Wednesday August 20, 2014






The Playoff Puzzle

TRU still unsure where it fits in Canada West postseason
Murray Mitchell

Jorri Duxbury (6) and the TRU WolfPack women’s basketball team have their work cut out for them in the final two weeks of the Canada West regular season.

The math, as it turns out, is actually pretty simple for the TRU WolfPack women’s basketball team.

The WolfPack has three games remaining in the Canada West regular season — it will play the Fraser Valley Cascades in Abbotsford on Friday and Saturday, before taking on the UBC-Okanagan Heat in Kelowna on Feb. 16.

TRU is going to playoffs — it knows this. But where it will play its opening best-of-three series remains up in the air.

As of today, the WolfPack can finish anywhere from first to fourth in Canada West’s Pacific Division. TRU would desperately love to crack the top two, meaning it would play host to a first-round series.

There are dozens of possibilities, but, for the WolfPack, it comes down to one thing.

“We have to win out to get first or second,” said TRU head coach Scott Reeves.

It’s almost that simple. A split with the Cascades would likely give Fraser Valley one of the top two spots, with the UBC Thunderbirds or Victoria Vikes getting the other.

Fraser Valley (15-3) sits first in the division, followed by UBC (14-4), TRU (14-5) and UVic (13-5).
UBC and Victoria will play a home-and-home set to end the regular season on Feb. 15-16 — what happens in it will affect the WolfPack’s placement.

If TRU wins out, and UBC sweeps the Vikes, the WolfPack would finish second behind the Thunderbirds.

If TRU wins out and Victoria sweeps UBC, the WolfPack would finish first.

If TRU wins out, and UBC and Victoria split their games, the WolfPack would finish third or fourth.

In simple terms, the WolfPack needs to sweep and needs either UBC or UVic to sweep as well.

“We would . . . like one of those teams to sweep,” Reeves said. “A split is no good for us.”

If the WolfPack wants a sweep, perhaps Abbotsford isn’t the place to look for one. The Cascades have been excellent at home, winning all eight of their games there.

“They shoot the ball incredibly well at home,” Reeves said. “Their percentage at home versus on the road . . . it’s about 15 per cent better. They really like playing at home.”

The first round of the Canada West postseason features a cross-over between the Pacific and Prairie Divisions.

If the WolfPack has to travel in Round 1, it will head to Calgary or Regina — the Dinos and Cougars are both 15-3. If TRU plays host to a first-round series, it will welcome either the Saskatchewan Huskies (11-7), Lethbridge Pronghorns (10-8) or Alberta Pandas (10-8).

The first-round series would be Feb. 22-24.

* * *

Reeves said the WolfPack will try to slow down the games with the Cascades, in hopes of avoiding a run-and-gun style that would benefit Fraser Valley.

A slower game would allow the WolfPack to get the ball inside more often to star centre, Diane Schuetze, who was named the CIS’s athlete of the week on Wednesday.

Schuetze was incredible in her final two regular-season home games, averaging 25.5 points and 15 rebounds in a pair of victories over the Trinity Western Spartans. She was honoured by Canada West on Tuesday, and the CIS on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-3 senior from Vernon remains first in Canada West in average rebounds (12.3) and second in average scoring (18.8).

* * *

None of the other WolfPack teams will make the Canada West playoffs, but they are playing this weekend.
TRU’s men’s basketball team (6-13) is off to Abbotsford for games with the Cascades on Friday and Saturday.

The WolfPack volleyball teams are to play host to the Winnipeg Wesmen at the Tournament Capital Centre.

Those matches are to run on Friday, 6 and 7:45 p.m., and Saturday, 5 and 6:45 p.m.

Although they were eliminated from postseason contention last weekend, the WolfPack men (7-13) have an opportunity to play spoiler against the Wesmen. Winnipeg only needs to win one match to qualify for the playoffs, although it is looking good either way, as the Mount Royal Cougars (8-12) have a tough series with the powerful UBC Thunderbirds (13-7) in Vancouver on the weekend.

Winnipeg’s women, meanwhile, are fighting to get into playoff contention. The Wesmen (7-13) have an outside shot of making the playoffs, but will absolutely need to win twice this weekend.
TRU’s women are 0-20.

* * *

Shane Mainprize has been named the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League’s player of the month for January.
Mainprize, a goaltender, posted three consecutive home victories for the WolfPack (7-8-0-2), which now is third in the league.

TRU is home to Simon Fraser on Friday, 8:30 p.m., at Memorial Arena, before heading to Langley to play Trinity Western on Saturday afternoon.

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca


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