Brent Mutis, CapU Sport Information & Compliance Officer
As the calendar flips to 2020, a heightened focus and commitment will be required on the hardcourt for Blues men's and women's hoops teams as CapU plays host to the PACWEST conference championships at the end of February.
There are just five weekends of regular-season play with which to prepare, an added wrinkle in the plans being that the Blues start 2020 with a bye, meaning it will be 48 days between games by the time tip-off comes around on January 17.
We'll have a look here at some key dates ahead as Blues basketball ramps up to the postseason.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 17 vs. DOUGLAS COLLEGE
There's no better way to fire up the second half of the schedule than against a cross-town, nationally ranked rival. On the women's side, the No. 11-ranked Royals come to CapU having put together a five-game win streak to conclude 2019 including a 73-66 overtime victory over the No. 15-ranked Blues on Nov. 29. Reiko Ohama started to find her shooting touch from three-point range in a Nov. 30 win over CBC with her five triples being more than she'd made in the previous seven games combined.
For the men, it's a demanding test right out of the gate as they'll be welcoming the No. 1-ranked team in the country to the Centre for Sport and Wellness. Last time they met, the host Royals posted an 80-59 win that saw Blues two-guard Grady Huskisson go down with an ankle injury. The bye week could be a bonus here for the Blues to allow Huskisson to get back to full health. Michael Kelly produced 18 points off the bench that night and dropped 29 the next night in a win over CBC that earned him the PACWEST Athlete of the Week honours. He'll look to pick up where he left off against the Royals.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1 vs. CAMOSUN COLLEGE
An afternoon Saturday start may not seem a likely game of note but this will be the final home game of the regular season for the Blues before they host the PACWEST provincial tournament. This game will be the second of a Friday-Saturday doubleheader against the Chargers and CapU will have to contend with conference leading scorer Tessa Lannon-Paakspuu, who averages almost five points a game more than the next highest scorer. Blues veteran Emma Cunningham had a big night against her former team the last time these two teams met which was the season opener on Nov. 1 at Camosun. The Victoria native was a tad below her season scoring average in the last few games heading into the break and would like to be rounding back to form with the postseason nearing.
It'll be the day before Groundhog Day but the Blues men's side will hope this one is not a repeat of the game they played at Camosun on Nov. 1. CapU had issues with ball control in the season opener including 12 turnovers in a second quarter where they were outscored 23-4. The Blues have taken better care of the ball and generally have been better organized since the opener. They'll need to be crisp against a talented Chargers lineup that features conference top-10 scorer Shaq Maharaj. Capilano should have the full services of CJ Campbell for this one; he didn't play a ton in the game at Camosun as he was nursing an injury. Campbell scored the most points in the PACWEST before the break and is just behined Maharaj in per-game scoring average.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27 - START OF PACWEST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT, HOSTED BY CAPILANO UNIVERSITY
The top-six teams from the women's and men's divisions will qualify for the playoffs with seeds No. 1 and 2 getting a bye to the semifinals. CapU's women's team has a fair shot at a bye in the first round as they enter the break sitting second in the PACWEST standings but with the first four games of 2020 being against nationally ranked opponents, inlcuding No. 1 Vancouver Island University (VIU) on January 25-26, points could be tough to come by as the Blues get underway in the second half.
On the men's side, the Blues are in a playoff position albeit the last one and just two points up on seventh-place CBC (click for standings). Wins in two of their last three games are encouraging but Douglas and VIU will be firm tests for the Blues to start off the second half. Ideally, Capilano will find a way to improve their place in the standings entering the postseason to give themselves the best chance possible to advance in the event hosted on their home court.
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