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This article was published 31/10/2016 (1629 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Canadian university basketball season is set to tip off and the local teams are locked, loaded and ready to get their seasons underway this weekend.
The University of Manitoba men’s team will be looking to improve on its Canada West final four appearance last winter. The team still has a bitter taste in its mouth after a tough defeat to the University of Calgary Dinos in the semifinals, and will have a chance to exact some revenge when they hit the road for games Friday and Saturday in Calgary.
Head coach Kirby Schepp feels his team is on the cusp of becoming a powerhouse unit similar to the one that posted a 15-5 conference record last season.
"You know it’s there," he said. "It’s one of those things you know is going to come, it’s just a matter of when. We’ve had a couple weeks of practice here, so we’re pretty optimistic."
The Bisons play four of their first six games on the road, with a trip to UBC on the books in two weeks.
Meantime, if the University of Winnipeg Wesmen men’s team hopes to do well in the standings it will need to improve on the road this season.
The Wesmen finished last season at 10-10, with an 8-2 record at the Duckworth Centre. On the road? They only managed two wins in 10 games.
"It’s not something we’re thinking about," said head coach Mike Raimbault. "I think some of those things from last year we’re hopeful will carry over as lessons of how hard it is to win on the road."
The Wesmen’s core remains largely intact this season.
"They’ve been together for at least a year now," Raimbault said. "We just need to continue to build our chemistry."
The Wesmen start at home, playing games Friday and Saturday vs. the University of Northern British Columbia.
On the women’s side, the Bisons are looking to continue the rebuilding process, coming off a 1-19 mark last season. Despite the record, head coach Michele Sung saw a lot of growth from her squad.
"We lost six games by 10 points or less," she said. "We were competitive for a lot of our games in three quarters."
Sung is heading into her third season in charge of the Bisons with an open mind. Many of her third- and fourth-year players are nursing injuries, meaning her young players will see significant action.
"I kind of feel like it’s my first year where I’m coaching everyone I’ve recruited," she said.
Fifth-year senior Rebecca Potter will lead the charge as the team’s captain for the 2016-17 season.
The Bisons take on the Calgary Dinos Friday and Saturday at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
The Wesmen women, meanwhile, spent their off-season training.
After an 8-12 season devoid of playoff basketball, coach Tanya McKay put her team through the paces, including four games against the Sturgeon Heights Collegiate varsity boys team.
"That in itself helped us improve very quickly," McKay said. "You have to learn how to pass smarter, the game is quicker. You have to box out the guys physically.
"Coming out of the off-season... our focus was being ready for this Friday. We talked about it all summer. We missed playoffs because of one game, one shot where a girl hit a three with 0.9 seconds left on the game clock. That was our defining moment. It’s been in our heads ever since. We’re prepared."
The Wesmen women play Friday and Saturday at home against the University of Northern British Columbia.