Sports

Timberwolves look to off-season to change

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Did the UNBC men’s basketball team have a successful season? Well, it really depends on how one defines success.

The Timberwolves posted a 16-2 regular season record, and placed second at the BCCAA Provincials.

They capped their year with a fifth place tie at the CCAA nationals. I believe most teams, in most leagues, would be proud with these results, thus declaring this season a success. Certainly, these achievements are noteworthy. However, I suggest that many UNBC players and coaches, and possibly their supporters, feel unfulfilled, or dissatisfied that expectations were not met.

In 2009, the Timberwolves hosted nationals, surprised the field and finished a very competitive fourth out of 8. The team put on a heartwarming display before 2,000 enthusiastic fans that filled the seats at the Northern Sport Centre.

In 2010, UNBC captured gold at nationals in Calgary, achieving the pinnacle of awards. Yes, first place, Number 1 in Canada.

In 2011, UNBC managed just one win (a token one over the last-place host team) and two lopsided losses at nationals in Oshawa, Ont. with a roster consisting of many returning players.

The T-wolves were whipped 81-66 by Lethbridge (score was 81-59 late in the game), and in their only victory, they barely defeated Durham 72-67 (a team that would not have been in the tournament if they were not hosting). Then, UNBC was trounced by Mount Saint Vincent University (who eventually ended up fourth) 84-49. MSVU took advantage of a lifeless opposition and led 24-7 after one quarter.  That 35-point difference was the biggest spread of any of the 13 games in the tournament.

I don’t know anybody that wants their season to close with such a blowout, embarrassing loss. The Timberwolves did not have the hunger, drive, desire, call it what you will, of the previous year.

The Timberwolves won many games on talent this season, often against inferior competition, but their season ended up being a classic example of a team that found it difficult to get to the top, but much harder to stay there.

UNBC has many players eligible to return. However, fifth-year senior Inderbir Gill, their “go to” guard will not be back. Gill leaves the game as one of the most decorated athletes in CCAA history, a three-time CCAA All-Canadian, the 2010 CCAA championship MVP, 2010 CCAA overall athlete of the year and, to top it off, the 2011 CCAA player of the year.

Even Gill, who unquestionably is the greatest player to wear UNBC colours, struggled for his standards, at nationals. Against Lethbridge, he did not score in the first half and finished with 13 points, which is eight below his season average. However, Gill did hoop 24 against Durham but was back to just eight against MSVU.

It is no coincidence that over the past three seasons, as Inderbir went, so did the Timberwolves. Now, as UNBC moves forward, with the anticipation of being accepted into the CIS, there certainly will be a changing of the “guard”.

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The most predictable aspect of the Prince George Cougars season was their unpredictability. Throughout the season the Cats would lose 7-0 one game (to Red Deer) and win 8-0 the next (at Vancouver). In fact, the Cougars lost seven in a row at home (Feb. 18-March 8), yet won 10 of 13 at CN Centre (Dec. 14 to Feb. 5). P.G. won back to back games against Kelowna (Feb. 4 and 5) yet lost its previous six games against the same club. To this end, it is difficult to predict what the Cougars will do against these same Rockets in the playoffs.

At Christmas, P.G. was in first place in its division, yet they failed to clinch a playoff spot until the second last game of the regular season. The Cats certainly targeted Kelowna as a first-round opponent, but what are their chances of advancing?

The Cougars can score (18 more goals than Kelowna in regular season) but have struggled defensively (64 more goals allowed than the Rockets). Their starting goalie, Ty Rimmer, reflects the team’s fortunes this season, great one game and bad another.

The Cats are clearly the underdog since most of their players do not have post-season experience and the Rockets have home-ice advantage. Should Prince George advance, it’s safe to suggest that is where the run would end since they would be overmatched in Round 2 against Portland or Spokane.

I am picking Kelowna to win in seven, in what should be the better of the first-round WHL Western Conference series. That is the logical choice, yet when it comes to the Cougars, logic and reasoning often gets tossed out the window.

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From the Quote Rack:

The University of Calgary held a night in support of homelessness where students slept on the floor or, as CFL players call it, training camp.

Contributor Derek Wilken of Calgary (smacksport.blogspot.com/)

And in case you missed it:

Sunday in LA, a 6-foot tall, 400-pound sumo wrestler named Kelly Gneiting became the heaviest man to ever finish a marathon.  He registered with bib No. 7831 and at 5.6 on the Richter scale.

Comedy writer Jerry Perisho  (monologuewriter.blogspot.com/)

Hartley Miller is the sports director for radio stations 94X and the Wolf@97fm. He also writes for Opinion 250. Send along a quote, note or anecdote to hmiller@94xfm.com.

 

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