No one in the PacWest men’s basketball league had a prettier stat line than Kevin Ford did last season.
The rookie point guard with the Columbia Bible College Bearcats finished top-five in the league each of the three major statistical categories – points (19.9 per game, third), rebounding (8.9, second) and assists (5.0, fifth) – en route to first team all-star honours.
Ford flew somewhat under the radar, though, because of another set of numbers – the Bearcats’ win-loss record. The CBC men finished dead last in the PacWest at 1-15.
This season, Ford’s individual stats may take a slight dip, but that’s probably a positive indicator. After having to carry the team in 2011-12, he’s got a vastly deeper supporting cast this fall, highlighted by Thompson Rivers University transfers Marcio Juk and Hudson Naylor.
“Last year was tough – it was just loss after loss,” Ford said. “But I really like our team this year. There’s a lot more help in scoring, rebounding, assists-wise.
“I really just care about winning, and my numbers will be fine. They may not be as spectacular as last year’s, but as long as we keep getting wins, it’s OK.”
Ford, a 24-year-old from Kent, Wash., is truly a special talent, according to Bearcats coach Dave Martens.
“His greatest skill is in his toughness and his ability to be strong on the ball,” Martens said of his 6’0″ floor general.
“The only way you can stop him is usually by sending two or three guys at him. He also has an ability to see the floor and make passes to open guys, and now we’ve got the talent around him to finish those shots.”
Martens noted that with the likes of Juk and Naylor around, Ford needn’t feel the burden to score on every single possession. CBC’s newfound depth also means Ford can take the occasional breather on the bench, rather than playing the heavy minutes he did last season.
“He works so hard,” Martens said. “So far (in the preseason), it’s been a positive thing for us to not have to rely not only on his stats, but also the time he had to spend on the floor and the energy he had to put into our offence.”
After last year’s struggles, the Bearcats are quietly confident they’re poised for a huge turnaround this season and ready to challenge for a playoff berth.
“Last year, we were in some games in the fourth quarter, and then we’d fall short,” Ford noted. “That was due to inexperience or competitiveness. But this team has all of that. Not only are we going to be in every game this year, I think we’re going to have an opportunity to blow a lot of teams out and surprise a lot of people.”
• The CBC basketball teams open the PacWest regular season at home against the Kwantlen Eagles on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.).