Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – It doesn't get any easier for the MacEwan Griffins men's basketball team this weekend.
After a tough 97-46 loss to Alberta in their home opener last Saturday, they head to Lethbridge to face another one of the top teams in Canada West. The Pronghorns finished fifth in the conference last season and haven't really lost a step, returning their second-leading scorer, Zac Overwater.
"They've had some changes where a player or two has come back after taking a year off," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz. "And they've had some players graduate, so they've brought in some new players as well. But they have many of the same core pieces, like Zac Overwater, who was a conference all-star last year and is somebody who will be a challenge to guard. They graduated a couple key players, so we're hoping to give them a good run."
MacEwan (0-2) will play the Pronghorns (0-0) in Lethbridge on Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m., both games on Canada West TV).
To have a chance, the Griffins will have to find a way to bear down better on the boards on both ends of the floor. They dramatically lost the rebounding battle 61-16 to the Golden Bears in their last outing.
"We're looking for a level of compete," said Magdanz. "We were disappointed last weekend with our effort rebounding and our ability to control our emotions when they got on a run. We're looking for a bounce-back weekend in terms of our effort and execution."
The two opening losses to Alberta weren't without positives, though. Third-year Griffins wing Jake Notice was the best player on the court for either team in Thursday's opener at the Saville Centre. And in Saturday's game at the David Atkinson Gym, MacEwan hung with Alberta for most of the first half.
In stretches, they can compete with the best in the conference. But it's a matter of a young team putting it together for 40 minutes.
"We know that in this league everybody we play against is going to be good whether they're ranked or not," said Magdanz. "The thing for us and the message to take away from it is we have to bring our best every single day. You can see that we played pretty well in the first half when we were down 10. If you relax at all, things get out of hand really quickly.
"So, for us, it's about being consistent and putting forth our best effort for every second of the game."