the game back to within 1.  CBU continually settled for long 3's against Acadia's zone that the Axemen deployed virtually the entire game and when Tyler Lutton followed up a Klassen miss, the game was tied with about 2 minutes remaining.  One possession later, Alex McLaughlin gave Acadia their first lead of the game on a lay-in off a fine feed from Klassen who was doubled but Carter answered quickly, setting up the final possession of regulation on which Carter swatted a Boutilier driving lay-up attempt, forcing the overtime.

After Carter knocked down 3 3's in the first 12 minutes of the first half and Dorsey made his usual smooth takes to the rim to stake the Capers to leads as large as 10, the spunky Axemen finished the half on a 9-1 run led by Boutilier (4 points) who began to attack the basket and Lutton as Acadia got out in transition and to the free throw line.  Klassen was double and triple teamed the entire half by 6'4" AUS Defensive Player-of-the-Year Phil Nkrumah and later picked up his second foul in the first few minutes of the second quarter but still led Acadia with 7 first half points. 

Boutilier had 20 of his team-high 24 points after halftime and Sears added 14 with 7 coming in the overtime.  Carter finished with a game-high 24 while Dorsey had only 5 points after halftime and struggled with his shooting including missing a key free throw in the overtime.

AUS Final Four matchups set as Acadia & X win decisively

Acadia 81, UNB 61  The Axemen held the V-Reds to only 22 points during the decisive second and third quarters, building leads as large as 24 early in the fourth to move to the AUS semi-final tonight against Cape Breton.  At stake is an automatic berth in the CIS Final 8.  6'8" Owen Klassen was dominant with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks while 6'3" Anthony Sears also kicked in with 22 points.  Acadia held UNB's AUS Rookie-of-the-Year Will McFee to 4 points on 2-10 shooting.  Box Score

St. FX 111, Saint Mary's 93  In front of 4,051 in the night cap at the Halifax Metro Center, 5'10" Christian T-Bear Upshaw exploded for 43 points on 17-27 shooting as the X-Men shot 61.5% in the second half and grabbed 22 "o" boards to dominate the Huskies.  X forced 21 Saint Mary's turnovers.  SMU got 32 from Joey Haywood.  The X-Men welcomed back all of their injured players with the exception of 6'9" Alberto Rodriquez and, after the Huskies took leads as large as 9 late in the first quarter, X's depth and pressure won the night, especially in the fourth quarter when X led by as many as 24.  Box Score

Monty Mosher's article in Halifax Chronicle-Journal  Upshaw steals show

Bill McLean's Dalhousie team preview plus St. FX team preview

Both of tonight's semi-final games:
6 PM AT/5 PM ET  Acadia vs. Cape Breton
8 PM AT/7 PM ET  Dalhousie vs. St. FX

are available tonight on, the official webcaster of the Subway AUS Men`s Basketball Championships. Follow us on twitter @_sportstream_.

T-Birds, Huskies win Canada West semi-finals, automatic Final 8 spots

UBC 91, Alberta 73  Fellow fifth-year seniors Brent Malish and Alex Murphy each had 5 points during the game-deciding 19-5 run during a five minute stretch of the third quarter and UBC later built leads as large as 20 in capturing a spot at the CIS Final 8 with a CW semi-final victory in Vancouver.  After Alberta's 6'4" Greg Ferguson scored 6 early third-quarter points to bring the Golden Bears back to within 2 at 46-44, UBC turned up the "d" and broke to their run.  Ferguson had 30 points to lead all scorers including a 17 point first-half but scored only 7 points in the final 17 minutes of play.  6'2" Josh Whyte had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists to lead UBC.  The Bears did get the game back to within 10 early in the fourth but UBC quickly broke loose on a 16-6 run to lead 88-68 just over a minute to play and the Bears fate was sealed.  Box Score    Gary Kingston of Vancouver Sun with Big Birds bounce Bears with high-energy effort

Saskatchewan 80, Trinity Western 78  5'11" CW conference MVP Jamelle Barrett hit a running 13-foot  floater from the elbow with 1.8 seconds left and as the 24 second buzzer sounded, completing a dramatic Huskies comeback from 10 down with about 4 minutes remaining to lift defending national champions Saskatchewan back to the CIS Final 8.  Trinity scored just one point in the final 5 1/2 minutes of the game.  Barrett and fellow all-star Rejean Chabot keyed the comeback with Chabot tying the score and almost giving Sask the lead with about 30 seconds left but was rejected by 6'6" Kyle Coston.  Trinity had trailed only briefly in the game, the last time being at 14-13 midway through the first quarter and was again led by another outstanding effort from 6'6" Jacob Doerksen who had 29 points and 12 rebounds.  TWU can still make their first appearance at the CIS Final 8 with a wild card berth to be announced Sunday night.  Their quest would be strongly aided by a victory tonight over Alberta in the CW Third-Place game and by a Cape Breton win tonight in the AUS semi-finals over Acadia Axemen.  Box Score

Canada West All-Stars selected:  Barrett named Player of the Year

Stingers complete "Worst to First" Turnaround

Showing that last season's finish in the QUBL basement - Concordia's first non-playoff season in Coach John Dore's 20 seasons as Stingers head coach - was an abberation, Concordia rallied back from an early 13 point deficit for a 77-66 home victory to advance to the Final 8 in Halifax.  6'3" Evens Laroche was instrumental in the victory with 19 points and 15 rebounds including 6 on the offensive glass, where the Stingers lived, grabbed 24 "o" boards in all. 

Laval raced out to a double digit lead on the heels of a 6 for their first 9 3's effort Both teams shot poorly overall (Concordia 31%, Laval 33%) led by 6'6" Etienne Labrecque (4 for 7 3's) and 6'3" fifth-year senior J.F. Beaulieu-Mahieux, playing the final game of his career.  However Rouge et Or began falling in love with the 3 and could not clean up the defensive glass allowing the Stingers to come back.

Box Score

Randy Phillips article in the Montreal Gazette  Stingers put cellar behind them in title quest