It’s hard to read too much into a preseason game with an incomplete roster against a high-quality opponent.
But on Sunday afternoon, fans of the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team learned one thing for certain – the Cascades are going to be strong in the paint in 2014-15.
Taking on the University of Detroit Mercy Titans, a mid-major NCAA Div. 1 program just two years removed from a March Madness appearance, the Cascades fell 81-70 but got promising performances from its towering twosome of Nate Brown and Jasper Moedt.
Abbotsford fans know Moedt well – the 6’7″ fifth-year centre out of Yale Secondary was a second team Canada West all-star last season, and he was reliably terrific against the Titans, posting 11 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
Brown, meanwhile, was a revelation. The newcomer from Fresno, Calif. boasts incredible agility which belies his refrigerator-like 6’6″, 272-pound frame, and he battered the Titans for a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds.
“He looks big and strong,” UFV coach Adam Friesen said of Brown, “but he might have the quickest first step on our team.
“And his ability to play above the rim surprises a lot of people.”
Brown last suited up for Porterville College, a junior college program in California, in 2010-11. He spent the spring 2014 semester redshirting at UFV and completing the schoolwork necessary to get eligible.
“It felt joyful to be back,” he said, adding that he sensed good chemistry with Moedt.
“We instantly read off each other. . . . As long as we give each other spacing, we’ll succeed.”
Moedt, for his part, lauded Brown’s competitive drive.
“Every day in practice, I realize that’s the toughest guy I’ll play all year,” he said. “You saw it out here today – he’s throwing guys around.”
Friesen had just seven players at his disposal on Sunday – star guard Kevon Parchment is finishing off his summer coursework, Toronto natives Kadeem Willis and Aaron McGowan aren’t on campus yet, and Gurminder Kang had work commitments.
Sharpshooting guard Manny Dulay chipped in with 14 points for UFV, highlighted by 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc, but his backcourt mates Dominique Brooks (3-for-19 shooting from the field, nine points) and Vijay Dhillon (2-for-10, eight points) struggled to find the range. The latter two are both newcomers to the program – Seattle native Brooks transferred from the University of Texas at the Permian Basin, and NCAA Div. 2 program, while Dhillon, a grad of Richmond’s R.C. Palmer Secondary, redshirted last year after two seasons with the UVic Vikes.
“At this point of the season, you’re not really going to be executing anything well,” Friesen noted. “But we were competitive, we battled, we didn’t get out-worked and we didn’t get out-toughed.”
The Titans were led by Patrick Onwenu (19 points), Jared Williams (14) and Juwan Howard Jr. (12), the latter of whom is the son of University of Michigan legend and longtime NBA player Juwan Howard.
Detroit went 4-0 on their exhibition tour of B.C., with wins over the Quest Kermodes (119-74), UBC Thunderbirds (86-78) and Trinity Western Spartans (88-78).