Bobcats men’s basketball coach Gil Cheung barks out instructions in practice Wednesday as Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak and assistant coach Jeremy Wielenga (back right) look on. (CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN)
It will be a busy four days at Brandon University’s Healthy Living Centre with the Bobcats men’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams hosting games from today through Sunday.
The Bobcats men’s basketball team opens things up when the Western Mustangs pay a visit tonight at 7 o’clock. The Windsor Lancers, who finished fourth in the Ontario conference last season, then come to the Wheat City on Sunday for a game at noon.
Both teams will present a tough challenge for the Bobcats. BU head coach Gil Cheung predicts Windsor will be a top-four team in the country while Western recently had two close losses to NCAA Division I schools, and Cheung can’t wait to see how his squad measures up.
"I still think we’re learning to play with each other on the offensive end," he said. "We had some injuries last year and some new pieces this year that I think looked great in camp. We’re just trying to figure each other out a little bit. Defensively it’s always a work in progress."
The Bobcats haven’t had a lot of game experience so far this pre-season. They dropped a 70-55 decision to the NCAA Division II Minot State Beavers in August and split a pair of games in Thunder Bay, Ont., last weekend. These two games will give the Bobcats some experience against quality competition and Cheung wants to see his team get better because of it.
"It’s a chance for us to improve, get better and work on different lineups and work on things in the pre-season so that we’re ready to go come November," he said.
Meanwhile, the BU women’s volleyball team welcomes the Manitoba Bisons and the Lakeland College Rustlers, an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference team, for matches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Brandon will take on both teams on Friday with matches starting at 6 and 7:30 p.m. Manitoba will play Lakeland on Saturday at 5 p.m. and then Brandon at 6:30. Brandon also battles Lakeland on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Four matches in three day could be a lot, but Bobcats head coach Lee Carter isn’t planning on having his starting seven play each match. His first-year and role players are expected to start against Lakeland — which features Brandonites Laura Popplestone and Tristan Neudorf — and his starters will take on the Bisons.
"We’re really close competition with the Bisons and every time we play them we find a new weakness (to improve on)," Carter said. "It will be an exciting bunch of matches just to get ready for the season. … (Playing Lakeland) is a chance for our first-year kids to get some confidence and try things without having to worry about it being an error against a Bisons type of team."
Carter is excited about having a chance to play exhibition matches at home, after his squad opened its pre-season schedule by winning a tournament at the University of Winnipeg last weekend. He hopes Bobcat fans will come out as it will be their first opportunity to see New Zealand imports Vaovai Aiono and Margaret Lafaele play.
Although Carter knows it will be a demanding weekend for his players, he’s looking to see a lot more consistency out of them.
"We’ve been really good and they’ve had a month and a half of trying new things and now they need to play more consistent," he said.
CAT SCRAPS: The Bobcats men’s volleyball team is in Regina for a tournament this weekend, while the BU women’s basketball squad hits the road to compete in a tournament at the University of Winnipeg.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 10, 2013