Blues Boast new B-ball boss


A Blues men’s basketball practice flows through its paces, yet there appears to be no coach. Coach Eberhardt, the instantly recognizable Gimli the Dwarf look-alike who’s long been the face of Capilano basketball, is gone, taking a break from college coaching. But his replacement is there, somewhere among the fourteen odd players sprinting up and down the court. Only after he’s addressed as such do you realize that “coach” is the guy leading two on ones in fast break drills and throwing up shots in shooting drills.

“Are you a player?” — It’s a question new men’s basketball boss Jordan Yu should be prepared to answer. For a twenty-six year old whose work uniform consists of Jordan shorts and Nike sneakers, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, he is only four years removed from his time at UBC, where he manned the point for a talented Thunderbirds team under coach Kevin Hanson. After expiring his eligibility, Yu returned to the Birds as an assistant coach, where in his second year, he helped the team to a second place finish in the nationally televised CIS final. In a league where the average coach would look more comfortable coaching from a coffin than a chair, Jordan’s youth may seem to be a disadvantage, but his relative inexperience is not something that he worries about.

Yu began his playing career at Capilano back in 2003, when the school was still blessed with the Cap College alliteration and respected veteran Paul Eberhardt was running the show as men’s head coach. In his second year, Yu led the team to a provincial championship, garnering MVP honours and the attention of the UBC Thunderbirds, where he was recruited to play for his last three years under Kevin Hanson. Yu attributes his confidence partly to his tutelage under his collegiate coaches and also to the position he played. “Being a point guard is in essence being a coach on the floor. When I played, I was coaching my teammates, so I don’t necessarily feel a major difference between officially coaching and how I would normally play. It’s all I know.” From that perspective, Yu has seven years of CIS coaching experience, still a far cry from some of his colleagues, but certainly battle-worthy in the CCAA.

Assistant Chris Ufford, himself a Blues basketball alum, agrees that Yu’s youth benefits the team because of his “new age approach” to leadership. “Old school leaders are having trouble with the new generation. Generally, they are hard-nosed guys who are not used to dealing with differing points of view. Jordan is open to other points of view, and this understanding makes him more versatile as a coach.” 

This hard-nosed approach can be attributed to Eberhardt and Hanson, both of whom Yu lists as his primary coaching mentors. “Both [Eberhardt and Hanson] are definitely father figures to me, but the first time I met with the team as a group I told them to look at me more as an older brother than a father figure.”  The older brother angle is unique because it implies that the coach and player are on the same level, with Yu simply filling the role of teacher and coach because he has the experience and willingness to impart it. The question for the Blues is if this approach can be a turnaround for a team that failed to make the playoffs last year.

While still early in the season, Yu’s style seems to be working, and Ufford points out the positive effect this closeness has generated within the group: “Whereas with other coaches, you are sometimes motivated by fear - fear of failure, running suicides, etc. - with Jordan, he replaces those negatives with positives. The players aren’t driven by the fear of punishment, they’re driven by him, because he genuinely wants every one of his players to become better.” 

The implementation of an entirely new system and the addition of several new players has led the Blues off to a predictably up and down start to the pre-season. The Blues lost on a poor showing to Kwantlen in exhibition play, and again in their tournament, however in the next three games of tournament action the Blues recorded three wins, and showed glimpses of the potential the young group has yet to realize. League play begins on Friday, November 6, when the Blues look to give Yu his first official win at home against the Douglas Royals.

//Mac Fairbairn

Sports Columnist

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com