Coming off another season where their playoff fate came down to the final weekend, Marc Dobell‘s Mount Royal Cougars appear to have added at least two formidable pieces designed to push Calgary’s other CIS program into Canada West contention. MRU finished strong last season, winning 5 of their last 6 to finish at 10-10 and tied for third with MacEwan but lost the tie-breaker and missed the post-season. With the commitment of 6’4″ CCAA Player-of-the-Year Josh Ross, the Cougars have a potential Canada West all-star candidate to join 6’8″ sophomore Brett Layton (17 ppg as a freshman), already one of the emerging stars in the league. Recall Layton returned from a two year Mission to start his CIS career last season after starring in high school at Calgary’s Sir Winston Churchill, graduating in 2013. Ross, originally from Burlington, Iowa, will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after starting his post-secondary career with two seasons at Southeastern C.C., a NCJAA program from West Burlington, IA. In his second season, he was one of the top players in the ICCAC, averaging 15.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg including a 42% three-point shooting percentage. Last season, Ross, who projects as a combo 3/4 forward at the CIS level, led Vancouver Island U to a fourth-place finish at the Canadian College national championships, averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Joining Ross as a second potential-impact newcomer is 6’0″ Craig Martin, who completed his high school career at Dallas, TX Woodrow Wilson High in 2014-15, averaging 10 ppg as a senior before sitting out last season. Martin has a strong reputation as a pit-bull-esque ball defender and should immediately help the Cougars back court. MRU loses only 6’4″ James Lefebvre from their starting lineup from last season, returning conference all-star Layton, 6’2″ Derek Wolf, 6’2″ Glen Yang plus 6’5″ Neil Phillip. 6’4″ Noah Lewis, who started the first 4 Canada West regular season games before missing the remainder of last season is also scheduled to return. Cougars also added some depth to their front court with the transfer from Trinity Western of 6’7″ Nick Tancon, who was an all-star at the ’13-’14 B.C. Provincial championships when he averaged 33 points and 25 rebounds per game. Tancon also has international experience playing in Denmark. Tancon averaged 13.4 minutes and 4.1 points per game in his only season with the Spartans in 2014-15.
Although major award winners were not announced, usually conferences list first the top vote getting player in the All-Star announcement. If that indeed is the case with Canada West, it appears that 6’5″ Thomas Cooper of Calgary is the odds-on favorite to win the Canada West Player-of-the-Year and Toronto native Brody Clarke will be named Rookie-of-the-Year.
At first glance, six of the 15 all-stars named come from the Explorer Division including three from Thompson Rivers – with 4 of the 6 teams in that division having representation. Of the 11 teams in the Pioneer, 7 teams are repped – all non-playoff teams (Saskatchewan, Victoria, Brandon and Trinity Western) did not have a player named.
Very glad to see coaches recognize how important Keith Omoerah is to Manitoba’s success despite less than resounding pure offensive numbers. Brandon Brine at Lethbridge is also extremely deserving of a First-Team selection.
In all, 11 of the 15 All-Stars are Canadian with the U.S.A., Austrailia, Germany and Ukraine also being represented.
Calgary’s Cooper and Lars Schleuter, UBC’s Jordan Jensen-Whyte and Conor Morgan, Manitoba’s Omoerah and TRU’s Josh Wolfram, Reece Pribilsky and Volodymyr Iegorov all will appear at the Canada West Final 4 at the Jack in Calgary this coming weekend.
