Print Edition: March 4, 2015
Early into 2014, the Cascades basketball teams were dominating their regular season schedules and were showing no signs of slowing down. Then there was a shift: Canada West announced a change to their basketball conferences, putting the Cascades in the new Explorers division and dissolving the current Pacific and Prairie format. The Explorer division would include the six newest teams in Canada West basketball, where the larger Pioneers division would include 11 teams, including three of the four “final four” teams from last year.
This week Chris Bertram, interim athletic director at UFV, confirmed that there had indeed been conversation about new possible formats for the upcoming season. Bertram confirmed the proposed Pacific, Mountain, and Prairie divisions, or a 7-5-5 division structure, but noted that it’s still in the works.
“You are weighing out things like what the competitive balance will be within a season [and] how that could potentially be balanced by the playoff structure,” he said.
Bertram reiterated that the committee would first have to vote on the two structures, and then vote on whether or not to implement that structure for the 2015-2016 season.
Whether the new structure will begin next season is unknown.
“I think we are really close on consensus on what the new structure looks like,” he said. “The only question in my mind is when it would begin. We [UFV] are obviously pushing for next season, but that would have to be voted on and approved by the leadership at Canada West.”
Head coach of the women’s basketball team Al Tuchscherer hopes it will be changed by next season.
“I think that there is a lot of things that make us look pretty silly as a conference,” he said. “You have lower seeds having a potentially easier path to go to the conference championship. I think that is not visually appealing to anybody [and] I don’t think that it is positive for our conference.
“I see only one solution to this and that is to change it to a more realistic system.”
Tuchscherer, whose season is over after losing to the Regina Cougars last weekend, had insight into why the two divisions look so unbalanced on paper.
“I look at teams like Grant McEwan and Thompson Rivers, [who] are playing Alberta and Victoria. Alberta and Victoria have both been through the battles all year, they are battle-tested. Those teams [TRU and McEwan] aren’t, necessarily,” he said. “When you play 16 of your games against teams that aren’t Saskatchewan and Regina [two of the top teams in the Pioneers division] you aren’t ready for that level.”
On the other side of the table is men’s basketball star Kevon Parchment who admitted, after the team’s win Saturday night, that there is an added element of pressure when coming from the so called “weaker” division.
“We definitely feel like there is a little pressure on our division and we feel like we are going to make a surprise,” he said. The yearning to be a surprise to Canada West basketball fans comes from a Cascades squad who lost only one player from a year ago and are now one game away from a trip to the nationals.
Canada West executive director Diane St. Denis stated that when the current model was implemented, it was “the best competitive format the members could see for the association.” She noted that competitive formats need to be voted on by two-thirds of the membership.
“Through more dialogue we may be getting to the point where we may make an adjustment, but we are still in the dialogue phase,” she added.