PRESEASON PREVIEW (Men’s Basketball)

PRESEASON PREVIEW (Men’s Basketball)

NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – The 2014-15 Canada West men's basketball season opens on Friday, October 31 live on CanadaWest.TV as the defending conference champion and CIS bronze medallists Alberta Golden Bears host the Saskatchewan Huskies.


According to the preseason coaches' poll, the Victoria Vikes are the team to beat and they will face an early test when they face fourth-ranked and provincial rival UBC on the Thunderbirds' home opener on the weekend of November 7-8.


On the same weekend, fans will be get their first glimpse of the newly-formed Explorers Division, as Mount Royal visits MacEwan, UNBC travels to Thompson Rivers, and Fraser Valley goes on the road against UBC Okanagan.


Here's a preview of what to expect of the 17 teams vying for the Canada West hoops crown this year.


University of Alberta Golden Bears

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 2nd overall, 2nd in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: 3rd (Bronze)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 1st (Gold)

2013-14 CW Record: 20-2

Last CIS Title: 2002

Last CW Title: 2014

Key returnees: Kenny Otieno, Youssef Ouarhig, Joel Friesen, Mamadou Gueye, Czar Robotham


Key additions: Brody Clarke, Sebastian Denault, Sheldon Pittman, Andriy Halushko, Grant Galbraith


Key departures: Jordan Baker, Todd Bergen-Henengouwen, Robert Dewar, Sahr Saffa


EDMONTON – Last season, Alberta finished with the best record in Canada West, at 20-2, and went on to claim the Canada West championship, as well as a bronze medal at the CIS championship tournament.


Gone from that team are starters Jordan Baker, who graduated as the program's all-time leader in a number of categories, including points, rebounds, steals, and assists, as well as Rob Dewar and Todd Bergen-Henengouwen, while Sahr Saffa, a CIS championship Tournament All-Star in 2012, and Tommy Watson have also moved on.


But, third-year head coach Barnaby Craddock has a number of key returning pieces, including sophomore forward Mamadou Gueye, who was the Canada West Rookie of the Year last season, and third-year guard Youssef Ouahrig as well as fifth-year guards Kenny Otieno, Joel Friesen, and Czar Robotham. Both Friesen and Otieno are former Canada West All-Stars, while Ouarhig was the conference Rookie of the Year in 2013.


Joining the Bears is an impressive blue-chip recruiting class, one that includes 6'7" forward Brody Clarke, 6'9" forward Sebastian Denault, 6'5" guard Sheldon Pittman, 6'4" guard Andriy Halushko, and 6'9" forward Grant Galbraith.


The Golden Bears will begin defence of their Canada West title on October 31st, when they host the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Saville Community Sports Centre.


UBC Thunderbirds

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 4th overall, 4th in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals

2013-14 CW Record: 11-11

Last CIS Title: 1972

Last CW Title: 2013

Key returnees: Conor Morgan, Jordan Jensen-Whyte, Tommy Nixon, Tonner Jackson, Andrew McGuinness, David Wagner, Brylle Kamen


Key additions: Stefanos Fasianos, Daniel Sutcliffe


Key departures: Michael Steele, Isaiah Solomon


VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds are looking to rebound from an injury-filled 2013-14 season in which they finished 11-11 before taking the eventual league champion Alberta Golden Bears to a third-and-deciding game in the opening round of the playoffs.


Head coach Kevin Hanson, who became UBC's all-time overall wins leader during the preseason, brings nearly everybody back from last year. 


Forward Conor Morgan missed last season because of injuries and has returned to lead the Thunderbirds. The 6-foot-9 player has been impressive on both ends of the court during UBC's preseason slate.


The team has four players entering their final season of eligibility, and three of them, Tommy Nixon, Brylle Kamen and Tonner Jackson, play in the front court. 


Nixon was the team's leading scorer last season and second-leading rebounder. Kamen averaged the most boards per game for UBC and was fifth in points. Jackson was second in points but missed parts of the regular season and all of the playoffs because of injury. 


Hanson also has the services of fourth-year inside player David Wagner, who was third in the points category for the 'Birds. Luka Zaharijevic has improved over the offseason and will push for more playing time and he'll be joined by intriguing new recruit Daniel Sutcliffe, an athletic 6-9 player out of Melbourne, Australia.


Jordan Jensen-Whyte takes over as the team's point guard, a role he played during his rookie season when UBC won the Canada West title. Andrew McGuinness is the team's other graduating player. He led UBC in three-point field goals last year, which was his first with the T-Birds after transferring from Calgary. Kedar Wright looks to build on an impressive first year with the blue and gold, in which he was named to the Canada West's All-Rookie Team. The newest UBC guard is Stefanos Fasianos, who is originally from Greece but played the last two seasons of high school basketball in the United States.


