EDMONTON - There are high expectations for the Golden Bears this season, as they enter the season ranked No. 5 nationally, and No. 1 in the pre-season Canada West Coaches Poll.
The Alberta men opened their conference schedule last weekend in Lethbridge, sweeping the No. 10 ranked Pronghorns, highlighted by a 22-point win on Saturday.
Coming off a 15-5 regular season in 2018/19, the Bears are aiming for their first Canada West title since 2016, and a fourth-straight trip to the U SPORTS National Championship. The Bears have never qualified for nationals in four straight years in program history.
GOLDEN BEARS SEASON PREVIEW
2018-19 CW regular season record: 15-5, 3rd in CW
2018-19 CW post-season record: 2-3, lost CW SF to UBC
Head coach: Barnaby Craddock (8th season) / 106-38 (Career CW reg. season record)
Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2017 / 12
Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2002 / 3
2018-19 CW regular season ranks:
Offence: 84.8 PPG, 7th
Defence: 72.5 PPG, 2nd
2018-19 CW regular season leaders:
Points per game: 19.8 – Brody Clarke, F
Assists per game: 3.9 – Tyus Jefferson, G
Rebounds per game: 11.0 – Brody Clarke, F
Blocks per game: 0.9 - Brody Clarke, F
Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):
Max Russell / G / 1 / Cardston, AB / Cardston High School
Jack MacPherson / F / 1 / St. Albert, AB / Paul Kane High School
Daniel McLaren / F / 1 / Edmonton, AB / Jasper Place High School
Coming off a stellar rookie season, which saw him earn the Canada West Rookie of the Year Award, the Alberta Golden Bears are expecting a big season from sophomore forward Adam Paige.
With reigning U SPORTS All-Canadian Brody Clarke sidelined to start the season with an injury, Paige will be the Bears primary post threat early on.
Paige averaged 8.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last year, averaging just 23 minutes and seven shots per game. Both of those totals should climb dramatically this season for the Surrey, BC native.
Along with returning veterans Tyus Jefferson, Andre Kelly, Ivan Ikomey and Dwan Williams, the Golden Bears are a threat to reach the U SPORTS Championship for a program record fourth-straight year.
2019-20 CW MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
Team / Points (First-place votes)
1. Alberta Golden Bears / 244 (6)
2. UBC Thunderbirds / 240 (6)
3. Calgary Dinos / 237 (5)
4. Regina Cougars / 189
5. Saskatchewan Huskies / 183
6. Lethbridge Pronghorns / 169
7. Winnipeg Wesmen / 161
8. Manitoba Bisons / 155
9. Thompson Rivers WolfPack / 138
10. Victoria Vikes / 136
11. Fraser Valley Cascades / 127
12. Mount Royal Cougars / 90
13. Brandon Bobcats / 73
14. UBCO Heat / 46
15. UNBC Timberwolves / 44
16. *Trinity Western Spartans / 40
17. MacEwan Griffins / 40
NOTES: * TWU receives higher ranking thanks to greater number of higher-place votes. First-place votes worth 16 pts., second-place 15 pts. etc.