Dreams of Glory ... 6 Teams Chasing
If you want to know how important a
good point guard is to a CIS basketball team you need look no further than
this group of 6 teams with a combined record of 13 wins vs 32 defeats
through the 1st half. No fewer than 4 of them ... Calgary, Regina, Trinity
Western, and Winnipeg ... were without their starting point man for much or
all of this past Fall. Winnipeg gets their guy back right away, Calgary,
sometime in January, but TWU and Regina will have to wait until next season
for their #1s.
The point man sets the tone, delivers the ball, scores,
defends, and leads his team. Without a standout point man, the game gets
very hard. With him, your team will enjoy a much better fate.
is our look at the 6 Canada West teams trying to come from behind and get some early wins in 2012 ...
Calgary Dinos ... 3-5 ... Dinos Head
Coach, Dan Vanhooren, wants to put most of the 1st half of this season
behind him, and have his club enjoy a 'happy and healthy 2012'. Step one on
the happy front is the return of Boris Bakovic, the 6-7 scoring star, who
transferred to Calgary for his 5th year, having been the
top OUA scorer for
several seasons while playing for Ryerson. With his knee getting more and
more ready for game action, Bakovic will be a big addition to the Dinos
arsenal, and a welcome one for 5th year teammate, Tyler Fidler. "Boris will
really help us ... he knows how to play the game", says Fidler. "I'm excited
to finish strong in this 2nd half of the year ... it will help to get our
An equally pivotal player is Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, their
2nd year point man, who suffered a broken hand in November, but has been
doing some light practice work, and may return sooner than 1st expected
(that's suitably vague, don't you think?). 6-7 Matt Letkeman, the 2nd year
post, who has been dealing
with a baffling virus, which has kept him out for
over a month, plans to workout this week, and UC is hopeful he can get back
soon as well. Meanwhile, the multi-talented Fidler has been scoring 16 ppg
with 6 rebounds, leading the undermanned Dinos. 2nd year post Josh Wolfram
is coming into his own as a
scorer and rebounder as well; adding strength
and experience, his stats are on the rise ... 13 ppg/ 8 rebs. 5th year
post, Dustin Reding has stepped in and shot 51% from the floor, and averaged
8 ppg, while Patrick Walker, a big-bodied, 6-8, post shoots 63%, and can
rebound despite nagging back issues.
At the guard spot, the absence of
Ogungbemi-Jackson, and the departure of Phil Labongo have really hurt
Calgary. These 2 former Winnipeg high school stars were looking like a
terrific back-court pair, but things changed in a hurry. Keenan Milburn, a
5th year, who is shooting 42% from 3 point range has been sharing the point
guard spot with rookie, Josh Owen-Thomas, who is learning under fire, and
shows great promise. Andrew McGuinness, a 3rd year shooting guard averages
11 ppg, and 43% from beyond the arc.
The Dinos have a tough schedule this
half, as they face 5 of the 8 teams ahead of them in he standings. Coach
Vanhooren, in his typical fashion, will see this as an opportunity for an
improved UC team to knock off these higher-placed clubs, and to fight for a
Brandon Bobcats ... 3-5 ... After his 45 day forced
absence from the gym due to a faculty strike, Brandon Coach Gil Cheung is
happy to be back working with his team. Young Assistant, Jeremy Wielenga,
did yeoman service filling in for the head man, but Cheung must have been
ready to set his hair on fire back in
early November, and his presence will
help the 'Cats.
BU is a team in transition, with their on-court
leadership coming from newcomers like red-shirt freshman, Ilarion Bonhomme,
an import point man from Washington, D.C., who is contributing 12.5 ppg and
6 big assists. Brandon's leading scorer is Emerick Ravier, a 4th year
scoring guard, who transferred from the Ottawa Gee-Gees ... he scores 17 ppg
(10th in CW) and grabs 7 boards. Another rookie standout is post man Ali
Mounir- Benadbelhak, a 6-6, former student of the Algerian Sport Institute,
via Montreal. He is scoring 14 ppg and getting to 7 rebounds. A pair of 5th
year vets, Kyle Vince and Donovan Gayle are helping out in scoring 9 and 5
points respectively, while 4th year forward, Jordan Reaves adds 7 points, 5
The Bobcats had 2 solid wins over UNBC and UBC-O in the Wesmen
Classic before losing to Valley State in the final last week in Winnipeg.
