In an offseason where he whet his international coaching appetite again and brought in two of the biggest transfer in program history, UBC head coach Kevin Hanson has made a statement that nothing will remain static heading into the 2018-19 season. (Photo by Richard Lam property of UBC athletics)
Feature University Men's Basketball

UBC men’s basketball notebook: Luka’s official farewell tonight, offensive systems get tune-up, ass’t coaching hunt begins

VANCOUVER — In the lead-up to tonight’s men’s basketball friendly at War Memorial Gymnasium between the UBC Thunderbirds and Team China (7 p.m., $5 tickets), we clean up a busy week of news surrounding the local team with a Varsity Letters’ notebook.


Sure, the ‘Birds would love to have been able to use their entire roster of players, including those newly incoming for the 2018-19 season.

Canada West rules, however, stipulate that teams must field the roster they played to begin the current school year.

“Luka will be able to play,” said ‘Birds head coach Kevin Hanson of the fact that senior forward Luka Zaharijevic will get one more chance to walk onto the War Gym floor to finish out his UBC career. “But Conor (Morgan) and Phil (Jalalpoor) are already gone. So there’s two impact guys we will be missing.”

All reports are that Morgan is thriving early in his professional career in New Zealand. In the dying stages of his final Canada West conference game at War in February, the Victoria native knelt down and kissed the hardwood to the delight of the UBC faithful.

Few UBC men’s basketball players of recent vintage have enjoyed the kind of crowd connection ex-Kitsilano Blue Demons’ star Luka Zaharijevic had. Tonight. the former Bazooka gets one last chance to bid adieu. (Photo by Richard Lam property of UBC athletics)


The opportunity for international experience is invaluable, especially at the level UBC will face Wednesday.

Yet just as much, Hanson likes the fact that the game is actually the culmination of a mini training camp weeks ahead of any official gathering aimed at prepping for the 2018-19 season when newcomers Jadon Cohee and Manroop Clair truly make their presence felt.

Hanson has always loved to explore the nuances of the international style within the game, and when you consider a few changes that have occurred since last season ended, and the team’s post-season disappointments the past two seasons, it’s perhaps no surprise that UBC has decided to do more than simply tweak its offence over the offseason.

*Hanson re-immersed himself in the global side of the game when he assisted the Canadian team and helped them to silver at the Commonwealth Games in April.

*His 2018-19 UBC team, minus Morgan and Zaharijevic, has lost much length and girth, and in concert with the arrival of Cohee and Clair’s more guard-based skills, it seems natural that a more perimeter-based package filled with screening action and constant ball movement will be their new DNA.

*Lead assistant coach Spencer McKay decided to leave the program, so now, as Hanson sets about naming his replacement, he admits that the successful candidate will be someone plugged into both the growing delivery system of NCAA-to-U Sports transfers, and to more cutting-edge areas like analytics.

“Having coached at the Commonwealth Games and seen the international style again, it’s great for your professional development,” began Hanson, who had much prior global experience through the FISU Games. “You get opportunities to talk to coaches from all over the world and that was great because we are changing our systems (at UBC) to make it an even more international-style game, and this is the first time we’re going to be utilizing some of that new system. That why it has been great to have a five-day mini-camp here prior to the (China) game.”

UBC had to fly many of its players back into Vancouver for the game.

“Our guys are so spread out so I have loved having this mini-camp, just to keep my eyes of them,” Hanson said. “And the guys had to be in shape. They had to be if they were going to be able to play against an elite-level team.”

Veteran UBC head coach Kevin Hanson begins looking for a new lead assistant coach next week. (Photo by Richard Lam property of UBC athletics)


Hanson said the official posting for the assistant coaching job will be put out next week for a period of about two weeks.

“Then we’ll look at the options,” he said. “I would love to bring in someone who can help take us to another level.”

Some of the qualifications Hanson felt were vital?

“Someone who can recruit and keep tabs on the guys in the NCAA,” Hanson said. “I think it’s 57 (Canadians) who have signed at NCAA Div. 1 schools this year. We have to keep a line on those guys if they do decide to come back.”

Hanson listed other attributes.

“There is also the analytic side of the game, player development and of course fund-raising, as a Canadian coach, is always big,” he said. “A few people have contacted me, but we also want to go more global to see what is out there.”

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