After a very optimistic start to the season, where the team headed home for the holiday break in sole possession of a Pacific Division playoff spot, the men’s basketball team has not enjoyed 2013, losing all four games. This past weekend, the men hosted Winnipeg and Manitoba, suffering 91-83 and 90-79 defeats, respectively, on Thursday and Saturday evening. Now sitting a half-game behind Thompson Rivers University for the final playoff ticket, and having already split the season series with the WolfPack, the Timberwolves head south for crucial road trips to #7 UFV and Victoria. “We have played a tough schedule to start , with a tough road trip to the Prairies and games in very tough places to play,” said head coach Todd Jordan, downplaying the 0-4 start to the calendar year. “If we can do a better job executing our schemes both offensively and defensively down the stretches of games, the wins will come.”
The road trip to the Fraser Valley this weekend could be at the right time – the nationally ranked Cascades are also without a win in 2013, and have the lowest reported attendance in Canada West at only 244 fans per game to boot. While most teams in the conference enjoy considerable success at home – something else Jordan alluded to – UFV sports a disappointing mark (2-4), balanced by their ability to win on the road (5-3).
The second road trip to Victoria looks more challenging on paper. The Vikes are 7-1 in McKinnon Gym, having won all battles since an early-season loss to Trinity Western in November. This past week saw the Vikes smoke both Regina and Brandon with 20-plus point margins of victory as the team continues their bid to be recognized with a national rank of their own.
With TWU and TRU facing each other in two weeks while the Timberwolves play tough games in Victoria, this road trip to a slumping Cascades team could be the most important games the Timberwolves play this season. “Most of our losses this year have been by only a couple possessions and we have usually had opportunities to win in the fourth quarter of games,” said Jordan. “Our margin of error has been very thin. More than anything we just need to get a bit tougher mentally at the end of games and make better decisions at crunch time.”
By Geoff Sargent