UBC Thunderbirds Get Ready for Santa Clara

VANCOUVER, BC–For the first time in the pre-season, the UBC Thunderbirds will have a full roster and coaching staff together for a game as they get ready to host the Santa Clara University Broncos of the NCAA Division I’s West Coast Conference.

UBC lost two previous exhibition games to the University of Texas-Arlington and Whitman College this summer but that was with head coach Kevin Hanson and fifth year guard Nathan Yu (Prince George, BC) away in China, representing Canada at the 26th Summer Universiade in Shenzhen.  Another fifth year player, Kamar Burke (Mississauga, ON), didn’t play against Texas-Arlington.

“Coming back off the World University games, I was in mid-season coaching form so I was ready to play and ready to get after it again,” said Hanson.  “Now, I sit there and go, ‘I wish we had two weeks of practice or even three weeks to put stuff in place.'”

Hanson’s full roster will include five returning fifth year seniors: Yu, Burke, Graham Bath (Langley, BC), Balraj Bains (Delta, BC) and Doug Plumb (Pitt Meadows, BC).  Newcomers include college transfers Jermaine Cherry (Calgary, AB) and Demetrius McQuarn (Portland, OR) and Mamadou Mutombo (Toronto, ON) as well as B.C. high school standouts David Wagner (Kamloops, BC), Nakai Luyken (Abbotsford, BC), and Malcolm Williams (Maple Ridge, BC).

“I’m just excited about getting the chance to coach right now, coach against a very good basketball team, a great program, and a great coach so I’m looking forward to the challenge, said Hanson. “And it’s going to be a good challenge to see just where the guys fit in this early in the season.”

Santa Clara finished with a 24-14 record last season and won the CollegeInsider.com Post-season Tournament over Iona.  They feature sharpshooting guard Kevin Foster, who was the NCAA’s leader in three-pointers last year.  Yesterday, he hit one from about 15-feet behind the three-point line to send Santa Clara’s game against Trinity Western into overtime.

But the star attraction for the Broncos will be former Vancouver College star Marc Trasolini, who is returning to his hometown andwill have family and friends on hand to cheer him on, including Yu.  The two played together for a year at Vancouver College, leading the Fighting Irish to a third place finish at the Provincial Championships.

“I’m excited,” said Yu.  “I haven’t gotten to see Trasolini play or play against him in a long time and I think we’re both at the top of our games right now so it will be fun to compete against him. And we might talk a little trash during the game just because we’re friends and know each other pretty well.  It’s going to be fun.  I hope he brings it.”

The teams will play twice in three days: 7:00pm on Thursday (live on CiTR 101.9 FM) and at 10:00am on Saturday.  Both games are at War Memorial Gymnasium.

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