November 1, 2012, EDMONTON – The UBC Thunderbirds edged the defending conference champion Alberta Golden Bears by just two voting points in the 2012-13 Canada West preseason men’s basketball coaches’ poll.
The T-Birds received eight of 16 first-place votes, with Alberta getting seven and the Saskatchewan Huskies at the top of one ballot.
Here are the complete voting results, based on a 18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 system (first-place votes in parentheses):
1. UBC (8) 250
2. Alberta (7) 248
3. Saskatchewan (1) 186
4. Victoria 175
5. Fraser Valley 153
6. Calgary 148
7. Trinity Western 143
8. Lethbridge 123
9. Winnipeg 100
10. Manitoba 98
11. Brandon 95
12. Thompson Rivers 78
13. Regina 65
14. UNBC 51
15. UBC Okanagan 44
16. Mount Royal 15
While the UBC Thunderbirds did not make the Canada West Final Four last season, they did post a 13-5 regular season record and see the return of Doug Plumb and O’Brian Wallace for their fifth year of CIS eligibility. They have had a solid winning record in preseason against mostly OUA opponents.
The Alberta Golden Bears are defending conference gold medalists, won silver at Nationals and are loaded with talent once again, including fourth-years Jordan Baker, Sahr Saffa and Todd Bergen-Henengouwen.
After winning bronze at the conference Final Four last season, the Saskatchewan Huskies find themselves with just one player beyond his third season of eligibility, fifth-year Patrick Burns. Matt Forbes and Ben Baker will have increased roles in the upcoming season.
Placing fourth in preseason voting, the Victoria Vikes face life without Ryan MacKinnon, now led by veteran guard Michael Acheampong and forward Terrell Evans
Claiming silver at the conference finals last season and fourth at CIS, the Fraser Valley Cascades have raied the bar and are poised to continue their success with fifth-year seniors Sam Freeman, Kyle Grewal and James York leading the way.
No fewer than seven first-years players are listed on the Calgary Dinos roster for 2012-13, but with a healthy Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson and fifth-year Youri Anissovets they have the talent and leadership to be a top contender.
After going 21-3 two season ago, the Trinity Western Spartans were just over .500 last season to make the post-season in a tough Pacific Division. Tonner Jackson, Tristan Smith and Mark Perrin have all had very good preseason numbers.
The Lethbridge Pronghorns have a veteran-laden roster, with fifth-year seniors Julian Spear Chief-Morris and Derek Waldner joined by seven fourth-year players and not a single freshman on the team.
The Winnipeg Wesmen, Manitoba Bisons and Brandon Bobcats place ninth through 11th in the Canada West preseason coaches’ poll, with all looking to move up and make playoffs after missing the mark last year. They each have a balance of experienced and young talent on this year’s roster. Brandon’s Ilarion Bonhomme was Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2011-12.
For the Thompson Rivers WolfPack and Regina Cougars, making the playoffs is the first goal coming off a season where they fell several wins short of qualifying for playoffs. TRU is paced by guards Kevin Pribilisky and Akeem Pierre; the Cougars by Paul Gareau and Sterling Nostedt.
The league’s three newest teams – UNBC Timberwolves, UBC Okanagan Heat and Mount Royal Cougars – will continue to make strides as they face the challenging competition of Canada West. The Heat were 3-15 in their first CIS campaign, while UNBC and Mount Royal get their first taste this season.
A complete Canada West men’s basketball preview will be published later this week.