Men's Basketball 2013 Outlook: UBC Thunderbirds

We finish up this series with the (almost-)perennial contenders otherwise known as the Thunderbirds.

Record: 8-2 conference (1st, Canada West Pacific), 14-2 overall, +11.5 SRS (4th in CIS)

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency (CIS Rank): 103.6 ORtg (12th), 92.4 DRtg (12th)

First half highlights:
  • I could summarize it here, or you could read this excellent recap from UBC athletics.
  • Holding Saskatchewan, the country's second best offence, to 42.4% shooting on their home court.
  • The overall balanced play of a no-star lineup (though Doug Plumb has been fantastic).
First half recap: The Thunderbirds have weathered the storm of high turnover, staying competitive despite losing program cornerstones like Nathan Yu, Josh Whyte, Alex Murphy and Kamar Burke in recent years. UBC's two losses are by a combined seven points, and they've shown they can win multiple ways — for example, see their win at UFV, despite shooting 34.4%, as evidence they can grind out wins, too.

What makes them good: The T-Birds make their living at the free throw line, shooting more from the charity stripe than any other team in the country at 0.31 FTs per FG attempt. Otherwise, it's fair to say they don't do anything great but do everything well. Balance is the name of the game for this team, with four starters averaging double figures in scoring, led by Plumb at 16.0 points per game. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes this team stand out other than the fact they're well-coached and don't make many mistakes for other teams to capitalize on.

What they need to improve on: Lacking some of the firepower of recent UBC teams and without a dependable lead guard like Yu or Whyte to lean on, it will be interesting to see how the UBC will progress towards the playoffs. That being said, the well-balanced approach in almost every aspect of the game has led them to the top of their division, and could be the new formula for success going forward.

Goals/Outlooks/Scenarios: UBC has seen its fair share of heartbreak at the Final 8, but missing out on the big dance last year has got to sting for Kevin Hanson's club. With the lead in this year's parity-filled Canada West, UBC could be back in contention for the national title.
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