Two weekends to go and a victorious end is in sight
Last weekend brought with it two more victories for the University of Regina’s men’s basketball team. The team beat the University of Victoria Vikes both evenings. First, by a score of 85-73, and then a follow-up win with a nine point advantage at the final buzzer, 91-82. The Cougars now sit fourth in the Pioneer Division, where the top seven make it into the playoffs. The three teams currently above them, the University of Manitoba Bisons, University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, and the University of Calgary Dinos have all clinched playoff berths. Now, with two weekends left in the season – away at Calgary followed by at home against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies – the Cougs will be looking to punch their ticket to the post season for the first time in five seasons.
But what will that take? Well, while the 10-6 conference record that the team boasts is impressive, the seventh place team (the University of Alberta) is not all that far behind at 9-8.
Sealing the deal against Calgary looks to be a tough go. The Dinos are sitting atop the conference with a 14-3 record and have won their last ten in a row. The Cougars, for comparison, have only slung their last two wins together.
The U of S, on the other hand, seems to be a far more beatable team. The two squads have only clashed once this year – way back in the preseason – and the Huskies were victorious in that one. The tilt occurred at The Graham Construction Shootout way back in October and saw the Cougars lose by three, 90-87.
Late season games against the boys from Saskatoon haven’t treated the green and gold all that well, however. The last time the Cougars were in the CIS playoffs (2010-2011) they were bounced out in the quarterfinals by the Huskies, losing by a combined two-day total of forty.
So, what’s different this year? Well, for a start, the teams will be battling it out at the CKHS rather than the far more unfriendly confines that lie two hours north of here. The Cougars are 7-1 at home, compared to a 3-7 record away from the Queen City. It is not reaching to say that the team is fully capable of chowing down on some home cooking and securing their playoff futures.
Also, oh how the mighty have fallen. Yes, CIS sports go in cycles, but the Huskies are an uncharacteristic 6-10 in Can West play. This is a team far a flung from their heady national championship days.
If the Cougars can continue to play like they have been, together, their chances of making their mark in the post season are strong. This is the most athletic team that the school has seen in a long time, and coach Steve Burrows has the squad prepared to take the next step in its development.