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U of S basketball program on top

By in Sports & Health

DEVIN R. HEROUX
Sports Writer

Both the Huskies men’s and women’s basketball teams proved once again why they are the best basketball program in the country.

The Huskies women’s squad won their 15th and 16th consecutive games, which is a school record, while the men’s Huskies posted their 15th and 16th wins on the season; never in U of S history has their ever been this much affluence on the hard court.

With a 16-4 record, including a weekend sweep of a good Alberta team, the Huskies men’s team is ranked No. 3 in the CIS.

Consider this: In their past 14 games, the Huskies men’s team has only lost once and during that time have embarrassed their opponents; eight of those 14 wins have been by 20 points or more, including two horribly lopsided wins over Winnipeg with scores of 99-48 and 115-63.

What’s even more impressive is that much like last year, when they went on to win the university’s first basketball national championship, they are winning games by committee. A quick glance at the stats shows four Huskies — Michael Lieffers, Rejean Chabot, Jamelle Barrett and Duncan Jones — have all lead the team in scoring on different occasions. The stats get even better when you add game-high rebounders to that mix, which include Dave Neufeld, Nolan Brudehl and Chris Unsworth. This is a group of men that fully understand the concept of team.

A lot of the men’s success can be attributed to a coaching staff that underwent a huge change in the off-season. Head coach Greg Jockims is on leave this year and left the reigns to assistant coach Barry Rawlyk. Anyone who knows a Rawlyk-coached team knows that they will be prepared, composed and focused for every game. Couple the basketball savvy of former Huskie Rob Lovelace and Nathan Schellenberg as assistant coaches, and you have a force to be reckoned with. There’s a lot of basketball left but with a playoff spot already in their back pocket, the Huskies are serious contenders to be back-to-back national champions.

The women’s basketball team is writing their own history every time they step on the court. This past weekend their 14-game winning streak was on the line. No big deal; Alberta was just one win behind the Huskies, who made them look like a high school team. They beat the Pandas 82-70 and 72-53 and are only getting better.

They’re ranked No. 1 in Canada; with an 18-2 record can anyone disagree with that ranking? When I watched this team the second week of the season at the PAC against Victoria, I wasn’t all that impressed. From offence to defence the team in green looked a little confused; they haven’t lost since. I’m impressed now.

And you had to believe that 13-year head coach Lisa Thomaidis would have her team come together after losing two games at home early in the season. Thomaidis, along with assistant coaches Ali Fairbrother and Jacqueline Lavallee, make up the best coaching staff in this country; they find ways to get the best out of their players. It also helps when you have incredible talent.

Between Jill Humbert, Kim Tulloch, Jana Spindler and Katie Miyazaki, the best players on this team have been their best all year long. In 16 out of their 18 wins, Tulloch and Humbert have lead their team in scoring. The Dogs are competitive year after year because every player gets meaningful playing time. Thomaidis has done a masterful job of building this program on a continual basis.

With a third place showing at the national championship last year, I think this team has all the tools and experience to be champions this year.

This weekend will be a test for both teams; provincial rivals from Regina are looking to knock these Huskies off their pedestal. The men shouldn’t have as difficult of a time getting a weekend sweep, but the women are in for a battle. Regina is just one win back of the high-flying Huskies.

The only question right now is whether or not the streaks for both of these teams can remain intact heading into the upcoming weekend bout with the University of Regina Cougars.

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