Three-point shooting and up-tempo offence are boosting the Blues to a strong regular season finish
GRETA KOOY // CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
Despite a rocky start to their season, the Capilano University Blues men’s basketball team is beginning to see the results they’ve been working towards. Though their record stands at eight wins and six losses, they still hold the second seed in the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST), trailing only the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners who are ranked second in the country. The team’s reinvigorated offence should allow them to finish strong and make a solid push in the PACWEST playoffs.
Bouncing back from three straight losses to the Langara Falcons, the Camosun Chargers and VIU at the beginning of the season, the Blues finished the year off winning games against the Douglas College Royals and Columbia Bible College Bearcats. In January, the team started strong, winning back-to-back games against CBC but then dropped a pair of games against VIU the following weekend.
Winning their next two games against the Quest University Kermodes, however, could get the ball rolling for the team. “We had a chip on our shoulder from last weekend, losing two games at home,” said fourth-year transfer forward, Denver Sparks-Guest. The talented player has been one of the team’s key factors on offence this year, putting up the second most points per game in the PACWEST, at 21.4 per contest. “A lot of us were pretty motivated to get up there and work our hardest against Quest, and it showed and paid off,” he added.
With only four games left to play in the regular season, the Blues will be looking to their key offensive players to end their season successfully. “I score a lot, but the offence is meant to get everyone a touch and an option, an opportunity to score,” said Hassan Phills, the Blues’ co-captain.
“It starts with Wowie [Untalan] and then Brenden [Bailey] and CJ [Campbell]. Those three guys… do a tremendous job at getting the ball up to the two-man and three-man right away,” said head coach Cassidy Kannemeyer.
Playing a faster game over last season, the Blues rely in part on the quick decision making of various players. “Our post players all have the ability to take multiple dribbles and assess the defence in front of them and make plays based on that defence,” said Kannemeyer, adding that the ball is moving much quicker up the floor thanks to the altruism of the team’s key players.
As it stands, the Blues are ranked third in the PACWEST in points per game, averaging 86.9, and third in field goals made per game at 31.9. “Offensively… it’s a lot of continuity, which means we basically cycle through the offence with a bunch of options,” said Phills. “We like to get [the ball] to the second side of our offence as soon as possible.”
Although the team’s offensive strategies remain similar to last season’s, Kannemeyer has simplified things. “The guys are thinking less and sort of reading the defense more, which is good, they’re just reacting,” he said. This “proactive reaction,” as he calls it, means faster responses from players and more shots at the hoop. “Communicating is one of the biggest things,” said Phills. “We echo our sets so that everyone’s on the same page,” he added.
The Blues are ranked fifth in total rebounds per game, with 14.6 per game coming on offence and 30.7 on defense. “I think we do a good job at handling our defensive glass most nights, but I know that teams like Camosun and VIU and Douglas have very good offensive rebounding numbers,” said Kannemeyer.
Where the Blues are finding their most solid numbers, however, is beyond the arc. With an average of 10.4 three-pointers finding the basket per night, the team is ranked first in the PACWEST in three pointers made per game, and second in attempts (31.4) and percentage (33.2).
Many frontcourt players on the team have the ability the move the ball up the court quickly as well, most notably co-captain Niko Mottus, Nathan Bromige and Denver Sparks-Guest. “When they get the rebound, they can just go. That’s a tremendous advantage for us,” said Kannemeyer. “Our offence and everybody on our team is pretty fast… We get the ball moving quickly. The faster you go, the quicker you move, the more shots you get to take,” added Sparks-Guest, “I’ve been lucky enough to hit a few of them,” he said humbly.
With back to back games against Camosun this past weekend, the Blues exhibited their offensive prowess. Falling behind early in both games they fought their way back twice with a combination of tight defence and impressive scoring, splitting the series. Playing the third-ranked Langara Falcons next weekend, the Blues will have to keep their pace up to see the results they want.