2015-16 Canada West Men’s Basketball First All-Star Team
Thomas Cooper / G / University of Calgary / 4th / Chattanooga, Tennessee
Kevon Parchment / G / University of the Fraser Valley / 5th / Scarborough, ON
Jordan Jensen-Whyte / G / University of British Columbia / 4th / Calgary, AB
Josh Wolfram / F / Thompson Rivers University / 5th / Kamloops, BC
Brandon Brine / F / University of Lethbridge / 5th / Adelaide, Australia
2015-16 Canada West Men’s Basketball Second All-Star Team
Mamadou Gueye / F / University of Alberta / 3rd / Quebec City, QC
Keith Omoerah / G / University of Manitoba / 3rd / Winnipeg, MB
Brett Layton / F / Mount Royal University / 1st / Calgary, AB
Jonathan Tull / G / University of Regina / 5th / Ajax, ON
Conor Morgan / G/F / University of British Columbia / 3rd / Victoria, BC
2015-16 Canada West Men’s Basketball Third All-Star Team
Reese Pribilsky / G / Thompson Rivers University / 5th / Victoria, BC
Denzel James / F / MacEwan University / 4th / Edmonton, AB
Denzel Lynch-Blair / G / University of Winnipeg / 2nd / Toronto, ON
Volodymyr Iegorov / F / Thompson Rivers University / 4th / Donetsk, Ukraine
Lars Schlueter / F / University of Calgary / 2nd / Ulm, Germany
2015-16 Canada West Men’s Basketball All-Rookie Team
Brody Clarke / F / University of Alberta / Toronto, ON
Chan De Ciman / G / University of Saskatchewan / Regina, SK
William Sesay / G / University of Winnipeg / Winnipeg, MB
Jeff Tubbs / G / Thompson Rivers University / Kelowna, BC
Taylor Browne / G / University of British Columbia / Surrey, BC
Final Four – hosted by the University of Calgary
Friday, March 11
UBC vs. Thompson Rivers / 6 PM MST / CW Final Four semifinal 1
Manitoba vs. Calgary / 8 PM MST / CW Final Four semifinal 2
Saturday, March 12
Loser semifinal 1 vs. Loser semifinal 2 / 6 PM MST / CW bronze medal game
Winner semifinal 1 vs. Winner semifinal 2 / 8 PM MST / CW championship game
Excellent recap and production summarizing the Canada West play-in series plus a great interview with UBC Head Coach Kevin Hansen – top-notch professionally done product.
Canada West is the only one of the four conferences that deploys a Best-of-3 quarter-final – rationale being that they want to make sure that the 4 “best” teams make it through to have the “best” representatives nationally. The format makes it prohibitively difficult for a visiting team to advance. My fleeting memory tells me that only once in the history of this format has a visiting team captured a Best-of-3 although Alberta technically did that last weekend.
There are 3 games this evening:
Fraser Valley at Manitoba (7 PM Central; 8 PM ET)
Lethbridge at UBC (7 PM Pacific; 10 PM ET)
Regina at Thompson Rivers (7 PM Pacific, 10 PM ET)
The fourth series: Alberta at Calgary gets underway tomorrow night.
As always, the go-to place for all things Canada West is Wayne Thomas’s great site (although our trusted Canada West source is another great resource).
Both Alberta Golden Bears and Winnipeg Wesmen had big second-half comebacks in their opening game wins at MacEwan and Regina respectively.
Wayne Thomas of Canada West Hoops provides more detail
For those interested in Regina-centric video highlights, see below. Readers comments on whether these highlights are worth your time are welcomed.
Canada West playoff bracket is set (see below for league-released bracket graphics – pretty slick) and begins with next weekend’s so-called “play-in” round that features the #3 team in the Explorer and the 5th, 6th and 7th place teams from the Pioneer.
While both series should be exciting, the more interesting setting is the Alberta at MacEwan series with the multi-time National champion Golden Bears facing off against fellow Edmonton-based program MacEwan Griffins. Using the term “cross-town rivals” may be a bit premature as Bears and Griffins have not yet met as CIS opponents in the two seasons MacEwan has been officially part of Canada West. However, expect that descriptor to become much more appropriate quickly.
Griffins qualified for the Canada West post-season with a 10-10 record, good for third place in the Pioneer, under Head Coach Eric Magdanz after going 7-13 last season. Ironically, Magdanz is a former assistant coach at Alberta (2010-12) working under Greg Francis. Magdanz played at McMaster for legendary Marauders Head Coach Joe Raso (4 seasons: 2005-09) and is one of at least 4 CIS coaches who either played for or coached on Raso’s staffs.
