Di­nos guard too hot to han­dle

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff tclarke@pgc­i­t­i­zen.ca

Af­ter two close bat­tles with one of the tougher cus­tomers they will likely face in the U Sports Canada West con­fer­ence, the UNBC Tim­ber­wolves have to look back pos­i­tively on what hap­pened to them on the men’s bas­ket­ball court over the week­end at the North­ern Sport Cen­tre.

It was no doubt a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence try­ing to stop Mambi Di­awara, the Cal­gary Di­nos’ ex­quis­ite fourth-year guard, who came up with a 25-point, nine-re­bound ef­fort Satur­day to lift the Di­nos to an 85-75 vic­tory.

That came on the heels of Di­awara’s 38-point per­for­mance Fri­day in a 69-53 win over UNBC in Fri­day’s sea­son-opener.

The T-wolves are 0-2 to start the sea­son but they gave the fans in their home gym plenty of signs they are much im­proved over the team that won just four of 20 games and missed the play­offs for a sec­ond straight sea­son last year.

“At the end of the day Cal­gary’s a tough squad – they’ve been in the (Canada West) fi­nal four year-in, year-out,” said UNBC head coach Todd Jor­dan. “For us to bat­tle this week­end there are a lot of pos­i­tives to take out of it. Ob­vi­ously it would’ve been nice to get one, and we were hop­ing to get one and we ex­pect to put in an ef­fort to get one, but it didn’t go our way.

“But there’s a lot to take out of it. We’re a fairly new team with six new guys and it’s all a process for us and it’s still early in the sea­son.”

The T-wolves chipped away at Cal­gary’s 75-64 lead with an 8-3 surge mid­way through the fourth quar­ter to cut the deficit to 78-72, but the Di­nos turned it on down the stretch and scored seven in the fi­nal three min­utes to salt the vic­tory away. David Kapinga sup­ported the Cal­gary cause with 15 points and Lars Sch­luetler had a 12-point game.

Lost in the fi­nal out­come was the fact UNBC came out like gang­busters and grabbed a 21-5 lead by the six-minute mark and held the edge un­til the Di­nos start­ing find­ing the net. Volodymyr (Vova) Pluzh­nikov, a na­tive of Ukraine who red-shirted last sea­son, put up 12 of his team’s 26 first-quar­ter points. But by the time the firstquar­ter buzzer sounded, Cal­gary had crept back to make it 26-20.

Pluzh­nikov played the en­tire 40 min­utes, fin­ish­ing with 17 points and four re­bounds. The six-foot Pluzh­nikov is about as solid as he is tall and it was his job to try to hound the six-foot-four Di­awara.

“He did a rea­son­able job on him for a lot of pos­ses­sions,” said Jor­dan. “He’s go­ing to be a big part of what we do this year.”

Cal­gary led 44-41 at half­time and 65-56 through 30 min­utes. lead by the 2:23 mark.

“That first quar­ter we put ev­ery­thing to­gether that we had talked about, com­ing from the first night, and I think that’s why we had such a good first quar­ter,” said Landry, a sec­ond-year for­ward from Duchess Park. “We all had such good en­ergy and then we all started to lose and it went down­hill from there. They came to play and we have to come with the same in­ten­sity and ef­fort ev­ery game.”

Cal­gary’s three-point ac­cu­racy (9-for-29 in the game) and UNBC’s in­abil­ity to score threes (2-for-16) was the telling statis­tic.

Both UNBC bas­ket­ball teams are on the road this week­end in Lan­g­ley to play two-game sets with Trin­ity Western. Com­ing off a year in which they made the play­offs, Landry said her team’s tough pre­sea­son sched­ule and the three tour­na­ments they played ear­lier this month has them in a good state of mind.

“We had a lot of tough games com­ing into the sea­son and I do think we are pre­pared for the sea­son and now we just have to take a step back and reeval­u­ate ev­ery­thing and come at next week­end’s games with a new out­look,” said the 19-year-old Landry. “We can’t have those ups and downs, we need to keep it more con­sis­tent.”


UNBC Tim­ber­wolves guard Volodymyr Pluzh­nikov puts up a shot against the Univer­sity of Cal­gary Di­nos on Satur­day at the North­ern Sport Cen­tre. The Di­nos beat the T-wolves 85-75 and left UNBC at 0-2 in the new Canada West men’s bas­ket­ball sea­son.

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