BRADE AND RAGUSIN BREAK DOWN DINOS VS SPARTANS-watch final four live in person or online.

Men's Basketball (Canada West)
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Final Four

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BRADE AND RAGUSIN BREAK DOWN DINOS VS SPARTANS
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VANCOUVER - The no.2 ranked UBC Thunderbirds (21-2, 4-0) host the Canada West Final Four this weekend at War Memorial Gym after a successful defence of the Pacific Division crown last weekend. The T-Birds will be vying for their third straight CW Championship and sixth berth at the CIS Final 8 in the past seventh years. TWU is making their first trip to the Final Four since 2003. That season they earned a bronze medal with a win over the Regina Cougars after losing the opener against the Alberta.

The game will be available on a variety of media. Spartan Web Radio will be broadcasting the game live on gospartans.ca and Sports Canada TV will be video streaming the game at www.sportscanada.tv.

UBC welcomes the no.6 ranked and Central Division champion Calgary Dinos (17-5, 2-0), the Great Plains champion Brandon Bobcats (13-9, 2-1), and the Pac-D finalist Trinity Western Spartans (17-6, 2-3), who earned the wild card, to Vancouver.

With three CIS Top 10 teams and only two guaranteed spots at the CIS Final 8, the competition will be fierce as both spots for the National Championship in Ottawa will be determined after Friday's semi-finals.

The Thunderbirds and Bobcats meet in the second of the two semi-finals on Friday at 7:00 p.m. The two teams have played once before this season, with the T-Birds triumphing 87-74 on the road over the ‘Cats.

The first semi-final features the Dinos and Spartans in arguably one of the biggest CIS post-season games on the schedule this season. The one time these two ranked teams met this year was on January 24th in Langley with the hometown Spartans winning a close battle 83-79.

This week: Calgary vs. TWU, February 27, 2009, 5:00 p.m.; UBC vs. Brandon, February 27, 2009, 7:00 p.m. Bronze medal game, February 28, 2009, 5:00 p.m.; Championship game, February 28, 2009, 7:00 p.m.

A LOOK AT THE THUNDERBIRDS
The Thunderbirds come into this weekend having won 13 games in a row with their last loss coming to the Spartans on January 8th. Fifth-year guard Chris Dyck has been the T-Birds go-to guy in the playoffs and sits second in the CW with 24.3 points per game and has led UBC in scoring in each of their post-season games. The Winnipeg native is shooting 64.7% from the field, fifth best in the CW, and 65.2% from three-point land, fourth best in the CW, in the T-Birds four playoff games. Point guard Josh Whyte saw his first action since late January last weekend and averaged 11 points, 3.5 assists, three rebounds and two steals while playing an average of just 19 minutes per game. Blain LaBranche also hits double figures in scoring (13.8 ppg) and ranks first on the team with 3.8 assists per game. The T-Birds have the top scoring offence (90.5 points per game), field goal percentage (49.0%), and scoring margin (+ 15.0) in the CW while ranking second in three-point shooting (44.3%), assists (17.3), and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4). The UBC defence has also been solid, as they hold their opponents to a league low field goal percentage of 34.4%.

A LOOK AT THE DINOS
The Dinos won a pair of close games over the Alberta Golden Bears (91-85, 82-78) to take the Central Division crown after having a first round bye in the post-season. The Bekkering brothers were the key for Calgary last weekend with fourth-year Ross averaging 23.5 points and 11 rebounds per game, ranking fourth and second respectively in the CW, while fifth-year Henry is averaging 20.5 points and six rebounds in the playoffs. As it was during the regular season for the Dinos, the ‘big four' for Calgary of the two Bekkerings, Robbe Sihota and Tyler Fidler carried the load against Alberta. The quartet averaged more than 27 minutes per game across the board and combined for 64.5 points and 30 rebounds per game. Calgary's offence ranks second behind UBC in playoff scoring (86.5 points per game) and field goal percentage (48.1%) while ranking third in assists (17.0). As a team, they lead the league with 44 rebounds per game and averaged five blocked shots per game versus Alberta. They held the Golden Bears to 41.5% field goal shooting, middle of the pack in the CW, and struggled with three-point shooting, ranking eighth out of 10 teams at 30.6%.

A LOOK AT THE BOBCATS
The Bobcats bested the Regina Cougars 2-1 in the Great Plains Divisional Final and won a nail bitter third game 78-76 after trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half. Dany Charley was the Bobcats number one offensive weapon versus the Cougars and is averaging 22.6 points, eight rebounds, and a CW-best four steals per game in post-season play while playing just over 30 minutes. The duo of Rejean Chabot and Tarik Tokar log even more minutes for the ‘Cats playing 36 and 39 respectively. Chabot ranks second on the team in scoring (16.3) with Tokar third (11.3) with both players averaging 5.7 assists per game, tying them atop the conference in post-season play. Steven Marcelin, who plays 26 minutes per game, ranks fifth in the conference with 8.7 boards per contest. The Bobcats rank middle of the pack in both scoring offence (81) and scoring defence (75) but they have the third best scoring margin (+4.3) in the CW playoffs. They top the conference in free-throw shooting at 83.7% (41-of-49) and allow the fewest rebounds per game to their opponents (33.3).

A LOOK AT THE SPARTANS
Despite losing to the Thunderbirds in the Pac-D Finals, the Spartans season is still alive as they were awarded the wild card spot in the Final Four. Lack of consistency on the offensive side of the ball has hindered the Spartans so far in the playoffs, having had four different players lead the team in scoring over their five post-season games. CW MVP candidate Jacob Doerksen has struggled with his scoring touch, averaging just 13.5 points per game in the playoffs compared to 20.4 during the regular season. He is still dominating the ‘boards, hauling down 13.2 per game in the post-season, but Louis Hurd has taken over as primary scorer for the Spartans. Hurd is averaging 15.6 points per game, thanks in large part to the 18 three-pointers he has made over the last five games, with Brian Banman also cracking double figures (13.0). TWU ranks second last in scoring offence (71.4) in the CW post-season and sports a -5.8 scoring margin. They have shot just 39.1% from the field, however, they have help their opponents to a mark of only 40.4% shooting, second lowest in the conference. Some bright spots offensively is their third-ranked three-point shooting 35.8% and their league leading rebounding margin of +10.8.

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Last Updated: 2009-06-20
Author: Scott Stewart