Although Griffins and Golden Bears have never met as CIS opponents, Griffins have been competitive against Pioneer division teams this season, going a collective 3-3 including an 80-54 victory over Brandon and a tight 3 point loss to Lethbridge, both over the Holidays at the Wesmen Classic in Winnipeg. Earlier the Griffins won at Manitoba – the first game of the year for both teams – and lost at Winnipeg and at Brandon also in early October.
MacEwan was more than worthy of their third place finish, clinching the playoff berth on the next to last night of the season after winning 5 of 6 games (Saturday night’s loss to UNBC was meaningless in the standings). Griffins also boast a 20 point win over second-place Fraser Valley and are the only team to defeat Thompson Rivers in Kamloops, winning by 14 points in November. MacEwan went 1-3 vs. both teams ahead of them in the Explorer standings.
Golden Bears finished 6th under fourth-year Head Coach Barnaby Craddock and have played two Explorer Division teams, hammering UNBC 99-45 at their own Golden Bear Invitational in October after having lost two weekend’s prior to Mount Royal by 3 at the Calgary Cup when Bears roster was depleted.
We will have more on Canada West as the week progresses.
A confluence of events from several different angles have put this weekend’s final two games of the season for the Lethbridge Pronghorns in a very emotional context. To start, a pair of wins over last place Trinity Western would clinch 4th place in the Pioneer Division and a first-round bye in the playoffs – although at present it appears that the Horns would be travelling to Vancouver for a Best-of-3 vs. UBC Thunderbirds. On top of locking in Lethbridge’s best finish in several years, a number of other happenings added to the celebration including:
- the return to the gym of 6’11” Brent Watkins, who was a victim in a near-fatal automobile accident last summer and after much rehab is getting back to normal – this piece from the Lethbridge Herald describes how inspiring Watkins’ return was
- 5th year wing Rob Olsen, who missed last weekend’s trip to Winnipeg, celebrated the birth of his daughter last weekend and last night was his first game back since becoming a proud Papa
- Tonight is Senior’s Night for Olsen, Jared Baker and Brandon Brine, who is poised to be a Canada West First Team all-star selection
- On the not-so-positive side and likely the biggest story of last night’s game 6’1″ Dejon Burdeaux who went down with an ankle injury 1:45 into the game and did not return. His status for this evening is uncertain.
Lethbridge needs tonight’s game to finish 4th. Below are the CW standings at present.
Canada West Pioneer Playoff Seedings/Standings
Explorer: Thompson Rivers clinched 1st, Fraser Valley clinched 2nd, MacEwan needs to defeat last place UNBC to claim third and final playoff spot.
Assuming: Calgary, UBC, Lethbridge, MacEwan and Regina (at home over Saskatchewan) win this evening, the following would be the Canada West playoff set-up as I understand it:
The deep, emotional southern Alberta rivalry between Calgary Dinos and Lethbridge Pronghorns just took on an entirely new, family-based dimension as it was announced today that the Rodehutskors brothers from Chestermere High School on the outskirts of Calgary have made their university program committment: one to each of the Dinos and Horns.
Jeff Rodehutskors, a 6-8 forward, considered one of the top high school prospects in Western Canada, chose Calgary after considering several other schools. Jeff’s brother, Mark, although younger, is also graduating this spring, and the 6-4 wing has decided to go to Lethbridge to play for the Pronghorns. Mark represented Alberta at the Western Canada summer games and is only turning 17.
“I look forward to playing in the Dinos program for Coach Vanhooren,” said Rodehutskors told Calgary’s Sixth Man Dinos News. “ Calgary has a top program, and I’m excited to join this team and test myself at the next level.” Jeff is widely expected to make an immediate impact as a freshman given his scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking abilities.
The boys’ Mum, Beth, said, “I’m very happy for both of them ! I guess I’ll wear red in Calgary and blue in Lethbridge !”
