This season marks head coach Kevin Hanson‘s 15th year at the helm of the Thunderbirds program. He is looking forward to putting behind an injury plagued 2013-14 season which saw UBC finish 11-11 during the regular season, before losing to the eventual Canada West champions and CIS bronze medalists from Alberta in the opening round of the playoffs.
Six-foot-eight forward Conor Morgan is back after missing all of last year due to injury. During his rookie season in 2012-13, the Victoria, B.C., product helped the Thunderbirds to a Canada West Championship and a spot in the CIS nationals. Others to watch include Tommy Nixon, who is set for his fifth and final season with UBC, second-year guard Kedar Wright who was named to the Canada West All-Rookie Team in 2013-14 and rookie Mindy Minhas. The Vancouver native led Sir Winston Churchill Secondary to the 4A BC Boys High School Championship this past March while earning Most Valuable Player honours.
The University of Detroit Mercy Titans play in the NCAA Division 1 Horizon League and have vastly improved under head coach Ray McCallum now in his sixth season as bench boss. The Titans’ record has improved every year under McCallum’s watch. Last season, they finished 13-19 overall and lost in the first round of the Horizon League tournament.
This season, they return six of their top seven scorers including Juwan Howard Jr. – son of former Fab Five player at Michigan and long time NBA player Juwon Howard. Howard Jr. led Detroit with 18.3 points per game in 2013-14. On top of their already veteran line up, the Titans have added two transfers, 6-7 guard Chris Jenkins from the University of Colorado and 6-11 centre Patrick Ackerman from Penn State University. Detroit will also welcome its 2014 signing class of Aaron Foster-Smith, Jaleel Hogan and Shy McClelland.
Little known fact about the Titans, they play on Dick Vitale Court, named after the long time ESPN basketball analyst who spent four seasons as head coach of the program in the 1970’s.
The Titans will play four games in total on their trip to British Columbia, including stops at Quest University, Trinity Western, and Fraser Valley.