The TRU WolfPack women’s basketball team took a huge step last season in making the playoffs for the first time in program history.
Now, head coach Scott Reeves has his team primed to leave that footprint in the dust.
“We’ve raised the bar culturally at TRU for the women’s basketball program, so that playoffs are an expectation,” said Reeves, now in his sixth year in charge of the Pack.
“How far we go in the playoffs, that’s something we have to learn.”
TRU is 12-5 on the season — eclipsing the high-water mark of nine wins set in the 2011-2012 campaign — and has already clinched a playoff spot ahead of tonight’s (Jan. 31) home date with the Trinity Western University (TWU) Spartans (5-11).
Game time tonight is 6 p.m., as it is on Friday, Feb. 1, for the rematch.
Both tilts — the last regular-season home games on the 2012-2013 slate — will be played at the Tournament Capital Centre.
The Pack still have an outside chance of earning a home playoff game, but “there are many mathematical scenarios that have to happen,” Reeves said, and his charges are focused instead on tonight’s matchup.
“I’ve really done the old cliché thing with our team and got them to buy into the one game at a time thing,” the WolfPack bench boss said.
There is at least one somewhat simple scenario that would see TRU host its first ever Canada West post-season showdown.
If the WolfPack swept their remaining games — two against the Spartans, two against the Fraser Valley Cascades (13-3) and one against the UBC Okanagan Heat (5-12) — and Victoria swept UBC on the last weekend of the season, then TRU would clinch the Pacific Division and host a playoff game.
(That’s assuming UBC is still atop the division heading into the final weekend after sweeping Mount Royal this weekend and UNBC next weekend).
Again, the odds are against the aforementioned scenario coming to fruition, meaning the tilts against TWU will likely be the last Canada West games on home turf for three WolfPack fifth-year players — Diane Schuetze, Tracy Kocs and Jen Ju.
“The fact I won’t play another league game in this gym is crazy to think after five years,” said Schuetze, who ranks among the nation’s best in rebounds, blocks and scoring.
Reeves will be hard-pressed to replace the departing trio.
“Diane has worked extremely hard to get to where she is today,” Reeves said.
“She is a great ambassador for TRU. Jen has developed into a pure scorer and is energetic leading for our team. Tracy always brings a competitive drive to every game. She has been very consistent in her scoring and rebounding. All three of our fifth years have contributed greatly to the success we are having right now.”
The graduating players will be honoured, along with their families, at the game on Friday.
TRU boasts a 6-1 record on home court this season and two more wins in the Den would help the Pack climb up the Pacific Division ranks.
“We used to talk about how we should have a chance at home because we’re sleeping in our own beds, and we did all these things that were all peripheral things,” Reeves said.
“Now, we’re talking about how good teams — playoff teams, teams that compete day in and day out — always protect their home court.”
Pribilsky bids adieu
Kevin Pribilsky, the lone fifth-year member of the WolfPack men’s basketball team, will play his last game in Kamloops on Friday.
He followed head coach Scott Clark to TRU from Simon Fraser University before the 2009-2010 season.
“I have always felt that coach Clark has always taken good care of his players,” Pribilsky said.
“He cares about them. I think that is really important. He always tries to not only make you a better basketball player, but a better person and human being.”
Clark could not say enough about what Pribilsky has meant to him and to the men’s basketball program.
“He comes from a great family,” said Clark, whose team tips off against the Spartans at 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at the TCC.
“They did an unbelievable job of raising him. I think everyone in the athletic department — staff and other athletes — knows Kev as a person of character.
“He is Kevin Pribilsky in the classroom, on the basketball floor and at home. His character doesn’t change. He is what he is and will always be that. People are attracted to quality people like that.”
TRU (6-11) is still in the hunt for a post-season berth, but has no chance of hosting a playoff game.
Pribilsky will be honoured before Friday’s game.
— with files from TRU sports information