First Game Thursday, 6 pm
By Cascades Media.The Cascades women’s basketball team hasn’t played an official game since upsetting the Saskatchewan Huskies 69-57 last March, but that will change tomorrow night. That previous game, played during the CIS Final 8 National Championship in Windsor, Ontario, was the triumph of a Cascades dynasty, winning the team its only CIS medal in program history and definitively answer the question of UFV’s ability to compete at the university level.
Cover Photo: UFV Cascades
Still, no program can rest on its laurels forever. This Thursday and Friday the Cascades will be called back to action against the Calgary Dinos in a critical preseason test. The games will exhibit a new Cascades squad much removed from last year’s bronze medallists, but hopefully one with enough similarity to once again claim a place at the national championship tournament.
“I think we’ve really got to use this preseason as an opportunity to establish roles on our team this year,” said UFV coach Al Tuchscherer. “It’s going to be different than the last couple preseasons for us. Everybody on our squad is stepping into a new role, a leadership role, a scoring role, and getting everyone comfortable in those roles is probably our main priority through the next couple months.”
UFV graduated five seniors last season, and lost Final 8 All-Star Kayli Sartori to other pursuits. With the exception of fifth-year senior Sarah Wierks and Ukrainian import Nataliia Gavryliuk, the starting five this Thursday will look very different than it has for the last several years. While these changes will obviously affect the Cascades’ style of play, and perhaps cause some hiccups as the team adjusts, it also provides UFV a chance to show off some very promising recruits. The Cascades have a number of young players who didn’t see a lot of floor on last year’s veteran-heavy squad, and who are looking to come into their own this season.
Leading the charge are third-year forwards Shayna Litman and Kaitlyn Brink. Litman averaged 12.4 minutes and 5.5 points per game last season, while Brink averaged 17.4 minutes and 5.8 points. Both put in several fantastic performances during the course of the season, and will need to translate that potential into consistent contribution to the UFV cause this season.
The Cascades led the Canada West in scoring defense last year (allowing an average of only 53.3 points per game), and Tuchscherer says that he will maintain that focus in 2014-2015. In his opinion the bigger change will come as the majority of UFV’s scoring shifts from the back-court to the front-court — from UFV’s guards to its forwards.
Tuchscherer is also confident in the ability of his younger players to pick up the slack left by graduations and departures. “I’m really looking forward to Kaitlyn McDonald getting in there and being a scorer for us and establishing herself. I also think that Hailey Kendall could be a superstar in the Canada West, I think she could be fantastic … I’m impressed with new recruit Jennika Bannerman. I think she’s ready to contribute immediately on the defensive end of the floor and as a rebounder.”
The Dinos will provide a critical test for this Cascades squad, as well as the first opportunity to see a new UFV squad in action. Come out and support the next reincarnation of Cascades basketball!
Thursday, September 18
6 pm: Calgary Dinos @ UFV Cascades
Friday, September 19
6 pm: Calgary Dinos @ UFV Cascades
Both games will be played at the Envision Athletic Centre in Abbotsford.