Anchorage — With last week's tough losses dropping the UAA men's and women's basketball teams into the bottom half of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Standings, both teams are looking for some much-needed wins this week.
While the women embark on their first conference road trip, the men hope to rebound with a pair of home games, the first of which will be played without their head coach.
Rusty Osborne will be absent from the UAA bench for Thursday's game against Western Oregon while he serves a league-imposed one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct. Taking his place at the helm will be second-year assistant coach Cameron Turner, who's only previous head coaching experience came at the high school and club level.
"I'm not nervous at all," Turner said. "I get to pretty much stand up a little bit more. Other than that, it'll be pretty much the same."
Before coming to UAA last season, Turner coached the Willamette Reign, an Amateur Athletic Union team in Oregon. Familiar faces will add to a comfortable environment for Turner. Five of his former players from the Reign will be in the gym for Thursday's game.
UAA's Mike MacKelvie, John Erickson and Brian McGill all played for Turner's AAU team, as did Western Oregon's Andy Avgi and Jordan Schriber.
"Avgi, I've known since he was 12 years old," Turner said. "It'll be kinda fun."
The UAA players and staff are a close group, Turner said, so taking over as head coach for a game should be seamless, especially after a great week of preparation.
"Spirits have been really high. I feel like we got a lot of energy the last couple days of practice."
UAA (8-4, 1-3 GNAC) has found plenty of success against this week's visitors, owning a combined 38-14 record against Western Oregon (7-4, 2-1) and Saint Martin's (5-6, 1-2) and only losing four home games in 24 Anchorage meetings.
A big challenge facing the Seawolves is preparing for two distinctly different styles of play, Turner said. Western Oregon pushes the ball up and down the court and likes to press and trap on defense, but Saturday's game against Saint Martin's is likely to slow into a half-court style of play.
"We gotta change gears real quick," Turner said.
The level of competition isn't getting much easier for the UAA women, who continue to face teams near the top of the GNAC standings. After losing to first-place Simon Fraser and second-place Western Washington last week, the Seawolves will battle Montana State-Billings and Seattle Pacific, which are tied for third with 9-3 overall records and 3-1 GNAC records.
The sixth-place Seawolves (7-4, 1-2 GNAC) visit Montana State-Billings on Thursday and Seattle Pacific on Saturday.
Montana State-Billings owns a 13-10 home record against the Seawolves, but UAA is riding a program-best 10-game winning streak against the Yellowjackets, having not lost to Billings since it joined the GNAC in 2007.
UAA has lost four straight at Seattle Pacific, and the Falcons are 11-0 at home against the Seawolves since the 2001-02 season.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.