2011 UBC Hoops
It was supposed to be a year of rebuilding, the players lost to graduation would leave too big of a gap to fill. Gone are backcourt mates Josh Whyte and Alex Murphy, along with forward Brent Malish, the later two being five year staples at the Point Grey campus.
Not only did the team lose three starters, but they also needed to fill the void on the bench when assistant coach Randy Nohr stepped down in the summer.
While those four familiar faces may have moved on, the holes have been filled by a cast of fifth year playes, including a pair of who have bidded their time, waiting for the opportunity to present itself . All everything guard, Nathan Yu, fresh off of a stint with the Canadian FISU program and the Pan Am games takes over at the point, while two guard Doug Plumb returns for his final season in the backcourt.
On the wing, Kamar Burke and Graham Bath provide the squad with a combination of finesse and blue collar hustle.
Up front, Balraj Bains, comes off four years of reserve action to take over the big man spot up front. Not skipping a beat, the role of assistant coach was confidently filled when Thunderbird alum, Casey Archibald decided to accept the offer, rather than return to professional team overseas.
After going 7-3 in the preseason, which included a victory over the Santa Clara Broncos and an undefeated record at the Waterloo Naismith Tournament, the Thunderbirds kicked off their CIS regular season schedule with a pair of convincing victories over the Brandon Bobcats (91-55) last Friday night.
Led by freshman Malcolm William’s game high 19 points, the Birds cruised to a home court victory. The following night, another relatively easy victory followed, as the Regina Cougars fell 100-71.
Paced by Yu’s game high 34 points, along with 6 rebounds and 8 dimes, the Thunderbirds closed out their opening homestand with a 2-0 record.
With all respect given to the Brandon and Regina basketball programs, they are not quite at the level of the Trinity Western Spartans, UBC’s opponent on Thursday evening, when it comes to “bad blood”.
One of UBC’s biggest rivals over the past few years, the Spartans lost seven players from last years CIS silver medal team, including stars Jacob Doerksen and Tyrell Mara.
Despite their roster changes, the desire to capture victory and bragging rights over the other still remains at a high for each school.
Returning for an early season injury, Plumb provided the yin to Burke’s yang as the Pitt Meadows grad drained a game high 25 points, while the forward from Mississauga cleaned up the glass on both ends of the floor with 17 boards to go along with 15 points.
Continuing his impressive play, despite coming off the bench for the TWU game, Williams chipped in with 14 points, missing only one shot in twenty two minutes of action.
With 15 points against Regina and his impressive debut game, Williams is making a strong case for CIS Rookie of the Year.