Both Jeff and Mark are sons of the late Steve Rodehutskors, a two-sport star in CIS who went on to have an eight-year career in the Canadian Football League. The elder Rodehutskors had not played organized football before joining the Dinos in 1984 and quickly became a key cog on the Calgary offensive line, starting on the team that won the Vanier Cup in 1985. He previously played basketball for the University of Lethbridge, appearing in the national championship tournament with the Pronghorns in 1984. Tragically, their father Steve died almost 9 years ago at the tender age of 43 after contracting a rare form of cancer.
The Dinos also announced the commitment of another German import, 6’4″ point guard Maximilian Eisele, a close friend of current Dino Lars Schlueter.
Eisele hails from Ulm, Germany and is currently playing with Ehingen Urspring, where he comes off the bench for a 15-4 team that leads the South Division of the German Pro-A league (German Second Division). Eisele brings a championship pedigree to Calgary, having won a pair of national championships with Urspring. Eisele would presumably replaced Josh Owen-Thomas, the Australian import currently on the Dinos roster in his fifth and final season of eligibility.
6’7″ Mamadou Gueye had a season-high 33 points and the Golden Bears jumped out to a comfortable double digit lead and then hung on late for a six point win at Saskatchewan, eliminating the Huskies from the Canada West playoff race and clinching their own spot in the post-season. Alberta’s win also officially eliminates Victoria Vikes from the post-season meaning both of last season’s Canada West representatives at the CIS Nationals did not make the post-season. Alberta got 6’2″ Dwan Williams (Toronto Oakwood), who had been out with a wrist injury for since before Christmas, back in the lineup – Williams had a big basket down the stretch – and also got 20 points from fellow-Oakwood/GTA product Brody Clarke.
Winnipeg clinched their spot in the playoffs with a 9 point win over Lethbridge, gaining a split of the weekend series as Wesmen enjoyed the return of 6’3″ Denzel Lynch-Blair (15 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists) who sat out Friday’s loss due to excess technical fouls accrued throughout the season. Pronghorns have also clinched after their win on Friday and played the weekend without their star 6’2″ fifth-year guard Rob Oslen (15.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.8 apg and shooting 42% from 3 point range) who remained home in Lethbridge to be with his wife who is expecting their first child. Congratulations in advance to Rob and new young family.
By virtue of Alberta’s win at Saskatchewan, the 7 playoff teams from the Pioneer Division are set however positioning is not. In the Explorer, MacEwan firmly grabbed the reigns for 3rd spot with a sweep at UBC-O and needs only one win in their final two games – home fixtures against last place UNBC – to clinch third spot. Despite another win by Fraser Valley over Thompson Rivers, the WolfPack will finish in top spot while Cascades are locked in second place OR in the nomenclature below E1 = Thompson Rivers, E2 = Fraser Valley, E3= MacEwan.
Much thanks for the multiple readers who rightfully reminded that I got the playoff match-ups incorrect in recent posts. Here is the skeleton format:
XX = eliminated from playoffs
P1: Calgary 16-3 (one game remaining at Alberta next Saturday)
P2: UBC 14-4 (home to Winnipeg for two next weekend)
P3: Manitoba 15-5
P4/P5/P6: Lethbridge 10-8 (home to TWU twice next weekend)
P4/P5/P6: Regina 10-8 (home to Saskatchewan twice next weekend)
P4/P5/P6: Winnipeg 10-8 (at UBC twice)
P7: Alberta 10-9 (home to Calgary next Saturday)
XX=Saskatchewan 7-11 (at Regina for two)
XX=Victoria 7-11 (home to Brandon for two next weekend)
XX=Trinity Western 1-17.
With a victory over Alberta next Saturday, Calgary will put themselves in position to host the Canada West Final Four assuming that Dinos can win their CW quarter-final series.
