Cascades Q&A is a periodic web feature where we fire a series of questions (some serious, others not so much) at a Cascades athlete. In the crosshairs this week is Navjot Bains, a fourth-year centre with the men’s basketball team.
Q: The last time the Cascades played at home, Jan. 6-7 vs. MacEwan, you had a pair of absolutely huge dunks. They were awesome on their own – but my favourite part was immediately after. Both times, you simply turned and walked slowly back down the court with a bit of swagger in your stride as the crowd went nuts. Is that strut something that just came to you spur of the moment, or was it something you’d thought about ahead of time?
A: “It was just in the moment. I was trying to give my teammates a spark. I just wanted to squeeze those victories out, you know? They were close games – the first game, we were down two points at the time (in the fourth quarter). And once I got that dunk, I felt a surge of energy. I hoped we could build off that momentum – that’s what I was going for.”
What does it feel like to make a play like that, something that gets the fans so hyped up?
“I don’t know – it was awesome. I can’t describe it. It just happens in one or two seconds, and next thing I know I’m dunking the ball. I don’t know what to tell you! (chuckles).”
— UFV Cascades (@UFVCascades) January 8, 2017
I want to ask you about Manny Dulay (Cascades fifth-year point guard). Both of you guys graduated from Tamanawis Secondary in Surrey – how far back does your friendship go, and what’s it like sharing this university basketball experience with him?
“Me and Manny, we played in AthElite (club basketball) together – we were never on the same team, but we were always around each other. And then we played together on the 2011 Tammy team – he was in Grade 11, I was in Grade 12. He’s a smart guard, he’s easy to play with, and he’s got a sick shot. It’s the perfect balance – I don’t get doubled in the post because you have to respect his game, and vice versa. We just play off each other, and we have great chemistry because we’ve played together for so long. He’s part of the reason I came to UFV, too.”
You spent time at Douglas College and UNBC before transferring to UFV. Walk us through your basketball journey a little bit.
“At Douglas, it was pretty much a redshirt year because I got injured in Grade 12 and I was recovering after that. After that, I got a chance to go to UNBC and played there for a year as well. I got pretty good minutes there, and it was a good team, but . . . it was hard to live out there. I wanted to be closer to home. So I came back to UFV and I’ve been loving it.”
You’re in the midst of a career year, leading the team in rebounds and blocks, and fifth in team scoring. Talking to Cascades head coach Adam Friesen, he mentioned you didn’t put up massive numbers in high school – did you ever envision yourself putting up these kinds of numbers at the U Sports level?
“Yeah, because I’ve been working my butt off. I’ve been working hard in the summer, every summer, to get bigger and stronger – and on top of that, getting as many shots as I can. I’ve slowly improved over the years, and slowly built confidence in my game over time.”
You’re a big, imposing dude, and Adam was telling me you work some security work in the off-season. Is that right?
“Yeah. This past summer I worked at The Roxy (in Vancouver). It’s pretty easy money. I’m used to it now – it’s a graveyard shift, right?”
The Roxy is an infamous Vancouver Canucks post-game nightspot, and for visiting NHL teams as well. Who’s the most famous person you’ve seen at the Roxy?
“When I worked there, the band Billy Talent came and played. That’s probably the most famous people I saw. But I only worked there two months.”
I remember watching your younger brother Sukhjot play at Tamanawis a couple years after you. He’s now playing junior college basketball in the States (Northwest College in Wyoming). What’s the basketball culture in your family like? Do you take a mentor role with your younger brother, or is it more like a sibling rivalry?
“It’s kind of like a rivalry. We’re both good friends, but we both want to be better than the other. To start off, he was a guard and I was a big, so he developed a bit of a handle and I learned to bang more. Every time I’m in the post I score on him, and when he stretches me out to the wing, I have a tougher time guarding him because he’s got better quickness and lateral movement. It’s a bit of a competition between us. We play one-on-one in the summer – we find a park or go to a rec centre.”
Let me give you a chance to take a shot at some of your teammates. Who makes the worst fashion choices on this Cascades squad?
“Fashion? I don’t know – I’m not a big fashion guy myself, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you!”