Consistent with the dispensing of all things cloaking-device related, our veteran Southern Alberta correspondent produces his usual thorough and well written material, this time focusing on the 2016-17 Lethbridge Pronghorns, as follows:
‘Horns are coming off a 12-8 Canada West record, finishing 4th out of 11 clubs in the now extinct Pioneer Division. Seeded 6th (there are 17 CW teams overall) in the playoffs the ‘Bridge were ousted in the quarters 2-0 by UBC in UBC.
Three starters, including six-foot-six Canada West 1st-team all-star Brandon Brine (now starting in the Spanish Second Division) graduated. Only five players return to the U of L active roster. However, four have significant experience.
Six-foot guard Dejon Burdeaux averaged 12.4 ppg (all stats in this story based on the CW regular season) in his first U of L campaign after a standout two-year career at Fresno City College. When healthy Burdeaux would have to be among the better defenders in CIS. Think of him as a DI cover corner playing hoops. However, last season Burdeaux was troubled by multiple leg injuries throughout the second semester.
Six-foot-eight forward Zac Overwater, six-foot-four forward Mike Pierzchala and six-foot guard Josh Sparkes are all in their third year. Last season they combined to average 59.3 minutes and score 22.4 points. Both those numbers could improve significantly. Overwater is multi-skilled, Pierzchala shoots from deep and rebounds, while Sparkes is a Steady Eddie.
Two import newcomers direct from the US Juco ranks will be counted on heavily.
Long and thin six-foot-seven post DeAngelo Ashley was defensive player of the year in his conference last year playing at Fresno City College. It would be reasonable to expect his presence (more positional and shot altering than shot blocking) is key to U of L improving defensively.
Six-foot-four wing Elliott Sentance played the last two seasons for Mineral Valley College in Missouri. They were 52-10, often ranked among the top-20 in NJCAA DI. He averaged 12.4 and 10.0 ppg at Mineral Valley. Sentance hails from Leicester, England. He has England U-16, England U-18 and Great Britain U-20 on his resume. Sentance believed he was ticketed for NCAA DI IUPUI as late as this summer, before the NCAA ruled previous club action in Britain, combined with his two years of JuCo ball, meant his NCAA time clock had expired.
So, the ‘Horns start off the season with six players almost certain to receive significant floor time.
From there it would appear freshman (but three years out of high school, he’s a return Mormon missionary) Colton Gibb is the next man up. The six-foot-two battler adds toughness which is a goal for the entire team.
Six-foot guard Will Hickey got limited minutes last season after transferring from Lethbridge College, but he is solid, and may well play exponentially more this time around.
Prize six-foot-four freshman wing Scott Mazutinec (third in scoring overall at the 2015 Canada Basketball U-17 Nationals) missed almost his entire Grade 12 season with knee woes, but has a chance to earn consistent minutes.
Valued rookie wing Mark Rodehutskors (just turned 17 in the summer) would certainly be in the top-12, but the decision has been made for him to redshirt and save the year of eligibility. He’s six-foot-five at least, can really pass the ball and could conceivably add a few inches.
U of L are not big and do not appear deep. However, there is only one fifth-year player and hopes are high this group can provide a firm, lasting, rebuilding base. It’s not inconceivable to think a near injury-free season could help enable a winning record this time around, but it’s certainly a fine line.