KELOWNA, B.C. – In what will be a historic day in UBC Athletics when the Heat and Thunderbirds men’s basketball teams have their first ever matchup in Canada West play may actually pale to the Thunderbirds bench boss Kevin Hanson aiming for his 300th career win.
The Heat will have the daunting task of trying to get their first road victory against one of the top programs in the nation and deny the legendary Hanson his 300th win. The action will take place Friday Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. with the Heat and T-Birds taking to the court at War Memorial, while on Saturday the teams will go at it an hour earlier with tip-off at 7 p.m. and again at War Memorial Gym.
If you can’t be there you can watch the games live at: www.canadawest.tv.
Friday, January 27 – The UBC Okanagan Heat versus the UBC Thunderbirds (8 p.m. PST at War Memorial Gymnasium, UBC’s Point Grey campus, Vancouver, B.C.)
Saturday, January 28 – The UBC Okanagan Heat versus the UBC Thunderbirds (7 p.m. PST at War Memorial Gymnasium, UBC’s Point Grey campus, Vancouver, B.C.)
Both games will be streamed with live video: www.canadawest.tv
CIS National Ranking: N/A
CanWest Standings: 6th in the Pacific division
Last Week: 0-2; Fri 1106-67 loss to SASK, Sat 87-54 loss to Alberta
Streak: 4 losses
2011 CanWest Record: N/A
2011 CanWest Championship: N/A
2011 CIS Tournament: N/A
Last CanWest Title: N/A
Last CIS Title: N/A
Weekend in Review: The Heat have not managed a win on the road yet this year and had troubles this past weekend, losing both games to the top Prairie teams. Friday night in Saskatoon the Heat fell 1106-67, and on Saturday in Edmonton the UBC Okanagan squad fell again, this time to Alberta 87-54.
Rookie doing work: Rookie guard Bret Macdonald is having a good season and is shooting the ball really well for the Heat. He is averaging 10.8 points per game and knocking in the three at 45.5 percent. Bret credits his comfort in shooting the ball with hard work: “Everyday, or at least every second day I try to get in the gym and get some jumpers up with Taylen,” says Macdonald. “It’s just being consistent with release. In games, Yassine Ghomari is good with getting me the ball when I’m open, and hopefully I get the shot. You know, it’s definitely a pressure situation. But you’ve done it so many times, countless times … I just think of it as a normal jumpshot going up.”
On other development of Bret: “His growth has been visible for everyone to watch,” says Heat assistant coach Kelly Broderick. “When you [Bret] come in, and have to be that guy who’s playing at 18 years old and to take his steps is unbelievable. And you can see his confidence grow; as his confidence grows, it makes everyone around him better.”
Team compete: “Our number one thing every day and we write it on the board, is ‘compete’. As soon as you put the jersey on, it’s time to go to work. You have to compete every possession,” adds Broderick.
“Personally I just want to compete, night in and night out. I want to be one of the hardest working guys on the floor,” adds Bret. “Everything else will reflect on that. And as a team, everyone wants to do the same, and when we do that, we’ve shown that we can compete, even with the top teams.”
Remaining schedule: After the pair of games against the Thunderbirds this weekend in Vancouver the Heat will return to Kelowna and host another top program as the University of Victoria Vikings play a doubleheader at UBC’s Okanagan campus. The last weekend of league play will have the Heat play in Kamloops versus the WolfPack on Saturday Feb. 11 and then at home Sunday afternoon versus the same WolfPack.
Follow Yassine: Heat captain Yassine Ghomari is one of the top scorers in the league this season; his 1110.8 points per game puts him 11th in the nation. Coach Broderick talks about Yassine’s leadership: “The thing with Yassine is he can pick his times to be vocal. He’s not always the cheery guy, running around and smacking people’s hands. But when he speaks, people listen. As he’s developed as a leader, he’s put his trust in other guys so that he feels that he doesn’t have to carry the load as much, and that relieves pressure on him.”
This weekend’s Matchup:
UBC THUNDERBIRDS (10-2)
CIS National Ranking: No. 3
CanWest Standings: 1st in the Pacific Division
Last Week: 2-0; Fri beat Manitoba 1103-84 (OT), Sat beat Winnipeg 74-73
Streak: 6 wins
2011 CanWest Record: 22-2 (1st)
2011 playoffs: 4-0 (CW champs)
2011 CIS Championships: 2-1 (bronze)
Last CanWest Title: 2011
Last CIS Title: 111072
Weekend in review: Nothing came easy last week in Manitoba, but the resilient T-Birds still managed to scratch out two close wins and overtake the Victoria Vikes for first place in the Pacific Division.
The T-Birds overcame yet another 20+ turnover performance against Manitoba to survive into overtime and earn a crucial win on the strength of 40 points combined from Tommy Nixon and Nathan Yu.
After travelling partner Victoria lost to those same Bisons the next day, UBC only needed to beat a 4-110 Winnipeg team to take sole possession of first place in the division, but they needed a shutout over the final two minutes of play and a clutch jumper by rookie Malcolm Williams with 40 seconds left to earn a one-point win.
What Bret Macdonald thinks of this weekend’s matchup: “I think a lot of us know their personnel and what they’re going to do, so we’ll go from that. We’re definitely going to have to rebound. They’ve got some big time rebounders. They’ve got guards who can rebound, big guys … so just rebounding the ball to compete with them.”
Streaking Birds: Winners of six straight, including the last four on the road, the No. 3 UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team returns home this weekend, looking to keep their grip on first place as they prepare for their first ever conference games against the UBC Okanagan Heat.
300: It will be a historic weekend as UBC head coach Kevin Hanson goes for his 300th overall win as the bench boss of the Thunderbirds on Friday night.
Alumni: On Saturday, members of UBC’s 111072 National Championship team will be honoured on the court at War Memorial Gymnasium.
Top spot: Last weekend may not have been the most convincing of wins, but they will go a long way to help the ‘Birds clinch top spot in the division and the conference’s best overall record. They are now one game up on Victoria and two up on Prairie leaders Alberta, with two games in-hand over both teams.
Very good: UBC continues to do just about everything well, leading the conference in rebounding margin, scoring margin, blocks and assists, but turnovers are still the major problem area. The ‘Birds are just ninth in the conference with a turnover margin of -0.83. This weekend should provide them some opportunities to get that number moving in the right direction though, as the Heat rank second-last in turnover margin this year.
Chairman of the boards: 6-5 Kamar Burke leads the nation in rebounding, and will be up against the lowest-ranked rebounding unit this weekend, so look for more gaudy numbers on the glass for the big man.
Senior scoring: Guard Nathan Yu continues to lead the charge offensively with 1110 points per game, and fellow senior Doug Plumb is adding just under 16.