Mindsets as different as their records as Wolves hoops teams head to Edmonton
TERRY FARRELL - Herald-Tribune sports editor
For one Wolves basketball team, this weekend's series against the MacEwan Griffins is a chance to further cement its position as one of the ACAC powerhouses.
For the other, it's desperation time.
The Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves women go into Edmonton sporting a 5-1 record – two points behind both Concordia and The King's University College, but with two games in hand on both of them.
The men? Well, they just want to win a game.
At 0-6 on the season, they'd better start soon, or all hopes of any post-season berth will be lost.
"It's not too late – we have definitely gone out and dug ourselves a hole – but we need a win this weekend, there's no way around it," said men's coach Chris Nicol. "Just like every week, I believe we can win both games this weekend, but I will settle for a split at this point.
"We have a chance to equal last year's first half (5-7) but we have no 'gimme' games coming up. We have to start winning games. As much as you look for positives to hang your hat on, the bottom line is that if you don't win, you don't improve."
Nicol is convinced his team is better than their record indicates, at least talent-wise.
Mentally speaking is another issue.
"At this point, it's above their shoulders, nowhere else," he said of the losing streak. "They just don't have the collective confidence. A win could change that in a hurry."
There's no such issue on the women's side.
The Wolves dropped their first game of the year last week, against Concordia, but only after they beat the No. 1-ranked Thunder the previous night.
The other women's teams are learning the hard way that, as usual, the Wolves are serious contenders.
That said, they will have their work cut out for them this weekend.
Women's coach Kim Gravengard expects a tough challenge from the 4-2 Griffins.
"They are a good team," she said. "Jim (Lazaruk) is a good coach, he was ACAC Coach of the Year last year and has been around a long time. He is very dedicated in how he runs his program and makes sure his players are (on board) through and through. We will be prepared for it. It will be a lot like Concordia (with whom the Wolves split their series last weekend).
"The top three teams we always are competing against are Concordia, MacEwan and King's. It's the same every year. It will be the four of us battling it out for the top three positions again this year."
There will be the usual assembly of interested onlookers when the women take to the court Saturday afternoon.
"You always see everyone else in Saturday's games – we're the only team that plays at 1 (p.m.), so all the other coaches get a chance to scout us," said Gravengard.
"But we're OK with that. We're ready."
Gravengard laid out her expectations for the weekend.
"A sweep would be great, a split will be acceptable, but it won't be acceptable to have two losses," she said. "If we play our games the way we can, we should be able to take two, but they are a good team and we cannot take them lightly."