Basketball teams to move to larger division

Format changes coming for 2016-17 season that will see TRU play more teams

TRU basketball will move to a larger division for the 2016-17 season, but there will still be four teams it plays regularly. (TRU Athletics)

TRU basketball will move to a larger division for the 2016-17 season, but there will still be four teams it plays regularly. (TRU Athletics)

Canada West basketball will change both their league and play­off formats for the 2016-17 season.

The TRU basketball teams will only have one more year to try and claim an explorer division title. Beginning in 2016, all of the 17 teams in Canada West will play in one conference, a switch from the two division format that is cur­rently in place.

The decision was approved by the Canada West Universities Athletic Association at its annual conference in May. The new for­mat will see every team play a 20- game regular season schedule, with the teams that own the 12 best records entering the playoffs for a shot at not only a Canada West title, but also a spot in the national championships.

Of the 10 opposing teams that TRU will play in the new format, there will be four schools that can already be penciled into the sched­ule every year.

The criteria for determining which of the teams those four will be, were the “teams in your vicinity that you have (historically) had a rivalry with,” according to TRU’s athletic director Ken Olynyk.

UBC-Okanagan, University of the Fraser Valley, University of Victoria and University of North­ern British Columbia will be the four teams that TRU will face on the court every year. For the younger players on the women’s basketball team, this will mean an opportunity to avenge the heart­breaking playoff loss that they suffered at the hands of UVic this past season.

The rest of the schedule will be filled with games against six of the other 12 teams in the conference, which is what Olynyk likes most about the change.

“The advantage is that you get to play more opponents,” he said.

TRU will play 10 of the 17 teams in Canada West during the regular season rather than the five teams that it currently plays.

Olynyk said that he “didn’t dis­like the old format,” but admitted that it was “optically not a great format,” with 11 teams playing in the Pioneer division and only six battling it out for the Explorer di­vision title. This imbalance in the divisions and the fact that there are no games played between teams from the different divisions led to a majority of the schools in Cana­da West advocating for change.

The format change is being delayed until the 2016-17 season due to the difficulty of schedul­ing.

“At this point to try and change for September was just too quick,” Olynyk said.

This will be the second time in three years that Canada West changes the format for basketball. The current pioneer and explor­er division format replaced the geographically based pacific and prairie divisions in 2014-15, and was always due to be examined further after the completion of its first season.