Does the score matter in a loss? The answer is “Yes” when trying to make a statement. The UNBC Timberwolves, as expected, dropped two straight to the UBC Thunderbirds in their men’s basketball quarter-final series, but the competitiveness of the games was evident.

UBC has a student population of about 50,000 or 46,000 more than UNBC. One is an established basketball power that has won 10 Canada West Championships. The other was competing in its first Canada West playoff series. One team (UBC) finished 14-6 in the “A” Division disguised as the Pioneers Division for larger Universities. One team (UNBC) was just 12-8 in the “B” Division, politely referred to as the Explorers Division for smaller Universities.

Did I mention that one team (take a guess) played both games on home court at War Memorial Gym?

The Thunderbirds and Timberwolves had not met since the 2013-14 season when UBC won a pair of games handily at the Northern Sport Centre 99-79 and 86-65. The reason they never faced each other in the 2014-15 regular season is because there were no cross over games, just match-ups within the division.

In the playoffs though, the Pioneer “A” Division would indeed meet the good pedestrian folks from the Explorers “B” Division. The expectation, of course, was that the much more established bigger schools would flex their muscles, fatten their stats and, if possible, run up the score against the little guys. Yes, UBC won both games but not before some finger nails were bitten and sweat rolled off the forehead. Scores were 83-77 in the opener and 88-78 in game two.

The Timberwolves season may be done, but not before they earned the R word: Respect. UNBC was 11-33 over its first two seasons, including a 5-17 mark last year. Year three for the Timberwolves showed remarkable improvement with a building block going forward.

Oh, and about that “B” Division that sometimes appears to be a nuisance to the “A”, well let’s see. In the first round of the playoffs where UNBC had a bye, TRU (which finished behind UNBC in the “B” standings with an 11-9 record) beat Winnipeg (12-8 in the “A” Division) two straight. In the quarters, Saskatchewan (15-5 and first place in the “A”) edged TRU two games to one in Saskatoon while Fraser Valley (17-3 in the “B”) eliminated Calgary (12-8 in the “A”) two straight. To be fair, Fraser Valley, with a very strong team from the outset, should never have been lumped in the “B” Explorers Division and are on its own mission. The Canada West men’s basketball final four this weekend has Victoria at Fraser Valley and UBC at Saskatchewan.

Canada West, under the umbrella of Canadian Interuniversity Sport, keeps changing divisions, formats and schedules in order to try and keep everyone satisfied. As a result, hardly anyone is pleased with the set-up and more changes are in store for the 2015-16 season.

Big universities obviously have many advantages and granted generally attract better players, but it was a slap to the smaller ones to be given second tier status this season. The playoff scores, win or lose, did matter because if teams like UBC had won by 30 or 40, there would have quiet suggestions that teams like UNBC should be back playing where they came from, in the lower PACWEST league.

Perhaps the critics have been silenced a bit, however, finding a solution to the dilemma of mixing big universities with small ones from all parts of Western Canada remains no easy lay-up.

#

I’m not sure how many cities across the country can boast that 40 per cent of their competing athletes earned at least one top three finish at the Canada Winter Games, but host Prince George certainly can. Eight athletes, either from P.G. or currently living in the city, will always have a medal to remind them of their accomplishment. Who says home cooking doesn’t matter?

On the first weekend, Emily Dickson won the first of her four medals in biathlon. She finished with an individual gold, silver and bronze plus a team relay gold. On the final weekend, snowboarders Meryeta O’Dine and Evan Bichon earned gold in the snowboard cross. In between, Carolina Hiller took three silver in long track speed skating, Claire Lapointe captured gold in biathlon relay (same team as Dickson), Lavanna Laass earned silver in judo, Justin Hempole took bronze in figure skating and Tony Proctor picked up bronze in mixed team archery (along with Emerie Watson of Quesnel). That’s three individual gold, one team gold, five individual silver, two individual bronze and one team bronze for P.G. athletes. These type of performances are a reflection of the Games success in more ways than one.

From the Quote Rack:

Peyton Manning is taking a $4 million pay cut. But enough about Papa John’s–what about his salary with the Broncos?

The Sacramento Kings have hired Vlade Divac as their vice president of basketball and franchise operations. Well, if you think the team has flopped so far..

Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Detroit has decided not to use the franchise tag on Ndamukong Suh. So much for those potential headlines “Lions put their foot down on Suh.”

While Jimmy Rollins, 37, signed with the Dodgers, he said the New York Mets were second on his list. Guess Rollins decided he wasn’t so old that he needed guaranteed Octobers off?

Contributor Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

One of this year’s Oscar favourites was Boyhood, which spans 12 years of a boy growing up. It’s a drama — or in Johnny Manziel’s case, a how-to film.

Reuters reports a rogue owl has been launching violent attacks on people living in a Dutch town. Hunters who see the owl have been advised to hoot to kill.

Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Marshawn Lynch is talking finally – to the media in Turkey of all places. He told them that he expected get the ball on the one line, but QB Wilson told him in the huddle that he was just in there so he wouldn’t get fined.

Vancouver City Hall is moving towards naming a street near Rogers Arena “Pat Quinn Way” in tribute to the hockey world legend. Eat your heart out, says 80 year old HOF broadcaster Jim Robson, who believes he has a street AND a mountain named after him.

Comedy writer TC Chong of Vancouver (http://alwaysfunny.com/)

And in case you missed it:

Rough week for Chicago sports fans: Patrick Kane injury, Derrick Rose injury, and the Cubs are back.

Vancouver comedy writer Torben Rolfsen:

Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the Goat. His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com. Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca
Follow him on twitter: @Hartley_Miller