If the UNBC Timberwolves women's basketball team win the little battles each night in their inaugural CIS season they'll make head coach Loralyn Murdoch happy.
The T-wolves begin their new life in Canada West tonight, 6 p.m., when they play in Kamloops against the Thompson River University Wolfpack (9-9 last season, made playoffs as wild card).
"We don't talk about wins and loses," said Murdoch, heading into her 15th season with the T-wolves. "Our big goal is to play to the best of our ability on every given night and not be out competed or out worked."
Murdoch will be counting on fourth-year guard Mercedes Van Koughnett to lead the troops on the floor throughout the 22-game schedule.
"She works very hard and had a great summer and prepared herself to play at this next level," said Murdoch.
Van Koughnett missed the T-wolves final two exhibition games while nursing a groin pull, but led the team at the Naismith Classic at Waterloo University where she pulled off a double-double in two of the T-wolves three games.
In eight exhibition games, the T-wolves compiled a 6-2 record, including a two-game sweep over Grande Prairie College and 2-1 records at Waterloo and Mount Royal University. At the Mount Royal tournament, the T-wolves won their first game over an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference school before falling 88-52 to the Calgary Dinos. UNBC wrapped up the Calgary based event with a 77-56 win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns.
"We've had a good preseason and, I think we're ready to step on the floor," said Murdoch. "We played good competition that was in our talent-range and we competed hard. But you can never have enough time to prepare so we're going to take what we have."
In addition to Van Koughnett, other veterans Murdoch will be counting on to make the leap from the 2012 PACWEST championship team to Canada West are forwards Sarah Robin and Emily Kaehn and guard Jennifer Bruce.
Newcomers Jordyn Rabbitt and Kellie Fluit, both transfer students in their third seasons, should also contributed both on and off the court.
Murdoch said she'll also look to the T-wolves lone fifth-year forward Kady Dandeneau. The hard-playing, but hard-luck veteran has battled knee injuries throughout her post-secondary career, missing the whole 2010-11 season. Dandeneau missed the T-wolves preseason with knee problems.
"She's definitely had her fair share of setbacks but she's a tough girl and she really wants to play so she's doing whatever she has to do to get ready," said Murdoch.
The T-wolves have three freshmen on the roster this season, Allison Seinen from Houston, B.C., Lauren Lamont of Maple Ridge and Jasprit Nijjar of Vancouver.
Murdoch said each of the rookies improved her game as the preseason proceeded.
Missing from last season's 15-1 championship team are graduating players Jennifer Clyne, Erin Beckett and Maria Neumann, as well as transfer student Jennifer Knibbs, who hung up the sneakers to concentrate on her science classes at the University of Saskatchewan.
Five of the T-wolves opponents in Canada West are ranked among the CIS Top 10 to start the season including, Regina (2), Fraser Valley (3), Saskatchewan (6), Victoria (7) and UBC (10).
UNBC was ranked 12th out of 16 teams in the Canada West coaches poll ahead of Lethbridge, Mount Royal, Manitoba and Brandon.
Murdoch said the team has performed well so far but they need to keep making improvements.
"It's a building process but we're right where we need to be," said Murdoch. "We can't have a night off that's for sure."