Brent Mutis, CapU Sport Information & Compliance Officer
If heartbreak was some sort of advanced stat tracked by basketball analysts, they'd have gotten a massive sample size from the 2019-20 Capilano Blues men's basketball team.
The Blues started the season 0-5 and in the home opener against Langara, they sustained their first of five losses by five points or less on the season when the visitors drew up a last-second in-bounds lob for the winning bucket in an 89-87 final.
Despite the slow start, one high point was the rebounding of import transfer Dawit Nuguse who posted double-digit rebounds in five of the first seven games and wound up leading the PACWEST in average boards for most of the season before being overtaken in the category late in the season.
Nov. 23 saw the first Blues win of the season, a 78-66 win over Okanagan College that split a weekend set hosted at CapU. Third-year guard CJ Campbell scored 17 points and handed out eight assists in the victory.
Closing out the first half Nov. 29 and 30, the Blues dropped a road decision to No. 1-ranked Douglas College and also lost guard Grady Huskisson, who sustained a serious ankle injury, but rebounded for a thorough 93-69 defeat of Columbia Bible College (CBC). Shooting guard Michael Kelly, who was slowed at the start of the year recovering from a foot injury, began to show his true form right before the holiday break as he went for 18 and then 29 in the final two games of November. The North Vancouver native nit nine threes in the two games, including seven at home against CBC.
The New Year brought the return of 2015 PACWEST Rookie of the Year Martin Bogajev and 6-foot-7 forward Sam Bailey. The long-range bombing of Bogajev and Bailey's all-around game were welcome as Kelly joined Huskisson on the sidelines, also with a serious ankle injury.
The Blues dropped the first five games of 2020 including a narrow two-point loss to Vancouver Island University (VIU) Jan. 25 and a three-point setback Jan. 31 to Camosun which moved their record to 2-11 heading to the final month of the regular season.
Bogajev found another gear in February as he averaged 21.2 points per game over five games, including 31 in a 98-69 win over CBC.
Third-year forward Nathan Bromige, the only Blues player to start all 18 games on the season, led the team in scoring in each of the final two games and helped the Blues to a 93-92 victory over Langara in the last game of the regular season.
Heartbreak was not done with the Blues yet as they hosted the PACWEST postseason tournament. Playing in front of a packed gym at CapU's Centre for Sport and Wellness, the Blues tangled with Okanagan College in a thrilling game that saw the home side leading by 13 at halftime and by nine after three quarters. The Blues led almost the entire game, getting 28 points from Bogajev, but were poor from the free-throw line late while OC went 10-for-10 in securing an 82-80 win.
The Blues had no graduating fifth-year players and will hope the experience of the returning players helps in the 2020-21 season.
"… in the locker room I talked more so about how it was a good game. (We) executed really well before that to tie it... ran the play perfectly out of our timeout, guys hit big shots down the stretch. We come out of that timeout, we don't talk and (Langara) coach (Paul) Eberhardt draws up a lob play right at the bucket; we get beat on a play that really should never happen."
- Blues coach Cassidy Kannemeyer after a last-second loss to Langara Nov. 8
"He wants to be someone who can impact the game in every tracked statistic... and if that's what Sam wants, I'll help him get there."
- Kannemeyer on the developing game of Sam Bailey