Basketball teams host preseason showcase


Basketball season revs up in a big way this week, as the University of the Fraser Valley hosts its annual preseason showcase series.

The Cascades men’s and women’s teams will face a series of stiff tests against CIS programs from Ontario and B.C. on their home court, the Envision Athletic Centre.

The series tips off this Thursday, Oct. 16, as the UFV men take on the Windsor Lancers at 7 p.m.

Friday’s action features the women’s hoopsters facing the Queen’s Golden Gaels (3 p.m.) and the men playing the Trinity Western Spartans (7 p.m. in the North Gym).

The event wraps up on Saturday with the women clashing with the UBC Thunderbirds (5 p.m.).

With just three weeks to go before the Cascades tip off the Canada West regular season – they open on the road vs. the UBC Okanagan Heat on Nov. 7 – these games are crucial preparation opportunities.

“Right now, it’s just immersing ourselves in quality teams and trying to learn as much as we can from those experiences,” UFV women’s coach Al Tuchscherer said. “We’re trying to build from one game to the next.”

The first guest of the week, the Windsor men’s squad, is coming off a 2013-14 campaign which saw them finish second in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West Division with a 16-6 record. They graduated their top three scorers from last season, but bring back several key players including guards Khalid Abdel-Gabar (8.6 points per game last season) and Rotimi Osuntola Jr. (8.5 ppg).

“We don’t know much about Windsor, but they’re always a talented team and they’re really well-coached,” Cascades men’s head coach Adam Friesen said.

Friday’s UFV-TWU game will be the second in eight days between the two teams – the Cascades edged the Spartans 73-70 last Thursday at Semiahmoo Secondary in Surrey. The Spartans have some local Abbotsford content on the roster in the form of rookies Josiah Allison (a Mennonite Educational Institute grad) and Patrick Vandervelden (Yale Secondary).

“We’re just looking to improve,” said Friesen, whose team is 4-1 in exhibition play thus far. “Defensively we can get better, communication can get better.”

028As for the visiting women’s teams, the Kingston, Ont.-based Golden Gaels figure to be among the OUA’s elite this season. They won their conference’s silver medal in 2013-14 to punch their ticket to the CIS Final 8, where they dropped both of their games to Canada West foes Saskatchewan and Alberta.

“Queen’s is probably going to be one of the top teams out of Ontario this year,” said Tuchscherer, whose team won the bronze medal at the 2014 CIS Final 8. “They were at nationals last year, and they have their entire team back. They’ve been building their team for a few years now.”

UBC finished second to the Cascades in the Pacific Division of Canada West last season, posting a 16-6 record. They return a veteran crew led by fifth-year seniors Kris Young (the 2013 conference MVP) and Harleen Sidhu.

“They’re a veteran squad and have a lot of real nice pieces – obviously good guard play, and they’re tough inside,” Tuchscherer said of the T-Birds. “It’ll be great for our team to get out there and compete and see where we stand.”