Men’s basketball season preview: Fifth-year backcourt, improved depth highlight Cascades’ 2016-17 squad

Vijay Dhillon (right) and Nav Bains (left) will be among the key contributors for the Cascades in 2016-17.

Vijay Dhillon (right) and Nav Bains (left) will be among the key contributors for the Cascades in 2016-17.

The University of the Fraser Valley basketball teams tip off the Canada West regular season at home this weekend, taking on the Saskatchewan Huskies on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) at the Envision Athletic Centre.

Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for students, seniors and UFV staff/faculty/alumni. UFV students and children age six and under are admitted free.

To celebrate opening weekend, school-aged students wearing their basketball jerseys (either from a school team or a club program) will be admitted free.

With the Canada West campaign fast approaching, we take a closer look at the Cascades men’s basketball program.

2015-16 Canada West season in review

Regular season record: 12-8, 2nd Explorer Division

Post-season record: 0-2, lost in CW quarter-finals

Offence: 74.5 points per game, 9th in CW

Defence: 73.2 points allowed per game, 5th in CW

Awards: Kevon Parchment – Canada West first team all-star and defensive player of the year, CIS second team All-Canadian

2016-17 ROSTER

2016-17 SCHEDULE

CANADA WEST PRESEASON COACHES POLL: No. 11

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The Cascades men’s basketball team boasts its deepest roster in recent years as it gears up for the 2016-17 campaign.

With last season’s top scorer Kevon Parchment wrapping up his eligibility in the spring, fifth-year guards Manny Dulay (Surrey, B.C.) and Vijay Dhillon (Richmond, B.C.) step to the forefront. The duo comprise arguably the best-shooting backcourt in the conference – Dhillon led Canada West in three-pointers made last season with 61 despite missing three games, and Dulay was eighth with 42. Both players shot north of 40 per cent from beyond the arc, and both will shoulder significant playmaking responsibilities in addition to stretches defences with their shooting.

“We expect them to be leaders, really run the offence and provide more of the playmaking aspect to the game than they have in years past,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said of Dulay and Dhillon. “They allow us to space the floor well, and their ability to shoot the three makes our posts’ lives easier and allows some of our wings who prefer to penetrate to have larger lanes to slash into.”

On the wing, a trio of transfer athletes – Andrew Morris (formerly of the UVic Vikes), Denver Sparks-Guest (SFU Clan) and Anthony Gilchrist (College of the Desert, Calif.) – infuse the Cascades with excellent size, skill and veteran seasoning. Local recruits Morris (Burnaby, B.C.) and Sparks-Guest (Coquitlam, B.C.) both stand 6’5”, while Cathedral City, Calif. product Gilchrist checks in at 6’4”.

Mark Johnson returns to the lineup after missing most of last season with a knee injury.

Mark Johnson returns to the lineup after missing most of last season with a knee injury.

Up front, the Cascades will rely on returnees Nav Bains, Matt Cooley and Mark Johnson, and newcomer Sukhman Sandhu. Bains (7.2 rebounds per game) and Cooley (6.0 rpg) were key performers last season, while Johnson is back in the lineup after missing almost all of last year recuperating from knee surgery. The 6’10” Sandhu (Surrey, B.C.) returns home after redshirting at California’s Yuba City College.

A pair of highly promising rookies straight out of high school – point guard Riley Braich (Abbotsford-Yale Secondary) and wing Daniel Adediran (Surrey-Pacific Academy) – will also be looking to contribute.

“We’re a deeper team, and as far as how the group fits together, we’re still figuring that out,” Friesen said. “I think we’ll be a competitive team. Canada West has a lot of balance to it this year, so if our veterans take the next step and our new players adjust quickly, we expect to have some success.”

The Cascades’ opponent this weekend, the Saskatchewan Huskies, is one of Canada West’s traditional powers, but missed the playoffs last season with an 8-12 record. Sophomore guard Chan De Ciman (12.5 points per game, 4.2 rpg) was a Canada West all-rookie selection last year, and forward Shane Osayande (13.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg) was second in the conference in rebounding.

“They’re a very tough, physical team, and in the preseason we’ve had troubles in two areas – turnovers and defensive rebounding,” Friesen said. “They’re going to challenge us big-time in those two areas.

“It’s exciting to get the regular season started . . . guys are feeling optimistic about the season, and looking forward to seeing what we can do when we’re fully healthy.”

All Cascades regular-season basketball games, both at home and on the road, can be viewed online at ufv.canadawest.tv.

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The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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