The University of British Columbia Men's Basketball team has a long lineage of incredible home-grown & international talent. We've seen it for years - the ups, the downs and the in-between years - but, according to Head Coach Kevin Hanson "...this year's group has history. Many have played together before and they have a foundation set that they're passing on to the younger guys. They're hungry and it's clear in their work ethic."
Part of passing down a foundation of skills, drills, defensive mindsets and veteran knowledge includes a much broader community of UBC Alumni that continue to give back to the program both on and off the basketball court.
"Playing UBC basketball was arguably one of the most pivotal experiences of my entire life..." shares Doug Plumb, Basketball Class of 2013, "...all of us Alumni will, no doubt, argue about who had the most talented UBC teams, best guard play, toughest match-ups, road trip stories and of course giving Coach Hanson a hard time. Reality is, though, this place is special."
'Special' seasons typically include conference and USports National Championships, something UBC feels long overdue for and takes full responsibility for missing out on in recent years. We caught up with some of the team this morning at an unannounced 'Breakfast Club' workout...a training session led by Plumb at no cost - and no pity. Designed & inspired by National Basketball League of Canada and NBA Professional workouts, 7 UBC athletes show up at 6:45am - knowing they have official practice at 3pm and film following, all around class requirements - to get up shots, work on their ball handling and shooting and sharpen their overall mindset heading in to an important season as a 'family'.
It's clear relationships within this 2017-2018 team are important - and that's by design. "Coach Hanson assigns us to a 'Rookie' once we become upperclassmen.
In UBC basketball language, a 'Rookie' is an underclassman and/or new to the team's roster. Each 'rookie' is assigned to an upperclassman and that assignment comes with some real responsibility - and a real friendship.
"My rookie was Conor Morgan." Plumb continues, "Conor's Rookie is an incredible young talent, Mason Bourcier and I can assure you this is a brotherhood. If you watch Mason this year, you'll see elements of my mentors, hopefully a small bit of my habits and most certainly you'll notice Conor's impact on him. That, above any on-court accolades, is what binds us together as young men - and that's why I train these guys before the sun comes up."
Coach Hanson has shared this vision for decades. Clearly so, as he was the coach of every player in this program in recent years. "If we do our jobs right, we'll win championships, have fun, get kids through a world-class educational institution and have strong relationships as grown adults for a lifetime. This never was - and never will be - just about titles."
If nothing else - it's clear this team has their head on straight and spent the offseason in the gym.
Walking out the door with Coach Plumb, Senior Captain, Conor Morgan, says (quietly) "This is our year. See you at 3."
UBC Men's Basketball tickets are now available online at GoThunderbirds.ca
Photography by Patrick Giang (@patrickgiang on Instagram) and sponsored by Victory Creative Group, Inc. (@Victory on Instagram)