Following the herd

Mid-season report

With each Bison team taking a month off for the winter break, the Manitoban decided it was an ideal time to see how each team is doing heading into the second half of the season.


Men’s basketball

Record: 8-2

Record in last six games: 5-1

Team leader in rebounds per game: Wyatt Anders (11.5, second in conference)

Analysis: The men have seen a huge turnaround from last season, showing tremendous character despite setbacks to two of their captains. Amir Ali is out for an extended time with a torn ACL, while Stephan Walton has been hampered by a hamstring injury. The team has kept their focus up, relying on balanced scoring. AJ Basi (sixth), Andre Arruda (24th), Justus Alleyn (29th), and Jonathan Alexander (37th), are all in the top 50 in points per game, with each putting up double digits in that category.

Playoff projection: Sitting in a tie for first place, this team is one of the hottest in the Canada West right now due to their depth at each position and ability to score from anywhere on the court. They lead the conference in points per game, at 85.4, and head coach Kirby Schepp has the group believing in their abilities. Key matchups with Victoria and Alberta right after the break will have a big say in where this team finishes overall, but rest assured, they will see post season action and very well might host a home playoff game.


Women’s basketball

Record: 1-9

Record in last six games: 1-5

Team leader in points per game: Robyn Eyer (13.3, 20th in conference)

Analysis: The women are coming off of their first win of the Canada West season and will look to take that momentum into the second half of the year. Losing Allison Balasko to a long term shin injury has hurt the team as she is big on the boards, and provides key leadership on the court.

Playoff projection: This team is still building chemistry with each other, and alongside first year head coach Michele Hynes, they likely have a long way to go before they become competitive in a very deep conference. The team is still young and will benefit from being able to develop a number of young players.


Men’s volleyball

Record: 7-7

Record in last six games: 2-4

Team leader in blocks per set: Kenney Rooney (1.37, first in conference)

Analysis: After starting the season at 5-1, the men have sputtered over their last eight games, going 2-6. They have gone 5-1 against cellar dweller teams, such as Regina, UBC Okanagan, and Thompson Rivers , while getting swept by the top five teams in Brandon, and Trinity Western. Despite falling to .500, Manitoba has been competitive in every contest, and has a steady set of impact players, led by captains Rooney, Kevin Falconer, and Adam DeJonckheere.

Playoff projection: The team currently sits just out of a playoff spot, right behind Saskatchewan and Mount Royal. Matchups just after the break against those two teams will be crucial in determining if the Bisons make the post-season. Faced with a similar situation last year with basically the same squad, there is a strong chance that Manitoba can battle through and make the playoffs. Having Garth Pischke, the coach with the most wins in North American history will also help down the stretch.


Women’s volleyball

Record: 6-8

Record in last six games: 3-3

Team leader in kills per set: Rachel Cockrell (4.82, first in conference)

Analysis: Losing key contributors from last year’s National championship team—Emily Erickson and Taylor Pischke—has hurt this team. The squad has gotten big numbers from Rachel Cockrell, Brittany Habing, and Caleigh Dobie, and their play in the second half of the year be will a defining factor in Manitoba’s record at season’s end.

Playoff projection: Manitoba has played tough against a number of top five teams so far, and has a favorable schedule in the second half, facing lower rung teams in Mount Royal, Saskatchewan, and MacEwan. They are right in the pack, sitting just outside a playoff spot, and if they can peak at the right time theycould be dangerous to play against.


Men’s hockey

Record: 8-10-0

Record in last six games: 3-3

Team leader in points: Jordan DePape (17, eight goals, nine assists, eighth in conference)

Analysis: A young squad, the men’s hockey team has shown flashes of brilliance in wins against Mount Royal, and a sweep against second place Calgary this season. However, they have looked overwhelmed in certain games, specifically against first place Alberta. Goalie Deven Dubyk has been outstanding, while 2013-14 standouts DePape, Aaron Lewadniuk, and Taylor Dickin have all been big again this year on a young Manitoba squad, along with first year Bison Shaquille Merasty.

Playoff projection: Alberta, Calgary, and Mount Royal have begun to separate themselves at the top of the Canada West pack; however, the final three playoff spots are wide open. Just four points separate the teams from fourth to seventh in the conference. Manitoba currently sits in sixth, but a strong second-half push could easily land them a home playoff game.


Women’s hockey

Record: 8-2-6

Record in last six games: 3-3

Team leader in points: Alanna Sharman (16, 10 goals, six assists, tied for second in conference)

Analysis: Another very young team, the women have silenced any doubters while en route to a successful first half. Led by passionate captain Maggie Litchfield-Medd, this team is fast and energetic, focusing on a dump-and-chase style of play. The rookie Sharman hasn’t played like a first-year athlete, providing a big impact in every game. Rachel Dyck has also been a rock in net, leading the Canada West in save percentage and goals against average.

Playoff projection: Manitoba has proved that they can beat any team in the conference, and sit right in the hunt for a first round bye, just one point out of second place and three points out of first. With games against bottom three teams, in Lethbridge, Mount Royal, and Regina, the Bison’s chances of staying at the top of the pack look strong.