Abbotsford – The University of the Fraser Valley men’s and women’s basketball teams are both riding win streaks as the calendar flips to 2019, and they’ll look to extend them this weekend as they host the Brandon Bobcats.
The Cascades men’s squad puts a seven-game win streak on the line, while the women aim to prolong a four-game run during the Friday-Saturday set at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.
MBB: Cascades seek to re-ignite red-hot play
Friday, Jan. 4: Cascades (8-4, T-3rd in Canada West) vs. Brandon Bobcats (2-8, 15th in Canada West), 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 5: Cascades vs. Bobcats, 7 p.m.
Envision Financial Athletic Centre
The Cascades men’s hoopsters cruised into the Christmas break with a ton of momentum, having won seven straight dating back to an 80-73 upset victory on Nov. 10 over the Alberta Golden Bears, the No. 5-ranked team in the nation at the time.
Head coach Adam Friesen’s squad has played hard-nosed, disciplined basketball throughout the streak. They take great care of the basketball, ranking third in Canada West by surrendering just 11.7 turnovers per game. And they do outstanding work on the glass, sitting third in the conference in rebounding margin (+5.0 per game).
“As a group, we’re hungry to continue playing good basketball, and our leaders are staying focused on what the objectives are for the season,” Friesen said.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, boast the conference’s top scorer in Tyvon Cooper, and they’ll provide a stiff test for the Cascades’ defence. Brandon, though, has struggled at the defensive end, allowing a league-worst 93.8 points per game and 1.14 points per possession.
“Defensively, we have to make sure we’re first getting back in transition and making Tyvon work for those baskets, making him see a lot of bodies between him and the rim,” Friesen analyzed. “Offensively, we need to keep doing what we’re doing – working until we find a great shot, and not settling for the first decent opportunity we see.”
Players to watch: Cascades fifth-year forward Mark Johnson is putting an exclamation point on his university career. The 6’6” Palm Springs, Calif. product is averaging 14.4 points per game, second-most on the team, along with a team-best 8.8 rebounds, ranking fifth overall in Canada West in that category. The UFV squad relies on him not only for his production, but for leadership as well. The aforementioned Tyvon Cooper is in the midst of an outstanding season for the Bobcats. The 6’2” guard’s 23.4 points per game not only lead Canada West, he’s ranked third in the nation in scoring. Cooper is a dangerous shooter from beyond the arc, hitting 42.9 per cent, and shoots 7.3 free throws per game, tied for second-most in the conference.
WBB: Cascades look to build on confident performances
Friday, Jan. 4: Cascades (7-5, 6th in Canada West) vs. Brandon Bobcats (2-8, 15th in Canada West), 6 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 5: Cascades vs. Bobcats, 5 p.m.
Envision Financial Athletic Centre
The Cascades women’s team finished the first semester with a flourish, reeling off four straight wins highlighted by a home-court sweep Nov. 23-24 vs. a UNBC Timberwolves squad which had been undefeated and nationally ranked coming in. It’s been five weeks since the team’s last game action, though, and head coach Al Tuchscherer is hoping his squad can pick up where it left off.
“The break was probably not at an optimal time for us,” Tuchscherer acknowledged. “We were just starting to play some really good basketball, and then we have a five-week break. You never know what you’re going to get coming out of a long layoff, but hopefully we can recapture some of that confidence we ended the first semester with.”
The Bobcats women’s team, like their male counterparts, endured a tough start to the campaign, and are allowing the most points per game (87.6) and per possession (1.13) in Canada West at the midpoint of the season. But Tuchscherer cautioned that they’re a tougher squad than their 2-8 record would suggest.
“It’s a team that’s had a pretty tough schedule in the first half of the season, so their record and some of their stats might be a bit deceiving,” Tuchscherer said of the Bobcats, whose early schedule included two games apiece vs. perennial powerhouses Saskatchewan and Regina. “This isn’t a team that we can take lightly at all. Lauren Anderson has turned into one of the better players in Canada West – she’s a super-effective scorer, and really dangerous within 18 feet.”
Players to watch: Cascades fourth-year forward Taylor Claggett is looking to build on an incredible first half. Over UFV’s first 12 games, the 5’11” Mission, B.C. product averaged 19.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, ranking third and 11th in Canada West in those respective categories. She also set conference records for free throws made (20) and attempted (24) in a single game back on Nov. 9 vs. Alberta. The Bobcats counter with a talented veteran forward of their own in 6’1” fifth-year Lauren Anderson. She’s tied for the team lead in scoring at 13.3 points per game, and ranks eighth in Canada West in rebounding (9.0 per game).
– Per-possession stats via usportshoops.ca