June 23rd, 2024

Horns basketball excited to get new season underway

By Lethbridge Herald on November 3, 2022.

University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s basketball player Jack-Henry Fox-Grey does a lay up during shootarounds on Thursday at 1st Choice Savings Centre.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

University of Lethbridge Pronghorns basketball teams kick start a new season tonight at home.

Haily Weaver is a sixth year forward and feels the team is excited to get back to a normal schedule after a couple of COVID ridden seasons.

“So getting to play teams outside of that (the province) is really exciting and to get the whole  experience for me and other last year players, it’s really exciting,” said Weaver.

The women’s team made the Canada West Final Four last year and lost the bronze medal game to the University of Regina, and that has lead the team to have a chip on their shoulder this year.

“I think that we know what our goals are as a unit,” said Weaver.

“And having so many people return this year, we  have kind of  have a chip on our shoulder from how it ended last year . We bring that everyday into practice and we are just kind of focusing on our culture as a team right now and keeping that going.”

Weaver said, “Our  bench is so deep and everybody is  so motivated.”

“So I’m really excited to see how we have our younger players step up to the plate this year too,” she said.

Women’ s head coach Dave Waknuk said it’s going to be an ongoing process this year.

“We’re going to hopefully get better as we go,” said Waknuk.

“So I’m just looking forward to getting going.”

The Horns have five new players this season.

“We have a lot of our starting line-up back from last year,” said Waknuk.

“We have some key pieces back ; we have three fifth years back — so we’re excited about that.”

The team added a college transfer, two international players and two high school players.

“So a little bit of everything, which is good,” he said.

“But we’re excited to have our core back. Our core now has been here for three years with a COVID year. So it’ll be nice to have that group to rely on as we go.”

 Angelo Mbituyimana is a third-year player on the men’s team and feels the team is more battle ready coming in.

“Compared to our first COVID year, we didn’t have anything going on, we just had practice,” he said.

“It was just practices and we were working really hard, right. And last year was the first time that we’re playing together under (a) new coach, new players and it was a little new, right. So, this year I feel like we had our preseason games, we had all that going on, and we came ready.”

The Horns used a part of their preparation and headed east last month to Montreal for preseason games against some stiff competition and came out with a 2-1 record.

“We played  McGill University, University of Ottawa  and St. Mary’s University and all three of those teams are usually a top three team in their conference ,” said Mbituyimana.

“We tied for first with Ottawa and  (I feel like) we started off the season with a bang and we set the tone of how we really want things to go this year compared to last year, where we only played teams around here with the colleges … So coming in playing McGill and Ottawa, who are going to be top 10 teams, is going to be good for us. We finished with a 2-1 record, so I feel like the whole country can watch us now.”

Men’s head coach Jermaine Small knows the team is excited as a group to get the season underway.

“We had kind of a strenuous preseason with mid-terms and what not, just like everybody else,” he said.

“But we’re just excited to get on the court and I know especially the new guys and to see what they got. I mean we’re extra excited about who we’re playing is the No. 1 team in CanWest and also the team that put us out last year.”

As for the roster, Small said it starts and  ends with Jeff Rodehutskors.

“I mean he’s our leader,” said Small.

“He’s been here awhile now  and even before myself. He’s someone that knows the league real well and teams really scout against him and prepare for him.”

Other key players brought back were Shae Gibb, Avery Hutcheson and Mbituyimana.

“We brought back eight guys in total which is always good,” said Small.

“I think that experience will help us on the court this year.”

The Horns brought in Californian Kymani Pollard, who Small feels will fill that true point guard void and will make the team better.

The season-opening tip-offs  against the University of Victoria Vikes will begin with the women’s game at 6 p.m., followed by the men’s game 8 p.m. at U of L’s 1st Choice Savings Centre tonight.

The teams will play again on Saturday with the women’s game at 5 p.m. and the men’s at 7 p.m.

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