Print Edition: January 30, 2013
It is a tale of two seasons. The UFV men’s basketball team has been dominant at points, putting up impressive wins and climbing as high as fourth in the country, but also have been a shell of themselves on some nights. The latter has been more prevalent than ever since Christmas break.
Going winless in four straight games is not what we have come to expect from a team that often ran seemingly unopposed for a large part of the preseason and first half of the regular season (not including last weekend’s games). It is true they have played some tougher opponents since the break (University of Saskatchewan and University of Alberta) and true that two of those losses came during a strenuous road trip (Calgary to Lethbridge) but the fact remains that the team needs to be better if they hope to make playoffs, not to mention have any success when they get there.
Coming into the second half of the season, the Cascades were riding a five-game win streak, sitting comfortably at 7–3 and maintaining a ranking of fourth nationally. After two weeks of action the men have reeled off four consecutive losses, slipped to 9-7, and have completely dropped out of the national rankings. The difference is night and day between these two teams. In a sport that is so dependent on team play and cohesion, the answer is rarely one man, but this case seems to be an anomaly.
The difference here is the absence of fifth-year power forward Kyle Grewal.
Although his numbers may not reflect it to the fullest extent, Grewal is the driving force behind this Cascades squad. Sitting third in team scoring at 15.3 points per game and leading the team in rebounds per game at 8.0, his production is nothing to take lightly, but even that doesn’t begin to tell the tale of Grewal’s importance to this team. Where the numbers begin to reveal the real story is when you look at the minutes per game played by this standout senior.
Grewal is playing 36.3 minutes a game. This number is the top in Canada for minutes played. His presence on the court alone is what the Cascades are missing. If you have ever been to a home game at the Envision Athletic Centre (EAC) you will know immediately who he is, due to his booming voice and ability to direct his teammates while sprinting up and down the floor.
Make no mistake, there are many talented individuals on the 2012–2013 UFV squad, but Grewal is the glue that holds all the pieces all together. That solid veteran experience that comes with seven years of university basketball is something that cannot be replaced by anyone else on this squad.
The combination of an inside presence, floor leader and vocal presence that is Kyle Grewal is something that the Cascades will be sorely missing for at least another weekend; Grewal was recently spotted hobbling to his class, not looking in any shape to be playing basketball. Until then Cascades supporters can expect a small and speedy lineup on the floor of the EAC.
The next home games for the Cascades are on February 8 and 9 against the Thompson River University Wolfpack.