It’s been a while since the UNBC Northern Timberwolves have played in a B.C. Colleges Athletic Association league game. As a matter of fact, they haven’t hit the court for BCCAA action in about a month and a half.
The wait ends this evening in New Westminster, where UNBC is hitting the court against the Douglas College Royals.
“I’m sure everyone is probably excited to get back into conference play,” UNBC men’s head coach Mike Raimbault said. “It’s been a while since we’ve played some league games so it should be an exciting weekend.”
The UNBC men’s squad may be as anxious as any team in the league to resume their season. Facing an automatic berth to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) championship tournament as the host team while trying to recover from a 1-4 start to the season, the men face an uphill battle in showing they’re a legitimate contender for a national title.
Still, they’ve only been outscored by a total of 19 points in the five games. And two of their defeats were road losses in Nanaimo against the undefeated Vancouver Island University Mariners (6-0). With that in mind, their 1-4 mark is a little misleading.
“We’re really not concentrating on what our record is. Our focus has just been to continually get better week by week, and that’s what we’re going to try and do this weekend,” Raimbault said.
The Royals, unlike the national championship-winning team that finished 16-0 in the BCCAA 2007-08 regular season, are sporting an ordinary-looking 3-2 record.
“Obviously they’ve made a lot of changes from last year,” said Raimbault, noting changes in the Douglas College coaching staff and roster to start this season.
Last weekend in an exhibition tournament at SAIT in Calgary, the UNBC men’s squad finished with a 1-2 record. They lost 75-70 to Mount Royal College of Calgary, were defeated 74-69 by Medicine Hat College, and won by an 81-56 count against Keyano College of Fort McMurray.
Meanwhile, the UNBC women finished with a 2-1 record at NAIT in Edmonton on the weekend. They defeated NAIT in a pair of games, 74-58 and 78-37, and suffered a heartbreaking defeat, 81-80 to Grant MacEwan of Edmonton.
The Northern Timberwolves are battling injuries entering their first BCCAA games of 2009. Women’s head coach Loralyn Murdoch said that Jen Clyne (sprained hand), Jessica Wallace (sprained arm/wrist) and Soili Smith are each questionable for playing time this weekend.
“It’s been a long break. We’ve had a few exhibition games, but it’ll be nice to get back playing league games and make the final push here through March,” Murdoch said.
With a 4-1 record, the women are tied with the Vancouver Island University Raiders for third in league standings, behind the Camosun College Chargers (6-0) and the Capilano University Blues (5-0). The Royals are in a three-way tie for fifth at 2-3.
“They’re going to be tough. They’re always tough,” Murdoch said of the Royals. “They’re very strong, they play hard and they play very well at home, so it’s going to be a battle. We have to go in there and we have to be prepared to play tough, play strong and do what we do and not worry about what they’re doing.”