Kwanlten’s rookie guard Obi Udevi was one of the lone bright spots for Kwantlen on Saturday against Douglas. – Brian Jones Photo
This past weekend was devoid of upsets and surprises around the PacWest, as the giants still stand tall, but the race for fifth place is heating up.
The top half of this week’s rankings remains unchanged, as Vancouver Island University Mariners and Langara College Falcons both swept their respective doubleheaders, while the Quest University Kermodes and Capilano University Blues each split their island road trip.
VIU is still the only undefeated team in the PacWest after picking up a 76-65 win over Quest on Friday then drumming Cap 80-58 on Saturday.
Langara easily handled the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles and Columbia Bible College Bearcats, breaking the triple-digit mark in both bouts and averaging a 47-point margin of victory over the weekend. The Falcons’ loss in Week 2 to Quest may have been exactly what they needed, because adding a tally to Langara’s loss column is like trying to put out a house fire with gasoline.
Falcons forward Elliot Mason looks to break ankles out on the wing. – Brian Jones Photo
Capilano head coach Dwayne Selby summed up the crazy finishes and surprising blowouts around the PacWest this past weekend:
“There’s a lot of parity in the league right now. Our league is up for grabs, and I told my guys that if you don’t show up to play every single night, anyone can beat you.”
Selby’s words have been identical to what almost every other coach in the league has been preaching since preseason.
VIU is the only squad still standing with an unblemished record, but they’ve been lobbed softballs thus far, beating Camosun, Kwantlen and CBC (the bottom three teams in the league) by an average of 25.7 points. The Mariners will face their biggest challenge when they host Quest and Capilano next weekend.
Kwantlen guard Aaron Ram lays in two of his game-high 38 points on Friday night versus Columbia Bible College. – Matt Bossons Photo
It’s always hard to gain a quality perspective on a team after just their first game of the season – especially when it’s against a perennial bottom-feeder – so I’m going to try not to jump to any quick conclusions.
But on Friday night, the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles impressed a packed house with a 100-89 win over the Columbia Bible College Bearcats.
Aaron Ram led all scorers with 38 points on 14 for 27 shooting, including three from long range and 7-8 from the charity stripe.
“I know he had a really good game, but in my mind, I expected that,” said Kwantlen head coach Stefon Wilson. “It’s his third year, he’s a good player, so I expected him to play well. He won’t statistically play like that every night, but he hit some shots, and I expected him to have the game he did.”
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)
Devan Haynes (4th year)
Dustin Egelstad (3rd year)
Obiajulu Henry Udevi-Aruevoru
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.”
Kwantlen forward Christina Brown drives past Quest guard Shayna Cameron during Thursday’s quarterfinal game on Thursday, Feb. 28. – Matt Bossons Photo.
One down, two to go.
With a 64-48 win over the Quest University Kermodes, the Kwantlen Eagles women have punched a ticket to tonight’s semifinal bout against the top-ranked Capilano University Blues.
But despite getting that first W, no weight or pressure has been lifted off of the Eagles. If anything, the monkey on their back has become a gorilla.
“It’s one game at a time. It’s been our theme this year of not filling in the blank with either we’re gonna win or we’re gonna lose,” said Kwantlen’s head coach Dan Nayebzadeh. “Just go out and play as hard as we can and let the chips fall as they may.”
Eagles guard Haeley Williams goes in for an uncontested layup against Douglas College on Feb. 9. – Brian Jones Photo
If there’s any nervousness or tension on the part of the Kwantlen women’s basketball team, it’s not showing.
The night before the big dance – their first round playoff matchup against the Quest University Kermodes – head coach Dan Nayebzadeh is the picture of calm and collection.
“I don’t feel very nervous, I’m actually watching a TV show,” said Nayebzadeh over the phone late Wednesday night, his voice very relaxed and composed. “I kind of have to let the chips fall where they may, can’t really think about it too much. It’s uncertain who’s going to win and you can’t really control those things. You just have to control what you can – show up and play as hard as you can and see what happens.”
Nayebzadeh and his team had just finished a dinner, and he explained that it was lighthearted and full of laughs. The camaraderie between the girls has been the catalyst for the their success throughout the PacWest grind.
Kwantlen guard Aaron Ram gets hacked by Langara forward Jesse Jeffers during their Feb. 8 matchup in Surrey. – Brian Jones Photo
There was a slim chance of a positive outcome for the Kwantlen men’s basketball team this past weekend. In my last article, I detailed the miniscule odds that would send them to the postseason. Unfortunately for the Eagles, those odds were stacked too heavily against them.
On Friday, Feb. 15 against Camosun College, the Eagles played some of their best – and strangest – basketball all year. Their starting point guard, Chris Arcangel, was out for the third straight game with an ankle injury, and their back-up lead guard, Nii Engmann, was taking care of his newborn baby daughter. Kwantlen was left without any of their usual ball handlers, but Wilson managed to find an unlikely substitute that ended up causing a ton of matchup problems.
He called upon third-year forward Tristan Gruenthaler to run the offense. Gruenthaler had rarely ventured outside the paint during the entire season, and has a offensive repertoire that revolves around up-and-unders, turnaround hooks, and spot-up 10-foot jumpers. He’s 6-foot-6, has one of the biggest bodies on Kwantlen’s roster, but on Friday he was given a new role – to run the Eagles’ offense.
Besides completely surprising the Chargers, the shuffle created a ripple effect of matchup problems. If a post player came out to defend Gruenthaler, that gave Ali Bosir more room to operate in the post. If they brought out a guard, that forced other bigger, slower defenders to have to close out Kwantlen’s three-point shooters.