Canada West Men’s Basketball Final Four Preview

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(ISN) – NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – Canada West no. 1-seed Saskatchewan Huskies play host to the 2014-15 Canada West Men’s Basketball Final Four this Friday through Saturday, March 6-7.

Fans will witness a new champion hoist the Stan Broder Trophy as the Alberta Golden Bears were already bounced in the quarterfinals by 2015 Outstanding Player of the Year awardee Chris McLaughlin and the Victoria Vikes.

In the first semifinal game on Friday, the Vikes will face the UFV Cascades, who dominated the Explorer Division all year before silencing critics with a sweep versus the Calgary Dinos. The second semifinal game pits the host Saskatchewan Huskies, led by Defensive Player of the Year Ben Baker, against the UBC Thunderbirds and high-scoring forward Tommy Nixon.

All games will be webcasted live on CanadaWest.TV. Below is the complete schedule and what fans may expect to see this weekend.

Schedule (all times CST):

Friday, March 6
6:00 pm – UFV Cascades vs. Victoria Vikes
8:00 pm – Saskatchewan Huskies vs. UBC Thunderbirds

Saturday, March 7
6:00 pm – Bronze Medal Game
8:00 pm – Gold Medal Game

No. 1-seed Saskatchewan Huskies

Head Coach: Barry Rawlyk

Regular season record: 15-5 (1st in Pioneer Division)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 2-0 vs. Victoria, 0-2 vs. UBC

Playoff record: 2-1 over Thompson Rivers in quarterfinals

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #6

2014-15 CW Award Winners: Ben Baker (Defensive Player of the Year)

2014-15 CW All-Stars: Matthew Forbes (Second Team), Dadrian Collins (Third Team)

2014-15 CW All-Rookie Team: None

Points leader: Dadrian Collins (15.2)

Rebounds leader: Ben Baker (7.7)

Assists leader: Ben Baker (4.1)

Steals leader: Ben Baker (2.1)

Blocks leader: Matthew Forbes (0.5)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 5th

Last CW Title: 2010

SASKATOON – For the second time in four seasons, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies will host the Canada West Men’s Basketball Final Four at the PAC.

The Huskies earned the right after finishing first in the Canada West Pioneer Division with a 15-5 record and knocking off the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in three games in a conference quarter-final series.

Saskatchewan has a potent offence averaging the second-most points per game in the conference at 83.3 per game. The Huskies also use perimeter shooting making 8.7 three-pointers per game.

In the quarter-final series victory, it was Saskatchewan’s depth that played a role in the defeat. In all three games, including the loss, the Huskies made comebacks.

Four Huskies have averaged double-digits in the season including fifth-year shooting guard Dadrian Collins at 15.2 points per game. Collins finished the season with the fourth-best three-point percentage in the Canada West at 45.5.

Matthew Forbes added another 13.4 points per game, while Michael Scott tallied 12.5 and Ben Baker 12. Baker led the team on the boards with 7.7 rebounds per game, while Forbes added another seven.

This is Saskatchewan’s fifth appearance in six seasons at the Canada West Championship. The Huskies won the Canada West and CIS Championship in 2009-10, finished second once and third twice in that span.

No. 2-seed UFV Cascades

Head Coach: Adam Friesen

Regular season record: 17-3 (1st in Explorer Division)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: N/A

Playoff record: 2-0 over Calgary in quarterfinals

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: N/A

2014-15 CW Award Winners: None

2014-15 CW All-Stars: Jasper Moedt (Second Team), Kevon Parchment (Third Team)

2014-15 CW All-Rookie Team: None

Points leader: Kevon Parchment (14.7)

Rebounds leader: Jasper Moedt (10.7)

Assists leader: Manjodh Dulay (3.9)

Steals leader: Kevon Parchment (2.6)

Blocks leader: Nate Brown (1.1)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 4th

Last CW Title: None

ABBOTSFORD – The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team is making its fourth straight appearance at the conference Final Four, and they’re in search of their first-ever conference title.

The Cascades, under the guidance of third-year head coach Adam Friesen, put together a sparkling 17-3 record to win the Explorer Division regular season title, and then swept the Calgary Dinos at home in a best-of-three quarter-final series last weekend.

No. 2-seeded UFV will face the No. 3 Victoria Vikes in the Canada West semifinals, with the winner clinching a berth to the CIS Final 8 Men’s Basketball Championship in Toronto.

The Cascades boast a tremendously balanced attack which yields 81.3 points per game, good for third in Canada West and 11th in the nation. Six players score in double figures, led by third team all-star Kevon Parchment (14.7 points per game).

UFV also excels on defence, surrendering just 69.7 points per game to rank second in Canada West and ninth in the CIS. They’re also the conference’s most prolific rebounding team, collecting 42.6 boards per game, with second team all-star Jasper Moedt (a Canada West-leading 10.7 rebounds per game) setting the tone in that department.

