Opening tip '09-10: No. 3 UBC Thunderbirds

  • Top 100 returnees: G Josh Whyte (9th), F Blain Labranche (45th), F Brent Malish (53rd)
  • Other key returnees: G Alex Murphy, F Kyle Watson, G Nathan Yu
  • Newcomers: C Chad Posthumus, F-G Kamar Burke (transfer, Thompson Rivers)
  • Coach: Kevin Hanson (10th season)
  • Offence and defence: 103, 80 (+23)
  • Last year's results: 31-4 overall, lost national championship game to Carleton, 2nd in RPI (occasionally 1st during the year)
  • Looking ahead: Three Top-50 players (give or take) returning, including Whyte, makes UBC an on-paper favourite to be playing basketball on March 21, the day of the national championship game. Granted, it might be tough enough just to win the division.

    UBC has the rep as a flashy shooting team, but as the numbers show, they were devastating defensively last season, which contributed to their long-sought breakthrough at the Final 8. The graduated Bryson Kool seemed to be a big part of that defensive intensity, along with Chris Dyck, but the 'Birds have a great base at the end of the floor.

    Offensively, Hanson has added Burke (15 points per game at TRU two seasons ago) to a mix that includes 64% of last season's scoring. Point being, the 'Birds are a very deep team, with role players such as second-team point guard Murphy who would be among the leading scorers on weaker teams. Labranche and Malish also bring a veteran savvy to the forward spots. Hanson has the fun job of managing the minutes.

    UBC has some options in the post. Six-foot-9 third-year centre Balraj Bains alters a lot of shots and 6-10, 265-lb. Posthumus is waiting in the wings.

    Canada West's crossover playoffs mean two teams from the same division could qualify for the Final 8. That will add an interesting wrinkle come February.
Rob's explanation of Top 100 players by Player Efficiency Ratings (see last year's PER) and Net Efficiency may be found in the women's preview.
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