Abbotsford -UPDATE from UC Santa Barbara – UC Santa Barbara’s three-game men’s basketball trip to Vancouver, B.C.(Abbotsford), which was scheduled to commence on Tuesday, Aug. 21, has been canceled do to the poor air quality in and around the area, head coach Joe Pasternack announced Monday.
With numerous fires burning in British Columbia, it was determined that the air quality would not improve sufficiently to allow for games to be played without risk.
“We were very much looking forward to the trip, both from a competitive standpoint and for the opportunity to experience one of North America’s great cities,” Pasternack said. “Our thoughts are with the people of British Columbia as they continue to battle the fires.”
The Gauchos, who will return just five players from a team that went 23-9 in 2017-18, did benefit from nine full practices in preparation for the trip.
ORIGINAL STORY — The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team gets an early start to the preseason this week, as they host a tough opponent from the NCAA Division I ranks.
The University of California-Santa Barbara Gauchos open a three-game exhibition swing through the Lower Mainland against the Cascades, with tip-off set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre. Admission is free. The Gauchos will go on to face the Douglas Royals on Thursday and the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday.
“It’s a fun opportunity to play against some high-level competition in August, and it’ll give our guys a chance to compete together and start the season off a little earlier than usual,” said Cascades head coach Adam Friesen, whose team opens the Canada West regular season Oct. 26-27 at home vs. the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.
In 2017-18, the visiting Gauchos posted a 23-9 record under the guidance of first-year head coach Joe Pasternack, advancing to the semifinals of the Big West conference tournament. The program has earned five NCAA tournament bids in its history, the most recent coming in 2011. This year’s edition of the squad features six returnees and nine newcomers, led by junior guard Max Heidigger who paced the team in scoring last season at 19.1 points per game.
The Cascades, meanwhile, boast great continuity with 11 returnees, including last season’s top scorers Mark Johnson (13.8 points per game) and Andrew Morris (12.6).
Wednesday marks the first UFV game action for prized recruit Sukhjot Bains, a Surrey, B.C. product who signed with the Cascades following three post-secondary seasons south of the border, most recently with the NCAA Div. I Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix. Friesen is also excited to see how hard work over the summer translates to game situations for up-and-coming Cascades like sophomore point guard Vick Toor (8.8 points, 4.4 assists per game last season) and third-year centre Sukhman Sandhu (9.3 points, Canada West-leading 2.1 blocks per game).
“Their comfort and confidence levels are so much higher than last season,” Friesen said. “And it’ll be exciting to have Sukhjot part of the group for the first time in a game setting. Everybody’s worked hard in the summer and gotten better, and it’ll be nice to see those improvements in a game setting.”