Not much more clarity in the Canada West standings after last night’s action other than Calgary, UBC and Manitoba will finish in the Top 3 and that Thompson Rivers, despite their 3rd loss in Explorer Division play, have clinched top spot in that loop – and a quarter-final date with the winner of fifth place vs. seventh place “play-in” series in the Pioneer. Spots 4 through 6 in the Pioneer remain fluid however Lethbridge is in charge of their own destiny for fourth place after their impressive win over a Winnipeg team that was without Denzel Lynch-Blair last night. Losses in each of their final three games by the Wesmen – they meet Horns again tonight and then travel to UBC nex weekend – and they may be eliminated ?! (see more speculation and possibilities below). As well, one can legitimately question how desirable finishing fourth is when the fifth-place team can face an unproven Thompson Rivers team in the quarters while fourth-place travels to third-place in Pioneer (probably Manitoba) – but then again that 5th place team will have to win their “play-in” series against what could be Saskatchewan (see more below). Spots 5 through 7 in Pioneer participate in the Canada West “play-in” round. Clarity at this point ?? hardly…
After sweeping Regina this weekend, Calgary travels to Edmonton next Saturday to finish the season at Alberta, where a win clinches first place and, assuming Calgary wins their Best-of-3 quarter final playoff series (which only counts as one game to the ranking committee as decreed by Canada West), the Canada West Final Four will take place at the Jack Simpson Gym, where Dinos attracted almost 3,000 fans on Thursday night.
Assuming UBC defeats Brandon (1-16) again this evening, the Thunderbirds need a sweep next weekend over Winnipeg to ensure a second place finish. Second place is key because it sets the Birds up with the second place finisher in the Explorer. Manitoba, which scored 70 second-half points last night at Trinity Western, would thus finish third and meet 4th place team in Pioneer and Bisons would have home court advantage.
Saskatchewan has a legitimate chance to pull a rabbit out of the hat and qualify for the playoffs after a 4-10 start with 3 more wins which could move the Huskies as high as 6th place – assuming Alberta can’t get it done at home next weekend at home vs. Calgary. Sixth place in Pioneer is also somewhat desirable as it sets up a first-round series with the 3rd place team in the Explorer. 7th place Pioneer meets 5th place Pioneer in one of the two “play-in” series… assuming I’ve got all this figured out properly which is debatable.
Speaking of 7th place in Pioneer, there is a distinct possibility if:
- Sask beats Alberta tonight and sweeps Regina
- Calgary beats Alberta
- Winnipeg loses again tonight vs. Lethbridge and gets swept at UBC
that there could be a three-way tie for the final Pioneer division playoff spot between Victoria, Alberta and Winnipeg – all at 9-11.
Ph.D. analysis (maybe we can truck in the architect of the RPI) may be required to solve which team gets that coveted 7th playoff spot with a sub .500 record.
Thompson Rivers will now officially be eliminated from my Top 10 after losing at Fraser Valley where Cascades Kevon Parchment, celebrating his Senior weekend, busted out for 33 points against the WolfPack which struggled amid foul trouble all night for 6’10” Josh Wolfram. This does not appear to be a very deep TRU team which in the unique 3-games-in-3-days format (which has been decreed to count as one real long game in the national rankings) could be taxing during the second half of a series-deciding game three.
Here are Canada West Pioneer standings after Friday night’s action:
Calgary 16-3 (one game remaining at Alberta next Saturday)
UBC 13-4 (at Brandon tonight then home to Winnipeg for two next weekend)
Manitoba 14-5 (completes their regular season at Trinity Western tonight)
Lethbridge 10-7 (at Winnipeg tonight and then home to TWU twice next weekend)
Regina 10-8 (home to Saskatchewan twice next weekend)
Winnipeg 9-8 (home to Lethbridge tonight then at UBC twice)
Alberta 9-9 (at Saskatchewan tonight then home to Calgary next Saturday)
Saskatchewan 7-10 (Alberta at home; at Regina for two)
Victoria 7-11 (home to Brandon for two next weekend)
Trinity Western 1-16