Thompson Rivers Wolfpack a Threat?


CALGARY,AB–The Calgary Dinos host the two Okanagan schools this weekend in Canada West League action, and, plainly, it is the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack drawing most of the attention of the Dinos coaching staff.  

TRU took a game from the highly rated Fraser Valley Cascades last Saturday in Kamloops, and they come to the Foothills with confidence that they have a chance of knocking off the Dinos as well.

Calgary Coach Dan Vanhooren is fond of saying that “the process is most important. Don’t focus on the outcome, but go about your business and play well as a team.”  Like they did last Sunday in swatting the Tabbies in Brandon by 30.  

The aim here is “more consistency”, says Vanhooren. “We need to get a high level of intensity every time we hit the court.”  The Dinos are 7 of 8 against the Wolfpack, but that 1 loss was last season in Kamloops, so you know TRU is thinking upset on Friday.  

Calgary will have to contend with a stronger Thompson Rivers squad, and specifically with the 2 biggest weapons for the orange-clad ‘Pack.

Chas Kok is a 6-5, 4th year wing man, who averaged 17 ppg and 6 boards last season, his 1st at TRU after transferring from Simon Fraser after the Clan fled for the NCAA Div. 2 ranks. He is their steadiest player, who is a consistent scorer and a dependable ball-handler.  

The new guy on the block is import forward, Justin King, a 6-4, transfer from Skagit Valley CC (WA). A powerful presence in the paint, King scored 32 points on 11/14 shooting and claimed 10 rebounds in a Wolfpack win over Fraser Valley last Saturday.  

He is a tough match-up for Calgary…do you guard him with a quicker guard, or will King just overpower him inside? Can a big man stay with a more mobile guard/wing player?  

TRU also have point man Kevin Pribilsky, another defector from SFU, as their veteran set-up man, as well as a promising rookie in Will Kondrik, Vernon, who played his senior year at White Rock Christian.

In Calgary’s offense the pace is usually set by Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, and as he pushes the ball up the floor he can cause fits for TRU defenders. His guard partners are 5th year, Keenan Milburn, a tenacious, combo guard, capable of scoring outbursts, Andrew McGuinness, a 3rd year, long-range shooter from North Van, and rookie Josh Owen-Thomas, who is playing with increasing confidence as a determined defender and an opportunistic shooter.

The Dinos forwards will be a handful for the visitors to defend … Tyler Fidler is a double digit rebounder, who can create offense for himself and his ‘mates. The two sophomore posts, Matt Letkeman and Josh Wolfram play hard, and are increasingly dangerous as scorers in the paint. Wolfram, who played at S. Kamloops, will be excited to play his hometown school.

Fifth year vet, Dustin Reding, is valuable off the bench with his accurate shot and experience in big games.

The outcome may well depend on Calgary’s ability to limit the damage done by King and Kok, and by TRU’s luck in containing Ogungbemi-Jackson and his tall, talented front court. With Boris Bakovic, the 5th year transfer forward, watching and encouraging from the sideline, the Dinos will want to take advantage of home court, and keep developing a ‘tough team approach’ this weekend.  

Prediction –  Dinos whip Wolves. 


Saturday Match-ups in Canada West …Regina Cougars at UBC T-Birds … UBC will be in a groove after possible opening night jitters … the ‘Birds will have some young guys playing significant roles.  Guards, Doug Plum, Tommy Nixon, and Nathan Yu will torment the  Cougars’ defense.    Regina has some strength in the front-court, and big rookie Jeremy Zver couldn’t pick a better time to flex his prodigious muscles in support of Paul Gareau. Prediction – ‘Birds win.

Brandon Bobcats at Victoria Vikes … The Vikes may feast on the more helter -skelter style of Brandon, and team defense has been a trademark for UVic …  greater depth from Acheampong, and Terrell Evans, means they can apply more  pressure.  Brandon has some guard quickness, but their forwards will have a tough go with Berg and company. Prediction – Vikes curb the ‘Cats 

Manitoba Bisons at  Trinity Western Spartans…The Spartans will  not, in fact, have Eli Mara available for most of the semester, and they are not strong inside.  The Bisons beat Alberta, and their depth will give TWU a problem. The road win is a distinct possibility, unless Kyle Coston goes off, and he has much more help than he got last weekend. Prediction – Manitoba spoils Spartan Saturday

Winnipeg Wesmen at  Fraser Valley Cascades …The Wesmen should hope they get an upset win at TWU on Friday, because  this is a 2 game mission for the Cascades, as they want to validate their CIS ranking.  UFV need Sam Freeman and Joel Friesen to play like the vets they are against Winnipeg’s transfer guards like Dominique Brown and Travis Krahn.  Interesting match-up for Kyle Grewal with UW’s Mark McNee.    Prediction – Cascades to wear down the Ws

Okanagan Heat  at  Calgary Dinos … These teams played in Kelowna back in October, and the Heat kept it interesting in 1 of the 2 games.  This will not happen Saturday.  Calgary’s strength in the front court, and the continuing  improvement with a new offense, will stifle the Os.  A good chance to let the 9-12th men ‘get a run in’.  Prediction – Dinos chill the Heat

Thompson Rivers Wolfpack  at  Lethbridge … This is a game which bears watching … because of the Pronghorns new look squad, which should get better as Dom Coward and Julian Spear Chief -Morris get their game legs.  TRU has a shot in this one, with all-star talent in Justin King and Chas Kok.  Not sure how they can deal with the ‘Horns post rotation, though.  Prediction – ‘Horns by a hoof
Saskatchewan Huskies to complete the sweep over the Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton.

Notes …

  •   The Atlantic teams started play Wednesday  with Acadia edging Dalhousie 71-68, while St. FX beat Cape Breton 88-69.  The Quebec and Ontario schools are underway Thursday – Sunday as all CIS teams finally get started on their regular season.

  •   The pros and cons of Canada West TV … it is good to see a 1 stop menu of games at the Canada West TV site, with every scheduled game available for viewing and live stats.  We do, however, have issues with some ‘picky details’ … why so many ‘freeze outs’.  The technical interruptions are particularly frustrating … Can we not get time and score shown prominently on each broadcast ?  …  The play by play and colour commentary are wildly inconsistent, with the dulcet tones of former Wesmen Coach, Dave Crook, the babbling inanity of a student crew from a couple of B.C. schools, a one- man-band filming – commentary  job from Manitoba.  Hopefully these quality indicators will get constant improvement.  We understand how tough it is to get polished productions, with confident broadcasters at every gym. We can’t be too critical of relatively inexperienced people at the start of the season’s coverage.  

  •   Our Man in L.A. , Dave Wells, informs us that Dom Coward, the ‘Horns’ 3rd year post from LCC, is still not ‘match fit’ due to an extended lay-off with a medical issue, but he is much farther along than guard Justin Spear Chief-Morris, the 6-4 LCI grad, who is slow to come back to form following an 11 month hiatus after knee problems. Wellsie is glowing with enthusiasm about the U of L post rotation of Coward, Derek Waldner, Niko Kovac, and rookie Tyson McIntyre from the Raymond Comets.  He also suggests transfer guard, Daryl Cooper, a 3rd year from City College of San Francisco, has ‘star potential’ at the point spot. 

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