MB Trinity Western Spartans put on a new face

Trinity Western Spartans put on a new face
By Howard Tsumura - Vancouver Province Link to story

LANGLEY — The Trinity Western Spartans knew they had to find a new identity this coming Canada West men’s basketball season.

After losing in last season’s CIS championship final to Carleton and then facing the prospect of life as a team without graduated superstars Jacob Doerksen and Tyrell Mara, questions marks where everywhere as the Langley-based team prepared to play host to the NCAA Div. 1 Santa Clara University Broncos on Tuesday night at the Langley Events Centre.

Players like Doerksen and Mara aren’t easily replaced by anyone, but what the Spartans showed in going to overtime to top the Broncos 108-100 in a game marred by an injury to Broncos’ star forward and Vancouver College grad Marc Trasolini, was a mindset of letting go of the past and forging a new way to find victories.

“They were the very core of our team,” said TWU senior scoring guard Calvin Westbrook, who scored a game-high 32 points. “Tyrell with his hustle and incredible defence and Jacob was one of the best offensive threats this confernece has ever seen. So we knew we had to re-shape everything we did, we knew we had to re-invent ourselves.”

On Tuesday, against a young Broncos team which lost Trasolini — it’s second-leading scorer and it’s leading rebounder from a season ago — to a knee injury just two minutes into the game, the re-invented Spartans were all about going up-tempo and pushing the ball.

First on Trasolini: The former Province Head of the Class honouree explained after the game that he had no idea what happened to his knee.

“Something happened to my knee, I am not sure,” said Trasolini. “It was on a layup. I just extended it some how. It’s frustrating. It’s really disappointing.”

Trasolini said he expected to see a doctor to determine the exact extent of the injury. He came out at halftime and took shots with his teammate, but then returned to the sidelines. He said he had no idea whether he’s be able to play any more games on the Broncos’ four-game Lower Mainland excursion which continues Thursday at UBC.

Getting back to the Spartans, newcomer Sean Peter, a 6-foot-3 fifth-year wing player and transfer from the Ottawa Gee-Gees, immedaitely gives TWU a meaner streak on the defensive end of the floor. And Peter was clearly not willing to back down from anyone on the offensive end, finishing with 17 points through his combative offensive drives and his quickness to loose balls.

Peter, returning point guard Tristan Smith and newcomer Justin Bakuteka from Toronto, have teammed together to give head coach Scott Allen a level of athleticism on the perimetre that the program has never had before.

Smith finished with 10 points and eight assists while Bakuteka had nine points and eight rebounds.

As well, in a season in which the tempo dictates that a number of players step up and regularly push past the 20-ppg mark, Westbrook and Kyle Coston were very effective.

Coston, who came alive in last season’s CIS tourney, seemed to pick up right where he left off. On Tuesday, after the Broncos erased a pair of 10-point Trinity Western leads, it was Coston who picked his team up, draining three treys and laying down a dunk for 11 points in a span of just over two minutes late in the fourth quarter.

In fact when Westbrook followed with a trey of his own with 2:56 left in regulation for an 82-78 lead, the Spartans seemed to have control of the game.

But the Broncos, who dominated the offensive glass all evening, kept manufacturing shot attempts, and guard Kevin Foster, who last season led the NCAA in made three-pointers, drained a three-pointer at the buzzer from 15-feet outside the arc to send the game into overtime.

Trinity took early control of the extra frame, getting a tough catch-and-shoot jumper from Westbrook and Coston’s fifth trey of the contest to take an early lead. They then proceeded to go 7-of-8 from the free throw line down the stretch to put the game away.

Foster, who fouled out with 1:25 remaining in overtime, was three steals shy of a triple double with a team-high 23 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals.

Last Updated: 2012-03-07
Author: Mark Janzen