Capilano Blues Eye Nationals Berth as PACWEST Tournament Host

Bailey, Brendan (2)
Brendan Bailey is one of several key returnees for the Capilano Blues in 2019-20 as they get set to host the PACWEST Basketball Championships. (Source: Paul Yates – Capilano University Athletics) (Header: Capilano University)

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 men’s program for the Capilano Blues.

2018-19 in Review

The 2018-19 season was one full of ups and down for the Blues. What started out as a promising season ended with more questions than answers for Capilano University.

Out of the gates, the Blues looked like one of the top teams in Canada. Winners of six of their first seven contests, Capilano was trending in the right direction. They even reached as high as seventh in the CCAA Rankings in Week Three of the season.

From there, it was an up-and-down ride the rest of the way.

Despite their strong start, the Blues went 5-5 over their final 10 games of the season, finishing the year with an 11-7 record in PACWEST play. They finished third in the standings, thus needing to play a quarter-final contest on their quest for a league title.

In their quarter-final contest, the Blues edged past the Okanagan College Coyotes, 80-74, to punch their ticket to the semifinals. There, the Blues took on the high-powered Douglas College Royals, and their dream of a gold medal came to a close.

The Royals rolled to the 99-83 win, sending Capilano to the bronze medal match.

Still, with a medal in their sights, the Blues took on the fifth-seed Camosun Chargers in the bronze medal contest. In his final game with Capilano, guard Denver Sparks-Guest (Coquitlam, BC) did everything he could to help close his career with a win. He posted 17 points and 15 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

Camosun claimed the bronze medal with their 83-68 win over Capilano.

With the loss, it marked the end of an era for the Blues. The program shifted their attention to the 2019-20 season, and life without their star guard. In 2019-20, the Blues will host the PACWEST Basketball Championships, and they will be looking to write the ship from last year’s rocky ride. Equipped with an experienced roster and a talented recruiting class, the Blues appear to be in good shape heading into the new season.

Who’s Gone?

At the end of the regular season, Head Coach Cassidy Kannemeyer and the Blues honoured just one graduating player. Unfortunately, it was the Blues’ leading scorer and best all-around player on their roster.

Guard Denver Sparks-Guest graduated after a stellar 2018-19 season, one that saw him rack up points like they were going out of style. Over the course of the year, he recorded at least 40 points on three occasions, highlighted by his 53-point outing against the Okanagan College Coyotes on November 17th.

Sparks-Guest, Denver
Graduating guard Denver Sparks-Guest capped off his career at Capilano University by being named a CCAA All-Canadian. (Source: Paul Yates – Capilano University Athletics)

Sparks-Guest went 20-of-29 from the field on the night, helping guide the Blues to the 126-117 win.

For the year, Sparks-Guest averaged 25.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per contest for the Blues, en route to being named a 2019 CCAA All-Canadian at last season’s National Championships banquet. He was one of the more consistent scorers in the country, let alone the PACWEST, recording double-digit points on 17 occasions throughout the regular season.

The loss of Sparks-Guest leaves a big void for the Blues to fill this season. Fortunately for Kannemeyer and his staff, the Blues have a strong, veteran group returning this year, plus their incoming recruits will be able to step in and contribute right away.

Who’s Back?

With the loss of Sparks-Guest from last year’s team, the overall talent of the Blues takes a hit. While their roster hasn’t been officially set for the 2019-20 season, the Blues could return the bulk of last year’s production, and with that comes a wealth of experience. It’s merely speculation at this point, but here are some names that the Blues could have back in a Capilano uniform this season.

Brendan Bailey (Coquitlam, BC) is the team’s top returning scorer in 2019-20. Last season, Bailey posted an average of 14.3 points per contest while shooting 42.9% from the field. He posted four games with 20+ points over the year, while reaching double-digits 11 times in total.

In addition to his offensive production, Bailey averaged 2.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He dished out three or more assists in six games in 2018-19. The Blues will look to the entire roster to help account for the production lost with the departure of Sparks-Guest on both ends of the floor, and Bailey will look to take on an expanded role in 2019-20.

The Blues return one of their more consistent scorers from last year’s team in CJ Campbell (Burnaby, BC). Campbell recorded double-digit points on 15 occasions during the regular season, averaging 13.9 points per game for the year. He shot 41.7% from the floor for the year, posting four games in which he shot 60% or better from the field.

Down the stretch, Michael Kelly (North Vancouver, BC) put his talents on display, showing what he’s capable of on both ends of the floor. Over the final 10 games of the regular season, Kelly recorded eight games with double-digit points. He started the final eight games of the regular season as a result of his strong play, and that bodes well for Capilano this season. For the year, Kelly posted 10.7 points per game while shooting 42.9% from the field and 42.0% from three-point range.

The Blues also welcome back a slew of depth players, all of whom could very well step into expanded roles in 2019-20. Nathan Bromige (Vancouver, BC) averaged 7.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last year, showcasing a strong inside game despite limited minutes. Niko Mottus (Vancouver, BC) shot better than 40% from three-point range last season, en route to averaging 6.6 points per contest.

Grady Huskisson (West Vancouver, BC) and Chris Schneller (Vancouver, BC) give the Blues two solid options off the bench in 2019-20. Both players averaged more than 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game a season ago.

Again, this is based on speculation until their roster is released, but the Blues have a wealth of experience on their 2019-20 roster. With the team set to host the 2020 PACWEST Basketball Championships, they will be looking to build some momentum in the regular season as they gear up for a post-season run.

Incoming Talent

The Blues will be in tough to replace the production lost with the departure of Sparks-Guest, but Coach Kannemeyer and his staff won’t have to look far to find the next man up. On the transfer market, the Blues added a forward from Canada’s NCAA team plus a pair of first-year guards who can add some talent to the mix.

Up front, the Blues added some size in forward Sam Bailey (North Vancouver, BC), who comes to Capilano University after a stint with the Simon Fraser Clan. Last season, the 6’7” forward saw the floor in eight games, averaging 3.1 points and 1.6 rebounds per outing. Bailey brings size and shooting range to the Blues’ lineup this season, giving them a boost on both ends of the floor.

In terms of first-year players, the Blues picked up a pair of commitments from hometown products in Aamir Rajwani (North Vancouver, BC) and Scott Watson (North Vancouver, BC). At 6’2”, Rajwani will add depth and some size to the back court rotation, while the 6’5” Watson brings versatility to the wing and front court.

Note: Moeiz Athaya had committed to the Blues for the 2019-20, but he will now return to Langara.

With Sparks-Guest being the only significant departure from the team at this point, the Blues are in good shape heading into 2019-20. Bailey brings size to the front court, while Rajwani and Watson add depth to the back court rotation.

As the host institution for the 2020 PACWEST Basketball Championships, the Blues have their sights set on performing well on their home court and securing themselves a birth to the 2020 CCAA Men’s Basketball National Championships in March.

With a veteran roster that should feature most players from last year’s team that went 11-7, the Blues appear to be in good shape. With a strong recruiting class, one that brings a heightened level of experience with them to the table, the Blues will once again be in contention for a bye to the semifinals at the conference championships.

The Blues went 6-3 on their home floor last season, which bodes well for their chances in the PACWEST Championships. If the Blues find their way into the semifinals, or beyond, anything can happen on their home floor in 2019-20.

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

– T. Bennett

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