By Dave Wells
Both of these topics come to mind through information supplied by Wayne Thomas in his http://canadawesthoops.com/ effort.
First off, has any Canada West team ever played a more difficult holiday schedule than Calgary this season?
Here, thank’s to Wayne’s research, I’m sure based on Martin Timmerman’s seemingly endless work, http://usportshoops.ca/mbb2016/index.php are the holiday schedules of the CW outfits: http://canadawesthoops.com/hoops-teams-travel-holidays/
One can see the ledgers are quite split between competing in U Sports tournaments and heading to the States for non-NCAA DI clashes.
With six games against NAIA teams, all in the States, that is a rather remarkable U of C slate. Now, it’s not the 1976-77 Laurentian pseudo Baatan Death March which visited Winnipeg, Calgary and Halifax for consecutive tournament action in one continuous voyage of the damned (which unquestionably hurt that talented crew for the rest of the season), but still, that ain’t easy folks.
I doubt most readers in this space understand just how good these NAIA programs often are (as an example, Simon Fraser, with many stars of the Canadian national team program, never made the NAIA National Tournament). Trying to best them in their own barns (appears two, or perhaps three, U of C games fit this bill) is especially tough, perhaps partially because the officials at the NAIA level are often mediocre paid locals (“we have to live here when you go home”), not the $1,000-plus per game plus expenses types NCAA DI teams employ, who really don’t want to put their pay cheques in jeopardy by obvious tomfoolery.
For me, the U of C holiday slate as opposed to U of A playing in Winnipeg’s Wesmen Classic, adds even more intrigue to their looming Jan. 5/Jan. 7 Edmonton/Calgary Canada West home-and-home regular season series.
The other topic Wayne’s work sparked in my pea (or is that “pee”) brain was the announcement that Okotoks (a bedroom Calgary suburb) Adam Pahl has signed with UNBC: http://canadawesthoops.com/arizona-christian-sure-fire-in-ot/ I truly hope this works out positively for all involved. Without question the two Canada West markets that produce by far the least U Sports level local players are Prince George (UNBC) and Brandon. It’s not even close. Even if UNBC and Brandon do a tremendous job of acquiring and retaining import talent, there is still 110 minutes or so left for domestics. And really, due to injury and a variety of other circumstances it’s not always possible to get 90 good minutes out of imports. So, when I see kids with legit U Sports upside like Pahl off to Prince George, plus Calgary products Pookie Saunders and Kobyn Jopp at Brandon, where the opportunity to play significant minutes early and develop in to mainstays long-term is seemingly available, I think it’s wonderful. Kudos to UNBC head coach Todd Jordan and Brandon head coach Gil Chung. As well, I think these kids high school and club connections should take a bow.
BTW I truly hope Jordan and Chung are working extra hard to enhance the level of local talent in their home markets. I expect they are.