Todd Jordan doesnt have any illusions about the start of the Canada West basketball season.
Weve got a pretty new group of guys, says the UNBC mens basketball coach. Were going to have to be patient over the first couple of months.
The Timberwolves got their first taste of game action on the weekend with three pre-season games in Alberta. They lost all three, but Jordan saw plenty of encouraging signs.
We got better as the weekend went along. We didnt play well against Mount Royal (an 81-70 loss), were in control most of the game against Red Deer (84-80 loss), and played well against Alberta (86-62 loss).
The good news was Jordan had the chance to experiment with different combinations of players on the floor. The bad news was that was partly due to a couple of injuries.
We were missing Billy Cheng and Devin McMurtry this weekend, both out with injuries. Devin is on a concussion watch. He hasnt shown any problems, and he probably could have played, but thats something you dont mess around with. If there are no setbacks, he should be good to go this weekend.
Cheng, however, wont be.
Billy broke his foot mid-summer, and were just waiting for x-rays to see how its healing. When he does get back, hes going to have to catch up to the other players, because he obviously hasnt been doing any running. Were hoping to have him back by the last week of October.
Missing two players meant more court time for others.
I played most of the guys a decent amount of time, experimented with the lineup. We arent quite as deep when were missing a couple of players, so guys got tired as the games went along.
Chengs absence was noticeable, Jordan said.
Hes a pretty dynamic guy, and he has a lot of experience in our system. We had to tweak things depending on what personnel we had on the court. Each lineup has its own strengths and weaknesses.
With Cheng out, Jibreel Stevens got a lot of time at point guard on the weekend.
Hes got a lot of experience, playing two years at junior college in Tacoma, so he gives us another option there.
Another newcomer, Franck Kouagnia, also had a strong weekend, Jordan said.
Hes originally from Cameroon, but he spent the last few seasons in England. Hes a 6-7 forward who had a pretty solid weekend. He was commanding in the paint a lot of the time.
Returnee Charles Barton also had a strong weekend.
We expect him to be one of the main contributors this season, Jordan said.
The Timberwolves are back home this weekend for a pair of preseason games against Grande Prairie Regional College.
I only saw a few minutes of one of their games in Edmonton, Jordan says, but they look like a very scrappy team. I expect them to be better than last year.
Game times are 7 p.m. on Oct. 12 and 1 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.
The womens team was also in Alberta on the weekend, where they lost 75-63 to Grant McEwan and 65-62 to NAIT before downing Mount Royal 61-45. The women are now off until they host Quest University Oct. 25 and 26.