The UNBC Timberwolves will be missing one of their top players when they resume their Canada West basketball season tonight in Regina and Saturday in Brandon.
But, have no fear Timberwolves fans -- Jose Araujo is expected to be back in uniform for the rest of the season and playoffs, if the team qualifies.
Araujo, a fifth-year shooting guard who leads the T-wolves in scoring, is in his native El Salvador for his brother's wedding. According to UNBC head coach Todd Jordan, Araujo should be in the lineup for home games next week.
"In their culture, a wedding is a pretty big thing so his whole family is down in South America," Jordan said. "But he'll be back next week so we'll have to get him back in shape and get him going."
Araujo also missed a trio of tournament games the T-wolves played at the Winnipeg Wesmen Classic during the Christmas break but Jordan said that absence was due to a minor injury. In Araujo's last appearance with the team, Dec. 1 in Prince George, he poured in 33 points in a 93-90 win against the nationally-ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies. So far this season, he's averaging 16.8 points per game, 12th-best in the league.
In the first half of their schedule, the Timberwolves played to a 5-5 record, a mark that has them holding the fourth and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division.
For the Timberwolves, this weekend's games represent two prime opportunities for victories because the University of Regina Cougars (3-7) and Brandon University Bobcats (2-8) are the bottom two teams in the Prairie Division. Jordan, however, said his squad can't take anything for granted. Case in point, the Bobcats beat the T-wolves 87-73 at the Wesmen Classic.
"With us being new in this league this year, all these teams -- even the ones with weaker records -- are still really good teams," Jordan said. "Obviously these are two games we'd like to get but we'll have to play our butts off if we're going to go in there and get two, that's for sure."
Against the Cougars, the Timberwolves will be at a size disadvantage in the paint and that's something they'll have to try to overcome.
"It's going to be quickness against size and toughness so it will be interesting to see which wins out," Jordan said.
As for the game against Brandon, the UNBC troops will look to play tougher defence against the Bobcat guards than they did during the recent loss in Winnipeg.
"Last time we played them, their guards were able to get into the paint and create a lot of stuff on us," Jordan said. "We'll have to do a better job of containing them, especially off the ball screen. And they're a very athletic team so, like most nights, we're going to have to do a good job of boxing out and rebounding."
Next week, the T-wolves will tip off against the Wesmen at the Northern Sport Centre on Thursday. Then, on Saturday, they'll host the University of Manitoba Bisons.