A little over a year after they wrapped up their high school basketball careers with an appearance at the provincials, Saje Gosal and Neal Randhawa have completed their first season of university basketball at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC).
The pair of Goldenites saw more playing time than is typically expected out of first year players, with both appearing in multiple games as rookies. Gosal even got the chance to start a handful of games after both the starting and backup point guards went down with injuries.
“It was a good opportunity. The guys were really supportive…I think really, what it did, is show me that I should never have issues with confidence and getting into the game. I’ve kind of proven to myself that I can at least hang in there,” Gosal said.
The pair were a part of a Timberwolves team that won just four of their 20 games after injuries played a significant toll on the club’s chances. Still, both Eagles alumni remain confident in the program going forward.
“We brought in four first years so we had a really young team and we’re kind of at the developmental stage…we lost a few close ones and most of our games slipped away,” Randhawa said. “We’re kind of in a transition phase where we’re going to build from the bottom and grow up.”
High school basketball was a different animal altogether when compared to the university game. The sport at this level requires that much more time, effort and commitment and it’s a routine that Gosal and Randhawa were forced to fall into quickly.
“We have practice every day and often times it takes up the majority of your day, because it’s not like high school where you can just kind of show up to practice and get right into it. You kind of got to mentally prepare and focus, watch film and lift weights all around practice. It becomes kind of a lifestyle more than a hobby,” Gosal said.
“Especially the mental effort in practice and in games is a lot tougher…it’s more of a grind,” Randhawa said.
Part of the challenge for any first year university student is to stay on top of their academics, a challenge that is compounded for student-athletes. The key is to find a way to balance both.
“Considering when we’re travelling, we’ll miss a couple of days of school and the weekend…every opportunity you get you’ve got to work on whatever you have,” Randhawa said.
The pair also had the benefit of living with each other, allowing them to rely on one another for support after difficult practices or games.
“I don’t see more of him than I ever saw him (before) anyway. I’ve seen him all day for 13 years now or something like that so nothing’s really changed,” Gosal laughed.
They’ll spend much of their off-season in Prince George training with their teammates and coaches in order to get ready for the season in the fall, They’ll return to Golden for July and August, however, in order to spend some time with friends and family and step away from the daily grind for a few weeks.
Gosal will also be hosting his annual basketball and sports camps this summer. The basketball camp will go from July 4-8 and the sports camp from July 25-29.