On the weekend of November 7-8, UBC will play its first two games of the Canada West regular season against the University of Victoria Vikes.


UBC Okanagan Heat

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 17th overall, 6th in Explorers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Record: 4-18

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Cameron Friesen, Mitch Goodwin, Ryan Linttell, David Manshreck, Travis Worthing


Key additions: Aldrich Berrios, Dean Johnston, Ryan Morck, Noma Obaseki, Austin Penrose, Cameron Servatius, Buzz Truss


Key departures: Yassine Ghomari, Greet Gill, James Lum, Ed Dane Medi, Landry Ndayitwayeko, Stuart Wallensteen, Mike Zayonc


KELOWNA – Youth is evident on this year's edition of the UBC Okanagan Heat men's basketball roster.


Head coach Pete Guarasci, going into his third season, has revamped the roster and coaching staff and looks to build a contender in Kelowna with a strong recruiting class and the roster, for the first time, has all players brought in with the former national team player as the head coach.


Guard Mitch Goodwin, is the lone player not in his first or second year. There are no fourth or fifth year players and as a third year guard the Kelowna native will be the senior player on the roster.


Goodwin has averaged 11.0 and 13.4 ppg. in his first two years and with the departure of Ghomari and Ndayitwayeko, will look for his shot more and not play the role of distributor as much in his junior season.


David Manshreck (North Vancouver, BC) and Cam Freisen (Abbotsford, BC) are both in their second year of eligibility but both red-shirted right out of high school (Manshreck with Simon Fraser and Friesen at UBC Okanagan).  These two will support Goodwin with leadership responsibilities as well as second year point guard Dario Gini (Kelowna, BC). Gini redshirted last season due to injury.


Seven first year players, all straight out of high school, will be given plenty of opportunity to play in the new-look Canada West Explorers Division. Three players – Dean Johnston (Port Coquitlam, BC), Austin Penrose (West Vancouver, BC) and Ryan Morck (Airdrie, AB) all stand 6-foot-6 and over. Johnston is a post, Morck likes to shoot the three and Penrose is most comfortable on the wing.


Pairing with Goodwin in the backcourt will be Aldrich Berrios, a multi-sport athlete who had eye-popping numbers at Notre Dame (30.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 4.7 steals and 2.8 blocks per game) and starred on the football field for the Vancouver school as well. Second year Ryan Linttell (Kelowna, BC), and a number of freshman – Noma Obaseki (Calgary, AB), Cameron Servatius (Chilliwack, BC) and Buzz Truss (Kelowna, BC) – all have unique skill sets and will log serious minutes in the backcourt.


Coach Guarasci will have a chance to teach this young group how to play and compete at a national team level and if they are up to the task will be a tough team to play as the season progresses.


The season starts for the Heat men's basketball team this November 7-8 when they host the Fraser valley Cascades for the first weekend of their 20-game schedule.


Brandon University Bobcats

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 13th overall, 10th in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Record: 6-16

Last CIS Title: 1996

Last CW Title: 2002

Key returnees: Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak, Kenonte Ramsey, Ryan Hawley, Mikee Dosado


Key additions: Earl Thompson Jr, D.J. Jordan, Samy Stanson Desir, Denham Buchanan, Ryan Cowley


Key departures: Ilarion Bonhomme, James Elias, Emerick Ravier, Jordan Reaves, Isaiah James


BRANDON – If the preseason is any indication, the 2014-15 edition of the Brandon Bobcats men's basketball team should be a fun squad to watch.


In preseason exhibition games this fall, the Bobcats rattled off five straight wins against non-conference opponents, and looked impressive in doing so.


Import combo guard/forward Earl Thompson, Jr. earned double-doubles in all five preseason wins, including a 20-point and 22-rebound effort against the Acadia Axemen in the Bobcats' last home preseason game. In those five wins the Henderson, Nev. product averaged 18.2 ppg and 14.4 rpg.


Fellow American import D.J. Jordan has been impressive in the preseason as well, making some powerhouse dunks as well as hitting a clutch three-pointer that sealed Brandon's win over Acadia on October 10.


Returning import guard Kenonte Ramsey is expected to shoulder much of the offensive load for the Bobcats. The speedy shooter led the team (and finished third in the conference) in three-pointers last season, and has shown much of that same flair from beyond the arc early. Fellow co-captain Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak has also shown the hot-hand in the preseason. The Montreal product is coming off a season in which he led BU in rebounding and finished third on the team in scoring. In the preseason, Benabdelhak had an impressive 27-point and 10-rebound performance against Acadia on October 10.


