The University of the Fraser Valley Cascades didn’t have to look far to find their coach for the coming CIS men’s basketball campaign.
They will announce this week that assistant coach Adam Friesen will fill the shoes left by Barnaby Craddock, who left UFV for Edmonton and the University of Alberta Golden Bears last week. He will be on a one-year contract.
Craddock left after five seasons, including last year’s outstanding 13-5 campaign, a runner-up finish in the Canada West final four, and a trip to nationals.
“It was a shock to the program. Everyone was disappointed,” Friesen said.
He acknowleged that Craddock left to further his career, given an opportunity to coach in one of the country’s great CIS programs.
“The players were sad, shocked, to see their only coach leave, but there was an understanding.”
Friesen, 29, has coached under Craddock for five seasons, and has experience as a head coach with the junior high school team at Yale Secondary. He was a star player for the Yale Lions, where his father Al is the head coach, and then advanced to CIS with Trinity Western University and UBC. He won second team All-Canadian and a Canada West all-star honours.
Friesen said his selection is an endorsement of the path the team has been on, and the athletics department wants to try to keep it rolling.
“I know the program, the players and the team culture, and can keep that going,” he said.
He said it is a team atmosphere where the guys like each other, hang out together off court, and make basketball a priority.
“Guys are ready and willing to put in the work and the time to make it happen.”
He said the program has never been healthier. All the starters are returning, and the new recruits are talented enough that some could offer immediate contributions. Among them is Mission Secondary standout Luke Morris, who led his team to a double A high school championship.
“I’ve never been more excited for a season to start,” said Friesen. “We’ve got a really good group of guys.”
He is already starting open gym for players.
Craddock will return with the Golden Bears, who were already a Canada West rival, on Jan. 11 and 12.
“It’ll be easy for us to get up for that one.”