Kamloops, BC—The ‘underdog’ role is something the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s basketball team getting used to.
As they enter another Canada West playoff series, Scott Clark and company are considered to be in that role again. The WolfPack are heading to Calgary, Alberta for a battle with the University of Calgary Dinos. It’s the Canada West quarterfinals and they open up tomorrow (Feb 21). The Dinos are the number one ranked team in the post season.
The WolfPack are coming off a ‘play in’ series where they came back from a 1-0 deficit to down the Brandon University Bobcats in three straight games. Clark says they did gain something from that series. “ I guess we have a little momentum going forward. But the goal of the season remains the same-Can you get better? We are just trying to get a little bit better. Those things sound cliché but we are just going to prepare, take it a possession at a time and the score will be the score at the end of the game.”
This is the third meeting of the two schools in just over a year. The teams met around this time last year in the Canada West championship final. The Dinos also spent a weekend on the Warner Rentals Court at the Tournament Capital Centre earlier this month (Feb 3-4). In all three cases, Calgary was victorious.
“There is some familiarity so you get a bit of a jump start in your preparation,” Clark said “It also helps us that we have a short turnaround. It’s the playoffs. You just want to try and win and advance. More importantly, for our group we are trying to get a little bit better.”
Canada West 2nd star of the week Volodymyr Iegorov (5th year, forward, Donetsk, Ukraine) will again be the main man in the TRU offense. Others, though are starting to break through offensively.
“We have a system of play that relies upon some balance,” Clark says. “When we recruit players we tell them that we are looking for basketball players-not a post player or a point guard. We are looking for basketball players. What you see are guys who are basketball players who make basketball plays. That might be Vlad but it could be anyone else as well. It is a function of their abilities and their system of play. We have a saying “We want to have every guy to be one of the fellas.” That is what’s happening.”
The Dinos finished 16-4 in the regular season while TRU was 8-12.
This will be the third straight week the WolfPack have been on the road after finishing the regular campaign in Regina (Feb 10-11).
All three games will be shown on a pay-per-view basis on www.Canadawesttv..
TIP-INS: Clark on Iegorov being second star of the week: “I am happy for Vlad. Any time he can receive individual recognition it’s great. I think the tone of everything is the team. The fact is, the team won. I think Vlad is proud to be the second star but I am absolutely positive that he is more proud of the fact the team won the playoff series and is advancing in the playoffs.”
In the two games between the teams this season: Calgary won the first night (Fri Feb 3) 84-76 . TRU was up 44-40 at the half. Calgary was led by Thomas Cooper (5th year, guard, Chattanooga, TN) with 22 points.TRU’s main gunner was fellow American Derek Rhodes (Antioch, California) with 16 points.
The following night, the Pack turned over the ball 16 times in the first half and dropped a 76-60 decision. The Dinos outscored TRU 36-30 in the second half after holding a 40-30 lead at the half. They were led on offense by Thomas Cooper with 19 points. David Kapinga added 17 with Jhony Verrone potting 11.
TRU’s main offensive threat was Iegorov who had 16 points. Trent Monkman (1st year guard, Smithers, BC) added 15 points while Rhodes added 10.
The WolfPack turned the ball over 16 times in the first half and 24 times during the game. The Dinos had 11 turnovers
Cooper finished second in the Canada West in points per game (22.7) while Kapinga led the league in three point percent (48.1). Iegorov was fourth in rebounds per game during the regular season. He averaged 9.1