Wellsie’s Canada West Trails: First Semester Class Leaders

  • The Canada West head coaches preseason poll that was published on Nov. 2 picked Calgary, UBC, Alberta and Manitoba in that order, as the top-4 four teams in the now 17-team, one division loop.
    If first semester results are any indication, perhaps the bench bosses should consider investing retirement funds in legalized sports gambling products.
    Ten outfits have played half their 20 regular season tilts. The other seven have contested 8-of-20.
    Ultimately, the top-12 teams in the league will qualify for the post-season. At this juncture, Alberta (10-0), UBC (8-0) and Calgary (7-1) lead that chase.
    However, playoff seeding will be done by Rating Percentage Index. Canada West have yet to publish this mark, but the inimitable Martin Timmerman has. Using this metric the top-four in order are Manitoba, Alberta, Calgary, then UBC.
    At first glance one might wonder how Manitoba, a team with a 4-6 record, could possibly be first in the seeding stampede? Well, I’m not sure these Bisons could have faced a tougher schedule had Marquis de Sade been in charge of designing the slate with the goal of driving Kirby Schepp and company over a Buffalo Jump. Manitoba literally played every other team in the RPI’s top six teams! Yes, all 10 games were against the other squads rated in the top-six out of 17. I doubt even Vancouver’s Paul Eberhardt (it wouldn’t shock me if only Dave Smart has head coached more basketball games in Canada the last 30 years – Ebe’s schedule habitually includes helming high school and CCAA powers concurrently, and he often coaches provincial teams as well) could quickly figure out the odds on that happening (word is Ebe has somehow found time to gamble just a bit too.)   
    As far as individual players go, two fifth-year lads certainly seem to be in the thick of the Moser discussion, with the distinct possibility of playing for reasonable pay in the pro/club ranks next season.
    Calgary’s six-foot-five (well, that’s the story at least), wing Thomas Cooper (seventh year after entering post-secondary, including stops at NCAA Division I North Carolina A & T and California JuCo power San Francisco City College) is the highlight of every opponent’s scouting report, but he’s still putting up 25.6 ppg. Cooper has the ability to create shots and finish in traffic.
    UBC’s six-foot-nine, wing Conor Morgan (sixth year at UBC, including an injury redshirt campaign), is posting video game numbers (this from a writer who has never played a video game) averaging 25.1 ppg, shooting 61.5 percent from the field.
    With all due respect to Morgan and Cooper I don’t think either are the leading Canada West NBA prospects. That would clearly be Edmonton-based referee Matt Kallio who is a regular whistle blower in the D-League too. To me, there have been multiple Canada West officials with NBA tools over the years, but so far Kallio (who is a highly regarded FIBA international blind person as well) appears to have made the career and life choices that will enhance his opportunity to advance to the ultimate pro level on the planet. Frankly, it’s way, way past time a Canuck arbiter makes their mark on that stage.

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