author: nathan mccarville| sports writer
Seven wins a row for the men’s team
The University of Regina’s men’s basketball team has been on a hot streak since their second game of the regular season on November 4, where the team had a close win against the University of Manitoba Bisons, ending the game with a final score of 89-87. The day before, the Cougars were unable to produce the same performance when they played the Bisons, the Manitoban team winning out with a score of 83-74.
However, since then, the Cougars haven’t had a loss, currently running on a 7-game winning streak. The wins include one win against the Manitoba Bisons, two wins against Fraser Valley, two wins against the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves, and two wins against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.
In the preseason, the Cougars played in the Concordia Classic, where they were able to win one of their three games, beating the York Lions in the bargain. Unfortunately, they were also only able to win one of their three games played during the Naismith classic, hosted by the University of Waterloo Warriors, winning against the Warriors in the final game of the tournament. Things fair better at the Wolfpack Invitational where the Cougars were able to win both of the games that they played, one against the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack, finishing the game with a score of 84-76, and the other against the UBC Okanagan Heat, ending the game with a score of 77-71.
When asked about the huge improvement in the performance of the basketball team between the regular season and the preseason, Joel Hunter, an assistant coach for the Cougars men’s basketball team, said, “Preseason for our program is a feeling out process. We use those games to get an idea of our strengths and weaknesses as a team, a lot of new players getting used to playing with each other and also what we need to work on going forward. We also play a very tough preseason schedule; all games are on the road against some of the top teams in Canada. This allows us to see where we need to be as a team by the end of the year.”
Of the differences between the preseason games and the regular season, Hunter said further that, “Regular season is make or break. Each game in our conference is extremely important. A lot more preparation and scouting is involved for each opponent, because our league is so balanced the difference between winning and losing one game could be the difference of finishing in the top 5 or out of the playoffs.”
In relation to the current standings, the Cougars now have a record of seven straight wins and seem to be in an extremely favourable position. Alex Igual, a 5th-year guard who hails from Barcelona, Spain, said, when asked about his feelings about the current season, “When we play, we have fun, and this is translating to wins. We have to keep working hard and take one game at a time, so we can focus on our short term goals.”
When Igual was asked about the Cougars’ preseason in relation to the regular season, he said that, “We have lots of new players in the team this year, we had to adjust to each other and find the chemistry that we didn’t have during preseason. We played against really good teams during the preseason. Even though sometimes it was hard because we didn’t win as much as we wanted, it helped us to build our character and help us to find our style and the way we want to play.”
The Cougars are set to play the UBC Thunderbirds on December 1 and 2 on the UBC home court in Vancouver. The current season record of the UBC Thunderbirds is tending towards the same trend as the Cougars in that they have a regular season record of nine wins and two losses, with the last six games providing a six win streak for the BC team. Previously only losing to the University of Calgary Dinos, the Thunderbirds seem to be shaping up to be a formidable rival.
When asked about how the Cougars are feeling about facing the UBC Thunderbirds, Joel Hunter said that, “UBC is a perennial powerhouse; they are always typically in the top 1-4 teams in Canada West. Their only loss was against Calgary who is currently in the top 10 in U Sport. It will be a tough battle with them, UBC is a hard place to win a basketball game at, but our players have won there in the past and know what it takes. If we come with the same focus and mindset that we did this past weekend against Lethbridge, then we will give ourselves a great chance.”
Alex Igual further said that, “UBC has one of the best teams in the country, and playing at their gym is not going to be easy. Some of the guys on the team already know about playing on [UBC’s] court, but everybody in the locker room believes in our chances of beating UBC. We are confident and willing to face the challenge of beating one of the best teams in the country in their own gym.”