We are pleased to share a contribution by one of Canada’s basketball treasures, Dave Wells, who has participated and observed in hoops at all levels since the 1970’s. Readers will notice a writing quality upgrade on the blog with Wellsie’s words and a sense of the long, rich experience set that he brings:
Lethbridge/Lethbridge College Game Report
By Dave Wells
University of Lethbridge Pronghorns (Canada West Universities Athletic Association, Canadian Interuniversity Sport) tipped their 2016-17 campaign on a winning note Wednesday evening in a very competitive range-war outlasting Lethbridge College Kodiaks (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association) 94-83. The game was played at a neutral ‘Bridge site (Chinook High School) in front of a responsive gathering of about 250.
Kodiaks entered the fray with a 2-0 mark earned in non-conference CCAA competition last weekend in Edmonton. They had also played a five 10-minute period controlled scrimmage versus Canada West University of Alberta Golden Bears in their Edmonton den on the same junket. Lethbridge College are head coached by former CCAA all-Canadian and two-time Canada West all-conference performer Ryan Heggie, who earned those respective honours playing at LC and U of L.
U of L led 24-19, 50-47 and 70-64 at the end of each of the first three quarters. However, Kodiaks were up by as much as six points in each of the first two periods.
Since this is a CIS blog, the rest of the story shall be written with U of L under the microscope.
No contemporaneous individual statistics were kept, but first time visitors from another planet who had never seen the sport before would likely have pointed to four ‘Horns as standouts.
A trio of third-year ‘Horns had solid affairs. Six-foot-eight and now perhaps 230-pound Zac Overwater displayed a myriad of skills, including improved shooting form. At times, when he played with tempo and force, Overwater showed all-conference ability. Six-foot-four Mike Pierzchala battled on the boards and shot the 3-ball. Six-foot Josh Sparkes was particularly effective down the stretch from distance and on runners. Overwater and Sparkes made some nice passes too.
Long (probably not his listed six-foot-eight barefoot, but he certainly plays the height), lean, newcomer DeAngelo Ashley, was a noted defensive star at perennial Cali Junior College power Fresno City College. His U of L game debut also showed a varied low and mid-range offensive arsenal.
U of L has overwhelming utilized zone defences under fourth-year head coach Mike Hansen (who played at Mt. Allison back in their last CIS season, then four years at U of L and has previously head coached LC. Yes, this was a range-war). Some wags, including this writer, have lovingly termed Hansen a Jim Boeheim acolyte. On this night however, U of L played man-to-man. It was also readily apparent the ‘Horns have made physical play a emphasis this campaign, although they were certainly met with force by the Kodiaks. There’s also no secret Hansen placed an even heavier importance on individual training starting last April.
U of L returns to Chinook High next Wednesday when they entertain ACAC Medicine Hat College Rattlers, who lost 66-65 to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in ‘Toon Town last week.
Then the new-look ‘Horns (who graduated three fifth-year starters; the team has five returnees in total) venture to the west-coast next Friday-to-Sunday for a first taste of 2016-17 CIS competition, taking on Canada West’s University of British Columbia, University of the Fraser Valley and again UBC on their home floors in non regular season affairs (U of L does not play those teams this CW regular season.)
Hansen will not be making the trip however, as he has hip surgery next Thursday. On campus assistant coach Alex Fletcher, a former Fresno City and U of L sharpshooter, will be at the helm. He may well also be for subsequent non-conference home games versus Quebec’s Bishops University the following weekend.