October 30, 2012, Victoria, BC (ISN) - Following an active pre-season of training, fundraising and exhibition play, the Camosun College Chargers men's and women's basketball teams are gearing up for their first games of the season as they head up Island to tip-off against the Vancouver Island University Mariners this Friday.
With key departures on the women's side including Caitlin Marshall (2011-12 PACWEST 2nd Team All-Star) and Aija Salvadore (2010-11 PACWEST Rookie of the Year & 2nd Team All-Star) and James Blandford (2011-12 PACWEST Rookie of the Year & 2nd Team All-Star) and Blake Mansbridge (2010-11 CCAA Academic All-Canadian, 2009-10, 2010-11 CCAA National Scholar Athlete & 2010-11 PACWEST 2nd Team All-Star) on the men's, the Chargers will be looking to a limited number of returnees and a crop of newcomers to take on the PACWEST conference this season.
"To be successful this season, we will have to work hard and execute well," commented Chargers Women's Basketball Head Coach Brett Westcott. "We are young again this year and it will take some time and some effort to ensure we can play at a level where we can win. VIU is one of the best teams in our league and are experienced at every position with five 4th year players. Going into their gym with a young team makes a steep challenge which I do not know if we are ready for at this time, but hopefully we can be competitive and give ourselves a chance. Right now, we have been able to get eight or nine players scoring every game so we are developing some depth. We do not really have anybody for other teams to focus their attentions on so hopefully that development will continue over the course of the season."
Five returnees and nine rookies make up this year's Chargers men's squad. Players who will be relied upon to make consistent contributions to the team include third-year point guard Jordan Elvedahl (2011-12 CCAA Academic All-Canadian & PACWEST 2nd Team All-Star) and second-year forward Trevor Schuermann (2011-12 PACWEST All-Rookie). Recruits to watch for include BC Provincial Team player Mitch Knippleberg (Cowichan Secondary) along with Island All-Stars Curtis Wilson (Mt. Doug) and teammates Evan Woodson and Kaz Kobayashi from the 2012 Island Champion Oak Bay Bays.
"We are a very close knit group, we have built trust among each other and that is where our strength and comfort come from," said Camosun Men's Basketball Head Coach Scot Cuachon.
The Chargers tip-off against the Mariners in Nanaimo on Friday night with the women's game starting at 6pm and the men following at 8pm. Fans can watch these games LIVE from VIU on SportsCanadaTV.
Last year, the Chargers men won bronze at the PACWEST Provincial Championship while the women placed fourth. Both Mariners teams finished the 2011-12 season as the Provincial silver medalists.
"We're excited about the opener with VIU," commented Coach Cuachon. "It's always an exciting opportunity to take on a talented and storied basketball program such as the Mariners. Our guys have been working extremely hard and are very much looking forward to playing in the raucous, high energy environment that the VIU student body brings to each game we play on their home court."