Basketball is back and better than before

Men’s basketball season sees personal improvements in players and ambitions for post-season

The WolfPack men’s basketball season is off to a solid start, with three wins, one loss and all players making progress.

Josh Wolfram, who is in his second year with the ‘Pack and fourth year of eligibility, scored 30 points and had 15 rebounds in the ‘Pack’s opening game against the UNBC Timberwolves on Nov. 7. This was a personal best and a big improvement for Wolfram according to head coach Scott Clark.

Josh Wolfram jumps to score on UNBC Timberwolves during the 'Pack's opening weekend (TRU Athletics)

Josh Wolfram jumps to score on UNBC Timberwolves during the ‘Pack’s opening weekend (TRU Athletics)

“My teammates put me in great situations to score and then I’ve just put in a lot of work over the summer,” Wolfram said.

The ‘Pack beat the Timberwolves twice on the weekend of Nov. 7.

On Nov. 14, the WolfPack beat the MacEwan University Griffins by a score of 77-67. They lost to the Griffins the next night with a score of 65-63.

In the weekend games, Brett Roualt, who plays guard, scored 21 points. Wolfram scored 11 points and had 11 rebounds.

Wolfram is currently the third highest scorer in men’s basketball in the Canada West league, averaging 21 points per game. He also has the second highest rebound rate in the league, averaging 11.8 rebounds per game. This is an improvement for Wolfram, who last season averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Another player making progress this season is Tallon Milne, who is in his second year with the ‘Pack and his fifth year of eligibility. Milne is currently fifth in the league for his .60 field goal percentage.

“Even last year to this year, we’ve grown huge as a team,” Milne said. “The team’s been working on rebounding and not turning the ball over. Our defensive schemes need to improve for us to do well.”

“It’s our goal to win our league so that’s what our standard is and anything less than that will be kind of a disappointment,” Milne said.

Joe Davis, who started with the team straight out of high school this year, is trying to keep up with the faster league.

“The game is a lot quicker physically and mentally, but I’ve noticed a lot of mental improvements. The coaching staff and the players are always giving you information and you’re trying to take it in all the time. You’re always learning,” Davis said.

“It’s been rare that I’ve ever seen a freshman come in and be able to make a huge difference. He does a great job, he shows up physically and mentally everyday,” Clark said. “He’s worked well in the off-season.”

When Clark took over as head coach in May 2010, the WolfPack had yet to see a post-season.

Tallon Milne jumps to score on UNBC Timberwolves during the 'Pack's opening weekend. (TRU Athletics)

Tallon Milne jumps to score on UNBC Timberwolves during the ‘Pack’s opening weekend. (TRU Athletics)

“I never cut anybody, I just said ‘okay, if you want to return here’s what is expected of you,’” Clark said. “It starts by explaining what you want and not tolerating anything less than what you expect.

If guys don’t measure to those standards, it might sound harsh but you have to get rid of those people.”

The team made it to the post-season for the first time in TRU’s history last season after placing third in Canada West’s Pacific division. They were knocked out after losing their first two post-season games against the University of Saskatchewan.

“In essence it probably did take three years to get turned around. I think that they had lost so much that the expectation was that you’re going to lose,” Clark said.

Since Clark took over the team he has been focused on recruiting talented players and developing their skills. Clark believes that players with good attitudes and work ethic are building blocks for the team’s success.

“They never miss a practice. The number one thing in our core values is show up everyday,” he said.

“On any one night it wouldn’t surprise me if any of eight guys led us in scoring. That’s nice to know because you’re not reliant on just one guy. It takes pressures off.”

This year basketball is part of a new division in Canada West called “Explorer.” The WolfPack will play against the five other of the newest teams to Canada West: the University of Northern B.C., University of British Columbia Okanagan, MacEwan University, Mount Royal University and the University of Fraser Valley.

The WolfPack is currently second in the explorer division. There are 16 more games to go and then the top three teams in the division will move on to post-season. It’s Clark’s goal for his players to compete in playoffs again.