Previewing the Seawolves-Nanooks matchup
by Mark Hoffman
The Seawolf men’s basketball team has plenty of time to prepare for its Saturday showdown with in-state rival, UAF Nanooks. Coming off a road trip to Washington, the UAA men only have the Nanooks to prep for this week. The second meeting of the season tips off at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Seawolves captured a GNAC road win in the first meeting between the two squads, 65-60, back on Jan. 19. That victory pushed UAA’s advantage against UAF to 50 games over .500 in the all-time rivalry with a 71-21 edge.
The Seawolves hope to ride the hot hand of junior guard Kyle Fossman, who was named the GNAC’s Red Lion co-player of the week earlier this month. He tops the team in scoring this season with 15.8 points per game, good enough for fifth in the GNAC.
Fossman paces a Seawolves offense that leads the conference with 9.8 threes made per contest. The Seawolves accuracy from behind the arc is a result of patience and willingness to share the rock – they also lead the conference with 19.2 assists per game.
The Seawolves’ senior center, Liam Gibcus, also received accolades this month when he was named to the CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District team. The selection honors Gibcus for his academic achievements as well as his strong performance on the court. The 6-foot-10 Aussie owns a 3.80 GPA in civil engineering, averages 11.4 points per game, and leads the team with 6.3 rebounds per contest.
Gibcus, and his all-around game, was a big reason for the victory over the Nanooks in January. He finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and five assists before fouling out in the five-point win.
The Seawolves were also propelled by the play of forward Abebe Demissie, who scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in that match up. The 6-foot-6 senior has been a spark off the bench all season for UAA and is second on the team in rebounds, a major statistical category for the Seawolves.
The play of the big men and the team’s ability to rebound has defined the season thus far – the Seawolves are 9-1 when out-rebounding opponents.
UAA’s second leading scorer, sophomore Teancum Stafford, was out with an injury in the first match up against the Nanooks. He will add his 13.1 points per game and 4.2 boards per game to the rivalry this time around.
The UAF Nanooks are enjoying a bit of resurgence this season, already improving on their 5-23 record from only a year ago. Second-year coach Mick Durham has the Nanooks on pace to finish over .500 for the first time since the 2007 season.
The Nanooks are led in scoring by senior guard, and Juneau-native, Dominique Brinson. He’s averaging 13.2 points per contest. Junior guard Pat Vouet averages 12.2 points per game for the Nanooks and 6-foot-7 forward Stefan Tica averages 9.9 points per game and leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game.
The Seawolves’ student fan base is also preparing for the great Alaskan rivalry to come to town. Many students and Seawolf fans are planning to tailgate and represent the Seawolves in their green and gold come Saturday.
The Seawolves will be back home Feb. 21 and 23 in bouts against Simon Fraser and Western Washington. Both games tip at 7:30 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.