Cascade men host Lethbridge in CIS playoff opener

The University of the Fraser Valley men's basketball team plays the Lethbridge Pronghorns in a best-of-three CIS series.

  • Feb. 23, 2012 10:00 a.m.

Dan Kinvig,

Black Press

To be sure, earning the right to host a first-round Canada West playoff series is heady stuff for the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team.

But don’t try telling either of the Cascades that they’re favoured heading into their respective best-of-three set, which tips off on tonight at the Envision Athletic Centre. They’ll swat away that notion like a weak finger-roll in the lane.

“We’ll relish the role of underdog,” said UFV men’s head coach Barnaby Craddock, looking ahead to his team’s clash with the Lethbridge Pronghorns.

Cue the sound of a needle scratching across a spinning record.

The underdog label seems like a square-peg, round-hole scenario for Craddock’s Cascades – they’re ranked No. 4 in the nation, and are viewed as a legit threat to advance to the CIS national championships. They finished the Canada West regular season with a 13-5 record to earn the Pacific Division’s No. 2 seed, while Lethbridge, the No. 3 seed from the Prairie Division, barely finished above .500 at 11-9. The UFV men, furthermore, fashioned a sparkling 8-1 record at home.

But as it happens, that lone homecourt defeat came at the hands of the Pronghorns – they won 87-78 back on Jan. 7. That game ended with Craddock spiking his suit jacket on the hardwood – part of a late-game tirade at the referees that saw the UFV bench boss ejected.

His displeasure with the officiating that night aside, Craddock emphasizes his team was out-played by the Pronghorns. And if there were any danger about the lofty national ranking inflating the Cascades’ collective ego, facing Lethbridge in the first round ensures they’ll be a hungry, focused group.

“They really took it to us, so I guess in a way, against this team specifically, we are underdogs,” UFV power forward Kyle Grewal said, echoing his coach. “They’re the only team that beat us in our gym this season, and we’ve got to show everyone that we can play better.”

Point guard Daryl Cooper is Lethbridge’s leading scorer at 16.2 points per game, but it’s the Pronghorns’ depth in the post that makes them a tough foe. They boast a stout starting frontcourt in 6’6″ power forward Dominyc Coward (15.0 points per game, 9.8 rebounds) and 6’7″ centre Derek Waldner (9.6 points, 7.7 rebounds), and they have the luxury of bringing in 6’10” Nikola Kovac off the bench.

The Cascades have their own terrific post trio in Grewal (6’6″), Jasper Moedt (6’7″) and Mike James (6’6″, pictured above). Those players helped UFV win the rebounding battle most nights – they were third in Canada West with a +6.4 rebounding margin. But Lethbridge was right behind them in fourth, at +6.0.

“Perhaps there are some teams where we have a size advantage, but Lethbridge isn’t one of them,” noted Craddock. “It’s been a long season, a lot of work to get to this point, and we’re antsy to get the playoffs started.”

Just Posted

RCMP’s auto theft team nabs Chilliwack suspect

Kao Daniel Macaulay, well-known to police, arrested in stolen red Honda on March 20

UPDATE: Man with gunshot wound drives into ditch on Chilliwack River Road

Serious crimes investigators believe early morning shooting to be targeted

WATCH: Rally at MP’s office Friday in Chilliwack to stop KM pipeline

Water samples from Chilliwack rivers were delivered to MP Strahl’s office in a symbolic gesture

No red flags in expense audit, says former Fraser Health boss who fired Murray

Wynne Powell said report showed need for tighter rules, but didn’t suggest abuse of expense claims

Garrison store going to new heights for children’s charity

Save-On Foods employees raising cash for BC Children’s Hospital, by throwing managers from airplane

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

B.C. pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions from around B.C. for National Puppy Day 2018

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

B.C. officials failed to tell Kiwis Fraser Health CEO had been fired in 2014

New Zealand spending scandal exposes Dr. Nigel Murray 2014 exit from B.C. job

PHOTOS: Students exhibit stunning paper couture dresses

22 paper made gowns will be on display at Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre until March 27

Most Read