Canadian transfers Samy Stanson Desir (Collège Édouard-Montpetit) and Denham Buchanan (University of Waterloo) are also joining this year's squad, as well as B.C. high-school standout Ryan Cowley (Delta Secondary).


On top of welcoming new players, Coach Gil Cheung has also added an entirely new assistant coaching staff. Brandon products Keith Van Walleghem and Kevin Phillip will work with Cheung throughout the season.


The Bobcats open the 2014-15 Canada West schedule at home against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns on October 31.


University of Calgary Dinos

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 7th overall, 6th in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Record: 7-15

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: 2009

Key returnees: Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, Philip Barndt, Josh Owen-Thomas, Matt Letkeman


Key additions: Lars Schleuter, Adonis Montfort-Palomino


Key departures: None


CALGARY – After a disappointing campaign in 2013-14 in which they missed the playoffs, the University of Calgary Dinos are hoping to return to the postseason as star point guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson wraps up his stellar career in a Calgary uniform. A year ago the team went 7-15 and was 14th in scoring defense, but Head Coach Dan Vanhooren's team enters this season with a mix of experience and plenty of youth, as well as more depth from a season ago. 


Ogungbemi-Jackson is coming off another Canada West All-Star year, being named to the second team, after a first team selection in 2013. He led the conference in scoring with 20.6 points per game, was eighth in assists, first in free throw percentage, tied for second in steals, fourth in three-point field goals made and first in minutes played, barely ever coming off the floor with an average of over 36 per night. The Dinos will once again look to their leader to bring them back to the postseason. 


Joining him are three other starters from last year, including backcourt mate Josh Owen-Thomas and forwards Matt Letkeman and Phil Barndt. Barndt was sixth in rebounding in the conference last year at 7.5 per game. While Ogungbemi-Jackson and Barndt are in their fifth years of eligibility, Owen-Thomas and Letkeman enter their fourth and will be looked upon to provide solid leadership for the younger Dinos on the team. 


After missing last season because of injury, LJ Hegwood will finally make his debut for his hometown Dinos this season after transferring from City College of San Francisco two years ago. During the pre-season, he showed he can be a strong two-way player for Calgary, as did third-year forward and fellow Calgarian Dallas Karch, whose versatility will be key on both ends of the floor. Third-year guard Jasdeep Gill will once again be expected to give important minutes off the bench and explosive sophomore guard Jhony Verrone will be looked at to guard opponents all over the floor as well as pack an offensive punch. 


Among the completely fresh faces to the Dinos, there are players from Alberta and other parts of Canada, as well as some international flair. The class is highlighted by 6-8 forward Lars Schleuter out of Ulm, Germany, who saw time in the starting lineup with the team in the preseason. The recruit brings some much-needed muscle to the team, but isn't afraid to shoot from long distance. Local product Adonis Montfort-Palomino also joins the speedy backcourt, after wrapping up his high school career at Sir Winston Churchill in Calgary. There are four other players directly out of high school including two from B.C. in Caury Hauck out of Abbotsford and Skylar Sheehan from White Rock. Local products Matt Ellis from Calgary and Luke Praught from Canmore also join the team. Connor Foreman is another new addition, although he's not new to the Dinos family, as he has transitioned from the volleyball squad. 


Vanhooren enters his 15th season as Dinos head coach, joined by assistants Blaine Miciak and Sean Foote.


Calgary opens the regular season on Halloween night against the Wesmen in Winnipeg, after preseason action against several Canada West programs, including victories over Alberta and Lethbridge. They also travelled out east to play in the Cape Breton Capers Fall Classic. The Dinos also opened last season against Winnipeg but at home, where they lost two close games.


The team's home opener is Friday, November 7 against the Brandon Bobcats. 


University of Fraser Valley Cascades

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 5th overall, 1st in Explorers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 4th

2013-14 CW Record: 17-5

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Jasper Moedt, Kevon Parchment, Kadeem Willis, Manny Dulay


Key additions: Nate Brown, Dominque Brown, Vijay Dhillon


Key departures: Klaus Figueredo, Kevin Ford


ABBOTSFORD – With more size and depth than they've had in recent memory, the Cascades have the pieces to contend in 2014-15.


Head coach Adam Friesen brings back a solid core of returnees, headlined by Kevon Parchment and Jasper Moedt. Fourth-year guard Parchment was the team's top scorer in 2013-14 – his 17.2 points per game ranked eighth in Canada West, and he stuffed the stat sheet with 7.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Fifth-year centre Moedt was a second team Canada West all-star last season, averaging 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds. His rebounding total was second-best in the conference.


