Wesmen Classic: A Holiday Tradition
PHOTO COURTESY: UOFW WESMEN ATHLETICS
WINNIPEG, MB–The longest running University Basketball Tournament in Canada started through the efforts of former Coach Vic Pruden in the early years of UW hoops, and now is a huge basketball undertaking for the Wesmen as the 2011 event features not only 8 teams in the University Tournament, but also Club, and High School tournaments as well.
With 100+ teams, over 1100 participants and many special events during tournament time, this 45th version of the ‘Classic’ is a truly monumental undertaking. Originally named the ‘Golden Boy’ through until 1977, this tournament has grown to become a Holiday tradition for CIS teams from across the country as well as the top high school and club teams in the Winnipeg area.
The tournaments include Club level play with U13-U15 draws, a high school JV division with 16 teams, the high school varsity with 8 squads, and the University 8 team affair. Coach Mike Raimbault and his Wesmen have won the championship of this event a record 11 times with the latest being 2006 … last year they beat Manitoba to reach the final, but lost to the Saskatchewan Huskies in that game.
The 2001 Classic includes the Wesmen, Manitoba Bisons, Brandon Bobcats, UBC-Okanagan Heat, Keyano College, AB, an ACAC team coached by former Winnipegger and Lethbridge Pronghorns Coach, Mike Connolly, and UNBC Timberwolves, who will enter Canada West next season from the BC College League. There are 2 U.S squads rounding out the 8 team draw … Valley City and Minot State.
Winnipeg, who played the 1st half of the Canada West schedule without their star point guard recruit, Andrew Cunningham (Toronto), who has been injured, could highlight their season with a win in this 2011 Classic before they get back to regular season play. Coach Raimbault is hoping the return of Cunningham, who he reports “has been cleared to play”, will help his club improve on their 2-6 League mark, and get themselves back in the discussion for a playoff berth. “In the Classic, Cunningham will play a few minutes here and there, while he works his way back to playing shape”, said Raimbault.
The immediate goal is a couple of wins in their own Tournament to launch themselves into the Final again … the high point for many basketball players in the Winnipeg and Manitoba basketball scene, as both the Bisons and the 3rd Manitoba squad in Canada West, Brandon, would also like to make some noise in this major Manitoba basketball celebration.
- Tuesday score … Azuza Pacific 87 Fraser Valley 84 … the Cascades stayed close with 54% shooting from 3 point range, including 4/7 from Joel Friesen, who led all scorers with 21, and back-up guard, Sheldon Bjorgaard, who was 4/4, all beyond the arc. Sam Freeman played only 9 minutes … Kyle Grewal scored 17 for UFV, while Jasper Moedt had 9 boards as UFV had 41 rebs. vs 36 for APU. Rookie Jordan Blackmon, in 23 minutes on the court, scored 13 pts,had 3 assists, and hit 3/6 trey attempts.
- The Manitoba Bisons are debuting their Turkish star, Yigit (” … pronounced ‘Yeet’, says Coach Kirby Schepp) Ozsayiner, a 6-6, 245 lb forward from Istanbul, who is in his 1st year of eligibility, after playing for Club power Yesilyurt SK in the Turkish capitol. “Yigit is a classic Euro- big man … a great shooter, a great passer…” , says Coach Schepp. “He’s crafty, and has a good understanding of the game, and we think he can really help us.”
- The Brandon Bobcats have Coach Gil Cheung back on the bench following a 45 day Faculty Association strike at the University ended November 29. It will help Brandon’s chances in a playoff fight having their Head Coach return, after he missed the entire 1st half of their schedule. The ‘Cats are tied for 5th spot in the Eastern Division of Canada West with Calgary.