The Golden Bears basketball team had a strong 2021 – 22 season. The Bears had a flawless 16-0 regular season, finished second in the Canada West playoffs, and achieved a bronze medal in the Final Eight U Sports Championship.
Jay Tomlinson, assistant coach for the Golden Bears basketball team, said that the Bears had a “tremendous season.”
“I think that the season we had was definitely a special one and will be remembered for a long time.”
The 2021 – 22 Bears team was the first in program history to achieve an undefeated regular season.
“Traditionally, the U of A Golden Bears basketball program has been a successful one, and historically is usually one of the top teams in the nation. This year in particular, though, it was a first. They’ve never in program history have had an undefeated regular season.”
At the Canada West Men’s Basketball Playoffs, the Bears finished second, losing to the Victoria Vikes in the finals.
In the Final Eight U Sports Championship, the Bears defeated the Queen’s Gaels for the U Sports bronze medal, marking the team’s ninth national medal.
Tomlinson said that the Bears team is traditionally a competitive team, and aims to win a national championship every year.
“We’re aspiring to bring a national championship back to the U of A [men’s basketball program]. That [is] our goal every year.”
Barnaby Craddock, head coach for the Golden Bears basketball team, was named the Canada West Conference Coach of the Year. This is the third time in four years that Craddock has earned the title. Craddock was also named the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) National Coach of the Year for the second time in his career.
“The job he did this year with this group was something that is definitely to be celebrated and recognized because he’s a special coach,” Tomlinson said. “We take the personality of our leader, and our leader is a hard-working basketball guru that plays the right way, [is] super classy, and humble.”
Tomlinson said the team is fortunate to have a large portion of the team returning for next season.
“With the COVID-19 seasons, that actually helped our program because it allowed some of those third-year players to actually be in the program for four years, and just kind of raised the maturity level and overall experience that they have, without losing out on any eligibility.”
Three players from this season will be graduating and will no longer play for the Bears team next season. These three include Tyus Jefferson, Cole Knudsen, and Colton Gibb.
Tomlinson said that co-captains Jefferson and Knudsen will be missed in the next season.
“The leadership and just the quality of teammates that [Jefferson and Knudsen] were, that will be missed, for sure, we definitely are going to miss them in the locker room, miss them in the community, and as Golden Bear basketball players,” he said.
“I think that their imprint on the program and the legacy that they leave behind was enough to set the standard, set the bar, and create a culture that I think these returning players are going to take that responsibility and run with it.”
Tomlinson said the team is ready to go into the next season and is hoping to improve on last season’s results.
“We’re ready to get back to work and hopefully, put the final finishing touches on the season that we had last year, this year.”