The 2015-16 regular season was a memorable one for the Bisons men’s basketball team as they posted a 15-win regular season, their highest total since going 16-0 in 1978. Primed and ready to host their first series in over a decade, the Manitoban caught up with Wyatt Anders to get his thoughts on what the post-season may have in store for the herd, starting on March 3.
Manitoban: This gym hasn’t seen post-season basketball action in quite a while. What does hosting a playoff series mean to both the team and the school?
Anders: Historically it means a lot. We know that it’s been a while since we’ve hosted. Personally, we love that we have the ability to stay at home and sleep in our own beds instead of travelling and missing school again, but the biggest difference maker will be how many fans come out. If we can keep this momentum and people keep realizing, “hey, Manitoba basketball is back,” not only for us but also for Winnipeg, then maybe we’ll get a cast of followers.
M: Is this post-season more important for both you and Bisons guard Amir Ali, as it’s your last run with the team?
A: I think Amir knows this is his last run for competitive basketball period because he’s going to be a doctor and he’s working as hard as he can. For me, I know there’s other opportunities elsewhere, and that as much as these may be my last games with the Bisons, I pretty much play every game as best as I can and like it’s my last.
There’s a corny Michael Jordan quote but it’s true. I play all of them the same – just hard and high intensity – and maybe this game will be a little bit different in the sense that I’ll be even more insane and Dennis Rodman-like just because it’s nearing the end and I have high energy from not playing in three weekends.
M: How much do you know about the Fraser Valley Cascades – your quarterfinal opponent?
A: They play six guys that are very talented and are senior men in the sense that they know how to play basketball. They’re not going to be a joke. They’re going to come in and what we’re going to exploit is pushing the ball and tiring them out a little bit.
M: How would you rate your team as a whole this season from a maturation standpoint?
A: We have improved mentally, as you can see we didn’t allow any close games to leave us. I’m happy that the team was able to close out Trinity even though it was scary watching from a live stream. If that was the start of the year, then I don’t think we would’ve closed it out. That doesn’t mean that we weren’t good, it just means that we’ve come from Saskatchewan losing that game that we shouldn’t have, to closing out one with a couple injuries.
Mentality-wise we’ve been better. It’s another challenge in the playoffs. When people say, “oh, it’ll be fine,“ no, it’s a different beast. [Fraser Valley is] going to be different, I just hope that we can adjust our mindset.