Bearcat basketball in rebuilding mode

New head coaches Dave Martens and Sean Bosko are taking on the challenge of rebuilding the Columbia Bible College basketball programs.

Of new Columbia Bible College basketball head coaches Dave Martens and Sean Bosko, one thing can be said for sure – they’re not afraid of a little hard work.

Or a lot of hard work, as the case may be.

That much is evident, based simply on the fact that Martens and Bosko accepted the challenge of rebuilding the Bearcats hoops programs.

Martens, who left his previous post as head coach of the Mennonite Educational Institute senior boys to take the helm of the CBC men’s team, is taking over a program that went 1-17 last season in the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association (now known as the PACWest).

Bosko has an even bigger job on his hands with the Bearcats women’s squad, which has won just one game over its last four seasons on the B.C. college circuit. They were 0-18 in league play last year, and 0-26 overall.

Indeed, watching the Bearcats hoopsters play this season would be be the athletic equivalent of watching one of those home renovation shows on HGTV – both involving a process of reconstruction and renewal.

Bosko said that turning things around involves a lot of hard work on the recruiting trail, as well a culture change within the program.

“Once you start losing, it’s easy to continue down that process,” said Bosko, who was an assistant coach with the CBC women last season. “What I want to achieve is a level of compete – to teach the girls that no matter what the score is, the harder we work, the better we get. So if that continues, we’ll be headed in the right direction.”

Already, the Bearcats women have achieved some measurable gains – after going winless last year, they picked up two preseason wins this fall.

Bosko has a trio of sophomore returnees in Lisa Isaaks, Jaclyn McNicol and Sharece Thoutenhoofd, and his seven-member rookie class is headlined by Melissa Spring, a 6’1” post player who helped the W.J. Mouat Hawks to the provincial AAA high school title last season.

“We’ve already got a couple wins under our belt, which makes us feel a little better,” Bosko said. “I’ve got great girls, and they’re learning as fast as they can.”

Martens got a late start to building the 2011-12 edition of the Bearcats – he was hired in late April, with recruiting season already in full swing. But he managed to pull together a solid rookie class featuring a pair of players from Washington state – Kevin Ford and Michael Hunter – complemented by a series of local products.

The CBC men got some bad news when Hunter was declared ineligible to play the first semester, because he’d been on the roster with a U.S. junior college team last season. But Ford has been terrific at the point guard spot, and the Bearcats have some decent depth in the post, highlighted by a pair of 6’6” players – returnee Chris Mader, and rookie Tim Vandraager, an Abbotsford Christian product.

As Martens has gained familiarity with the program, he’s identified a knockdown perimeter shooter or two as the greatest recruiting need for next year.

“It’s pretty clear where we need some help already on our team,” he noted. “If we can keep the key players for another year or two and then add a couple of recruits who fit our specific needs, that will definitely help.”

• The CBC hoopsters host their home openers this weekend at Columbia Place. They face the Camosun Chargers on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.), and the Vancouver Island University Mariners on Saturday (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).

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