The goal is to bring every player along, and build a competitive team
Coach Peter Guarasci ‘sees the glass as (at least) half-full’. Yes, his UBC-O Heat have had a tough transition to Canada West, with wins being few and far-between last season. But this is now, and, with a new mix of players in Kelowna, Guarasci says, “We are pleased with a group of guys who want to work, and who we feel can develop into a very competitive team. We’re not going to get worried about wins and losses, but on developing this team, and seeing progress from week to week.”
Guarasci, now in his 5th year at Okanagan, has only 5 returnees, 1 of whom is a starter. Luckily, that is 4th year guard Aldrich Berrios, who led the team with 17.6 ppg/ 4.8 rebs/ 3.3 assists, and 1.4 steals. The twist is that Berrios is also playing defensive back for the Okanagan Sun Jr. Football team this Fall ! “ I wasn’t going to tell him no”, says Coach Guarasci, “but I do kind of hold my breath every weekend ….” A ‘returnee’ after a year away is 3rd year wing man, Cam Servatius (Chilliwack), who is ‘stronger, and will be seeing some key minutes for us’, according to his coach.
Tristan Matthews, a 6-4, 2nd year guard from N. Vancouver, is working extremely hard, and turning into a capable rebounder. A key acquisition is 6-7 forward Ben Kornelson (Armstrong, BC), who brings a gritty inside game after a couple of seasons at Briercrest College. Another big man with a nose for the action is 4th year transfer (Lakeland College), 6-6, Kyrin Cybenko (Saskatoon), who ‘really gets after it’ against bigger opponents. Another transfer who is impressing coaches with his skills and desire to blend into the team concept is 4th year guard Aloysius Callaghan (Calgary).
The Heat have a big 1st year group, with 6 rookie on the expanded roster. 6-7 Gurman Bhangu (Surrey, BC) is ‘keen on competing right away’, and he has a good scoring touch. Another young big man is 6-9 Owen Keyes (Kelowna) who works extremely hard and is making great progress. Rookie import, 6-1, Kareem Moussa (Texas) ‘has great instincts’, and can make good decisions as a lead guard.
“We know we will have lots of development work to be done with a very young group,” says Coach Guarasci. “We do, however’ have some more mature guys who can ‘float the boat’ competitively while we allow their younger teammates to progress. “
Heat – last season 2-18 … Long-range plans … Prognosis – May be a year away, but looking for pluses – Big men may be the key, and the Heat are bigger than ever.
Heat Assistant Boosts Youth Program
Landry Ndayitwayeko, the lead Assistant Coach for the UBC-O Heat, ‘eats and sleeps’ basketball these days. After finishing his CIS career for the Heat, and earning an Economics degree in 2014, the Windsor, ON native dove into the coaching side of the game.
“It’s a full-time job,” says Ndayitwayeko. “Between coaching the university guys and heading up the Junior Club program, I see this as a great opportunity.” “Pete (Heat Head Coach, Peter Guarasci) is very supportive and flexible, as we divide our time between the varsity team and the youth programs.” When Landry says ‘we’, he includes Yasine Ghomari and Mitch Goodwin, who are also Heat assistants and active with the youth program.
“We ran 9 teams this past Spring-Summer, from U-12 through U-17”, says Ndayitwayeko. “This Fall we are running an Academy program, with one night of skills training and one for games. I just love coaching the young players”, he exclaims. “We want to teach the game, and help the kids develop. Our vision is to see this program grow, and to grow our numbers. We are working to help these kids take their game as far as they can.”
As far as his own coaching aspirations, Landry suggests, “I’m pretty happy with my combined role right now as an assistant with UBC-O and putting a lot of effort in with Yasine and Mitch in building our youth program.” Coach Guarasci says, “Landry is a real driver of that Club program, and his energy and vision are amazing.”
- The Heat have 3 games in Ontario this weekend. Coach Guarasci sees this as a huge team-building opportunity; they have booked a very big house in Toronto, and will make excursions out from there for the games in Hamilton (McMaster), downtown Toronto (U of T), and out West in London (Western ).
- The UVic ‘Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament’ games are all available on Canada West TV. Fans should have their subscriptions in place for a whole season’s schedule of games, including these and other pre-season fixtures.
- The Winnipeg Wesmen games at Lakehead this Friday and Saturday are also available on OUA TV