CIS preview – UBC Thunderbirds

Tommy Nixon leads a talented mix of players for UBC in 2013-14. - Photo courtesy: UBC Athletics

Tommy Nixon leads a talented mix of players for UBC in 2013-14. – Photo courtesy: UBC Athletics

Canada West Playoffs: Gold medallists

CIS Final 8: 7th place

Key returning players: Tommy Nixon, Brylle Kamen, Jordan Jensen-Whyte, David Wagner, Isaiah Solomon, Conor Morgan, Michael Steele, Andrew McGuiness

Additions:

  • Tonner Jackson (5th year – Trinity Western University)
  • Harpreet Randhawa (4th year – Douglas College)
  • Kedar Wright (St. Edmund Campion – Brampton, ON)
  • Luka Zaharijevic (Kitsilano)

Departures: Doug Plumb, O’Brien Wallace, Jared Casey

Two years ago, UBC’s starting lineup looked like a B.C. all-star team. It consisted of four fifth-year players – Nathan Yu, Balraj Bains, Graham Bath and Kamar Burke, while fourth-year sharpshooter Doug Plumb rounded out the rotation.

But that squad went 13-4 in the regular season and drew a supremely talented Alberta Golden Bears team in the first round of the Canada West playoffs (Alberta went on to lose in the CIS championship game against Carleton), ultimately underperforming, given the talent they had on paper.

Last year, guided by an inspired Plumb and a slew of younger players chomping at the bit to prove their worth, the Birds turned in an impressive 18-4 regular season record, but fell short in the CIS Final 8 – succumbing to Acadia in the opening round, and then to their provincial rival UVic Vikes in consolation.

Plumb exhausted his five years and is currently making a splash on the European pro-circuit in Hungary, and now once again a talented young cast of T-Birds eagerly plans to prove what head coach Kevin Hanson had in mind while crafting his recruits over the past few years.

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PacWest Preview – Quest University Kermodes

Cartiea French-Toney and the Quest Kermodes look to shift the balance of power in the PacWest. - Brian Jones Photo

Cartiea French-Toney and the Quest Kermodes look to shift the balance of power in the PacWest. – Brian Jones Photo

Regular-season record: 11-10

Provincial tournament: Bronze medallists

Key returning players:

  • Cartiea French-Toney (4th year)
  • Jose Colorado (4th year)
  • Connor Heinrichs (4th year)
  • Mike Zayas-Duran (3rd year)
  • Denzel Laguerta (2nd year)
  • Mike Powell (2nd year)
  • Justin Tryon (2nd year)
  • Daniel Hoffmann (2nd year)
  • Jeevan Bhogal (1st year – red shirt in 2012-13)
  • Mo Dadfar (2nd year)
  • Dylan Kular (4th year – injured, expected to miss season)

Transfers:

  • Shedrick Nelson (4th year – Western Washington)

Key losses:

  • Sunny Johal (University of New Brunswick)
  • Josh Beasley (University of New Brunswick)
  • Brodan Thiel (Graduation)
  • Jesse Norris (Graduation)

Rookies:

  • Paul Getz
  • Noah DeRappard-Yuswack

There’s a hierarchical structure of power in the PacWest.

It used to be VIU, UNBC, and then everyone else. Then UNBC made the jump to the CIS’s Canada West division last year, while VIU maintained their longstanding success and won the CCAA national championship. When Paul Eberhardt returned to the PacWest and took over the head-coaching reigns at Langara last year, he helped elevate the Falcons to an instant powerhouse – going 20-1 in the regular season, claiming the provincial championship, and is now poised to have another great season after returning the bulk of last year’s roster.

But Sean Shook and the Quest University Kermodes feel that there might be a little more room on the pedestal that VIU, UNBC, and now Langara have occupied for the latter half of the last decade.

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PacWest Preview: Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles

Ali Bosir leads a revamped Kwantlen Eagles squad in 2013-14. - Brian Jones Photo

Ali Bosir leads a revamped Kwantlen Eagles squad in 2013-14. – Brian Jones Photo

Regular-season record: 7-14

Provincial tournament: Did not qualify

Key returning players:

  • Ali Bosir (5th year)
  • Aaron Ram (3rd year)
  • Nii-Nortey Engmann (4th year)
  • Gurpal Mann (3rd year)
  • Spencer Machin (2nd year)
  • Ruiz Rivera (2nd year)

Transfers:

  • Devan Haynes (4th year)
  • Dustin Egelstad (3rd year)

Key losses:

  • Chris Arcangel
  • Jag Takhar
  • Tristan Gruenthaler

Rookies:

  • Devonté Pierce
  • Obiajulu Henry Udevi-Aruevoru
  • George Mija
  • Marlon Gallimore

One man does not win a basketball game.

Maybe he can explode one night and lift his team to a W, but to sustain a one-man show for the entirety of a four-month season is foolhardy. One man does not win a game, and often, neither does five.

Last year, the Kwantlen Eagles’ fourth-year centre Ali Bosir had to shoulder the load largely on his own. Bosir finished atop the PacWest leaderboards in both scoring and rebounding, while often putting in a full 40 minutes of work despite nagging injuries.

But this year, Kwantlen has added a wealth of support, easing the breadth of responsibilities and expectations that Bosir had to endure last season.

The Eagles have gained two veteran transfers from Douglas – third year forward Dustin Egelstad and fourth-year big man Devan Haynes.

“When you look at those guys, you know what to expect,” said head coach Stefon Wilson about the ex-Royals. “In my opinion, the holes we had were in our rebounding and in our depth. I think those were two issues that we had to fix from a recruiting standpoint.”

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