UBC Thunderbirds

by Shannon Pitt

January 9, 2014, VANCOUVER (ISN) – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team will host the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan, the top two teams in the Canada West Prairie Division, at War Memorial Gymnasium to kick-off the 2014 portion of the regular season.

The Thunderbirds currently stand 3-1 on home court, and 4-6 overall, in conference play. Both games will be broadcast live on CiTR 101.9 FM and streamed live on CanadaWest.tv.

Last Thursday, Andrew McGuinness led UBC with 25 points in a non-conference game against the Hawaii Pacific University Sea Warriors. McGuinness tallied seven shots from beyond the arc, carrying a personal shooting percentage of 53.8 per cent from three-point range. Tonner Jackson contributed 11 points.

Thus far in the 2013-2014 season, UBC’s offence has been championed by David Wagner and Tommy Nixon, both of whom are averaging 13.1 points per game. Nixon is simultaneously leading the team in rebounding, averaging 6.5 boards per game.

On Friday night, the ‘Birds will take on the Alberta Golden Bears, who currently stand at 9-1, placing them in a tie with Saskatchewan and Victoria for the lead in Canada West. Fifth-year player Jordan Baker leads the Bears with 21 points during their last game, a 78-45 win over the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Saints on December 21. The Bears are a stout defensive outfit, giving up just 65.1 points a game, second in the league in scoring defence. UBC defeated Alberta in a best-of-three Canada West quarter-final round series that went the distance in Vancouver last year.

On Saturday, UBC will take on Saskatchewan, the highest-scoring team in the Canada West with an average of 87.5 points a game. The Huskies are coming off a 79-75 win over Biola, an NAIA team from La Mirada, Calif. Saskatchewan was lead by Dadrian Collins and Stephon Lamar who tallied 18 and 17 points, respectively.

The Thunderbirds basketball program will also take time this weekend to pay tribute to former head coach Bruce Enns.

UBC will salute Enns at Saturday’s game.

In his 14 seasons as UBC men’s basketball head coach, Enns re-built the Thunderbirds program into a national contender and helped lay the foundation for the success the Blue and Gold enjoy today.

Enns came to UBC from the University of Winnipeg in 1985 and patrolled the T-Birds’ sideline until 2000. In just his second season, Enns guided the Thunderbirds to the CIAU national championship game appearance after winning the Canada West title and ending the streak of seven straight national titles by the University of Victoria.

He was named the Sport BC Coach of the Year (across all sports) after the season.

Enns had a regular-season record of 154-100 during his reign at UBC. In post-season play, he led the T-Birds to a total of four Canada West men’s basketball titles (1987, 1991, 1992 and 1996) and four appearances at the CIS men’s basketball national championship tournament.

A native of Winnipeg, Enns was named the CIAU Coach of the Year three times (1990, 1991 and 1996) while at UBC. He also won the honour once at the University of Winnipeg, giving him four in all, the second most in Canadian university men’s basketball history.

He is responsible for recruiting many exciting players to UBC during his time at Point Grey, T-Birds such as J.D. Jackson, Kevin Hanson and Paul Johansson, who now stand amongst the best in school history.

The work and effort of Bruce Enns has left an impact on the sport that can be felt across Canada. He was inducted into the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 for his work at the University of Winnipeg (1973-85) and his old high school, Mennonite Brethren Collegiate, where he began his coaching career in 1958 as a Grade 9 student.

Enns has conducted clinics in nine provinces and a dozen countries. In 1990, he had a stint as the head coach of Syria’s national and junior national teams. Enns has assisted three different coaches of the Canadian national program. He has also been to multiple Paralympic Games as an assistant coach with the Canada’s women’s wheelchair basketball team and most recently, with the German men’s wheelchair squad.

GAME TIMES (all games at War Memorial Gymnasium) – live on CiTR-FM 101.9 and CanadaWest.tv

Friday, Jan. 10

8 p.m. – Alberta at UBC

Saturday, Jan. 11

7 p.m. – Saskatchewan at UBC