LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Spartans men’s basketball team comes into this weekend in search of its first win of the season as TWU is off to an 0-4 start and hosts Lethbridge Friday and Saturday, aiming to snap the slump at the Langley Events Centre.
In their lone meeting with Lethbridge (2-2) last year, the Spartans lost 96-86 on home court.
The last time TWU beat the Pronghorns at home was in 2011-12, when the Spartans won 105-97.
Friday’s game is at 8 p.m. and Saturday’s is at 7 p.m. Both games can be seen live on www.twu.canadawest.tv.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (0-4)
CIS ranking: NR
Pioneers Division Standings: 9th (tied)
Last weekend: Alberta 85-59 L, 85-66 L
Streak: 4 losses
2013-14 Pacific Division Record: 10-12 (5th)
2013-14 Canada West Tournament: N/A
2013-14 CIS Tournament: N/A
The Spartans are in unchartered territory this weekend, as, under coach Scott Allen, TWU has never started a season with four straight losses. A win over the Pronghorns would not only bump the slump but give TWU a renewed confidence moving forward in the Pioneers Division.
The last time TWU lost four in a row to start the season, the Spartans bounced back with a 103-88 home win over Lethbridge.
ENDING THE SKID
Since TWU entered the CIS in 1999, the Spartans men’s basketball team has opened the regular season with four straight losses on four different occasions. In 1999-00 and in 2007-08, the Spartans snapped the skid in their fifth game. In 2005-06, the team lost five in a row to open the campaign before winning in its sixth outing of the year.
This is the Spartans final home weekend of the fall semester and, having already dug an early season hole, TWU has to take advantage of home court against the Pronghorns. After Saturday’s tilt, the Spartans are on the road for their last two weekends of the fall semester, against Brandon and Calgary, and don’t return to the LEC until Jan. 9-10. If TWU wants to put itself in a playoff position by the end of the year, getting at least a split this weekend is imperative.
It’s a small sample size, but Spartans first year players Kosia Cauw and Nick Tancon have shown that they can hold their own in the CIS. Playing against a strong Alberta side, both Tancon and Cauw started in Saturday’s game and played a combined 45 minutes. Cauw finished with a game-high 12 rebounds and nine points while Tancon collected six points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.
LETHBRIDGE PRONGHORNS (2-2)
CIS ranking: NR
Pacific Division Standings: 5th (tied)
Last weekend: Winnipeg 64-58 L, 86-58 L
Streak: 2 losses
2013-14 Prairie Division Record: 15-7 (3rd)
2013-14 Canada West Tournament: 0-2 (5th tied)
2013-14 CIS Tournament: N/A/
The Pronghorns are in their second year under coach Mike Hansen and if his first year at the helm is any indication, Lethbridge has a bright future.
Last year, the ‘Horns put together a 15-win season, which was the most the program has achieved in 14 years, before ultimately losing to Fraser Valley in the Canada West quarter-finals.
The key for Lethbridge is to keep that momentum rolling despite losing three of its top four scorers from last year, including Canada West all-star Logan Reiter.
With the loss of much of their backcourt due to graduation, the frontcourt came into this season well aware that it would need to do the heavy lifting. So far, through four games, that’s exactly what has happened. Australian Brandon Brine averaged 16.2 points per game in his first season with the program last year and he’s right on pace for another solid season as he’s averaging 16.8 points per game. As expected, Brent Watkins – the 6-foot-10 transfer from California’s Citrus College – has taken his game to new heights this year as he’s second on the team in scoring with 12.2 points per game.
ON THE GLASS
It’s only four games into the season, but Jared Baker has already stepped up his game on the glass. Last year, Baker averaged 5.9 rebounds per game. This year, he’s tied for sixth in Canada West with 9.5 boards per outing. He’s had at least seven rebounds in each of his last five games, including a season-high 15 on Nov. 1 against Brandon
Through the first four games, Lethbridge has been guilty of far too many turnovers. The ‘Horns are averaging 24.0 turnovers per game, which has them last in Canada West. They had a season-high 31 in their last game against Winnipeg.