UBC Okanagan Heat basketball teams will get their second run in the revamped Canada West league structure for the upcoming 2015-16 season, once again loaded and hungry for their first postseason appearances.
This will be the fifth year of CIS competition for the Heat and the second and final season with the separate Pioneer and Explorer divisions in Canada West, with the UBCO a member of the latter.
The men and women, donned in blue and gold, no longer new to the landscape of the league, are eager to post a winning record and make a name in the postseason.
The slate in the Explorer’s division is unchanged this season, with the Fraser Valley Cascades, Thompson Rivers WolfPack, and UNBC Timberwolves joining UBC Okanagan to represent British Columbia, while the Mount Royal Cougars in Calgary and the MacEwan Griffins in Edmonton continue to hold up the front for Alberta.
There is no interdivisional play between divisions, and each Explorer contender will compete against each other four times.
Once again, the top three from the Explorer’s division will advance to the Canada West playoffs in a cross-matchup format with the qualifiers from the Pioneer division.
The Heat start the season off on the road against Explorer Division powerhouse Fraser Valley Nov. 6 and 7, who the blue and gold could not crack last year. The men’s team roared to a 17-3 finish atop the division, while the women’s squad went 12-8, good for the third seed. A couple of wins opening weekend against the Cascades would get UBC Okanagan off to a momentous start.
UBC Okanagan returns to Kelowna to kick off the home series against UNBC Nov. 13 and 14. A growing rivalry from season to season as both teams are old foes from their CCAA and PACWEST days, expect mid-November to still be hot with action.
UBC Okanagan will dazzle their home fans for the last time in the regular season Feb. 12 and 13 when they host MacEwan to conclude their series.
The grand conclusion of the 2015-16 slate will see the Heat will close out their regular season in Kamloops with the WolfPack February 19-20. These dates might be the most important to circle, as both TRU squads made it into the postseason last year, but this time around a recharged and reloaded Heat team might be battling out a tight race for the final spots, with everything coming down to this final weekend.
The top three from the Explorers and the top seven from the Pioneers will move on to the postseason.