WolfPack coaches not making any predictions

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
January 5, 2012 01:00 AM

The two Scotts - that would be Scott Clark and Scott Reeves - weren't in the mood Wednesday to make new year's predictions for their TRU WolfPack basketball teams.

Both WolfPack teams are scheduled to return to Canada West action on Friday against the Winnipeg Wesmen at the Tournament Capital Centre. Reeves's women's team will play at 6 p.m., with Clark's men to follow at 8 p.m.

Canada West takes much of December off for exams and Christmas.

Each WolfPack team has 10 games remaining in the regular season, and both are fighting for their playoff lives. TRU's women are 3-5, while the men are 4-4.

Since eight of the 14 Canada West teams make the postseason in both the men's and women's conferences, you could probably bet that nine or 10 victories in an 18-game schedule would be good enough to get a team into the playoffs. Reeves wasn't playing the counting game Wednesday.

"More than any other year," Reeves said, "it's been hard for me to (predict)."

The problem with trying to figure out the number of victories needed for a playoff berth is that upsets will happen, and counting on one team to beat another is a poor way to do business.

All Reeves is looking for is a strong second half from his team. Of their remaining 10 games, the WolfPack women will play five at home and five on the road.

TRU's next four games - it also will play the Manitoba Bisons at the TCC on Saturday, and the UBC Thunderbirds at TRU Gym on Jan. 13 and 14 - are in Kamloops.

"Starting at home is good for us," Reeves said. "We had our trip to Montreal (for a post-Christmas tournament) and there was good competition there.

"But to be home, in our own beds and our own building - and we always seem to shoot better at home - I think we'll be more comfortable."

Clark also was hesitant to attempt to figure out a victory number - he called it adding a "variable" to an already difficult game - and also wasn't expecting his players to feel the pressure of a playoff race.

"I hope (pressure) isn't a factor," Clark said. "Pressure is self-imposed."

Clark uses an analogy with his players, one involving a three-foot plank lying on the ground. The average person would have no trouble walking over the plank, as long as it was flat on the ground.

But if that same plank was suspended 200 feet above the ground, there's the added pressure of knowing that a misstep could mean death.

"Some people wouldn't be able to do it - I wouldn't do it," Clark said. "Pressure is something that you put on yourself by judging an action - our job is to play good basketball."

Reeves is convinced the WolfPack women's team will be prepared to play "good basketball" against the Wesmen (4-4) and Bisons (3-5).

It's the second straight season TRU's women have been right in the playoff mix - last season, after going 7-5 before Christmas, the WolfPack went 2-10 and missed the playoffs.

"Last year, that first week of practice after Christmas, it was hard to get going," Reeves said. "This week, we really look ready to go."

TRU's women's team boasts two players in the top five in scoring in Canada West - Diane Schuetze (17.8 points per game) is second, while Jen Ju (16.1) is fifth. Schuetze also is first in rebounding (10.1), while Jorri Duxbury is tied for first in assists (6.0).

The WolfPack men also have two of the conference's top scorers - first-place Justin King (26.9) and fifth-place Chas Kok (20.5). King is second in rebounding (10.6), and Kevin Pribilsky (4.1) is sixth in assists.

TRU has put up solid numbers offensively, and is second in the conference in points per game (87.6), but also is 11th in points allowed (86.2).

Clark admitted the defence is a bit of a concern at this point.

"Offence is individual and offence is execution," he said. "Defence is toughness and effort and understanding. For whatever reason, we haven't been great in that area."

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RU's men's volleyball team is scheduled to play exhibition matches in California this weekend, before returning to Canada West action Jan. 13-14 against the UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver.

The WolfPack women's volleyballers are off until Jan. 13, when they also will play UBC in Vancouver.

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RU's hockey team has a pair of exhibition games against the Portage College Voyageurs of the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference on the weekend.

The teams will play Friday, 6:30 p.m., at Interior Savings Centre, before a Sunday rematch in Princeton.

TRU will return to B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League action Jan. 20 against Okanagan College at Memorial Arena.


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