Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack had a fabulous playoff run last season, making it all the way to the CIS Final 8.
But that was last year. It’s a whole new season and the WolfPack will begin a journey which they hope will lead to the USport Final 8 on Friday (Feb 17).
Thompson Rivers will open the Canada West playoffs on the road. They visit the eighth seeded Brandon University Bobcats (9-11). The best of three ‘play in’ series will run all weekend. TRU is ranked ninth (8-11)
It will be the first matchup between the two schools in nearly three years. The last time they met was January 10, 2014. The game was in Brandon with the Bobcats winning 74-70.
“They are a good team, “said TRU head coach Scott Clark about this year’s edition of the Bobcats. “ They have a very good starting five. They appear to be taller and quicker than us. They have played very well since Christmas so we are definitely the underdogs.”
“At times we have played OK on the road but sometimes we haven’t,” Clark adds. “Maybe it’s because of our youth. Hopefully by now the guys have acquired a taste of what is needed to be successful and we come out with a good effort.”
Clark says his team has to be more focused. “We have played well at times but we haven’t sustained anything. If we want to succeed we will have to sustain our physical and mental efforts for an entire 40 minutes. We haven’t been able to do that consistently.”
He ties that directly back to their inexperience. “ High School kids aren’t pushed to their limits due to the level of competition that may face day in and day out. At this level, you have to bring it every day or someone will hand you their lunch. It takes time to get used to the pressure of Canada West.”
Brandon won their last two games and were fourth in Canada West in rebounds (41.8 per game). TRU was fifth in the same category (39.8).
Two of the Bobcats players were among the leaders in statistics. Tyvon Cooper was fifth in the league in points per game (18.4) while John Paul was second in field goal per cent (60).
TRU’s Volodymyr Iegorov (5th year, forward, Donetsk, Ukraine) was third in total rebounds (18.2 per game) and fourth in offensive rebounds per game (9.1).
Iegorov and fellow veteran Luke Morris (4th year,forward, Mission, BC) will be looked to lead. Clark says “ I wouldn’t say there is pressure on them in any terms. It’s a game of basketball. No one is dying out there. They have to go out there and play hard, execute, concentrate and do their jobs. If they do that, things will work out well for you. To say there is extra pressure on them or someone else isn’t a productive thought.”
Game two of the series is set for Sunday (Feb 18) with game three if needed also going in Brandon on Sunday (Feb 19). Tip off for all three games will be 7 pm.