Can Calgary Take Down the Vikes ?
CALGARY, AB–While the Pacific Division’s #1 team, The UVic Vikes were busy reeling off 8 straight wins to start their Canada West season back in the fall and early winter, the Prairie’s #4 squad, the Calgary Dinos limped to a 3-5 mark including a 75-63 home loss to the Vikes.
Victoria was riding the combination of veteran starters like Zac Andrus and Ryan MacKinnon along with productive newcomers led by Michael Acheampong, and sitting pretty with the League’s best record. Calgary played the whole 1st half schedule without heralded transfer forward, Boris Bakovic, and they lost 2 more starters, Jarred Ogungbemi-jackson and Matt Letkeman part – way through the term.
UVic had a predictably rougher ride through the 2nd half of the schedule in what Coach Craig Beaucamp described as, “A Canada West League that has the top teams not quite as strong as in the past, and the bottom teams moving up and getting tougher.”
Victoria lost games at home to Saskatchewan and Fraser Valley, and on the road to Winnipeg and UBC, but beat the T-Birds last weekend to claim the top spot over 2nd place Fraser Valley, and the ‘Birds, who dropped to 3rd.
Victoria has history on their side, it would appear, but Coach Vanhooren suggests, “We’re not intinidated by their past championships. We’ve beaten these guys in recent years, and we think we have a team that can play them very tough, even in their own gym.” The 2 teams present very different challenges to their opposing coaches, with UVic displaying awesome long-range fire-power from the trio of guards leading the Canada West 3 point shooting stats, Acheampong (46.7%), MacKinnon (45.8%), and Andrus (44.4%), and the Dinos looking to their big 5th year forwards, Bakovic and Tyler Fidler, who both average 17.8 ppg and get 6.5 rebounds. The 3rd major weapon in the Calgary arsenal, and their leading scorer (18.5 ppg) and rebounder (7.4) is the ultra-intense Ogungbemi-jackson, who energizes the team at both ends of the court.
Here are some keys for fans to watch as the series unfolds on Canada West -TV from the Ken and Kathy Shields Court in Victoria
- On offense, can Victoria’s outside shooters get the open looks against the Calgary defense, and bomb the Dinos in the same way they dispatched the Thunderbirds last Friday ?
- On defense, can the Vikes’ post defenders negate the scoring power of Fidler and Bakovic, who have both upped their offensive output over the playoff stretch-run. Can they contain the drives and outside shooting of ‘JOJ” ?
- From Calgary’s perspective, can the defense prevent Acheampong from penetrating to the hoop, and will Ogungbemi-Jackson be able to disrupt Andrus’ direction of the Vikes offense? Will Calgary succeed in stopping MacKinnon, who has beaten so many Canada West teams with 4th quarter shots this season?
- Will Calgary rebound with the Vikes, who beat them to the boards badly in their November game ? Can the Dinos offense continue to develop the cohesion they displayed in their last 4 League outings ?
We cannot predict the outcome here, although it must be the favourites role for the Vikes on their home court, owning the win in League play, and the #1 seed after such a strong season. Calgary will have to keep improving in their execution at both ends, and their top players have to stay out of foul trouble in this road environment if they are to upset Victoria and move on to the Final 4.
Friday, Feb. 24 – Canada West TV – 8 pm Calgary time.