Other key returnees include forward Kadeem Willis (10.5 points, 6.7 rebounds per game) and point guard Manny Dulay (9.5 points per game, .393 shooting from beyond the arc).


Nate Brown, a 6'6" newcomer from Fresno, Calif., joins forces with Moedt and Willis to give the Cascades a great deal of strength in the post, while backcourt transfers Dominique Brown (University of Texas Permian Basin) and Vijay Dhillon (Victoria Vikes) bolster the team on the perimeter.


University of Lethbridge Pronghorns

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 11th overall, 8th in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals

2013-14 CW Record: 15-7

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: 1986

Key returnees: Brandon Brine, Brent Watkins, Rob Olsen, Jared Baker


Key additions: Zac Overwater, Josh Sparkes, Mike Pierzchala, Tyson McIntyre


Key departures: Logan Reiter, Alex Fletcher, Morgan Duce


LETHBRIDGE – Despite a disappointing end to the 2013-14 season, the first with alumnus Mike Hansen at the helm, the Lethbridge Pronghorn men's basketball team has plenty to build off for the upcoming season. The 'Horns were eliminated two games straight in the Canada West quarterfinal versus Fraser Valley.


The 15-win season was the most the program had achieved in 14 years and the 'Horns came within one win of hosting their first playoff series since 2001.


After leading the conference in scoring a season ago, the 'Horns will have to retool their offensive game following the graduation of three of the four top scorers. Gone is Canada West second team all-star Logan Reiter, who led the team with 17.6 points per game. Also departed from last season are fellow guards Alex Fletcher and Morgan Duce, who combined to average nearly 25 points per game.


While the backcourt was ravaged by graduations, the 'Horns frontcourt should be a strength of the program this season. Aussie Brandon Brine had an exceptional first season with the program, averaging 16.2 points per game while electrifying the crowd with his athleticism. 6'10" American junior college transfer Brent Watkins also showed great promise during his inaugural season with the Pronghorns.


The versatility of Jared Baker, who has played both guard and forward positions, will be key during the 'Horns transition this season.


6'6" centre Tyson McIntrye also returns to the program after a two-year LDS mission and looks to build off a solid rookie season from 2011-12.


For the first time in a number of years, the Pronghorns are excited to add three true freshmen with southern Alberta pedigrees. All Southern Alberta High School Basketball League (SAHSBL) standouts, Josh Sparkes, Zac Overwater and Mike Pierzchala look to make an impact in their first seasons.


Sparkes was named the SAHSBL MVP last year and led the league in scoring, while both Overwater and Pierzchala were first team all-stars.


The Pronghorns will open the 2014-15 Canada West season on the road, traveling to Brandon to face the Bobcats.


MacEwan University Griffins

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 16th overall, 5th in Explorers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Record: N/A

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Keith Gerdes, Seaid Deria, Ryan May, Thomas Jereniuk, Denzel James


Key additions: Lee Danderfer, Brandon Sackey, Liban Hassan, Deonte Doslov-Doctor, Tarik Scott


Key departures: Adam Boyd, Tyler Wise, Gio Shettler


EDMONTON – The MacEwan University men's basketball team has turned a new leaf this season and make their Canada West debut with seven new faces to complement the seven returners in their lineup. Pacing the sidelines for his third season, head coach Eric Magdanz is pleased with the long term pieces he has acquired this off season.


Magdanz's incoming class is headlined by University of Alberta at Augustana transfer Lee Danderfer. Danderfer's veteran presence has already made an impact as he helped lead the Griffins to the preseason Naismith Tournament title, hosted by the University of Waterloo in Ontario.


Brandon Sackey (Tiffin University, OH) and Liban Hassan (Centennial College, ON) will round out the current transfers to the program. The Griffins will also add Kenneth Johnson (Monroe Community College, NY) to the roster after the December break. Each of the incoming transfers will be expected to make an immediate impact and will be relied on for valuable minutes from the season's outset.


While there are many new faces in the lineup, the returning core of players have formed the foundation for the Griffins' future. Keith Gerdes, Ryan May, Denzel James and Seaid Deria will not only lead the team on the court, but will be heavily relied upon to provide leadership as the Griffins wade into the uncharted waters of their new league.


Making their interuniversity debut, the Griffins have also added Tarik Scott, a highly touted guard who play for British Columbia's U17 program at the Canada Summer Games to their roster, as well as local recruits Daniel Fessahye and Deonte Doslov-Doctor.


The Griffins begin the season by hosting the Mount Royal Cougars on November 7 at 8:00 p.m. in Edmonton.


