Under the guidance of rookie head coach Claire Meadows last season, UBC Okanagan had its best performance yet in Canada West women’s basketball.
The Heat will look to build on that success when the 2016-17 campaign opens this weekend at home to the Trinity Western Spartans.
Tip off at the Kelowna campus gym is 6 p.m. tonight and 5 p.m. on Saturday.
If a 9-1 exhibition record is any indication, then the Heat should hit the floor running.
And with the return of the majority of her roster, Meadows looks for the Heat to once again hold its own among CIS competition.
“We’re fairly mature, we have an older roster and we’re looking for those players to lead us this season,” said Meadows, whose Heat posted a 10-10 conference record last season.
“Having said that, we’ve brought in a couple of young players who had a good preseasons and we’ll be looking to them to add to the mix.”
Highlighting this year’s returnees is fifth-year guard Emily Kanester, who Meadows said “had a brilliant preseason” for the Heat.
Claire Elliott and Olivia Johnson will be the Heat’s defensive stalwarts, while co-captain Chloe Kennedy will provide both experience and leadership in her fifth and final year.
Immaculata grad Nicole Hart and Surrey’s Emma Jones are freshmen who will be expected to make contributions.
As for the competition expected this season in Canada West, Meadows said it will be stiff, to say the least.
“Every team we play is going to be a formidable opponent,” said Meadows.
“Every game is going to be a dogfight, so we just need to look after our end of things and make sure we’re prepared.
“I’m not so much concerned about wins and losses, but our goal is to work our butts off and make the playoffs.”
Pete Guarasci is back for this fifth season at the helm of the UBCO men who will open their 2016-17 season with a doubleheader against the Trinity Western Spartans.
The teams will meet Friday at 8 p.m. and again Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Kelowna campus gym.
UBCO will be led into battle by fifth-year point guard Mitch Goodwin and fellow guard Aldrich Berrios.
Goodwin, KSS grad, averaged 12.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season
Berrios, a third-year guard from Burnaby, led the Heat last season with 14.4 points a 2.5 assists per game.
The Heat, who went 8-12 in conference play last season, were 1-6 in the preseason.