VANCOUVER, BC – Although the score of Wednesday night’s 96-70 exhibition loss to NCAA Division I Rice University will quickly be forgotten, the game did provide a very early preview of the 2013-14 UBC Thunderbirds.
Second year point guard Isaiah Solomon led the way, scoring a team high 18 points while also grabbing 6 rebounds and dishing out 2 assists. Although Solomon did not start the game, he did handle the majority of the lead guard duties in his 29 minutes of action and only committed four (of UBC’s 26) turnovers in that time. Solomon displayed the same rock-solid game that earned him playing time as a freshman, and was also more aggressive looking for his own shot.
UBC’s two other freshman standouts from last season, Jordan Jensen-Whyte and Conor Morgan, struggled in this game, scoring six points apiece in 17 and 24 minutes respectively.
Newcomer Kedar Wright had a solid performance in his first game for the T-Bird’s, connecting on 4-8 from the field and 3-4 from the free throw line for 11 points in just 22 minutes of action off the UBC bench.
Wright played at his own pace on the offensive end, craftily creating shots and driving lanes, and was aggressive defensively despite being visibly winded, especially late in the game. He has a reputation for being an elite one-on-one defender from his high school days at St. Edmund Campion. The true freshman guard flew into Vancouver on Tuesday and only had one practice with the team in advance on Wednesday night’s game. Chances are the travel schedule was to blame for the fatigue we saw.
UBC Head Coach Kevin Hanson on Wright’s play: “I thought he played real hard, he took good shots, he penetrated to the hoop; defensively, the effort was really good. I thought he brought us a little bit of that Ontario toughness, which is going to be really good.”
The backcourt pairing of Solomon and Wright is a nice wrinkle for the T-Birds, as both are capable scorers and solid perimeter defenders. Expect to see more of these two as the season progresses.
Another newcomer to the Birds, 6-8 forward Adam Jespersen (formerly of the University of Western Ontario and the University of Hawaii) struggled in a starting role but drew high praise from Coach Hanson: “I think Adam Jespersen is going to be a huge pick up for us. He’s going to be real solid inside once he gets a little bit of the rust off.”
UBC only dressed nine players for this game and were without forwards Brylle Kamen and Luka Zaharijevic, who both sat out with injuries.
The Thunderbirds begin training camp on August 26th, but do not play again until September 5th when they host the University of California-Riverside for an exhibition game at War Memorial.