University of Manitoba Bisons

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 9th overall, 7th in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Record: 6-16

Last CIS Title: 1976

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Stephan Walton, Wyatt Anders, Amir Ali, Andre Arruda, Justus Alleyn


Key additions: Jonathan Alexander, Alfreeman Flowers


Key departures: Dan Penner, Yigit Ozsayiner


WINNIPEG – The Bison men's basketball team looks to bounce back from a tough season outside of the playoffs in 2013-14. Last season, the team was dealt a huge blow as 2012-13 Canada West Second Team All-Star, captain and fifth year guard Stephan Walton was lost for the season just before conference play started.


The good news for Manitoba is that Walton is healthy and back to complete his fifth year in 2014-15. He continues to play at an all-star level already in the 2014 pre-season and will again be leaned upon to run the offence from the point guard position.


Along with Walton, there is a solid group that returns with other team captains fifth year forward Wyatt Anders (third on Bisons in rebounding at 5.4 per game last season) and fifth year guard Amir Ali (sixth in Canada West in three-point percentage) providing experience and leadership on and off the court. In addition, sophomore players Andre Arruda (top Bison in scoring at 13.8 points per game plus seventh in conference minutes played), who was 2013-14 CIS and Canada West All-Rookie Team selection, and Justus Alleyn (third on team in minutes and sixth in team scoring at 6.9 ppg.) will continue to grow in year two. Fourth year guard Mike Holloway and third year guard AJ Basi both will see minutes and provide a spark on both sides of the ball.


Two new players at Manitoba should provide an impact and additional depth to the roster as third year forward Jonathan Alexander comes from Toronto and Tyler Junior College while fourth year forward Alfreeman Flowers played at Missouri Western State University before becoming a Bison.


Head coach Kirby Schepp, in his sixth year, feels this year's edition is more athletic than last year and wants to play up-tempo basketball with scoring in the 90-point range. He is pleased with the balanced scoring with contributions from numerous players and solid defence shown so far during the pre-season.


The new Pioneers Division provides top competition with "no nights off" and Schepp stated that it will be intense every game and he "would be surprised, if we do not surprise teams this season." Manitoba seeks to make it back to the playoffs in 2014-15.


Mount Royal University Cougars

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 10th overall, 3rd in Explorers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Record: 9-13

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Awet Abraha, Deng Awak, James Lefebvre, Jalen Gardiner


Key additions: Glen Yang


Key departures: Jared Cornish


CALGARY – The Cougars came sixth last season in the Pacific Division with a record of 9-13.  This year their core will stay intact with only one player, Jared Cornish, leaving the squad. The Cougars were able to come together last season going on a solid run to end the campaign. Coach Marc Dobell is looking for that to translate into this coming season.


The Cougars will work with a similar lineup to the one they sported in 2013-14. Guard Jared Cornish is the only notable departure. Cornish will be a sizeable loss for the Cougars. He was the team's second leading scorer averaging 10.1 PPG and had 24 three-point field goals.


The core group of players will remain the same from last season. Deng Awak will lead a group of fifth year players, hungry for their first playoff berth in Canada West. Aside from Cornish all of the Cougar's starters will return in 2014-15. 


James Lefebvre, who had a breakout season last year, will be looked to for leadership and to help carry the load offensively in Cornish's absence. Lefebvre averaged 9.2 points per game to go along with his 5.1 rebounds in 22 games last season. Although he did not start any games last season it is unlikely that he won't work his way into the starting rotation this year.


The Cougars added some depth at point guard with the singing of Glen Yang from Sir Winston Churchill High School in Calgary. Averaging 18 points per game and 7 assists per game, Glen has shown he can score and get his teammates involved. Yang has proven to be a passionate, hardworking player who takes equal pride in his game at both ends of the floor.


"Glen has good vision and the ability to score. He adds depth at the point guard position, while having the skill set to play on the wing," said Head Coach Marc Dobell.  "He will be a versatile player for us."


UNBC Timberwolves

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 15th overall, 4th in Explorers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Record: 5-17

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Franck Olivier Kouagnia, Jeff Chu, Devin McMurtry, Billy Cheng, Gagan Sahota


Key additions: Rhys Elliott, Vaggelis Loukas, Michael Smith


Key departures: Charles Barton, Dan Stark


PRINCE GEORGE – Not much has changed in the Timberwolves line-up leaving them with the skill and experience they hope will take them to their first Canada West play-off run. 


Leading the way for the Timberwolves is forward Franco Kouagnia. Kouagnia transferred to UNBC last season from England and has been a force for the Timberwolves in the key. Along with fellow fifth year players Devin McMurtry and Jeff Chu, head coach Todd Jordan is confident his senior players will be able to get the job done.


