5 Takeaways in Canada West Basketball – Week 1
We are finally back to another year of Canada West basketball, and for the second year in a row, I will be coming to you every week with my five takeaways about the past week and what the results mean going forward.
Without further ado, my thoughts on this past weekend…
1. Vikes seem to have fitting replacement for McLaughlin
The University of Victoria have lost the defending Canada West MVP Chris McLaughlin. There is no way around it, the loss is an important one; the Vikes will need to actively look for a way to find that leadership on and off the court this season.
Although its only the first series of the season, it seems that the Vikes have found that player. If you don’t already know his name basketball fans, get used to hearing it. A fifth year guard with an ample amount of fire power–Mack Roth registered 48 points in two games against the TWU Spartans this weekend, both wins.
The first real test of the year will be next weekend against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
2. Ample firepower sees Regina score nearly 200 points in first two games.
Regina was a sub par team at best last year, they finished the season at 8-12 and had a point differential of -4 on the season. All in all not overly impressive. They did however start the 2015-16 season off with a bang, scoring nearly twenty more points than any other team in the Canada West over the weekend. Let me prefix this by saying that they were playing Brandon this weekend, one of the worst teams in CIS basketball last season. Opponent aside however what was most impressive about the Cougars is how they scored, the entire team got theirs, while contributing to the high quality looks that they got from the field. This was especially apparent in the first game of the weekend, when the Cougars registered 104 points and shot forty percent from three-point land.
Honestly I am not expecting big things from the Cougars this year but it is cool to see them have such a potent offense early on. Should make for some fun games going forward.
3. Ranked teams struggle.
The opening top ten poll of the season saw three Canada West teams ranked in the bottom half. Those three teams were the Saskatchewan Huskies, the UBC Thunderbirds, and the Calgary Dinos.
The Dinos were able to handle the Winnepeg Wesmen with relative ease in their opening weekend, so they aren’t necessarily the team I am concerned with. I am more worried about the Thunderbirds and the Huskies who both struggled.
The Thunderbirds struggled prior to Christmas last season as well and ended up never really getting a good handle on the season ultimately coming fourth in the Canada West playoffs.
They opened their season with a two game split with the Alberta Golden Bears. Most people will think “oh a split isn’t that bad”, well in my experiences with UBC they need to get a couple good wins to start the season and boost their confidence.
If UBC is unable to do that we may see them run out of their own gym at nationals. As worried as I am about UBC, I am even more worried about Saskatchewan who split games with Manitoba.
While the loss won’t affect their playoff standing so early in the season and they are still likely to make the playoffs, this team needs to find some time to gel or else a loss to Manitoba will be the start of a long season.
4. Explorers not a lock for UFV again.
Last year UFV was the cream of the crop in the Explorers Division, they won sixteen in a row before their first lost of the season and won a Canada West bronze medal, losing a shot at nationals by one game.
However, this season they have lost a number of their key players; Jasper Moedt and Kadeem Willis aren’t there any more and Nate Brown and Manny Dulay started the season injured. That is a combined three starters from last year who weren’t on the opening day roster. Add that to the fact that frankly their playing style is getting a little old and worn out to me, and TRU looked really good this weekend (more on that below) I am getting the sense that UFV doesn’t have what is needed to improve on their bronze medal season last year.
5. Player of the Week – Volodymyr Iegorov (TRU WolfPack)
Speaking of the TRU WolfPack and their ability to perhaps unseat the UFV Cascades from their power seat atop the Explorers Division, let’s take a look at the Ukrainian born scoring machine.
In just two games at the CIS level Iegorov has already become a scoring monster. He is averaging a Canada West best 27 points per game and leads the country in made field goals with eighteen through two games.
On top of all that he is averaging over fifty percent from the field to start the year. This great start could mean big things for a WolfPack team that really struggled last season.