EDMONTON – As they prepare for a regionally-based regular season, the MacEwan men's basketball team will be tested in exhibition action against competition from all corners of the conference.
Head coach Mike Connolly announced the club's non-conference schedule on Thursday – a slate which begins with home matches against UBC-Okanagan on Oct. 9 (7 p.m.) and UNBC (Oct. 10).
The Griffins will also host the University of Winnipeg (Oct. 15, 6 p.m.), UBC (Oct. 16, 3 p.m.), Saskatchewan (Oct. 22, 7 p.m.) and Regina (Oct. 23, 3 p.m.,).
"We are really fortunate to be able to host some quality teams and teams that will be ranked in the U SPORTS top 10," said Connolly. "Any time you get an opportunity to host quality teams is really special for our fans. They will be able to see some great competition."
The experience will be important on the court for a young Griffins team with multiple first-year student-athletes and a roster with an overall average age of 18.9.
"We feel it is important to get this young team as many learning situations as we can, and the only really place athletes learn is in game situations," said Connolly. "With these games, we will be able to see immediate growth and improvement as a team and as individuals, which will help us succeed in playoffs this year and more importantly speed up our development."
Connolly also noted the Griffins have been accepted for play in the 50th anniversary edition of the University of Winnipeg Wesmen Classic basketball tournament. They will head east for the oldest-running U SPORTS basketball tourney Dec. 28-30.
"The invite to the Wesmen Classic is an honour," said Connolly. "Playing in the classic allows us to jump right back into the mix after a Christmas break. Returning to the intensity of competition and a reminder of the commitment to succeed is a product of participating in the Wesmen Classic. It will get us ready for winter term and our run in playoffs."
The Griffins open the Canada West regular season on Oct. 29 at Mount Royal University (8 p.m.). Their home opener is set for Nov. 12 vs. Calgary (8 p.m., all on Canada West TV presented by Co-op).