By Shannon Pitt
January 24, 2014, VANCOUVER (ISN) – After back-to-back victories over Mount Royal this past weekend, the UBC women’s basketball team has improved its conference record to 9-5, leaving them in second place behind University of the Fraser Valley in the Pacific Division.
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This upcoming weekend, the Thunderbirds will host the University of Northern British Columbia for a double-header at War Memorial Gymnasium. The 4-10 UNBC Timberwolves currently find themselves fifth in the Pacific, and are presently on a four-game losing streak after being swept by the University of Victoria last weekend in Prince George.
So far this season, the ‘Birds have seen strong leadership from their veteran players. Averaging 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, fourth-year guard Kris Young has been crucial to the team’s success. Last weekend against MRU, Young tallied 47 points and 21 rebounds, not to mention eight steals over the two games; however, Young isn’t the only veteran star this season. With an average of 13.3 points and 8.5 rebounds, fourth-year forward Harleen Sidhu has been a vital new addition to the ‘Birds. Sidhu comes to UBC after playing at the University of Nebraska, and the Surrey native has made substantial contributions to the team this season.
Head coach Deb Huband notes the vitality that Young and Sidhu bring to the team: “Both Harleen and Kris have been leading us on and off the court. They are our only fourth year athletes, and they are doing a great job; they are leading not only in most statistical categories, but also vocally. It is not easy for Harleen being new to us this year, but, she is a very skilled player and a strong leader. We are lucky to have her.”
Huband is looking forward to the challenges UNBC will pose this weekend. “Even though they are newcomers to CIS, [UNBC] has a veteran group that have played together for many years. They have six fourth or fifth-year players so, technically, they are more experienced than we are. They aren’t going to be easy games this weekend. I think UNBC is going to bring their experience to the floor and bring some toughness with them, even though they are under-sized compared to us. They are still going to be a formidable opponent. If we can take such strides defensively and make them feel less comfortable on the floor with our defensive pressure and then get after it, I think that will help us build towards where we need to be for the post-season.”
Despite last weekend’s successes, the team still has work to do to prepare for the post-season: “About the Mount Royal games, I think it was good to get wins on the road, but they weren’t as decisive as we wanted them to be, and you know we are still working at improving our defence. Our defence has, historically, been a real strength of ours and it is a factor that separates us from our opponents. It gives us a chance to win a game against any level of opponent, but it’s not where we need it to be at this point. We are continuing to try and get more consistent and disciplined defensively and make our opponents have to go to their second or third option, not their first option. We need to take great strides both individually and collectively with our defence. We are also working at being a bit grittier on the boards. I think if we can accomplish that over the next four weeks we will be in good shape. We are looking forward to the games over the next few weeks to help us take those steps we need to take so that in the post season we have some success.”
Tip off is at 6 p.m. on Friday night and 5 p.m. on Saturday evening.