Kamloops, BC—They are talking ‘new dynamic’ when it comes to the makeup of the 2016-17 edition of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s basketball team. As the season gears up to get underway on Friday (Nov 4), the ‘Pack are at home opening weekend to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
Friday nights tilt is set for 6 pm on the Warner Rentals Court at the Tournament Capital Centre. Saturday’s encounter has a 5 pm tipoff.
“We are very young but they are a smart group which is coming together,” says head coach Scott Reeves. “We have had a pretty tough preseason which was done intentionally to introduce them to what Canada West is going to be like now that we are travelling all the way out to Manitoba for league games unlike the last couple of years. I think the team is coming together and is starting to understand our systems. I am excited to get it going.”
Reeves has enjoyed success coaching at the high school, university and junior national team levels. With having a young squad, does that mean he will have to exude some additional patience? “It is so different in high school because you start with a young group and you teach them all the way through so when they become older they get it. In University, you are recruiting young but you already have some old so trying to catch up if the IQ isn’t there is can be a struggle. It is so important that when you recruit you have to judge whether they can understand the game of basketball—can they learn it? This group has been pretty good about catching onto stuff. I am excited for the future but also excited about being able to compete against teams like UBC.”
He adds: “With veterans especially when Jorri (Duxbury, guard, Salmon Arm, BC who graduated two years ago from the TRU program after five years) left. She filled such an important role for us. The point guard who calmed everything down. She knew what we were running. Understand the defense and get us into positions to have the best chance of success. Once you lose that, it becomes a waiting period before you get that fourth or fifth year guard to run your stuff.”
The WolfPack have no fifth year players. Their fourth year is forward Shenise Sigsworth (Kamloops, BC). “I’m excited about this year,’ she says. “ We are developing our skills and have made so much progress over the preseason. It is really exciting how we are progressing from game to game.”
“We have a lot of enthusiasm and excitement about the year and how it will unfold,” states Michelle Bos (3rd year, forward, Surrey, BC) who is the co-captain of the squad with Sigsworth. “We are all at the same level. If one person falls down the others pick them up and support them. As a third year captain, Shenise and I are stepping into a leadership role for the first years. There is always a huge learning curve whether it’s learning the plays or the dynamic of travel. “
Bos says while the ‘Pack are youthful that doesn’t mean the overall dynamic of the team has changed from previous years. “We have always been strong in that sense.”
Reeves believes those two players along with Emma Piggin (3rd year, guard, Kamloops, BC), who was a Canada West all-star last year will be the key players he will go to leading the way on the court.
Sigsworth believes the guard position is one of TRU’s strengths. “We have a lot of key shooters. Michelle and Emily Vilac (3rd year, Kamloops, BC) are the forwards. Both have been playing really well so far. She says the ultimate goal for this ‘fresh faced laced’ squad is to make the Canada West playoffs for a sixth straight year. “We want to make the playoffs for sure.”
DOUBLE DRIBBLES: The WolfPack have six players from Kamloops on their roster: all are graduates of Reeves’ Kamloops Basketball Academy program. Five of them: Piggin, Vilac, Danica Lincoln (1st year guard,) Riley Oien (1st year, forward) and Kanesha Reeves (3rd year, guard) are also graduates of the South Kamloops Secondary program.
Kanesha is Scott’s oldest daughter. He says coaching her at this level has proven to be an interesting experience mainly because both Reeves’ are in the coaches words—“the same personality type”. “If we were different in that way it might work better at times,” he laughs. “If something isn’t going particularly well in a game or practice, we meet at home later: we have this language going on that no one really understands but we are definitely on the same wave length. A lot of incomplete sentences but I know exactly what she is talking about,’ he smiles. “It’s been fun for sure.”
Putting aside the coach’s hat for the dad’s hat for a moment, he says his extremely proud of how she has developed skills wise. “She knew from day one that she would be an undersized guard. I told her that there is a place for someone who can shoot the basketball and that is what she has committed herself to. I know she struggled percentage wise in the preseason. Some of that is due to getting those shots late in the shot clock. People have switched out and she has a bigger kids on her. She is working extremely hard at developing her three point shooting. That will be one of her major roles. She is fitter. She is stronger for her size. She has come a long way. For someone her size and her frailty coming out of high school, most don’t really make it to their third year.”
This is a ‘McDonald’s weekend” which means there will be some special events coinciding with that. As well on Friday, there will be a VIP area set up near the court and it is “Country 103 FM” night.”
This weekend’s games will be webcast on a pay-per-view basis on CanadaWest TV with Brenden Escott, Jamie Schinkewski doing play by play and color. Nikki Fredrikson is back to provide pregame and between quarter interviews. They were the webcast team last season and were critically acclaimed as one of the best combos in the Canada West.