While not as prevalent as in past seasons, U-Sport men’s basketball still has 20 teams in action in at least 3 tournaments scattered across the country including “the grand-daddy of them all” to borrow a phrase: The 50th Wesmen Classic which will be held at the University of Winnipeg from December 27-30, 2016 inside the Dr. David F. Anderson Gymnasium at the Duckworth Centre. (Note that the original Granddaddy has USC and Penn State on 2nd January “Fight On”):
The folks at the University of Winnipeg do a wonderful job each season and have posted a series of tributes and memories for your viewing and listening pleasure.
For the first time in several seasons, the Classic, which utilizes a traditional 8-team, winner/loser bracket format, has all eight entries from U-Sport including Alberta Golden Bears, CANHoops #6 team in the country. The tournament kicks off at 1 PM ET on Wednesday December 28th as Canada West foes Brandon Bobcats (4-11, 3-7) meet UVic Vikes (7-9, 2-6). Bobcats and Vikes are not scheduled to meet this season in Canada West play. The Bears (15-2, 10-0) then meet Lakehead (4-11, 2-5) in the second afternoon affair at 3 PM ET. In the evening season, OUA’s Algoma Thunderbirds (2-11, 2-7) take on the host Wesmen (11-4, 6-4) followed by Regina Cougars (9-11, 5-3) and Manitoba Bisons (6-9, 4-6) – these two teams will also kick off their Canada West second half on 13-14 January with a pair of games in Regina.
Two other events kick-off the following day on Thursday, December 29th, beginning in Montreal with the inaugural “Classique Olga Hrycak” as UQAM honors the first woman ever to coach men’s basketball in the CIS, a wonderful tribute to a great Lady. The tournament includes OUA’s Guelph Gryphons (6-5, 3-3), Canada West entry UNBC Timberwolves (5-9, 4-6) and one of the bigger surprises in the country, Memorial Seahawks (7-7, 6-2 in first place in the AUS). Thursday’s action begins at 6 PM ET with Guelph meeting Memorial for the second time this season after the Gryphs won 90-65 at home on October 1st, overcoming a two point halftime deficit with a 53-25 second half as five Gryphons hit double figures. Host Citadins (7-6, 2-3) take on UNBC (5-9, 4-6) in the night cap. Afternoon games follow on Friday and Saturday in the three-day, round-robin affair.
In Halifax, 26th Annual Rod and Joan Shoveller Memorial Tournament also kicks off on Thursday, December 29th with 8 U-Sport teams involved.
The tournament, which began in 1991 as the brain-child of then-Tigers Head Coach Bev Greenlaw, honors one of the most respected referees in the history of CIAU/CIS/U-Sport basketball Rod Shoveller and his wife Joan. This season’s edition was scheduled to take on added significance with the Queen’s Gaels participating – Gaels 6’10” Mike Shoveller is the grandson of Rod and Joan – however Shoveller will unfortunately miss the rest of the regular season after sustaining a knee injury earlier this season. The tournament also employs the traditional championship-side/consolation-side bracket set-up and kicks off Thursday as CANHoops #3 Ottawa Gee-Gees (11-1, 5-0) meet UPEI (2-9, 2-6) at High Noon ET (1 PM AT) with Panthers likely to have back their electric 6’2″ sixth-man Lorenzo Parker, who missed the first half of the season while recovering from a severe knee injury; others should also return from what was an injury-plagued first half for UPEI. Two AUS rivals meet at 2 PM ET/3 PM AT as Acadia Axemen (5-8, 4-3) try to grab their first win of the season against St. FX X-Men (8-8, 4-3). Recall that X has won the first two games between the two including an emotional 92-90 win at the Stu Aberdeen Memorial tournament in Wolfville in October and then later a 73-66 win at the Center2000 tournament in Sydney. The teams also have two AUS regular season meetings scheduled in the new year. Night games have Queen’s (7-6, 5-1) meeting Saint Mary’s (10-4, 4-3) while the first night finale sees Canada West entry Mount Royal Cougars (5-9, 4-4) from Calgary take on the host Tigers, ranked #8 in the latest CANHoops.ca Top 10. All the games are at DalPlex.
Stay tuned for more as we work off the past few days of Holiday cheer.