Sam Freeman’s ruthlessly efficient 31-point outburst against the McMaster Marauders on Saturday night was impressive enough on its own.
Factor in that the University of the Fraser Valley’s fifth-year combo guard had his shooting hand heavily taped to protect a healing hairline fracture, and the performance was simply absurd.
Freeman shot 11-of-15 from the floor – including a scorching 7-for-10 from three-point range – and didn’t even play in the fourth quarter as the Cascades blew out McMaster 81-48 to wrap up their home preseason event, the Honda Way Tournament.
“If I don’t wear tape and it gets hit, it hurts pretty good,” said Freeman, who fractured a bone in his right hand during an exhibition game in late August. “I’ll probably be wearing tape for the rest of the season, but that’s all right.
“It looks a lot worse than it really is, I guess. The ball still comes off the right fingers.”
UFV’s blowout of McMaster, a well-regarded Ontario University Athletics (OUA) squad, capped an eye-opening tourney showing.
The Cascades opened with a 75-60 triumph on Thursday over the Langara Falcons, a PacWest college squad, behind 19 points from Freeman. On Friday, they thumped another top OUA program, the Lakehead Thunderwolves, 88-70 with power forward Kyle Grewal scoring 31 points.
It’s heady stuff for a UFV program in transition – former head coach Barnaby Craddock departed for the University of Alberta in the off-season, and starters Joel Friesen and Jasper Moedt followed him.
“I think people were looking at us like we’d be a young team and we’d be underdogs once again,” Freeman said. “But that just fires us up. You saw what we did.”
This weekend, the Cascades hoopsters travel to Calgary to open the Canada West regular season against conference newcomers the Mount Royal Cougars.
“These three wins provide us with confidence,” new bench boss Adam Friesen noted.
“We didn’t know what to expect going into this season, to be honest. We felt we had the talent, but it’s a long way from having potential to being a good team. We’re on the right track.”
CASCADES WOMEN IMPRESS IN REGINA
The UFV women’s basketball team also has reason for optimism heading into opening weekend vs. Mount Royal.
Al Tuchcherer’s squad won two of three games at the University of Regina Cougar Invitational, defeating the host Cougars (77-72) and the Saskatchewan Huskies (86-64), while falling to the two-time defending CIS national champion Windsor Lancers (82-56).
Nicole Wierks paced UFV in scoring on Thursday (18 points) and Friday (17), while Sarah Wierks led the way Saturday with 19 points and nine rebounds.