Missing from the Timberwolves line-up this season will be forward duo Charles Barton and Dan Stark who both graduated last year. Stark played four years for the Timberwolves after red-shirting his freshman season while Barton finished his CIS career playing three years for the Timberwolves. UNBC fans will miss the high-flying acrobatics of Barton and the gritty play from Stark.


Adding height and skill to the backcourt are Rhys Elliott and Michael Smith. Elliott, originally from Adelaide, Australia played two years in the States, while Smith, an Ontario native, is a transfer from Branson University. The two come to the Timberwolves with the experience necessary to compete at this level.


After a tough season last year the Timberwolves look forward to making some positive improvements to their play. With the depth and skill necessary to compete with the top teams, UNBC fans will not be disappointed this season.


The Timberwolves open their 2014-15 season in Kamloops, BC November 7-8 against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. UNBC's home opener will be held November 21-22 against the Mount Royal Cougars.


University of Regina Cougars

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 14th overall, 11th in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Record: 5-17

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Travis Sylvestre, Will Tallman, Brandon Tull, Jeremy Zver


Key additions: Michael Hudson, Alex Igual, Zach Mihalicz, Jonathan Tull


Key departures: Brendan Hebert, Wesley Jones, Darius Mole


REGINA – The University of Regina's men's basketball team will have a vastly different look this season with three starters gone from the 2013-14 squad, but second-year head coach Steve Burrows is confident that a strong crop of newcomers will help form a core that will push the squad up the standings.


Leading the group of newcomers are guards Alex Igual and Jonathan Tull. Igual, who represented powerhouse Spain at the U16 European Championships a few years back, comes to the Cougars after a sparkling season at the junior college level with Cuesta College which saw him earn first-team all-conference honours while helping his team win a conference championship. Tull last played for Acadia University in 2011-12 and 2012-13, a team that won a 2012 AUS title and qualified for the CIS Championship in both seasons.


Tull joins his younger brother Brandon Tull, who was named to the Canada West All-Rookie Team last year after leading the Cougars with an average of 14.5 points per game. Forwards Travis Sylvestre and Will Tallman also return, as will post Jeremy Zver after the University of Regina's football team finishes its season – Zver is a starting offensive lineman for the Rams.


Also expected to play key roles this season up front are Michael Hudson – a 6-10 post who comes to the Cougars by way of Kaskaskia College in Centralia, Ill – and Zach Mihalicz, a 6-8 forward from Parker, Colo. that has family ties to the Regina area. The Cougars also return second-year players Brandon Buttazoni and Ryan Delwo.


The Cougars start the 2014-15 Canada West schedule on the road at Victoria this Friday and Saturday.


University of Saskatchewan Huskies

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 3rd overall, 3rd in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: 1st (Gold)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 5th

2013-14 CW Record: 15-7

Last CIS Title: 2010

Last CW Title: 2010

Key returnees: Ben Baker, Matt Forbes, Dadrian Collins


Key additions: Mike Scott, Connor Burns, Joseph Barker


Key departures: Stephon Lamar


SASKATOON – Returning to the CIS Championship in the 2013-14 season gave the University of Saskatchewan men's basketball squad another taste of the national stage and that's where the Huskies will look to be in 2014-15.


Saskatchewan finished second in the Canada West Prairie Division in 2013-14 with a 15-7 record. After sweeping the Thompson Rivers WolfPack at home in a conference quarterfinal series, the Huskies won a bronze medal at the Canada West Final Four. Earning the wildcard entry into the CIS Final 8, Saskatchewan entered the national tournament ranked eighth and nearly upset the No. 1-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees in a CIS quarterfinal. Saskatchewan finished fifth at the tournament after defeating McGill. 


The 2014-15 squad returns four of five starters. The experienced group includes 2012-13 Canada West Defensive Player of the Year Ben Baker, forwards Matt Forbes and Dadrian Collins, as well as fifth-year guard Andrew Henry. In addition, the Huskies add import-transfer Mike Scott, CIS-transfer Connor Burns and highly-touted Saskatchewan high school recruit Joseph Barker.


Fifth-year guard Baker averaged 12.5 points per game for the Huskies in 2013-14 and led the Canada West in rebounding with 10.2. He also had 45 steals. In Collins' first season in the Canada West, the forward from Virginia finished 10th in the conference in scoring averaging 15.9 points per game and made a conference-leading 61 three-pointers. Fourth-year forward Forbes will continue to play a big role for the team in the front court after tallying 12.8 points per game and had the second-best field goal percentage in the Canada West one season ago. He also added 7.4 rebounds per game. Henry averaged 21.9 minutes per game and 7.7 points.