They will need to get a good start to their 2nd half schedule, where they
play their 1st 5 games against teams below them in the Canada West
standings. After that it gets much
tougher ... Brandon's last 7 games are
against higher placed teams, including 2 each with Saskatchewan and Alberta,
with both series on the road.
Regina Cougars ... 2-5 ... Another
team suffering with the loss of their point guard, the Cougars have 2nd year
man, Brenden Hebert stepping in for Darius Mole, 3rd year, Dallas, TX, who
was lost for the season back in the early Fall with a broken leg. Hebert is
shooting well ... 11 ppg, 47% FG and 50% 3-pt. ... but he is 24 assists vs.
32 turnovers, and is 'learning on the job'.
Paul Gareau, the Cougars'
6-7, 4th year forward, with his 18 ppg, 7 rebounds and 54% FG shooting, is
the leader of a relatively inexperienced squad. Coach Hillis points out, "We
are a team which has seen a lot of change ... we have lots to work on." 3rd
year forward, 6-7, 225 lb, Connor Burns has really helped with his 10 ppg
and 7 rebounds, and Gradyn Childerhose, a 6-5, 4th year, transfer wing man
from Briercrest in the Alberta Colleges League is scoring 11 ppg and
grabbing 4 boards.
Jared Janotta, 2nd year football/hoops player, will
probably improve on his 7 points and 4 rebounds, since he can concentrate on
basketball this half of the season. Regina has had shooting woes ... 42%
from the floor, compared to 47% for their opponents in Canada West ... and
off the bench they have 3 guards
averaging a combined 28%. This will not
win games, especially when you add in the 92 ppg allowed by their defense,
last in Canada West.
This may be the difficult 'building year' for the
Cougars ... they start with 4 away games, at Brandon and Manitoba, and still
have to play 2 roadies at both Alberta and Lethbridge, and finish with a
single at Saskatchewan. Tough sledding.
Trinity Western Spartans
... 2-6 ... TWU is in a vastly different spot than a year ago, when they
finished 21-3 in Canada West play on their way to a CIS Final against
Carleton. Coach Scott Allen was counting on 2nd year, Eli Mara, who starred
for him at White Rock Christian HS, to step into the limelight at the point
spot, but Mara suffered a season - ending injury this Fall and that plan is
The Spartans have allowed 90 ppg, 13th in Canada West, TWU has
allowed the opposition to shoot 52% from the floor, last in the League,
they're scoring 78, 10th in the League, their rebounding margin is -5, which
is 11th, and they've made the least number of 3 point shots, 5 per game.
Not a pretty picture, but there may be light ...
The Spartans have 4
double-digit scorers ... Kyle Coston, 18 ppg, is their 5th year leader, also
grabbing 6 rebs./game ... Sean Peter, a 5th year transfer from the Ottawa
Gee-Gees, scores 16 ppg and shoots 56% from the floor ... Calvin Westbrook,
he of the extremely silky jumper, has hit 13 ppg, ... he was not in the TWU
lineup for their games in California, however. Tristan Smith, who is back
at point, is at 10 ppg, and averages 5 assists, and he is a quality guard
who can deliver.
Now, if we can just get some more help from the forward
line ... enter Lucas Nugturen, who appears to be physically ready after
missing much of the past 2 seasons. At 6-11, 255, the former star at NEDA,
the elite junior program in Ontario, sucks up a lot of light in the lane.
