Jose will be in the house.
When the UNBC Timberwolves men's basketball team faces the University of Winnipeg Wesmen tonight at the Northern Sport Centre, dynamic shooting guard Jose Araujo will be in the UNBC lineup. The last time he was on the NSC court, back on Dec. 1, he lit up the University of Saskatchewan Huskies for 33 points in a 93-90 Timberwolves win.
Araujo then missed the Wesmen Classic tournament in Winnipeg during the Christmas break due to a minor injury and was also absent for UNBC's first two league games of 2013 because he was in El Salvador for a family wedding.
With Araujo out of the mix, the T-wolves lost four of five, including weekend road contests against the University of Regina Cougars and Brandon University Bobcats -- games they had chances to win as time was ticking down.
Araujo, a fifth-year shooting guard, can be a difference-maker when he's on the court, especially in the late stages of games, so the Timberwolves will be glad to have him back.
"It's always nice having a guy who can put up 20 or 30 points, that's for sure," UNBC head coach Todd Jordan said with a chuckle.
"He's a talented player. We didn't shoot the ball very well [against Regina and Brandon] and that's clearly his specialty. He can make something out of nothing for you. I don't want to say that was the difference [in the weekend losses] but it definitely helps having him there."
The Timberwolves fell 76-73 to Regina and 61-54 to Brandon. The Bobcats and Timberwolves were in a 54-54 tie with two minutes left to play but UNBC didn't score the rest of the way.
With the setbacks, the Timberwolves dropped to 5-7 on the Canada West season and fell out of a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. The top four teams will qualify for the post-season and UNBC now sits fifth.
Getting back into the win column against Winnipeg won't be easy because the Wesmen come in with a 9-4 record, which has them in second place in the Prairie Division.
"They've got an extremely quick point guard [Andrew Cunningham] and they're pretty athletic throughout their lineup," Jordan said. "They play a lot of penetrate-and-kick basketball so we're going to really have to guard against penetration and deal with ball screens to be able to contain them defensively. It should be an up-tempo game. Both teams play a similar style. We both like to get out and run and we both like to shoot a lot of threes."
It's no coincidence the Timberwolves and Wesmen both prefer to play at a breakneck pace. At UNBC, that style was established by former coach Mike Raimbault when he arrived in Prince George for the 2008-09 B.C. Colleges Athletic Association season. The next season, Raimbault led the T-wolves to a Canadian Colleges Athletic Association national championship. At the end of that banner-winning run, he accepted the job as head coach of the Wesmen and is now in his third season at the helm of the Winnipeg program.
Jordan is looking forward to seeing Raimbault back at the NSC.
"Mike's a good friend of mine," said Jordan, who was Raimbault's successor as coach of the Timberwolves. "We stay in touch and communicate regularly and it will be good to see him again. But, at the end of the day, we're in positions where we want to get wins for various reasons. He's looking at potentially being in a position to host a home playoff series and we're looking to try to break into playoffs for the first time ever in Canada West. More than anything, the focus of the coaches will be on getting our kids ready to try to win some games."
Tip-off is at 8 p.m.
The UNBC and Winnipeg women's teams will also square off, starting at 6 p.m. The Timberwolves enter the game with a 4-8 record, while the Wesmen sit at 5-8.