Replacing two-time All-Canadian Stephon Lamar is import Scott. Scott, a 6-3 guard from Tacoma, Wash., spent 2013-14 at San Diego College where he led his California Community Colleges Athletics Association team averaging 13.4 points per game. He also added 4.3 rebounds per game. 


CIS-transfer Connor Burns will hit the court in the green and white after sitting out his CIS-mandatory 365 days. In four seasons with the Regina Cougars, Burns tallied 454 rebounds and 617 points. High school recruit Barker has the potential to contribute immediately up front for the Huskies. The 6-7 freshman led the Holy Cross High School Crusaders to the 5A Provincial final twice. He averaged 16 points per game and 12.5 rebounds per game in his senior high school season.


The Huskies open the season on the road against rival the Alberta Golden Bears on October 31. Saskatchewan returns home November 14-15 to host the Winnipeg Wesmen.


Thompson Rivers University WolfPack

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 8th overall, 2nd in Explorers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals

2013-14 CW Record: 13-9

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Josh Wolfram, Reese Pribilsky, Tallon Milne


Key additions: Sean Price, Josh Mayorga, Victor Aguero


Key departures: Ta'Quan Zimmerman


KAMLOOPS – The evolution of the WolfPack basketball program under coach Scott Clark continues in an upward trend.  Thompson Rivers made the playoffs for the first time since joining CIS and that is the goal this year.


Clark has a solid core of veterans led by Josh Wolfram (fourth year, forward, Kamloops, BC) who was among the Canada West leaders in a number of categories last year as was Reese Pribilsky (fourth year, guard, Victoria, BC) and Tallon Milne (fifth year forward, Vanderhoof, BC).


Other veterans set to contribute are fifth year guards Brett Parker (Langley, BC) and Brett Rouault (Vernon, BC) and fourth year forward Gerard Gore (St. John's Antiqua).


The WolfPack recruited two top players out of U.S. Junior College: Sean Price and Victor Aguero (both from Washington State).  Another highly touted fresh face is Josh Mayorga (Langley, BC) who attended the Junior National team training camp and led Walnut Grove to a BC "AAA" high school championship.


Trinity Western University Spartans

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 12th overall, 9th in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Record: 10-12

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Tyus Allen, Justin Bakuteka, Taylor Heinrichs, Denny McDonald, Kelvin Smith


Key additions: Nick Tancon, Josiah Allison, Vartan Tanielian, Kosia Cauw


Key departures: Anthony Ottley, Robert Rodriguez


LANGLEY – The Trinity Western men's basketball team enters this year's campaign with plenty of hope, but also plenty of question marks.


The upside for the Spartans is high, but the biggest question might be: how long will it take for this team to reach that potential?


The Spartans starting five represents a largely veteran core that includes the likes of returnees Justin Bakuteka (Toronto), Denny McDonald (Mississauga, Ont.), Kelvin Smith (Los Angeles) and Taylor Heinrichs (Port Moody), along with second-year point guard Tyus Allen (White Rock, B.C.), who missed all but eight regular season games last year due to injury.


After that, look for Jesse Jeffers (North Vancouver, B.C.) to come off the bench and contribute quality minutes to the Spartans frontcourt while a bevy of other youngsters and role players who will be relied upon to provide depth.


First-year Nick Tancon (Comox, B.C.) has shown well early on in preseason and has already proven that he can play at the CIS level. Look for the 6-foot-7 guard to become a key cog off the bench and regularly play upwards of 20 minutes per night.


Fellow first-years Josiah Allison (Abbotsford, B.C.), at point guard, and Vartan Tanielian (White Rock), in a shooting guard role, will fill out the Spartans depth in the back court while third-year Matt Blackaby (Maple Ridge, B.C.) and second-year Peter Spangehl (Surrey, B.C.) will be asked to play important defensive roles.


After winning their final two preseason games against Thompson Rivers and UBC Okanagan, the Spartans were able to put a positive spin on a tough exhibition schedule in which they posted a 3-7 record.


Early on in the preseason, the focus for the Scott Allen-coached group was on defence. With that in mind, the Spartans held their opponents to an average of 71.9 points per game, which is a much improved mark compared to last year's regular season average of 77.9 points against per game.


The key for the Spartans now will be to find their offensive rhythm, which, if the preseason is a sign of things to come, will largely come through transition and the use of their team speed and depth.


Through the preseason, the Spartans seemingly showed improvement every day and in every game. Despite their preseason record and having missed the playoffs last year, if TWU keeps along their recent trajectory, there's reason to believe the high-end capabilities of this year's Spartans could very well have them back in the post-season dance.


