The returning Brenden Bailey could be the missing piece to the Blues puzzle
Carlo Javier // Editor-in-Chief
Photo c/o Vancouver Sports Pictures
Shortly before the start of last season, Brenden Bailey withdrew himself from the Capilano University Blues men’s basketball team. The guard was a likely starter for an upstart Blues team, but his decision to leave was driven by anything but the sport “I just needed a year off,” Bailey said, “To work, to recoup.”
Now back in blue, Bailey enters his third year of eligibility with a newfound level of maturity and discipline – plus a rekindled passion for the game he loves.
Bailey’s collegiate basketball days started with the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles in the 2014-2015 season. While the Eagles fell in the cellars of the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST), Bailey’s game stood out as one of the team’s few bright spots. He averaged 19 points a game, a number that topped all rookies and ranked second in the entire league. A year later, he transferred to the Blues and formed a dynamic backcourt with the sharpshooting combo guard, Martin Bogajev.
Heading into the 2016-2017 season, Bailey was meant to be a key cog in a team that was primed to make a leap. The Blues had brought in a talented inside presence in Greet Gill, an exciting rookie guard in Wowie Untalan and welcomed the return of defensive stalwart Hassan Phills. Bailey’s late exit, compounded by the departure of a couple other players forced the Blues to adjust on the fly.
This year, the Blues once again enter the year with a host of fresh faces. The team will be fielding eight rookies and no fifth-year players. Phills and recent transfer forward, Denver Sparks-Guest stand as the their most experienced players, each entering their fourth year of eligibility. Much of the team is new, and Bailey’s return couldn’t have come at a better time.
According to Head Coach, Cassidy Kannemeyer, last year’s team often struggled when Untalan went to the bench. The shortage of primary ballhandlers with the ability to create scoring opportunities for both themselves and their teammates was one of the Blues’ weaknesses last year. For Kannemeyer, Bailey’s return can alleviate that concern. “We struggled in stretches when Wowie came off the floor last year,” he said. “They will play together, but I also envision that one of them will be on the floor at all times.”
Bailey himself has known Untalan for many years and sees their games meshing well with one another. “I think we complement each other really well,” he said. “We like to get up the court, we like to run and gun, two fast guards who can pass the ball really well.”
An attack guard, Bailey’s ability to break down defences and draw two or more defenders will be integral to the Blues’ spacing. “Brenden has premier one on one ability,” said Kannemeyer. “He’s able to create space between him and his defender to rise up and make contested jumpers.”
Last year, forward Greet Gill led the team with 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. Having decided against returning to the Blues, Gill left a void that will need to be filled. Though Bailey fully intends to expand his offensive game and improve as a facilitator, his natural scoring talents will surely be needed. Gill’s 17 points per game last year was just one of two Blues scorers to rank in the top 25 in the PACWEST, and historically speaking, Bailey has fared well in the league in terms of getting buckets.
While Bailey’s contributions on the court will certainly be integral to the Blues’ success, it’s what he brings off the court – especially in practices – that can really help catapult the Blues to the next level. “Brenden has shown a rejuvenated approach to practice in general,” said Kannemeyer. “His approach is infectious to his teammates and he seems like he has a joy in his life back.”
A year off from PACWEST play has Bailey anxious to get the season started. An early season match up with the Langara College Falcons will bring the Blues head-to-head with a bevy of former teammates, including the likes of Bogajev, EJ Mabone and Malik Holmes.
One game that Bailey has set his sights on is their first rematch against the Vancouver Island University Mariners on Nov. 18. The Mariners, led by last year’s player of the year and top scorer, Usama Zaid, beat the Blues for the gold medal in the PACWEST playoffs. Zaid, who broke a variety of scoring records last year is poised to lead the Mariners again this year, but Bailey is more than ready for the marquee match up. “I got him [Zaid] though,” he said, confidently.
The Blues are clearly on the rise, and Kannemeyer believes that Bailey could truly help push the men’s basketball team over the hump. “If Brenden plays hard on every single play on both ends the sky is the limit for him and our team, he’s a true X Factor,” he said.
After missing a year’s worth of competition, you could bet Bailey will leave it all on the floor.