(ISN) – Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack are into the Canada West men’s basketball playoffs for the second year in a row. And for the first time in their history: they will be hosting a post season series.
The WolfPack (11-9) will face the University of Winnipeg Wesmen (12-8) in a best of three ‘play in’ series. The series opens Thursday night (Feb 19) at the TRU Gym. Tipoff is 7 pm.
“It is nice that their hard work can be recognized by having post season play, ” says WolfPack head coach Scott Clark about his club had qualified for the playoffs by winning their final regular season game Saturday (Feb 14) at Fraser Valley. “Guys have made some sacrifices. I think that is what athletics is all about: making sacrifices to achieve something. It is good in that aspect. It is good we get to have more practices and spend more time with each other and now it’s a new season.”
This will be the first time the WolfPack and Wesmen have played since February 1, 2014 when at the Tournament Captial Centre, TRU beat Winnipeg 67-66.
Clark has a lot of respect for the Wesmen. ” They are good. They could have finished as high as third or fourth down the stretch. They have some athleticism and are well coached. You can tell they listen to their coach. We are going to have to do a good job of handling their athleticism. If we can do that, we should have a good chance.”
The style of the WolfPack and that of the Wesmen contrast each other. “We are probably not renowned for our quickness while they would be. They try to turn you over. We have done a pretty good job of handling the basketball without making errors.”
As they look to prepare for the series, the ‘Pack coach maintains there will be no disruption in what they have been doing all year. “Both of us started practicing in September. The guys should know what they are doing by now. It is stay the course. You could freak out and try and make a whole lot of changes but I don’t think that would be effective.”
The WolfPack have two Canada West statistical leaders in their lineup. Josh Wolfram (fourth year, forward, Kamloops, BC) was third in three point shooting percent (45.8) and fourth in rebounding (9.9 per game).
Brett Parker (fifth year, guard, Langley, BC) was fifth in three point percent (44.6).
The Wesmen had no players in the top five of individual stats but as a team they led the Canada West in steals (9.4 per game) and blocks (4 per game average). They were also fourth in three point percent (35.2 per game).
The series will be played at the smaller capacity TRU gym due to their regular court-the Tournament Capital Centre being booked for the BC Special Olympics. Clark says for the most part, the Wesmen and the WolfPack will be on even footing. They haven’t practiced at the TRU gym since November.
“In the off season, the guys play in there,” he says. “We host a spring league where the guys play. From that perspective it will be a little more comfortable. Realistically, it’s a gym like any other. The length of the floor is the same. The only difference is the proximity of the fans. If we can pack some people in, that might help us a little. It depends on how well we play though.”
Game two of the series will be Friday (Feb 20) at 7 pm with a third game set for Saturday (Feb 21) at 5 pm if necessary.
All games will be shown on CanadaWest.TV.
Tickets for the games are $10 dollars for adults, $5.00 for Seniors and Students (13-18), TRU Students, WolfPack athletes and ages 5-12 $2.00. Children under five are free.
DOUBLE DRIBBLES: Clark on the playoff format: “Essentially the top six teams get a week off. That allows two other teams to get in. While you would like to be playing in a weeks’ time, the positives are that you get to keep your rhythm of practicing and playing. We don’t have to go anywhere which is nice as well and play in front of friends and family.”
The other ‘Play In” series had Manitoba (ranked #10) meeting the Dinos (#7) in Calgary. That series runs Friday, Feb 20 to Sunday Feb 22.
The winner of the Wesmen/WolfPack series will meet the number one ranked Saskatchewan Huskies in the quarterfinals starting Friday, February 27 th in Saskatoon.
The winner of the Manitoba/Calgary affair will wind up travelling to Abbotsford to meet the Fraser Valley Cascades. Other quarter final series have UNBC (#5) meeting the Thunderbirds (#4) at UBC. Alberta (#6) will do battle with the Vikes in Victoria (#3).