If the UBC men’s basketball team played all their games at home this year, they would have undoubtedly been in serious competition for the CIS title. They were a perfect 9-0 at home during the regular season.
Playing on the road has been a completely different story. The change of scenery turns the T-Birds into a completely different team, one that often struggles to keep up with teams below them in the standings. This resulted in a 4-5 record on the road, and ultimately led to the ‘Birds having to play their opening playoff round in Edmonton against the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
If UBC wanted any chance of making it to the Canada West finals and nationals, they were going to have to put their road woes behind them.
But even when it mattered most, they weren’t able to reverse the trend.
The Thunderbirds were overmatched this past weekend by aggressive sharp-shooting from the Golden Bears. They were swept in a best-of-three series, losing 79-69 and 91-68.
Apart from a few scoring runs on Friday night, UBC was never able to get much going on offence during the series. Alberta played a tough perimeter defence that the ‘Birds struggled to break down. UBC failed to get to the rim for layups or create open shots from the outside.
Nathan Yu was the only T-Bird on Saturday to really get anything going, scoring 23 points in the loss. On Friday, Kamar Burke did his best to carry a team that was hampered by foul trouble, but his 17 points were not enough to help pull out a victory.
Alberta’s tough defence also forced 20 turnovers in each game.
It is not uncommon for UBC to commit that many turnovers during a game, as they averaged about 19 turnovers per game during the regular season. However, it was common for UBC to play stifling defence to make up for it.
But this past weekend, the T-Birds had no answer to Alberta’s sharpshooting. The Golden Bears shot 49 per cent from the field over the weekend and drained 18 three-pointers in the process. Even switching to a zone defence because of foul trouble provided no relief from the barrage of threes.
It was a disappointing weekend for UBC, as a season with so much potential ended abruptly when their strong play failed to make the trip with them to Edmonton.