“There’s no place like home” was Dorothy’s mantra in The Wizard of Oz, but that level of comfort will be a largely foreign concept for Columbia Bible College basketball teams as they open the 2013-14 PacWest conference regular season.
The Bearcats will be adopting a road warrior mentality out of necessity – all but one of their seven games in the first semester will be away from the friendly confines of Columbia Place. The schedule then becomes home-centric after the Christmas break.
“I think it’s a bit of a benefit to us, to be honest,” said CBC men’s coach Matt Guynup, who noted his squad was actually better on the road than at home last season.
“The ability to go into someone else’s place at put pressure on them, I’m kind of looking forward to.”
The Bearcats men are coming off a 6-15 season which saw them miss the playoffs by two games, and aside from top returnees Marcio Juk, Hudson Naylor and Mac Thompson, they’ll be taking a freshman-laden roster into battle this season. Key newcomers include Addison King, a 6’5″ sharpshooter from Bellingham, Wash., point guards Khyn Sarmiento and Seth Sorensen, and 6’6″ forward Kyle Innes out of Abbotsford’s Yale Secondary.
“I think we’re really offensively talented, and we have a lot to learn defensively,” Guynup said. “I think we will learn it, especially as the league goes on and we figure out the intensity that’s needed to win games.”
The CBC women’s program has struggled in recent years, with just one victory in PacWest play over six seasons.
But under second-year head coach Tamara Larson, the Bearcats could surprise some people this year.
“Last year was about building a foundation,” Larson said. “This year, we actually have quite a bit of talent to work with . . . I think we’re going to fly under the radar a little bit, because people don’t expect anything from us.”
Larson’s reason for optimism begin with Skye Sealey, a 26-year-old 6’1″ centre who was hotly recruited during her Grade 12 year at Mission Secondary but elected not to play college basketball until this season.
“She will be a powerhouse,” Larson said of Sealey, who served as a Bearcats assistant coach last season. “She will be one of the most dominant forwards in the league, if not the most.”
Key returnees include Deanna Esau, a 6’1″ forward who made the PacWest all-rookie team last season, forward Michelle Schuurman and guards Vanessa Funk and Mandy Van Muyen.
The CBC hoopsters open the regular season on the road vs. the Kwantlen Eagles this Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.).