May 21st, 2024

Kodiaks men’s basketball team studies up for the season

By Dale Woodard on November 13, 2021.

They’re a studious bunch, that Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s basketball team.

As the Kodiaks get set to, figuratively speaking, crack open the books on the 2021-22 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season, they do so having done their homework.

The first quiz took place last night in Red Deer against the Polytechnic Kings in a 90-83 loss and the lesson resumes Sunday at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium when the Kodiaks host their home opener at 3 p.m. in a rematch with the Kings.

The Kodiaks women’s game follows at 5 p.m.

And with 10 preseason games leading up to this weekend’s ACAC season tip off, the Kodiaks have brushed up on what they’ll be seeing this season and even threw some Canada West talent into the mix to further test themselves.

“I really loaded up (on games) because you never really know what’s going to come around the corner,” said Kodiaks head coach Ryan Heggie. “We had a couple of very competitive games with the University of Lethbridge (Pronghorns), which was nice to get to start the exhibition (season) with some real stiff competition.

“We went to a mini-tournament in Calgary at the Edge Prep School. We played SAIT, Keyano, Ambrose, St. Mary’s and Olds. So we pretty much hit every team in the South except for Briercrest. We had a good exhibition. A lot of guys got in games and we figured out a rotation. It was just nice to start playing games again.”

On Sunday afternoon, the Kodiaks will show the product of all that preseason homework they did.

“We found out a style that has worked for us and then we found out one night a new style we have to play to be more effective,” said Heggie. “We found those out in games we lost. That’s why you play preseason, to find out what you do right in the wins and in the losses, you can really learn from those, too.”

Heggie said success in the preseason hinged on the Kodiaks being able to get out and run their fast break and pressure teams into quick shots and turnovers.

“The nights we had trouble, teams slowed us down and made us play a half-court game. So we’ve been working really hard at being patient with our half-court offence and making sure we move the ball (with) extra passes and run through our sets a little more.”

The Kodiaks are offensively led by returning two-time ACAC all-conference star Orin Porter Jr.

Magrath’s Timothy McMahon will have an expanded role this season and will be counted on to run the offence.

The Kodiaks have lost the likes of Brock Dewsbery and Chase Bohne, Australian Tomoya Owens and Leon Schenker will be counted on to fill roles at both ends of the court.

Coaldale’s Jackson Kasko returns for his fifth year.

“Jackson is our Mr. Versatility, Mr. Everything for us and has been throughout his whole career,” said Heggie. “(Forward) Jack-Henry Fox-Grey and (guard) Chris Schlauwitz are back for their second years.

“Chris and Jack were with us in 2018-19 and have returned and Tim was with us in 2019-20. There is a lot of local flavour, Paycen Blackmore out of Magrath, Ty Lewis from Cardston. We’ve had a good recruiting season in the last 18 months. It’s a really good group of players. We have 15 guys and they all love basketball. There are players who really like basketball and players who love basketball and we’ve got some kids that really love it.”

After starting the season Friday night in Red Deer, the Kodiaks come home for the first time in almost two years.

“Whatever crowd we do get on Sunday, I hope they’re loud and proud,” said Heggie. “It’s a unique Sunday game and the home opener for basketball fans. If you’re looking for some action, come and watch the Kodiaks and be loud and proud for us. We need loud fans.”

On the women’s side, head coach Ken McMurray takes over for his first season behind the bench, taking over as head coach after joining the Kodiaks as an assistant coach in 2019.

The Kodiak are coming off a solid 12-9 campaign in 2019-20 that saw them finish in third place in the ACAC south division, before losing in the first round of ACAC championships.

“We have seven rookies straight out of high school who all missed their senior years,” said McMurray in a release. “However, with a few veteran leaders, we hope to make a run in the playoffs come March. The pre-season has been a big learning curve for this young team, but this is a hardworking, unselfish bunch who loves to compete and get up and down the floor. It makes for exciting basketball to play and watch.”

Veterans Matlin Jacobs and Kirsten Barwegen will be looked to to run the offence.

Montana Berezay will also be counted on to play an expanded role on both ends of the court. Courtney Deemter is a rookie displaying a strong ability to drive the basketball and put pressure on opposing defenses.

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