No. 3-seed Victoria Vikes

Head Coach: Craig Beaucamp

Regular season record: 15-5 (2nd in Pioneer Division)

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 2-0 vs. UBC, 0-2 vs. Saskatchewan

Playoff record: 2-0 over Alberta in quarterfinals

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #7

2014-15 CW Award Winners: Chris McLaughlin (Outstanding Player of the Year)

2014-15 CW All-Stars: Chris McLaughlin (First Team), Marcus Tibbs (Third Team)

2014-15 CW All-Rookie Team: None

Points leader: Chris McLaughlin (19.8)

Rebounds leader: Chris McLaughlin (10.0)

Assists leader: Marcus Tibbs (5.1)

Steals leader: Marcus Tibbs (1.8)

Blocks leader: Chris McLaughlin (1.0)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 2nd

Last CW Title: 2006

VICTORIA – This weekend will mark the fourth-straight and 34th overall appearance at the Canada West Final Four for the University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball program. Led by head coach Craig Beaucamp, in his 12th season, the Vikes men are just one win away from a spot at the CIS Final 8.

In their opening match the CIS No. 7 Vikes will face the Fraser Valley Cascades in the conference semifinal this Friday, Mar. 6 at 4 p.m. Pacific in Saskatoon.

A win on Friday will give the Vikes their third-straight appearance at the CIS Final 8, while the program has yet to win a national title since 1996. Five-time Canada West Coach of the Year Beaucamp will have his work cut out for him as the feisty Cascades are currently at the top of their game finishing first in the Explorers Division (17-3), while sweeping Calgary in two games in their quarter-final series.

The Vikes, who finished second in the Pioneers Division (15-5), conceded one of their five regular season losses to Calgary on the road back in January. In pre-season play the Vikes also dropped the Cascades 71-58 at McKinnon Gym but that was Fraser Valley’s fourth-straight exhibition match up at the time. Regardless of what happened then, both teams have come a long way since the beginning of the season.

Victoria, last year’s CIS fourth-placed team, has not hoisted the Canada West banner since 2005-06. After losing in the conference final in 2013 and the semifinal in 2011 and 2012, the Vikes will have to go through Fraser Valley and then the winner of UBC and Saskatchewan. More importantly, though, all teams have eyes on a Friday win for a spot at nationals.

Recently named Canada West Outstanding Player of the Year Chris McLaughlin will be the cornerstone of success for this weekend. The fifth year and six-foot-ten forward is known for drawing triple and double teams after posting a 19.8 points per game average and a 10 rebounds per game average through regular season. Though McLaughlin will do well to steer his way through traffic, it may just leave room for the team’s second-highest scorer and fourth-year point guard Marcus Tibbs. The Canada West third team all-star is a regular double-digit scorer for the Vikes but will inevitably be tightly guarded throughout the weekend.

The key for the Vikes will be in the supporting cast including the defensive expertise of fourth year Reiner Theil and the experience of fourth year Mack Roth. In addition, the emerging contributions from rookie Junior Sesay and the consistency of guards Patrick Pilato and Jordan Charles have given the Vikes the depth they need late in the season. Six-foot-seven Hayden Jeune and six-foot-eight Grant Sitton have also started to show spurts of both defensive and scoring contributions.

No. 4-seed UBC Thunderbirds

Head Coach: Kevin Hanson

Regular season record: 14-6

Season record vs. Final Four teams: 2-0 vs. Saskatchewan, 0-2 vs. Victoria

Playoff record: 2-0 over UNBC in quarterfinals

Final CIS Top 10 ranking: #9

2014-15 CW Award Winners: None

2014-15 CW All-Stars: Tommy Nixon (First Team)

2014-15 CW All-Rookie Team: None

Points leader: Tommy Nixon (20.8)

Rebounds leader: Tommy Nixon (7.9)

Assists leader: Jordan Jensen-Whyte (5.3)

Steals leader: Tommy Nixon (1.9)

Blocks leader: Conor Morgan (1.5)

2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals

Last CW Title: 2013

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds return to the Canada West Final Four in search of the program’s 11th conference title.

In his 15th year at the helm of the Thunderbirds program, Kevin Hanson has done a remarkable job in 2014-15 turning a team that won just once in its first six games, into a 14 win season and third place finish in the Pioneer Division. UBC won 13 of its final 14 games of the regular season.

Last weekend the Thunderbirds continued their winning ways defeating the University of Northern BC 2-0 in the best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series. They head into the Final Four having won 15 of their last 16 games, including seven straight.

UBC led the conference in scoring during the regular season and were ranked sixth in the nation averaging 88.0 points per game. Fifth-year standout Tommy Nixon led the way, finishing first in the conference in scoring (20.8 points per game), fourth in field goal percentage (57.7%), and seventh in rebounds (7.9 rebounds per game). Nixon is one of six players on the team who average double-digits in scoring. The others are: Conor Morgan (13.9), Tonner Jackson (12.1), Kedar Wright (11.3), Jordan Jensen-Whyte (11.0), and Brylle Kamen (10.3).

The Thunderbirds will face the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West Final Four semifinal with the winner earning an automatic bid to the 2015 CIS Final 8 in Toronto, ON.

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