The UBCO Heat men’s and women’s basketball teams will be looking to start their season with a pair of wins this weekend when they both travel to Abbotsford to take on the University of the Fraser Valley.
Each team will play UFV on Friday and Saturday in what should prove to be a challenging matchup, especially for the men. The UFV men’s team is coming off a 17 win season that saw them finish first in the Explorer Division, while UBCO finished last in the same division a year ago with just four wins.
Although the men’s program is coming off a difficult season, there is plenty of optimism as they head into their season opening double header. The Heat is a very young team with seven of its 14 players starting only their second year and they went 4-2 in the preseason, matching last year’s season win total.
“So far in practice, they’ve all made jumps and I’m really proud of them,” head coach Pete Guarasci said of his second year players. “I think last year was more about getting exposure to this level and understanding the work it takes to succeed at this level. They’ve all made some great jumps in practice, and now it’s time to transfer that into games. That’s where our focus is, and I’ve told the whole team, especially that group, that I want to see a big growth year.”
Small forward Cameron Friesen noted the team can’t wait to get the season started.
“It’s going to feel great, we’ve been putting in a lot of work in practices over the last two months now,” he said. “We’ve had a good preseason, so we’re going to try to carry our momentum into these season games.”
With a tough matchup to start the season for the men, Guarasci wants to see his players compete on every possession and execute their gameplan.
For the women, their season opener is more than just opening weekend – it’s also their first regular season game under new head coach Claire Meadows. The women went 3-5 in the preseason after finishing with a 7-18 record a season ago, and Meadows is very happy with how the team performed in the exhibition games. She noted her players are feeling confident and they’ve adapted well to the new coach and system.
“I think that the main difference from what I’ve gathered is that there’s a little more structure this year,” Meadows described. “We’re running a system that has a lot of different screening actions, a lot of different read and react decision making built into it. I’ve thrown a lot a them in a little bit of time, but they’ve adapted well.”
Meadows is excited to coach her first regular season game with the Heat, and she believes the team has a good vibe and is ready to go after developing a good foundation last year. Fourth year guard Emily Kanester is also excited to start the season, but with more motivation than most as she missed last season with an ankle injury.
“I’m super ready to go and get back out there,” she explained. “We’ve got some new players and a new coach, I think it’s really exciting for everyone.”
Kanester added they learned a lot from the preseason from playing a variety of teams, and they’re ready to go.
The women play UFV at 6:00pm on Friday and 5:00pm on Saturday at Envision Athletic Centre in Abbotsford, while the men play at 8:00pm on Friday and 7:00pm on Saturday.