By Warren Henderson - Kelowna Capital News
Published: October 29, 2010 11:00 PM
A year from now, UBC Okanagan’s basketball programs will make the much anticipated step up to the Canada West conference.
Before then, the Heat intends to bid a proper farewell to the BCCAA.
“The girls all know what’s ahead for us and they’re all excited about it,” said Heat women’s head coach Heather Semeniuk. “We’re going to be the best we can be this year in the BCCAA. We’re also playing in preparation for next year.”
The Heat men’s and women’s squads will tip off their final seasons in the BCCAA next weekend, Nov. 5 and 6, as they travel to North Vancouver to take on the Capilano Blues.
The women’s squad will be led into battle by fifth-year guard Jenna Kantz and four-year point guard Melissa Irish.
Veteran support will come from the likes of Roz Huber and Allison Werner, while newcomers Laura Campbell and Mackenzie Carnes will add both size and youthful exuberance to the lineup.
While the Heat is coming off a mediocre 2-6 exhibition campaign, Semeniuk expects her team will gel and improve as the season progresses.
And with the expected addition of two or three key recruits following the season, Semeniuk sees no reason why the Heat won’t be ready for CIS.
“I like where we are right now,” said Semeniuk. “I’ve got a great group of women that works hard and they’ll have to work hard to be ready for Canada West. Personal training and core work will be more important than ever. It’s a big change, the bar has been raised, but we feel like we’ll be prepared.”
Darren Semeniuk’s men’s team will be led this season by captains Alex Roth and Steve Morrison, while fellow veterans Iain Conn and Sim Pelland will be expected to shoulder some of the load. Rookies Micah Cockrill and Mack Roth can also expect to see plenty of court time.
The Heat went 4-6 in the pre season with two games being played against future CIS competition. UBCO held its own against both TRU and the University of Alberta, losing to the Golden Bears by 12 points.
“We surprised both of those teams and the guys showed they could compete at that level,” said Mellon.
One of the Heat’s main attributes this season will be their overall size with 10 players standing 6-foot-4 or taller. And as they discovered in their last two pre-season games—wins over Camosun and Grant MacEwan—the Heat is capable of playing stifling defense.
“We look like we’ll be a good shutdown team that can play tight defense,” said Mellon. “Our guys are good at not letting teams do what they want, not allowing them to get that shot went they need it.”
A key addition to the Heat coaching staff is Glenn Szabo who will assist Darren Semeniuk. Szabo has coached basketball for three decades, including three seasons as an assistant at the University of Regina.
The Heat’s first home action is Nov. 19 and 20 against Camosun.