Volcanoes set to open season with championship in sights

Vancouver plays Bellingham at 7 p.m. Saturday

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

Published:

 

The Vancouver Volcanoes are getting back to work in preparation for their season-opener on Saturday at Clark College.

Their debut not only marks the beginning of a new season in the International Basketball League but a chance to exact some revenge on the team that beat them for the 2013 IBL title, the Bellingham Slam.

While they’ve been hard at work in training camp, the Volcanoes lost 2013 IBL MVP Chehales Tapscott and Paul Hafford to the Australian League.

However, they return eight players who were contributors to their run at a title including their starting All-Star backcourt of former Oregon State guard Josh Tarver and former 2012 IBL MVP Andre Murray.

With that continuity back, head coach Joe Navarro says that the training camp has gone much smoother than last year’s.

“Our chemistry is there,” Navarro said. “Last year we added seven, eight new guys. We didn’t really start to get rolling until midway through the season. The learning curve is a lot shorter this year.

“Having Andre back for his fourth year and Josh Tarver back for his fourth year — which is our starting backcourt — it makes it a lot easier on them.”

The Volcanoes feel as though the title will come down to themselves, Bellingham and Portland. And they are very clear about what their goal is this season.

“To say that our goal isn’t to win the championship is crazy,” Navarro said. “That was our goal last year and we had a one bad quarter in the championship and we came up three points short. These guys are upset about that we didn’t win the championship.”

He adds that the disappointment from last year has added intensity to their training camp.

“Bellingham is really good, don’t get me wrong,” he added.” We didn’t lose to a team that was inferior to us or anything. A lot of these guys are mad about it and it kind of makes training camp kind of fun.”

The Volcanoes are expecting players to join them once their seasons conclude overseas, such as former Oregon standout Garrett Sim who is playing in Germany.

The Volcanoes are also prepared to lose a player or two to foreign leagues that begin in the summer.

However, despite all of the possible changes that will occur from Game 1 until the title run, there’s no mistaking what the expectations are.

2014 VANCOUVER VOLCANOES SCHEDULE

(Home games played at Clark College's O'Connell Sports Complex)

Saturday, April 26 vs. Bellingham, 7 p.m.

Friday, May 2 vs. Salem, 7 p.m.

Sunday, May 4 vs. Portland, 5 p.m.

Friday May 9, at Hollywood Shooting Stars, 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 10 at Santa Barbara Breakers, 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 17 vs. Portland, 7 p.m.

Friday, May 23 at Olympia, 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 24 vs. Bellingham, 7 p.m.

Monday, May 26 at Bellingham, 5 p.m.

Saturday, May 31 vs. Seattle, 7 p.m.

Sunday, June 1 at Portland, 5 p.m.

Friday, June 6 at Salem, 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 7 vs. Santa Barbara, 7 p.m.

Sunday, June 8 vs. Portland, 5 p.m.

Friday, June 13 vs. Salem, 7 p.m.

Sunday, June 15 vs. LoneStar, 5 p.m.

Sunday, June 22 at Bellingham, 5 p.m.

Tuesday, June 24 at Portland, 7 p.m.

MORE TEAM INFO:www.vancouvervolcanoes.com