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Men’s basketball tries to break from a year of inconsistency as 2014 begins

The next few months would test the team as they struggled to live up to that high ranking.

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UFV - Flickr

By Nathan Hutton (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: January 8, 2014

UFV - Flickr

2013 opened with the Cascades holding the fourth spot in CIS’s national rankings, trailing only Acadia University, UBC, and Carleton University (the eventual national champs).

The next few months would test the team as they struggled to live up to that high ranking. The men faced their first speed-bump only three days after that news, losing a close eight-point contest to the then-unranked University of Saskatchewan.

The team continued to slide in the month of January as they split games with the University of Alberta and dropped back-to-back contests against the University of Calgary Dinos and the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. The men picked up the slack against easier competition from UBC-O and UNBC but were once again forced into a tough position when they narrowly lost to the University of Regina in double overtime to close out the month.

An early February doubleheader against Thompson Rivers University showed off the full spectrum of the team’s strengths and weaknesses: dominant one night, but unable to string together successive victories. The Cascades dominated for the first game, crushing the WolfPack 92-66. But the next day the Cascades crumbled, losing to the same TRU squad 63-60 at the buzzer. The 2012-13 Cascades’ season’s struggles were not because of lack of talent, but lack of consistency. The season closed with a split against crosstown rivals Trinity Western.

Although the back half of the season was marred with inconsistency and an ability to put up wins against weaker teams, the Cascades still managed to secure a place in the Canada West playoffs with a trip to nationals on the line.

Their three-game quarterfinal opponents were the same University of Saskatchewan Huskies to whom they had lost earlier in the season. The teams traded decisive victories, leading to a third and deciding game, with the winner to face UBC in the semifinals.

With fifth-year Sam Freeman on the bench with a rib injury, the rest of the team picked up the slack. Klaus Figueredo took on a starting position and answered with a team high of 22 points, and Manjodh Dulay added 14 from the bench, leading UFV to a 92-76 victory. This was the last challenge UFV was able to overcome, as losses against UBC and the University of Winnipeg resulted in a fourth-place finish. For many teams this would be a respectable end to the year, but after being considered fourth-best nationally, it wasn’t the result some had dreamed of.

The summer brought about lots of change for the men’s basketball program: the interim title was officially removed from coach Adam Friesen, and the team said goodbye to a pair of graduating stars in Kyle Grewal and Sam Freeman following their five years of play.

The 2013-2014 campaign has had a similar feel to its predecessor as the inconsistency bug plagues Friesen’s squad. The team has been unable to win more than two games in a row, and as the Cascades begin the 2014 half of their season with a 5-5 record, they will attempt to find their game on the road on a trip through Manitoba, followed by a return for a key four-game homestand that starts January 24.

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