With the launch of the regular season now upon them, the Camosun College Chargers basketball teams hit the hardwood in earnest tonight with a visit to Nanaimo to take on Vancouver Island University in both men's and womens' play.
"Like always, we're expecting a big, strong tough, physical opponent," Chargers' men's head coach Scot Cuachon said of the VIU Mariners. "They've built a strong tradition and history and I don't expect that to change."
Having finished with a bronze medal in Pacwest play last season (a record of 10-6), it's onwards and upwards for Cuachon, who is in his first year as head man, but is in his fourth with the program.
"We're looking confident, but not cocky," he said of his Chargers. "We look strong and there are a lot of guys chomping at the bit here.
"There was a bronze medal last year, but that's the base line for us, we have to be better. Our captains this year have high expectations and they're pulling everybody with them," he said of Trevor Scheurmann, a forward named to the all-rookie team last season, and Jordan Elvedahl, a second-team all-star guard.
Cuachon has six returners in his lineup, if you include KevinTranschel, a six-foot-seven post player, who took last season off.
Among the recruits are Mitch Knippelberg from Cowichan High, who played for the B.C. provincial team, Curtis Wilson, an Island all-star with Mount Douglas, and Evan Woodson and Kaz Kobayashi of Oak Bay.
"It was a good recruiting year," said Cuachon, who had to make up for the loss of Pacwest rookie of the year James Blandford, who left to attend the agriculture program at Olds College in Alberta, and Blake Mansbridge, who is now Cuachon's assistant coach.
As for the women's team, Chargers head coach Brett Westcott is looking for an upswing from last season's 7-9 campaign.
"We're hosting provincials, so I'm hoping to be playing at 6 o'clock on the Saturday," he said of the championship final time slot.
But Westcott knows patience will be required for his young squad to develop.
"It will take us some time to get our structure in," he said of having nine first-year players as compared to the two VIU will trot out tonight at 6.
Westcott will rely on returners Haley Carmichael, Ella Goldschmid, Brianne Larson and Karli Keown. Elyse Matthews, a former player at the UVic, joins the Chargers this season. Among the new recruits are Melissa Van Dyk of Claremont; Marina Low of Spectrum; Emily Frame of Oak Bay; and Danielle Lessard of Port Alberni.
What both Chargers teams do face is a tough schedule in which they play nine at home and 12 away, including the first five.
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