Bobcats Michael Smith drives to the hoop against Calgary Dinos’ Dallas Karch during Saturday’s game at the Brandon University’s Healthy Living Centre. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Isaiah James brought back memories of his play from two years ago and gave Brandon University Bobcat men’s basketball fans a glimpse of what they can expect next year at the Healthy Living Centre on Saturday night.
Despite still being hampered by seven pins in his ankle that were surgically installed during the summer after he injured it in a tournament, the 6-foot-7 forward showed how dominant he can be on the defensive end as the Bobcats (5-15) pulled off a 74-68 Canada West upset over the Calgary Dinos (12-8). James finished the game with nine points, eight rebounds, five blocked shots and three steals, but admitted he still isn’t up to the level he wants to be at.
"I felt like 85 per cent today," he said. "Most times it’s like 65. It’s day-to-day. … I just felt good. I just tried to be everywhere and help out."
There is no doubt how much of an impact a healthy James can have. Two seasons ago, he averaged 1.7 blocks per game. He’s a little behind that pace at 1.3 blocks per game this season in limited action.
However, BU head coach Gil Cheung believes James’ presence and reputation is getting in opponents’ heads and making them change their shots.
"Two years ago he was healthy and he was scary," Cheung said. "He was so quick on that ball screen, he could start on a fast break, we could pressure with him at the front. Just physically he’s been limited, but he’s worked so hard to get closer and closer to 100 per cent and it’s so late in the year, but he’s been there since Day 1. He’s changed the game for us. That’s what we need from him."
James, who took a year away from the Bobcats to deal with family issues, was told by doctors he probably shouldn’t play this season. While his performance is too little and too late to help them reach the playoffs, he plans to be back next season and be the dynamic player fans saw a few years ago.
"I’ll make sure I’ll stay away from basketball courts all summer and do nothing but work out and avoid all injuries," he tittered. "I should come back healthy."
Jordan Reaves led Brandon with 17 points Saturday, Kenonte Ramsay added 16 and Ilarion Bonhomme put up 15.
In the women’s game, the Bobcats (0-20) fell 72-46 to the visiting Dinos (17-3). Chantel Gaslard put up 10 points and 11 rebounds for Brandon. Aimee Johnston led BU with an 11-point effort.
Both Bobcat teams close out their season at home on Friday and Saturday when they host the Regina Cougars.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 11, 2013