Monday, January 30, 2012

Canada West Men's Basketball: Jan 27-28 Update

A really busy January has led to the Canada West recap becoming a bi-weekly installment, at least last month, but hopefully my work schedule should be a bit less heavy between now and the end of the season, and you were able to get any important news from the Top 10 recaps Brian does every week.

There were some good storylines this week: Calgary knocked off Alberta twice, the Lethbridge offense came alive, and the TRU WolfPack's losing streak was halted thanks to a well-timed bye.

Alberta 66 vs. Calgary 67 | Alberta 64 vs. Calgary 79

This week, the big news was Boris Bakovic becoming unofficially the most prolific scorer in CIS basketball history, albeit after missing half the season with a 24-point performance on Friday, but obviously the real important takeaway from the weekend is Alberta dropping two games to provincial rival Calgary.

On Friday, it was Bakovic's night, but it was Tyler Fidler who got the winning points with (sigh) a free throw with 52 seconds to go. Jordan Baker missed two shots in the final 34 seconds and Daniel Ferguson turned it over with no time on the clock for the Dinos to eke out a close victory. Despite the advantage of the continental breakfast on Saturday, and as my old broadcast partner Joey Otoo used to say "hotel legs", Alberta came out flat in the Saturday rematch, shooting just 36% and getting nothing from beyond the arc.

Calgary got a great performance from point guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 0 turnovers for one of the more impressive all-around stat lines this season, and while Fidler was the only other Dino who cracked double digits, they didn't really need it. Jordan Baker had just 11 points on Saturday, hitting just four of his just 12 shots from the field.

What does this mean? Well, now at 6-10, Calgary are now in legitimate position for a playoff spot, two games back of sliding Manitoba for the 4th spot in the Prairie Division and three back of Trinity Western for the Wild Card spot. It will be a fun race down the stretch.

For the record, Calgary visit Manitoba next week.

Manitoba 89 vs. Lethbridge 103 | Manitoba 87 vs. Lethbridge 95

This is more like the Pronghorns offense we saw at the start of the season. Morgan Duce had a game-high 22, while Dominyc Coward had a Blake Griffin-esque 21-point, 16-rebound performance... in just 22 minutes of action. This game was over quick, thanks to Coward and his team's superior rebounding ability (60-22... yikes) and a 37-point quarter for the Horns.

On Saturday, all four starters scored in double digits Friday night in a dominant offensive performance. Dominyc Coward and Derek Waldner each had 12 boards, as well, with Coward blocking three shots as well. Overall on Friday, it was a very good shooting outing for the 'Horns (53.5%) and, again, out-rebounding the Bisons 45-37, including 33-13 off of the defensive glass. Despite this, Kevin Oliver had a good night for Manitoba with a 17-point, 11-board double-double in 38 minutes of play.

So, Lethbridge leapfrog the Bisons this weekend and sit at 9-7, a game up on the Bisons and three up on Calgary with four to play, so a playoff appearance for the Pronghorns looks very likely at this point.

Trinity Western 72 vs. Fraser Valley 88

Just a one-off game between TWU and UFV, but it was a doozy, with Jasper Moedt saying it was "our turn to knock [Trinity] off", providing excellent bulletin board material for the Spartans and coach Barnaby Craddock. Unfortunately, the game didn't really live up to its billing, as Trinity came out with just 7 points in the first quarter, somewhat validating Moedt's comments.

Moedt himself put up 10 points and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes, but the real story were turnovers and foul shots: Trinity turned the ball over 15 times to UFV's 7, while the Spartans sent UFV shooters to the line 37 times, which usually isn't a path to success, when you're only drawing 13 shots on your own. To their credit, the Cascades followed through, hitting 32 of them (Joel Friesen was a perfect 13-for-13 and had a game-high 24).

This is a rivalry that could take off. As far as I'm concerned, both Abbotsford and Langley are undesirable stops along the Greyhound route between Kamloops and Vancouver, but that's just me. Trinity are 2 back of UFV for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division with three to play, although they do hold a 2.5 game lead on the Dinos in the Wild Card. This may not be a playoff matchup, but the two do rematch on the 9th.

Brandon 70 vs. Saskatchewan 92 | Brandon 70 vs. Saskatchewan 89

In the most unsurprising weekend sweep ever, the Huskies clinched a playoff berth by knocking off Brandon twice at home. As mentioned by Brian in the Top 10 recap, it was a big weekend for Michael Lieffers.

What I like is the practically identical scorelines, although it's worth noting on Friday that the Bobcats got just 5 points in the first quarter of Friday's game—Saskatchewan went off on a 17-0 run and it wasn't until an Ali Mounir shot with 3:16 left in the quarter was the shutout bid collapsed.

UBC-Okanagan 43 vs. UBC 77 | UBC-Okanagan 48 vs. UBC 78

Okay, maybe THIS is the most unsurprising weekend sweep ever. The virtual bye allowed Kevin Hanson to use his bench (Nathan Yu played just 49 minutes all weekend). The Heat were held to single digits in the 2nd and 4th quarters on Friday and shot just 25.7% on the weekend.

Now, I know that UBC has the best shooting defense in the league, but, cripes, they're at 36% this season, down from 40% last season. You have to think their opponents are going to eventually start making shots, no?

The Thunderbirds are a game up now on idle Victoria with four to play for each.

Regina 86 vs. Winnipeg 79 | Regina 79 vs. Winnipeg 72

A sweep by Regina theoretically keeps them within striking distance of the playoffs, but at 5-10, there's just too much competition still in the mix. Brendan Hebert hit three three-pointers in the Friday contest to help him towards a team-high 19 as the Wesmen shot just 41% from the field and turned the ball over 20 times. Winnipeg blew a 9-point fourth quarter lead, getting out-scored 25-9 in the frame.

On Saturday, Winnipeg had no change to blow such a lead, as Paul Gareau shot 10-for-12 in 33 minutes. After the third quarter, the Cougars were up by 15, and a late charge by Winnipeg wasn't enough.

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