CALGARY,AB–As they start the second half of the Canada West regular season, the 3-5 Calgary Dinos are aware of the necessity to win games, if they are to get into the mix as far as playoffs are concerned.
But as fifth year post man, Dustin Reding points out, “We’re just focussed on playing well on Friday against Fraser Valley … get that one, then move along.”
Improving the outlook for the Dinos, is the insertion of fifth year transfer, Boris Bakovic, into the line-up.
Bakovic, who played four years at Ryerson, where he was the OUA’s most prolific scorer, will play his first Canada West game for Calgary on Friday in Abbotsford, and he practiced Wednesday with a grim determination. “I’m good”, he responded tersely when asked about his knee, injured in Team Canada practices back in September.
“I’m ready to go…I want to play, and help this team.”
Help he certainly can, with his steady play, rebounding, and scoring, even it takes a few more practices and games to knock off the rust from the long lay-off.
Getting limited drill work in practice were super-quick point guard, Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, close to a return from a broken hand, and Matt Letkeman, who is still on cautionary watch as he tries to overcome a viral infection.
Coach Dan Vanhooren is hopeful these two starters can return in the near future, once the medicos give the nod.
“We play with the guys we have; our guys are ready to compete. We’ll be ready to go this weekend.”
Friday’s opponent, Fraser Valley, has the look of a team poised to challenge for League honours. At 5-3, the Cascades are #9-ranked in the CIS.
Coach Barnaby Craddock says “This is the most talented UFV team we’ve had. We’ve been in the playoffs three of the past four years, and won our firsst playoff game last season. Now is the test to see if we can advance further, and how far.”
The duo of Joel Friesen and Sam Freeman lead the Blue and Green with 16 and 15 ppg from the perimeter, while they get help up front from 6-6 fourth year, Kyle Grewal, who scores 13 ppg, grabs 8 boards, and 6-7, 3rd year, Jasper Moedt, 12 ppg, 55% FG, 8 rebs.
6-6 rookie guard, Jordan Blackman “…is a fantastic athlete”, says Coach Craddock. “
“He plays behind Freeman and Friesen, so his minutes are less than some other top rookies in the League but he can’t be left out of the conversation for Rookie of the Year.”
Forward Mike James, a 6-6, fifth year transfer from Winnipeg has added useful minutes in the post (9 ppg/5 rebs.), and Sheldon Bjorgaard, a fourth year guard comes off the bench effectively as well.
The Dinos will have 10 players available on this trip … Tyler Fidler, their 6-9, wing man, 16 ppg/6 rebs., who has shouldered much of the load … his 25 points sparked Calgary to their big 92-85 win over UBC in the last game before the break. Josh Wolfram, 2nd year, 6-10 … coming on strong with 13 ppg/8 boards … Andrew McGuinness, 3rd year, 11 ppg, 42% from 3 … Keenan Milburn, a scrappy, 5-10, 5th year combo guard, with 10 ppg, also 42% from 3. Other forwards, Dustin Reding, 5th, 6-7, 8 ppg, 51% FG … Nebojsa Kuljic, 6-5, 2nd … Daan Wiersum, 6-7, 1st … and, of course, Bakovic, at 6-8. Two other guards … rookie Australian import, Josh Owen-Thomas, and returning 4th year, Trevor Debolt, who adds experience at the point.
The Cascades have to be favoured in Friday’s game … at home, a deeper line-up, 85 ppg/75 pts. against vs UC’s 81/79 … UFV has a big rebounding edge – +9 to Calgary’s -5. The Dinos would need to fashion a major upset.
The Rest of the Schedule in Canada West …
Lethbridge Pronghorns (4-4) at Trinity Western Spartans (2-6) … with Dom Coward duly registered for semester 2, the ‘Horns are fired up to chase a playoff spot. Their post game can hurt Trinity … 6-6, Coward, 6-8, Derek Waldner, 6-10, Niko Kovacs, and recently added 6-9, Spenser Wenzel vs. Kyle Coston, 6-7, and Lucas Nugteren, a 6-11, who has seen limited duty. The Spartan’s Sean Peter and Tristan Smith (will Calvin Westbrook play? … dunno) will have to out-duel U of L’s Daryl Cooper, Alex Fletcher, Logan Reiter, and Morgan Duce. Lethbridge in a close game.
Winnipeg Wesmen (2-6) at Thompson Rivers WolfPack (4-4) … with home court, and the deadly trio of Justin King, CW top scorer (27 ppg, 11 rebs.), Chas Kok at 21 ppg, and 8 rebs., and Kevin Pribilsky 15 ppg/4 asst., the ‘Pack, despite a bit of defensive porousness, looks to have too much for the low-scoring Wesmen. Andrew Cunningham will help Winnipeg at the point … Travis Krahn makes 3s, but can Dominique Brown, Mark McNee, and Braydon Duff win the inside battle? TRU should prevail with scoring punch.
Manitoba Bisons (5-4) at UBC-Okanagan Heat (1-6) … the Bisons may be the best dark (brown) horse for a shot at the Final 4, with point man, Stephen Walton, 14 ppg, 4 asst., 6 rebs., 47% from 3 , and Coach Kirby Schepp adds Yigit Ozsayiner, a 6-6, skilled forward from Turkey, who showed well in the Wesmen Classic. The Herd have scored by committee with 4 players in double figures … Walton , Jonar Huertas, , Kurtis Sansregret, and Kevin Oliver, with Keith Omoerah, Braedon Speer not far behind. UBC-O are challenged to match … Yasine Ghomari leads with 19 ppg, and the Heat have Bret Macdonald (58 % leads Canada West) and Mack Roth shooting treys. Bisons in a stampede with their depth cooling the Heat.
Regina Cougars (2-5) at Brandon Bobcats (3-5) … Regina usually plays Brandon tough, and they may have helped themselves with additions of point man Antonio Tate, and post Vule Grujic, but that still may not be enough help for the Cougars’ outstanding 4th year forward Paul Gareau, 18 ppg, 7 boards. Brandon has Coach Gil Cheung back, they’re at home, and their newcomers, Emerick Ravier 17 ppg, Ilarion Bonhomme (red-shirt freshman) 12.5 ppg, 6 assists, and post man, Ali Mounir- Benadbelhak, a 6-6 rookie, with 14 ppg /7 rebounds are providing the spark. Brandon to sweep this border battle in the Eastern Prairies.