Canada West Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - November 24-25
University of British Columbia Okanagan (2-4) @ University of the Fraser Valley (2-6)
In the only all BC matchup of the week, the UBCO Heat look to snap a two game losing streak as they travel west to take on the UFV Cascades. Last weekend’s performances, against the third ranked Alberta Golden Bears, highlighted the inconsistency that has characterized the Heat’s season so far. UBCO fought tooth and nail on Friday night, losing a close encounter 92-81, however Saturday night was a far different story as they succumbed to a fifty point drubbing.
Solace can be found in the play of UBCO guard Aldrich Berrios, who has emerged as the Heat’s gamebreaker. The fourth year man was unconscious last Friday night, scoring an efficient 27 points off of only ten shots. The Heat will need Berrios to continue to be a flamethrower from deep if they hope to climb back into the upper half of the standings.
Meanwhile, the Cascades will look to build a winning streak of their own after sneaking by the Winnipeg Wesmen on Saturday night 67-59. UFV are incredibly raw, with seven players on the squad in their first year of USports competition. Despite suffering a rocky start, the young Cascades team are beginning to gain a foothold and will rely on well-rounded performances to stake a claim for a playoff spot. In order to do so, they must deliver down the stretch – last weekend they let leads of 26 and 21 points vanish by the third quarter.
University of British Columbia (6-2) @ University of Winnipeg (2-6)
The UBC Thunderbirds are red-hot as they arrive in the frozen plains of Winnipeg, buoyed by a four game win streak. UBC talisman and 2016/17 Canada West Most Outstanding Player, Conor Morgan, has shaken off the rust from a preseason injury and is starting to find the form that made him a matchup nightmare for opposing teams last season. If Morgan can rediscover his shooting touch from the outside then the ‘Birds will be firmly in the playoff picture come February.
In his absence, fifth year guard Phil Jalalpoor has picked up the slack offensively, averaging 18.1 points per contest. Rookie Mason Bourcier has stepped into a starting role after an injury to transfer, and former MVP of the BC AAAA High School Provincial Championships, Jauquin Bennett-Boire. The mature play of Bourcier, who doesn’t need to fill up the boxscore to contribute, has been a much needed addition to the new look ‘Birds.
Thompson Rivers University (2-6) @ Mount Royal University (4-4)
It’s been a disheartening start to the season for the TRU Wolfpack, losers of five consecutive games. The Wolfpacks’ future doesn’t get any easier as they take on the surprising MRU Cougars, who bounced back to .500 after two nail biting victories over the University of Manitoba. If TRU has any hope of returning to the win column they must focus on taking down MRU’s two-headed beast of Josh Ross and LJ Hegwood, who are combining for 38.7 points per game this season.
The Wolfpack will rely on the services of veteran forwards Joe Davis and Luke Morris. Stealing one game from the Cougars in front of a hostile road crowd would be a great success before the Wolfpack close their calendar year at home against UNBC.
University of Northern British Columbia (2-6) @ Grant MacEwen Unisversity (1-5)
UNBC will be thankful to get back on the road as the Timberwolves have posted a woeful 0-6 record at home so far this season. After two narrow defeats to Regina, UNBC arrives in Edmonton knowing that they must sweep the doubleheader against fellow strugglers Grant MacEwen in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Timberwolves have been ghastly from the field, shooting 42.4% from the field and 29.6% from three point range. Leading scorer James Agyeman will have to be instrumental in pulling the Timberwolves out of their shooting slump this weekend.
Written by: Adam McQueen