Capilano Blues Eye Fifth-Straight PACWEST Medal on Home Court in 2019-20

Errico, Sherrie
This season, the Blues will be without the services of Sherrie Errico as they look to win their fifth straight PACWEST medal, this time on their home court. (Source: Paul McGrath – North Shore News) (Header: Paul McGrath – North Shore News)

NORTH VANCOUVER, BC — If you’re reading this, it’s not too late.

The 2019-20 basketball season is right around the corner, and we’re here to help you get set for what will surely be an incredible journey.

While we’re still looking back on an incredible 2018-19 season, one that saw two teams win their first-ever National Championships in school history, it’s also the perfect time to look ahead. The 2019-20 season promises to deliver a heightened level of excitement, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the new campaign.

To get fans across the country ready for the new season, we’ve taken on a challenge that hasn’t been done before. In the coming weeks, we will preview every team from coast to coast ahead of the 2019-20 season.

That’s 111 different programs, if you’re keeping a tally.

From August 8th through to October 6th, every team will be previewed in some capacity. For institutions that have both men’s and women’s basketball, a separate preview piece will be done for each team.

Rosters will be dissected and a look back at the year that was will help us determine what the team looks like this time around as every team begins with a blank slate in the standings.

Without further adieu, here is today’s preview on the women’s basketball program for the Capilano Blues.

2018-19 in Review

In 2018-19, the Capilano Blues had a PACWEST Championship in their sights, but the opportunity slipped away down the stretch.

During the regular season, the Blues finished second in the league standings with an overall record of 14-4, trailing only the VIU Mariners. Their stats would indicate that they played 16 games, but two victories were by way of forfeits from the CBC Bearcats.

Down the stretch, the Blues played their best basketball of the year. They won nine straight games to close the regular season, building themselves momentum ahead of the post-season and earning themselves a bye to the semifinals.

There, the Blues took on the Camosun Chargers with a spot in the Championship game on the line. A convincing 84-64 win for the Blues propelled them into the finals against the Mariners for the right to represent the PACWEST at Nationals.

The first half was all about the Mariners. They built themselves a 10-point lead at the break, and they looked as though they were going to run away with things. However, the Blues found their rhythm in the third quarter, outscoring the Mariners by a 30-15 margin to not only erase their 10-point deficit, but to take a five-point lead of their own into the final frame.

Capilano had the momentum at their backs and the title within reach, but they ran out of gas down the stretch.

VIU launched a fourth quarter comeback to reclaim their lead. The Mariners outscored the Blues 27-17 in the final quarter, ultimately winning the PACWEST Championship by a final score of 82-77.

Despite the loss, the silver medal was the Blues’ fourth straight medal at the PACWEST Championship. They have own three silver medals and one gold medal over that span.

Heading into the 2019-20 season, the Blues have their sights set on adding to their recent string of medals. Serving as the host institution for the 2020 PACWEST Basketball Championships, the Blues will be looking to perform well in front of their home crowd and earn a spot at Nationals.

Their roster will be without two big names from last year’s silver medal squad, but several returnees and some fresh faces will look to continue their successful streak in the post-season against league opponents.

Who’s Gone?

In terms of talent gone from last year’s team, the Blues will be without two of their biggest contributors on both sides of the ball. Capilano lost one player due to graduation, while another made the jump from the PACWEST to the Canada West Conference as a transfer.

At the conclusion of the regular season, the Blues honoured Sherrie Errico (North Vancouver, BC) for her career with the program. The hometown product finished second on the team in scoring last season, averaging 12.7 points per game on 39.5% shooting from the field and 33.7% from beyond the arc.

The 5’8” guard also averaged 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest for an all-round strong stat line to close out her career with the Blues. An impact player whose game spans the full 94-feet of the court, Head Coach Chris Weimer and the Blues will be in tough to replace Errico.

On the transfer market, the Blues lost the reigning PACWEST Rookie of the Year to the U Sports ranks. Alessia Brutto (Bassano del Grappa, Italy) had herself a stellar first season in the PACWEST, earning league Rookie of the Year honours for her efforts. Brutto was one of the country’s top rebounders, averaging 9.8 boards per contest to go along with her 11.9 points on the offensive end of the floor.

Brutto, Alessia
Alessia Brutto, the reigning PACWEST Rookie of the Year, has made the move to the U Sports ranks with UBC Okanagan. (Source: Vancouver Sports Pictures)

Brutto will play for the UBC Okanagan Heat next season in the Canada West Conference.

