Some new recruits joined the UNBC Timberwolves men's alumni last Saturday night in the annual season-opening alumni basketball clash.
Sam Raphael, Joel Rybachuk and Francis Rowe crossed the floor to play for the men's alumni team after completing their five years of university athletic eligibility at the end of last season. The new players, along with Dennis Stark who joined the alumni in 2012, helped the former T-wolves put a scare into the current players - at least in the first half of the game won by the team preparing for its second CIS season by a score of 92-75.
"That's a very good alumni team, obviously not as well conditioned as us," said T-wolves head coach Todd Jordan.
"Those guys all did a lot of things in their playing days. It was probably the most competitive the alumni team has been in a few years."
Jordan said the game is only one part of the alumni events that take place.
"It's an opportunity for some of these guys to be mentors for the young guys," said Jordan.
"The first year guys are just getting used to the riggers of class and practice and all that we do. Those guys have been through it. It's good for them to have that connection and people they can talk to.
"The game is a bonus," he added. "It's fun for those guys to come back and play another game in front of a crowd with an announcer."
One of the veteran alumni reliving past glory was Mike Davis, who played on the first T-wolves team to compete in the college league, suiting up for the team from 1999-2003.
"As a player coming into the program to wear the jersey you're very proud," said Davis. "It's a small community so you're very accountable within the community so being very positive both on the court and off the court and balancing studies is something that's great."
Davis said he has participated in every alumni game since he graduated and added it's nice to see the alumni group growing with the addition of the recent graduates.
"I came up here for eight months and it's been 13 years," said Davis, originally from Richmond.
"I owe a lot to this community. The big reason why I'm here is because of this program and this university so anytime I can give back I do."
Led by the new alumni, the old-timer T-wolves trailed by four after the first quarter 20-16 and after spotting the Timberwolves a 12-point run in the second quarter the alumni pulled within six points (43-37) at the half.
Jordan said the men's team had its biggest turnover in about five years, having graduated four players at the end of last season, which means the preseason will be filled with growing pains as the new players learn the systems and try to find chemistry with each other.
"It's going to probably take us the whole preseason to get to what we want to do with our stuff," said Jordan. "At times [Saturday] we looked pretty good and at times we looked pretty bad."
The UNBC men continue their preseason growth this weekend when they travel to Edmonton to play games against university and college teams. The T-wolves were missing two players for the alumni game as third-year guard Billy Cheng is recovering from a broken foot and newcomer Devin McMurtry is dealing with a concussion.