At the guard spot, Coach Allen will be looking for 2nd year transfer Justin
Bakuteka (Toronto via Lakeland College) to feel a little more at home in
this 2nd half. He and Niko Monachini, a 6-6, 3rd year, wing man could be
key players in any positive move made by TWU in January games. The Spartans
had a close game (79-71) with Azuza Pacific, an NAIA power in California,
and they went big in that one, with Nugteren teaming up with Coston, and
Monachini for much of the contest. The Spartans start at home vs Lethbridge
and Calgary, then play a pair against UBC-O so, opportunity knocks, and
Trinity has few chances to waste if they're to get back into a playoff
Winnipeg Wesmen ... 2-6 ... The Ws do have some talent to
work with, but, to date, "they can't put the ball in the ocean from the
boat" (a favourite 'Old Coach', Gary Howard, lament), shooting a League
worst 36% from the floor. And while we're talking of 'To Dos', how about
some rebounding ? The Wesmen are
last in that stat as well, with a -7.5 per
Can someone help us here ? Well ... yes. "He turns a lot of
broken possessions into good ones in a hurry, so to have him back in the
lineup makes us tougher ...." - Wesmen Head Coach, Mike Raimbault, in the
Winnipeg Free Press, talking about his point man, Andrew Cunningham. 'AC'
records 7 assists in his 1st game in the Wesmen Classic, so he's a popular
man with his teammates already ! Can a new floor general improve on the 71
ppg (13th in Canada West) ? One would think so, and Cunningham seems like a
player who can be a catalyst for getting more out of teammates.
Iko goes to the boards ... he just needs some buddies to follow him ! Benny
averages 7.5 rebs., and scores 8 ppg. Dominique Brown a 3rd year transfer
from Lakeland College is the leading scorer with 11 ppg, and is 91% from the
foul line, and the top assist man (BC ... before Cunningham) at 3.5 /game,
but just 33% on FG shooting. Travis Krahn, a hard-working 2nd year transfer
from Briercrest Coll., who averages 11 ppg, may just be the shooter Coach
Raimbault is searching for ... he is 36% from 3 pt. range, but may be
after his 1st semester in Canada West. Mark McNee, 6-6, Toronto, another
Lakeland College transfer, shoots 42%, and averages 9 ppg, and 4
Eric Zimmerman, a 4th year returnee, was 16 ppg in the Classic last
week, and he has to score more consistently in Canada West games ... Brayden
Duff, another Winnipeg high school product, gets 4 rebounds, and the lefty
is 50% on field goals. The Wesmen have 4 road games to start the 2nd half,
and they will want to get at least a couple of wins from UBC-O, TRU, and
Brandon to get some momentum.
UBC-Okanagan ... 1-5 ... the newest
team to Canada West has, predictably, had a rough go as they step up a
level, although they have some young talent, and a plan by Head Coach,
Darren Semeniuk, to develop those players and not get too concerned about
"It is really kind of unfortunate that our Christmas
break had to come, as I feel that our younger guys were just starting to
believe in themselves and get comfortable with the level of play," said
Semeniuk in an interview with the Kelowna Capital News, Warren Henderson.
"I think the biggest thing our guys learned over the first six games is that
they can compete against the other teams in our league when they play as a
Yasine Ghomari, a 3rd year guard from Vancouver, hits 19 ppg, far
and away the leading scorer ... of course, he's launched 105 FGAs, with the
next man at 47, but Ghomari takes the time to dish out 3 assists/game. Simon
Pelland, a 6-7, 5th year forward from North Van is next at 9 ppg, and he is
the leading board man, at 5 /game, followed by Ed Dane Medi (to our
knowledge, the only native born Italian in Canada West) who grabs 4.2 rebs.,
but is not a shooter. Steve Morrison, 4th year forward from North Vancouver,
scores 6 ppg, and he may need a few more touches, with his 54% FG shooting.
Mark Roth, 2nd year , 6-6 forward, 6.5 ppg is also from Terry Fox in Port
Coquitlam. Bret MacDonald, a 6-1 guard from Terry Fox, Port Coquitlam, is
the top rookie, and he looks like a future star for the Heat ... scoring
just 8 ppg, but he shoots 58% from 3 point range . Another 1st year bright
light is Julian Asselstine, a 6-8 post
from Coquitlam, who shoots 52%, gets
3 rebs., scoring 6 ppg.
UBC-O has a win (78-76 over Regina, in Kelowna on
Nov. 25), but that may be it unless they can ambush either Winnipeg,
Manitoba, or Trinity Western, all of whom visit the Okanagan prior to the
middle of January. After that ... the deluge (sic) ... Huskies, Bears,
'Birds, Vikes, 'Pack. Dangerous animals all.