SPARTANS TO TAKE ON VISITING WINNIPEG, MANITOBA

Denny McDonald

MEN’S BASKETBALL (CANADA WEST)
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2012
WEEKEND PREVIEW

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SPARTANS TO TAKE ON VISITING WINNIPEG, MANITOBA

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Trinity Western men’s basketball team will look for its first home win of the season this weekend as it takes on the Winnipeg Wesmen Friday at 8 p.m. and the Manitoba Bisons Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre. Both games will be streamed live at www.canadawest.tv.

The Spartans, who are 2-4 on the season, are 0-2 at home this year after losing to now No. 3 UBC on back-to-back nights to open the season. Since then, they have gone on the road for four straight games where they split with both UNBC and Victoria.

Last year, the Spartans hosted Winnipeg and Manitoba in mid-November and it was TWU coming away with a pair of wins, beating the Wesmen 78-77 and the Bisons 95-68.

TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (2-4)
CIS ranking: NR
Pacific Division position: 5th (tied)
Last Weekend: Victoria 71-61 W, 77-63 L
Streak: 1 loss
2011-12 Pacific Division record: 10-8 (4th)
2012 playoffs: 0-2 (5th - tied)
2012 CIS tournament: N/A

The Spartans enter this weekend after a productive road trip to Vancouver Island that saw them earn a well-deserved split with then No. 10 Victoria. Now TWU will return home looking to build upon that success and find its way back to the .500 mark.

But if the Spartans are to garner victories, they’ll have to continue to do so without the services of a number of injured veterans. Last week, the Spartans played without Tristan Smith, Tonner Jackson, Eli Mara and, at times, Justin Bakuteka. With Smith and Jackson likely not returning this week, and Mara and Bakuteka still questionable, the Spartans will once again have to rely on Mark Perrin, Denny McDonald and a bevy of bench players who will be thrust into starting roles.

However, despite their recent rash of injuries, the Spartans were still competitive last weekend against what was a CIS Top 10 team and, along the way, saw the likes of Kurtis Osborne and Lucas Goossen put together quality performances. This weekend, they will need more of the same from their bench players and more of the same from both Perrin and McDonald.

Perrin, who is second in Canada West with 22.5 per game, has been nothing short of dynamic this season and was so especially last weekend, when he had a combined 51 points, 17 rebounds and six steals. Up front, the 6-foot-5 McDonald had one of his best games as a Spartan in Saturday’s loss as he earned a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards to go along with four steals. Trinity Western will need both players to be sharp this weekend if they are to earn wins on both nights.

Along with his impressive points per game, Perrin is also leading the team in rebounds with 7.2 per game (tied for 17th), steals, with 2.5 per game (5th) and 3-point shots made, with 2.7 per game (7th). Osborne is leading the team in blocked shots, with 0.8 per game (8th) and field goal percentage, at 52.8 per cent (9th).

As a team, through six games, the Spartans are averaging 79.0 points per game (7th in Canada West) while allowing 85.8 points per game (15th). They are averaging a field goal percentage of 41.3 (12th) while allowing the opposition to hit 48.1 per cent of its field goals (16th). The Spartans are second in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage, at 36.1 per cent, trailing only Calgary’s 40.8 per cent. Trinity Western is leading Canada West in steals, with 11.5 per game, and turnover margin, at +5.83.

The Spartans have won five games in a row against Winnipeg and six in a row against Manitoba.

WINNIPEG WESMEN (4-2)
CIS ranking: NR
Prairie Division position: 2nd (tied)
Last Weekend: Brandon 72-60 W, 103-72 W
Streak: 4 wins
2011-12 Prairie Division record: 4-16 (8th)
2012 playoffs: N/A
2012 CIS tournament: N/A

After winning just four games all last season, the Winnipeg Wesmen have already equaled that mark this year with wins over Brandon and Regina.

In his third year as the Wesmen head coach, Mike Raimbault has Winnipeg off to its best start since he joined the team in 2010. And for that, Winnipeg can look to an offence that has averaged 85.7 points per game, which has the Wesmen second in the conference and only trailing Saskatchewan’s 90.2 per game.

Leading that offence has been recently-acquired transfer Steven Wesley, who joined the Wesmen this fall after playing at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Through six games, Wesley has averaged a team-high 17.5 points per game (10th in Canada West) and 8.0 rebounds per game (tied for 6th).

Wesley has bolstered a Wesmen side that this year has largely relied on veterans Benny Iko, Travis Krahn, Andrew Cunningham and Nolan Gooding, the latter of which sat out last season due to a knee injury that required surgery.

While Wesley has been the star in the point’s category, the Wesmen high-scoring offence can largely be attributed to a balanced attack. Including Wesley, Winnipeg has four players who are averaging double-digit points per game as Iko has 13.5 per game (30th), Krahn 13.3 per game and Gooding 12.0 per game.

On the glass, along with Wesley, Iko has also averaged 8.0 boards per game as the pair has helped the Wesmen to an average of 39.8 rebounds per game (9th).

Last year’s leading scorer Mark McNee, who averaged a team-high 13.2 points per game in 2011-12, has been limited to just one game this year and just 13 minutes of action.  

As a team, the Wesmen are first in Canada West in assists/turnover ratio, at 1.6 and second in both turnover margin, at +4.83, and 3-point shots made, with 9.3 per game. Winnipeg also has a 46.3 field goal percentage (3rd) while averaging 17.0 assists per game (2nd), 10.2 steals per game (tied for 3rd) and 2.7 blocked shots per game (4th).

The last time Winnipeg beat TWU was Nov. 23, 2007 when they beat the Spartans 89-82.

MANITOBA BISONS (4-2)
CIS ranking: NR
Prairie Division position: 2nd (tied)
Last Weekend: Regina 104-91 W, 87-61 W
Streak: 3 wins
2011-12 Prairie Division record: 8-12 (5th)
2012 playoffs: N/A
2012 CIS tournament: N/A

Last year the Manitoba BIsons missed the playoffs by just one spot. In the end, their 8-12 record was bettered by Trinity Western’s 10-8 mark and that proved to be the difference between a playoff spot and an early end to the season.

This year, the Bisons goal is to make it back to the post-season. And with a 4-2 start to the year, they have got off to exactly the type of start they needed to compete in both Canada West and the Prairie Division.

Coming into Langley on a three-game winning streak, including a pair of victories over Regina last weekend and a win in the back half of its weekend series with Brandon, Manitoba will enter the Langley Events Centre a confident group.

Through six games, the Bisons are averaging 83.7 points per game (4th in Canada West) while giving up 74.7 points per game (5th). While its points per game average is certainly impressive, the real strength of this Manitoba side has been on the glass. The Bisons lead the conference with 43.8 rebounds per game and, playing a Spartans team that is tied for 11th in Canada West with 35.7 boards per game, will have a distinct advantage they will try to exploit come Saturday night. Leading the charge on the glass individually has been Yigit Ozsayiner, who is third in Canada West with 9.0 rebounds per game.

Offensively, the Bisons have been led by Stephan Walton, who has 22.2 points per game this year (3rd), and Jonar Huertas, who is averaging 15.0 points per game (tied for 24th). Walton also is tied for the conference lead in steals, with 2.7 per game and is second in Canada West in assists, with 6.3 per game.

The last time Manitoba beat TWU was Nov. 25, 2006, when it knocked off the Spartans 82-76.

-TW-

Last Updated: 2012-12-17
Author: Mark Janzen