Can the Regina Cougars win one more game this season? Maybe they’ll make the playoffs if they do.
Head coach: Steve Burrows
Record in 2014: 8-12 (Eighth in Pioneer division of Canada West Conference)
Playoffs: No playoffs
Points scored per game: 78.8
Points allowed per game: 79.0
Key players: Brandon Tull, Jonathan Tull, Alex Igual, Will Tallman
Key losses: Ryan Delwo, Jeremy Zver
After a five-game winning streak that overlapped between the first and second semesters a season ago, the Regina Cougars seemed on their way to the playoffs with a 7-5 record—but a 1-7 finish doomed the Cougars last year. Head coach Steve Burrows expects better in 2015-16. “I think we’re improved but obviously the Canada West is a tough conference,” he says. “There are no easy games from top to bottom. Hopefully we can be successful in trying to make the playoffs.” The Cougars will have to work harder to avoid the same fate this season, as their last 10 games come against teams that qualified for the playoffs a season ago. “What are the challenges? All the other teams,” Burrows says, laughing. “It’s a depth thing. […] You don’t get any nights off here.”
Key games: VS Lethbridge Pronghorns, Nov. 20 and 21
at Manitoba Bisons, Jan. 29 and 30
The Regina Cougars fell one game short of making the Canada West playoffs in 2014-15 and head coach Steve Burrows wants to avoid a repeat of this outcome this season. “We’re just scratching the surface here. Like everyone else, we’re just getting rolling,” Burrows tells NPH. “We want to work on becoming a team that’s hard to play against. I think we’re getting there.”
In order for that to happen, the Cougars must improve on their two main weaknesses from a season ago: defense and rebounding, two aspects that typically are more reflective on effort than pure skill. They’re trying to improve there, Burrows says, “in order to get more consistent in terms of wins and losses.” He adds that, “We have guys who are good on the open floor but we have to actually defend and rebound the ball better in order to get that done.”
Burrows will rely on Brandon and Jonathan Tull and a return to form and health from Alex Igual to make the playoffs. “We’re bigger this year,” he says, “and hopefully that reflects on the style with which we’re playing.” This season, the carrot at the end of the stick is bigger too, with the CIS Final 8 held out West on the UBC campus.