by Mark Janzen
February 13, 2014, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The Trinity Western’s men’s basketball team’s playoffs hopes are still alive, but, with two games left in the regular season, it’s a do or die situation as the Spartans will need back-to-back wins over Fraser Valley in their home-and-home series starting Friday at 6 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.
The back end of the series will be played Saturday at UFV at 7 p.m.
Both games will be streamed live at twu.canadawest.tv.
The Spartans enter the weekend one game behind UBC, who sits in the fourth and final playoff position in the Pacific Division. A pair of TWU wins over UFV, combined with a pair of UBC losses to Victoria, will ensure the Spartans a spot in the post-season. Any other combination will see TWU on the outside looking in.
The Cascades come into Friday’s game as the hottest team in Canada West having won 12 straight games and haven’t lost a regular season game since Nov. 23 against Saskatchewan. However, because any potential tiebreaker with division-leading Victoria, no matter this weekend’s results, UFV will finish second in the Pacific Division.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (10-10)
- CIS ranking: NR
- Pacific Division standings: 5th
- Last weekend: Mount Royal 98-85 L, 80-77 W
- Streak: 1 win
Canada West Stats
- Scoring Offense: 77.0/game (5th)
- Scoring Defense: 78.6/game (11th)
- Field Goal Percentage: 41.9 (7th)
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 31.4 (10th)
- Rebounds: 41.2/game (2nd)
- Steals: 8.1/game (6th)
- Assists: 13.1/game (12th)
- Blocked Shots: 2.1/game (8th)
DO OR DIE
The Spartans situation is simple. Win both games this weekend and hope UBC loses both of its games and TWU will be in the playoffs. However, a loss in either game against UFV or a Thunderbirds win in either game against Victoria and the Spartans will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10. If TWU and UBC are tied at the end of the regular season, the Thunderbirds would advance.
BUCKING THE TREND
The Spartans have earned splits in eight of their 10 weekends this year, including last weekend when they kept their playoff hopes alive with a win Saturday after Friday’s loss. But to make the playoffs, TWU will have to avoid the split and win both of their games against the Cascades. The only weekends in which the Spartans didn’t split were against Thompson Rivers, when they lost both, and against Brandon and Regina, when they beat the Bobcats Friday and the Cougars Saturday.
FREE THROW FOLLIES
TWU has struggled from the free throw line of late and if they are to compete with UFV, the Spartans will have to improve their percentages from the charity stripe. The Spartans have shot just 60.6 per cent over their last six games and four times over that span, they shot less than 60 per cent.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Denny McDonald – The Spartans big man has averaged 22 points per game over his last three outings and has scored 20 or more points in four of his last seven games. He has also been sent to the free throw line 10 or more times in three of TWU’s last five games.
Anthony Ottley – The fourth-year transfer is coming off one of his best outings as a Spartan as last Saturday against MRU he collected 14 points and added nine rebounds in 30 minutes of action. The Spartans will need him to be every bit as good this weekend if they are to earn wins.
Kelvin Smith – Smith has become one of the Spartans key offensive contributors of late, earning 10 or more points in seven straight games. He’s coming off a season-high 18-point effort last Saturday against MRU.
FRASER VALLEY CASCADES (15-5)
- CIS ranking: NR
- Pacific Division standings: 5th (tied)
- Last weekend: UNBC 87-62 W, 67-61 W
- Streak: 12 wins
Canada West Stats
- Scoring Offense: 72.4/game (10th)
- Scoring Defense: 66.1/game (2nd)
- Field Goal Percentage: 41.6 (9th)
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 35.3 (5th)
- Rebounds: 39.2/game (7th)
- Steals: 8.8/game (4th)
- Assists: 13.6/game (3rd)
- Blocked Shots: 1.9/game (11th)
With the Cascades ensured of a second place finish in the Pacific Division, the final weekend will give UFV a chance to get ready for the playoffs. It’s not certain who the Cascades in the Canada West quarter-finals, but UFV is focused on just keeping their well-established momentum rolling into the playoffs.
ON A ROLL
Since an early-season stretch in which the Cascades lost five of six games and saw their record fall to 3-5, the Cascades have done nothing but win. A pair of victories over UBC sparked a 12-game winning streak. Over the course of their winning streak, they have won by at least six points 11 times.
After Victoria, UFV is the next best defensive team in Canada West, allowing just 66.1 points per game. During the Cascades winning streak, they have only allowed the opposition to score more than 71 points once. Three times they have also held their opponents to less than 60 points.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Kevon Parchment – The third-year leads UFV offensively with 17.5 points per game, which has him fifth in the conference. He had a season-high 36-point game against Regina Jan. 31.
- Jasper Moedt – After Parchment, Moedt is the Cascades next leading scorer, averaging 15 points per game. He’s also second in Canada West in rebounds with 9.4 per game and tied for sixth in blocks with 0.9 per game.
- Manjodh Dulay – Dulay leads UFV in 3-point shooting as he is averaging 41.4 per cent from beyond the arc and is third in Canada West with 53 3-pointers made.