University of Victoria Vikes

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 1st overall, 1st in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: 4th

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 2nd (Silver)

2013-14 CW Record: 19-3

Last CIS Title: 1997

Last CW Title: 2006

Key returnees: Chris McLaughlin, Reiner Theil, Mack Roth, Marcus Tibbs


Key additions: Grant Sitton, Kai Greene, Rulon Schmidt, Jeremy Leonard-Smith, Justin Kinnear, Hayden Lejeune


Key departures: Terrell Evans, Ryan Erikson, Kyle Peterson


VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men's basketball team are on the hunt for their third-straight CIS national championship appearance. Following their 2014 fourth-place national finish, Vikes men's basketball head coach Craig Beaucamp will be looking to improve that with a medal-finish in 2014-15. The Vikes have had several pre-season matches against some of the best CIS competition and it was a big test for a young Vikes lineup that boasts eight new players and loses 2014 CIS First Team All-Canadian and leading scorer Terrell Evans.


Fifth-year forward Chris McLaughlin and fourth-year guard Reiner Theil are undoubtedly the most experienced duo for this year's team. Both have been pivotal for the Vikes in the past two-straight CIS Final 8 appearances. Theil was last season's Canada West Defensive Player of the Year, while McLaughlin was a Canada West Second Team All-Star. With the loss of point guard Kyle Peterson, who transferred to Lethbridge, fourth-year transfer Marcus Tibbs has stepped into the point with relative ease and leading the Vikes in scoring for several of their pre-season games.

This year's recruit class has four true freshmen (Kai Greene, Taylor Montgomery-Stinson, Justin Kinnear and Hayden Lejeune), while three new Vikes transfer over with eligibility still remaining. Fifth-year guard Jeremy Leonard-Smith completes his last year after transferring from the Bishop's Gaiters and Hassan Abdullahi and Rulon Schmidt transfer from Dalhousie University and Camosun College, respectively.

Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp enters his 12th season with the Vikes and has established himself as one of the top coaches in the CIS. Beaucamp was named Canada West Coach of the Year for the past three-straight seasons and has continued to keep the Vikes improving. Two seasons ago (2013), the Vikes made their first CIS national championship appearance since 2002. Victoria finished sixth overall but improved last year, 2014, to fourth place.


The Vikes had a 4-3 record in their pre-season campaign with wins over Bishop's, Fraser Valley, Nipissing and MacEwan, while conceding losses to CIS contenders Alberta, Carleton and Saskatchewan. The Vikes will open their regular season on October 31 and November 1 with a doubleheader against Regina.


University of Winnipeg Wesmen

CW Preseason Coaches' Poll Ranking: 6th overall, 5th in Pioneers Division

2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals

2013-14 CW Record: 14-8

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Jordan Clennon, Jelane Pryce, Christopher Baxter, Jamar Farley, Ryan Oirbans, Travis Krahn


Key additions: Denzel Lynch-Blair, Marcello Kambola, Blair Orr, Mark McNee


Key departures: Andrew Cunningham, Steven Wesley


WINNIPEG – After a very successful pre-season, head coach Mike Raimbault, entering his fifth season with the Wesmen, will now turn his focus on continuing the winning ways heading into the 2014-2015 Canada West regular season.

A core group of veteran players will look to continue the success. Fifth year players Jordan Clennon and Travis Krahn will man the guard positions. Clennon is capable of both setting up the offence and also can provide scoring when needed. Krahn is a deadly shooter from the perimeter and has been one of the conference leaders in three pointers in the past.


Mark McNee a fifth year forward has been an offensive threat during the pre-season and the team will rely on him for both scoring and rebounding in the front court.


Ryan Oirbans, a 6-9 forward will look to be even better in his second season. Oirbans averaged 5.8 rebounds per game last season.


Fourth year forward Jelane Pryce has stepped up his game in pre-season action and will provide inside scoring and be a force on the boards. Third year guards Christopher Baxter and Jamar Farley gained valuable experience last year and both will provide an instant spark off the bench. Kuet Kuet, a red shirt last year, will come off the bench and provide scoring from the perimeter.

Coach Raimbault was successful in recruiting five athletic and highly skilled players to the program. Denzel Lynch-Blair a guard from Toronto has shown flashes during the pre-season. Marcello Kambola joins the team with one year experience at Medicine Hat College. Blair Orr, a 6-8 forward from Camarillo, California will provide size, inside scoring and rebounding. Tre Harmon, a 6-5 forward, has experience at the college level after a year at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Local product Denzel Soliven (Sisler High School) rounds out the recruiting class.