Kamloops, BC—Another week and another matchup against a tough team. But that’s the way of life for the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s basketball team in 2016-17.
The ‘Pack close out their four game Canada West home stand this weekend (Jan 13-14) as they entertain the University of Winnipeg Wesmen . The Wesmen sit in fourth place in the Canada West (8-4) while TRU is in 8th (6-6).
“They are well coached and they are good,” said Thompson Rivers head coach Scott Clark. “They have had some good results over the year. As always, we will have to play well to have some success.’
These two teams have a bit of a history despite the fact they haven’t seen each other in regular league play for three years. They met up in the Canada West play in series in 2014-15 with TRU winning in three games.
The Wesmen have won their last two starts while the WolfPack split last weekend against Victoria. Clark applauded his team for rebounding in their effort level from Friday. “I think the guys were disappointed with their performance as were the coaching staff. Hopefully there was a lesson learned there. Obviously the goal is to be successful and to win. But the first goal is to take care of yourself and play well. If you play well and the other team beats you—they also played well and there is nothing you can do about that. I think there is an empty feeling when you come out and you know you didn’t give your best effort or play well. That was the sense from Friday’s game. Saturday we played a little bit better. We played harder. There was life to us. We got more accomplished. “
With the departure of Jeff Tubbs (Kelowna, BC), a starting spot has opened up among the guards. Last weekend, Madhu McConnell (1st year, Victoria, BC) started the games but other players including Trent Monkman (Smithers, BC) got a chance for playing time.
“It is not ideal that now you are trying to figure out player rotations,” Clark said about the situation. “Guys have to shift their roles slightly. It is a work in progress. Madhu has seen an increase in playing time and he has responded. I think other guys had to realize that everybody bumps up in the rotation and they have to be ready to provide something. Whether that is being providing energy, or making a shot or playing defense for a couple of minutes. Those roles now become available. Those are things you usually figure out in September or October. But with the nature of the situation, it’s December and January and we are trying to figure it out.”
One player who has blossomed in his second year with the WolfPack has been guard Mike Rouault (Vernon, BC). After coming on during last year’s stretch run and making some big strides, Rouault has continued on that upward improvement this year. He is 26.5 minutes, 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds through the first 12 games.
“Mike plays hard. He is a guy that works hard every day. He plays hard. He prepares mentally and physically. It is no surprise that he has enjoyed some success because he has bought into how we want our players to prepare. That’s great. Lots of other guys are doing the same thing. It is good for Mike. He has had some good numbers. But, at the same token, we expect that. He has met our expectations.”
Game times this weekend are 8 pm on Friday and 7 pm on Saturday on the Warner Rentals Court. Both games will be webcast on www.CanadawestTV.
This is “Grandparents and Senior’s” weekend for the WolfPack. It is sponsored by Radio NL 610 and sees grandparents and seniors getting in for free if they bring their grandchildren to the game, they get in for free.
TRU’s “Bell Let’s Talk” awareness night is coming up this Friday (Jan 13) at the Tournament Capital Centre when the basketball teams entertain the University of Winnipeg Wesmen. Fans will be encouraged to write messages surrounding mental health on ‘thought bubbles’ and upload them to social media using hashtags : #BellLetsTalk and #OneTeamForMentalHealth. Bell will donate 5 cents for every tweet posted to Canadian mental health programs. Fans will also be given ‘thunder sticks’ and temporary tattoos.
As well, there will be representatives of the TRU counselling department manning an informational table.
DOUBLE DRIBBLES: Joe Davis (2nd year, forward, Kamloops, BC) is the only player involved in this weekend’s action who is among the statistical leaders in the Canada West. Davis is third in the league in field goal per cent (53.1)