Thursday, 8 October 2009

Thompson Rivers kicks off pre-season tonight


Kamloops, BC - Basketball fans get their first chance to check out the 2009-1 version of the Thompson Rivers University men's team tonight (Thurs Oct 8). Thom Gillespie begins his second season at the helm of the WolfPack as they entertain the UNBC Timberwolves of the BC College Athletic Association. Game time is 7 pm at the Tournament Capital Center.

Gillespie has had his veterans and recruits working out for the past month. "Training and practice have been going reasonably well," he states. "Our fitness level is higher than last year and our understanding of the preparation required to become a championship calibre program is becoming part of our team's culture."

The WolfPack will be led by 5 th year players Jeff Friesen (Duncan, BC) and Drew Bleth (Ridgefield, Wash). As well, Sean Garvey (Kamloops, BC) has decided to play his final year this season . Garvey was a star in local high school basketball with Westsyde in the late 1990's and was a member of the UCC and TRU programs earlier this decade.

"We have seen progress and improvement over the past thirteen months both in individuals and our team." says the coach. "Certainly this season should be better with continuity from the previous year. Our new players have fit in nicely and have provided a competitive environment in practice."

Other new faces in the WolfPack line up this year include 6'6" forward Travis Beck from Vernon, BC (Clarence Fulton), guard Milos Janjic and forward Joseph Tubbs (both out of Ontario).

Returnees include 2nd year guard Hudson Naylor, (Kamloops, BC), Matt Pierce (3rd year guard, Winnipeg, Man) and 4th year forwards Connor Agnew (Prince Rupert, BC) along with 7'2" Greg Stewart (Kamloops, BC).

"Each season we start at square one with fundamentals and advance accordingly," Gillespie explains. "We have in our basic offense and defense but we still have a number of things to implement prior to Canada West league play at the end of the month."

Unlike last season, Gillespie has had a chance to recruit players. That alone, has to give him a step up on the situation he faced last year where he directed the club to a 2 and 21 Canada West Record. "The past year has allowed players and staff to develop a respectful rapport. It is very important that the individuals within the team understand we all have roles in our group which are equally important if we are to succeed. We definitely have a better understanding of the expectations in order to take our program to a more competitive level."

Gillespie will again be assisted by former WolfPack captain Brian Smith. Smith enters his second year as a coach. Former WolfPack women's team captain Sarah Cameron (Langley, BC) has joined the team as a student assistant.

The WolfPack's pre season includes games next weekend against Langara College (BCCAA) and the University of Laval (CIS). They will travel to Saskatoon to play in a four team tournament at the University of Saskatchewan October 22-24th. Their Canada West and CIS opener is October 30 th at the Tournament Capital Center against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades.

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