The back court rotation, and the overall offensive production for the Blues took a hit at year’s end. With the graduation of Errico and untimely departure of Brutto, the Blues will look to their returning class and incoming recruits to step in and fill the void left by two of their stars.

Who’s Back?

While their 2019-20 roster has yet to be finalized, we are going to speculate as to who may be back with the team this year. While the losses of both Brutto and Errico hurt, the Blues have their leading scorer back for one more year, plus a strong supporting cast who are ready to take on expanded roles in 2019-20.

Reiko Ohama (Kamloops, BC) is coming off a successful 2018-19 season, one that saw her lead the Blues in scoring with an average of 14.4 points per contest while shooting 37.0% from the field. Ohama posted four games with at least 20 points, while recording double-digit points on 11 occasions.

In addition to her offensive production, Ohama did a little bit of everything for the Blues last season. She averaged 4.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per contest on top of her team-leading offensive production. Ohama had eight games with five or more assists, while she recorded at least five rebounds AND five assists in a game on five different occasions.

Look for Ohama to be one of the nation’s top players this season, in what will be her fifth and final season.

Forward Mackenzie Smith (Burnaby, BC) is the team’s top rebounder back from last year. Smith posted 5.9 rebounds per contest to go along with 12.3 points. She posted two double-doubles on the year, but it was a nine-game stretch on offense that showcased Smith’s potential. From January 4th through to February 15th, Smith posted double-digit points in all nine games.

Smith was a key driving force behind the Blues’ nine-game winning streak to close the regular season, and she will look to pick up where she left off in 2019-20.

Simrat Dosanjh (Surrey, BC) will look to take on an expanded role in 2019-20. Despite missing the last two regular season games, Dosanjh posted an average of 8.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per contest while shooting 37.9% from the field and 37.9% from three-point range. With openings in the back court, Dosanjh figures to see an increase in minutes this season while being a prominent fixture in the starting five.

The Blues also return the likes of Jessica Wolpert (Coquitlam, BC) and Arsh Gill (Surrey, BC) from last year’s team, Used primarily as role players off the bench last season, both Wolpert and Gill should see more minutes this season as Coach Weimer and his staff look to account for the losses of Brutto and Errico.

While losing two top-tier talents is never easy, the Blues return one of Canada’s best players and a pair of players who will look to take the next steps in their development this year. Down the stretch, Smith showed what she was capable of last season from an offensive standpoint, and the Blues will look to her for a similar performance this year.

Incoming Talent

At this point in the off-season, the incoming recruiting class for the Blues sits at three names. One player, in particular, brings with them experience from the U Sports level, while the other two will be first-year student-athletes at post-secondary institutions in 2019-20.

Guard Devon Wood (North Vancouver, BC) joins the Blues after spending the last two seasons with the UNBC Timberwolves in the Canada West Conference. Used sparingly over her two seasons with the Timberwolves, Wood still brings a wealth of experience with her to Capilano. Given the Blues’ losses from last season, the opportunity is there for Wood to step in and play meaningful minutes from the start of the year.

Wood, Devon
After spending the last two seasons at UNBC, guard Devon Wood will bring her talents and experience to the Capilano Blues in 2019-20. (Source: UNBC Athletics – Flickr)

In terms of first-year student-athletes, the Blues will welcome Alanya Davignon and Camie Ward to the mix this season. Both players will add depth to the Blues’ lineup, and should see minutes early on as returning players step into new roles in 2019-20.

With several key contributors back from last year’s silver medal team, the Blues have added some nice complimentary pieces that possess experience and talent. With her experience, the addition of Wood to the roster will help the younger players make the transition from high school to post-secondary, while also giving the team someone to lean on both on and off the court if the goings get tough throughout the year.

Everyone want to win a title on their home floor, and the Blues have the chance to do that this season come the end of February. Capilano University will host the 2020 PACWEST Basketball Championships from February 27-29, and the Blues want to be the ones cutting down the nets when all is said and done.

With their share of experience and talent back this year, the Blues will look to once again contend atop the PACWEST standings with the Mariners, among others. This is the year that Ohama becomes well-known on a National level, and she will look to guide the Blues to not only a PACWEST title, but a spot at Nationals.

Having the extra motivation of hosting the PACWEST Championships on their home court, look for the Blues to make a statement early in the year while building momentum as the season progresses.

Be sure to bookmark our 2019-20 Season Previews page to keep up with the previews as they are released online.

– T. Bennett

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s