T-Birds have unfinished business
It’s not often that a coach admits he is 100% satisfied with his recruiting and his roster, but UBC’s veteran mentor, Kevin Hanson (18th year) appears awfully close. “We did very well, and no one (recruit) said no”, says Hanson. This has the T’Birds, who were 19-1 in Canada West play last season, looking for a repeat, and then more fortune at play-off time. After major disappointment in the post season last Spring, this is a team looking for something special.
“Things happen from week to week”, says the coach. “Injuries, illness … we felt that we needed more depth.” Well, they have it now, in spades! 5 new faces counting , Jauquin Bennett-Boire, the explosive2nd year lead guard who red-shirted last season. Add in the heralded arrival of 6-10 Grant Shephard (Kelowna), who chose UBC over chances in the NCAA ranks. Mason Bourcier is a 6-4 guard who played with Shephard at Kelowna Sr. Sec. A pair of former Toronto high school guards, 6-3 Anthony McNish, and 6-4 Grant Audu, come from a year’s play in U.S. high schools.
Two more young local recuits will be red-shirting; the T’Birds, after all, do return 6 – 8 roster players from last season. Three 5th years head that list, led by 6-9 Conor Morgan (Victoria), the 2017 Canada West player of the year, along with point man, 6-2, Phil Jalalpoor (Germany), and 6-8 Luka Zaharijevic (Vancouver).
Taylor Browne (Surrey) returns as a fast-rising 3rd year guard, who “worked hard on his game over the summer”, and can be a valuable complimentary scorer and creator on offense. Patrick Simon (Port Coquitlam) is a 4th year, 6-8 post , and guards Isaiah Familia (Windsor, ON) and Izaiah Ugoalah (Vancouver) are in the mix.
“We are still working on our different combinations. Certainly, we have a great group here; I’m excited to coach these guys. We want to focus on team, and getting them to jell and work together”, says Hanson. The 5- time Canada West coach of the year exclaims, “I feel energized, and hungry to make this a very good team.”
‘The Bazooka’ trains with a purpose
In high school, at nearby Kitsilano Sr. Secondary, Luka Zaharijevic, was a legendary star, who scored at will with a 6-8 frame carrying as much as 300 lbs. Dubbed ‘Luka, The Bazooka’, he stood out for many reasons. On arriving at
UBC, Luka played few minutes as he was behind more mature post men. His size wasn’t helping, because his fitness wasn’t what it should have been. “We’ve wanted to start Luka in the last couple of seasons”, says Coach Hanson, “But he was hurt, and he was never quite ready.” “This past Spring and Summer, Luka has dedicated himself to preparing for a big final year.” The transformation has been impressive, as Hanson tells us the young man has pursued his training with a vengeance. He is, reportedly, eating better, ‘riding his bike all over town’, and focused on his post game skills.
In lthe Waterloo game last weekend the big man was 8/9 for 17 points in just 13 minutes; he looks ready to step in as one of the T-Birds big weapons up front. With an eye to a possible pro opportunity, Luka is determined to make his 5th year one to remember.