by Nick Orr (Contributor)
Coming into Saturday night’s game against Thompson Rivers University, the Cascades Men’s Basketball team carried with them a 3-6 record that may not necessarily have been indicative of their potential.
Keep in mind that their first four series were played against Manitoba, Saskatchewan, UBC, and Victoria, teams that are currently a combined 29-12. So coming in at 1-10, the Wolfpack weren’t likely getting a lot of love from the boys in Vegas.
Regardless of the imaginary line that likely favoured the Cascades by a healthy margin, the home team’s fan base wouldn’t need much more than the fingers and toes of 7’2” Wolfpack forward Greg Stewart to tally their numbers. In case you didn’t catch that reference, and you probably didn’t because you probably weren’t at the game, Stewart is five digits short of a phonebook listing. Now referring to a disability to make a point may seem distasteful at first. However, for Stewart’s prosthetic limb to really be considered a disability, I think it would actually have to hinder his performance in one way or another, and with game highs in points and rebounds with 19 and 20 respectively, it was hard to identify any signs of such hindrance.
However, the feverish pace set by guard Zeon Gray provided the answer to the height mismatch proposed by Stewart. Gray’s 16 points and 10 assists helped the Cascades to a 92-79 win, their largest margin of victory this season. The UFV team closed out the first half with a five point lead and opened up the second with an 11-2 run thanks to some great ball movement and seemingly automatic three-point shooting from Joel Friesen, who continued his stellar play with a team high 18 points in just 20 min of floor time. Sam Freeman also chipped in with 17 points of his own.
So with two consecutive wins, the boys in green have got to be feeling some confidence heading into next week’s series against a tough 9-2 Trinity Western team. When asked what positives can be drawn from their mini winning-streak and what aspects of their game will need to be focused on over the next week in practice, coach Barnaby Craddock said that his team needs to “play with energy on defence” to compensate for the relatively small stature of his starters and “work on their fast break offense to create some easy baskets in transition.”
If they do continue to build on the speed and tenacity shown on Saturday night, the Cascades men’s basketball team should be able to give the Spartans more than they bargained for, and with a couple of wins, they could potentially pass Brandon and Calgary in the Canada West standings.
Let’s just hope, for the sake of both teams, that the Spartans can draw a crowd large enough to eliminate the echo of every dribble heard in the Envision Athletic Center on Saturday night. A big win is always great, but a little atmosphere goes a long way.