By Chris Jaster
The Brandon University Bobcats are anxious to return to their home court to resume their Canada West men’s basketball season.
Outside of the Wesmen Classic games last weekend, the Bobcats have not played since Nov. 26 and they can’t wait to show how much of a different team they are since their last conference game.
"You can expect this team to show we’ve really come together from the beginning of the season," said Emerick Ravier, who leads the Bobcats this season with an average of 17.9 points per game. "It has been difficult with the strike and everything, but now that Coach Cheung is back, it feels like we picked up where we left off. There are a couple things we need to work on defensively, but the communication with the team is good and we’re just trying to build from there and hopefully have some success in the second half."
When the Bobcats (3-5) take the court at the BU Gymnasium today at 8 p.m. against the Regina Cougars
(2-5), they will be focused on their defensive play.
Head coach Gil Cheung came into the season wanting his players to focus on the back end, but feels defence was not one of his team’s strengths in the first half of the season. He’s hoping Brandon will be better at shutting down opponents starting against the Cougars.
"I think for some parts on the defensive end especially that it took more time to gel," he said. "With so many new guys, it takes a little more time on both ends really, but hopefully on the defensive end we can play better and more as a team on the defensive end."
Regina, which features Neelin graduate Sterling Nostedt, will produce one big challenge under the basket for Brandon, namely Paul Gareau. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound fourth-year forward is eighth in the league in scoring with 18.3 points per game and ninth in rebounding with 7.7 boards per game. Cheung said the Bobcats will rotate their own big men, including Eric Schippers, Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak, Donovan Gayle and James Elias, to cover him and limit his opportunities under the basket.
Cheung would love to see the Bobcats get off to a winning start to the second half of their season, but he knows it won’t be easy against Canada West’s worst defensive team.
"It would be huge for us to get off to a great start, but they’re a well-coached team," he said. "We know what to expect from Regina: They’ll play hard, they can always shoot the ball and they can handle to ball well and we have to keep Big Gareau off the glass. It will take a team effort."
The women’s basketball team (0-8) has an enormous task ahead of them as they host the top-ranked Regina Cougars (7-0) today at the BU gym at 6 p.m. Second-year guard Madison Bradbury is fully healthy and will be back in the lineup. Fifth-year guard/forward Jayla Bousquet will be a game-time decision, but newcomer Sarah Dobie will not be eligible to play.
Dobie, a guard/forward who transfered from the University of Manitoba, is supposed to play with the Bobcats in the second semester, but she isn’t eligible until the second semester starts on Jan. 31. The semester start date was pushed back due to the 45-day Brandon University Faculty Association strike. The Bobcats have submitted a request for Dobie to be eligible to play before then.
The men’s and women’s volleyball teams are idle this weekend.