Basketball seasons at the U of R set to commence

Get outta here!/ Fernando Llano, The Associated Press

Get outta here!/ Fernando Llano, The Associated Press

Remember: those who score the most usually win

Last season’s exploits on the hardwood left something to be desired. The men struggled to an 11-20 record (including exhibition games), and finished just outside of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the women’s team made the playoffs, old hat at this point, but left the scene with a loss to UBC in the quarterfinals.

A new academic year brings with it a new athletic one, and the outlook for both teams is somewhat uncertain. No matter the outlook, two questions stand prominently: will the men’s team be able to continue last season’s momentum? And, will the women’s team be able to rebound and once again compete in the CIS playoffs, and find their way back to the CIS Final Four? First, let’s look at the men’s program’s chances of delivering on their hopes and dreams.

Firstly, the backcourt looks like it is set to improve. The Tull brothers, Brandon and Jonathan, both key contributors last season, will be back, and will be reinforced by guards Alex Igual and Matthew Augustine. Igual, in particular will be an interesting addition to the team. The product of Barcelona was only able to play four games last season, but even in limited action he still poured in 14.5 points per game. Those numbers, extrapolated over an entire season, would have been good for third on the team, just behind the Tull brothers. It is fair to say that the strength of this squad will be in their guard play.

Another strength of this squad is their experience. Unlike previous years, where growing pains were the modus operandi, this year’s team is sprinkled with various levels of the kind of know-how that can be obtained through multiple seasons of CIS competition. There are four players that are finishing their final season (Jonathan Tull, Augustine, Tallman, and Jeremy Zver), competing with fourth year Travis Sylvestre – a major contributor to last season’s club – as well as the aforementioned Igual.

Now, for a prediction: I think this team has what it takes to make the playoffs, a lofty, but obtainable goal.

The women’s team, on the other hand, is aiming to get back to the championship game. The squad, just like the men’s edition, is plenty experienced. Top contributors Katie Polischuk and Kehlsie Crone are back, but Jennilea Coppola – she of the forty-one blocks last season – has been lost to convocation, which leaves a big void in the middle of the team’s defense that will have to be filled.

One area in which the Cougars will have to improve is on the road. Last season, they had a losing record away from home, while winning the vast majority of their contests that were held at the CKHS. Case and point being that they lost their quarterfinal matchup with UBC in Vancouver, where a home contest would have been far more beneficial.

Guard play is a definite strength for the team, with Polischuk and Crone returning, but another key aspect for this team is their balance in scoring. Last season, on average, four players were in double figures in scoring, with the aforementioned Coppola close behind at nine points per contest. Even more impressive was their balance in terms of rebounding. Six of the ten players who logged minutes last year averaged at least four boards, and if the team can repeat that balance, it will go a long way in insuring that the Cougars get back to their previous heights.

In short, from this flawed prognosticator’s perspective, both squads look to be poised for a solid season, as long as both teams can maintain and improve upon the momentum that they accumulated last year.

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