The TRU WolfPack women's basketball team is facing its most important weekend in its five-plus years of Canada West action.
But head coach Scott Reeves might not want his players to know that.
The WolfPack is scheduled to play host to the Calgary Dinos tonight and Saturday at the Tournament Capital Centre. Tonight's game is scheduled for 6 o'clock, with Saturday's action to start at 5 p.m.
The weekend will mean everything to TRU's playoff hopes.
Right now, the WolfPack (7-11) is clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in Canada West. Calgary (6-10) is the only team that has a realistic chance of surpassing the WolfPack for that final spot.
Two victories would all but clinch eighth for the WolfPack, which will finish the season with doubleheaders against the UBC Thunderbirds and Victoria Vikes, both 13-5.
A split might still do the trick, but two losses would pretty much give the spot the Dinos, who will face the Manitoba Bisons (4-12), Alberta Pandas (14-4) and Saskatchewan Huskies (14-2) in the coming weeks.
So, in its simplest form, the WolfPack has to win.
"I don't really put that kind of pressure on them," said Reeves, prior to a Thursday practice. "I think that every weekend is a big weekend."
Canada West has been ultra-competitive this season, with two 14-victory teams and four 13-victory teams. The Fraser Valley Cascades are seventh at 8-8, with weekends against the weaker Lethbridge Pronghorns (4-14) and Brandon Bobcats (0-16) remaining.
That means that this weekend's TRU-Calgary matchup should determine the last playoff spot.
"I don't think we've ever been in a playoff position this deep in the season," Reeves said. "It's in our control and we match up well with (Calgary) - it's not like we have to beat the No. 3 team in the country to get in."
There is the occasional upset in Canada West, but no one is counting on the WolfPack beating UBC or Victoria, nor are they expecting the Bisons to take down Calgary.
That's why the WolfPack knows a weekend failure will all but doom its playoff chances.
"Our league is unbelievably tough, it's like playing in a national tournament every weekend," Reeves said. "We know what we have to do (today)."
TRU got off to an excellent start to its season, but has lost eight straight dating back to Nov. 20. In the meantime, the Dinos, who started off 1-5, have gone 5-5 since Nov. 19.
TRU has played well at stretches, but has really faltered late in its games during the last two weeks, sweeps by the host Regina Cougars and Saskatchewan Huskies.
Reeves is thinking that perhaps a little pressure will get his players to focus better.
"Knowing . . . that this could mean that we're that much closer to making playoffs, I think we're going to see a 40-minute effort," he said.
The WolfPack has improved its rebounding over the last five games, despite the losses.
Reeves said a move to start the 6-foot-3 Diane Schuetze at centre beside 6-foot-2 forward Kailey Colonna - instead of having Colonna back up Schuetze - has paid off.
Schuetze is fourth in Canada West in average rebounds (7.7), and Colonna is 17th (5.7).
"Our rebounding has been very good," Reeves said. "Those two on the floor together can snatch a ton of rebounds."
p p p
he WolfPack men's basketball team will play a doubleheader against the Dinos in what will be a battle between the conference's top defensive rebounders and shot-blockers.
The teams will play today, 8 p.m., and Saturday, 7 p.m.
The WolfPack's Greg Stewart, a 7-foot-2 centre, is first in Canada West in average blocks (2.2) and defensive rebounds (8.7). Calgary's Tyler Fidler, a 6-foot-9 guard, is second in blocking (1.4) and defensive rebounds (7.5).
TRU (3-15) and Calgary (5-11) are both outside of the top eight.
p p p
oming off its first winning weekend of the season, the WolfPack women's volleyball team is in Calgary to play the Dinos.
TRU (2-10) swept the visiting Huskies (1-11) on the weekend, but will have a tougher time against the Dinos (6-6), who are eighth in the CIS rankings.
Calgary is sixth in Canada West, from which seven teams will make the playoffs, and can all but clinch a playoff spot with a weekend sweep.
p p p
he WolfPack men's volleyball team, which also swept the visiting Huskies on the weekend, is in Calgary to face the defending CIS-champion Dinos.
TRU (5-7) had an easy time dispatching the Huskies (1-11) but really will have to weave some magic to compete with the Dinos (12-0), whose last league loss was March 6, when they fell to the Trinity Western Spartans in five sets in a Canada West semifinal.
Calgary came back to sweep the WolfPack in the Canada West bronze-medal match the next day, then won all three matches - including the title contest against the Spartans - at the CIS championship at the TCC the next week.
TRU is tied for fifth in the conference, and will need to finish in the top seven to make playoffs for the fourth straight year.
p p p
he WolfPack, which is in first place in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League, has another important weekend.
TRU (12-2-0) jumped ahead of Simon Fraser (11-3-1) on the weekend, and will look to stay there with games against the Trinity Western Titans and Simon Fraser.
The WolfPack is scheduled to play host to the Titans today, 8:30 p.m., at Memorial Arena, before heading to Burnaby to face Simon Fraser on Saturday.
TRU scored a 6-2 victory over the Titans (6-8-1) on the weekend, and beat Simon Fraser 7-2 in the teams' only meeting of the season Oct. 29.