First year at top level a learning experience
The UNBC Timberwolves first season in Canada West basketball has been predictable: competitive against the lower teams and outclassed against the top teams.
The Timberwolves conclude year one with a home doubleheader this weekend at the Northern Sport Centre against another expansion team, the Mount Royal Cougars.
The men’s and women’s leagues (16 teams in each) have been discussing a two-tier system. Based on the 2012/13 results this option may be the preferred route. The top four teams in each division make the playoffs and there is a huge gap from #4 to #5 in the Pacific Division, a 4 1/2 game difference for the men, (11-9 compared to 7-14) and a whopping 7 1/2 games for the women (15-6 compared to 7-13).
It appears the UNBC Timberwolves struggled significantly as they attempted to make the transition from the lower PACWEST league. Depending on one’s point of view, that may be the case; however, UNBC can take consolation in that they are ahead of UBC Okanagan in both divisions, as UBCO made the jump from PACWEST the year before.
The 6-14 Lady Timberwolves have lost six straight. They are 0-8 against the top four teams in the Pacific Division, (seven of those losses by double digits) but 6-6 against the rest with none of their six victories against a team with a winning record.
It’s a similar story on the men’s side. The 5-15 Timberwolves have lost 10 in a row. They are 1-7 against the top four teams (with six of those losses by nine or more points). While the losing streak may indicate the Timberwolves are crashing, in reality, it’s just that they played the lower teams in the first half of the schedule and the better ones recently. For instance, the UNBC men lost to first-place UBC last weekend, second-place Victoria the weekend before and Fraser Valley, who are tied for third, prior to that.
As advertised, size, speed, skill and athleticism are among the areas considerably upgraded in Canada West. The Timberwolves were a provincial power in both divisions of PACWEST and making the adjustment has been a huge learning curve. A two-tier system would be beneficial for UNBC, although it’s still important to have games against the big-name, more-established universities like UBC. It is also imperative that the tier two winner has a chance to move up and compete for the big prize in the CIS playoffs.
Prince George basketball fans have displayed mixed reactions to the new league. Obviously the higher caliber play is appreciated, but surprisingly attendance (source: league website) at the Northern Sport Centre this season has averaged 377 for the women’s games and 660 for the men. That is dramatically lower than the glory days in PACWEST (formerly BCCAA).
One can debate as to whether fans would prefer winning at a lower level or losing at a higher one. For those that prefer the home team get the “W”, UNBC should be able to provide that on this final weekend as Mount Royal (5-15 women, 4-16 men) is below them in both divisions.
The Timberwolves first year basketball report card, despite the record, deserves a “C”; however, average should not be the standard in growing the program in future seasons.
From The Quote Rack
After starting the season 7-0, the San Jose Sharks have lost six in a row. Isn’t it a little early in this lockout-shortened year for the team to be in playoff form?
Contributor Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California (www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com)
Hartley Miller is the sports director for radio stations 94X and the Wolf@97fm. He also writes for hqprincegeorge.com. Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to email@example.com.
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