Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Snowbears owner and coach Ike Austin endures a photo-op during media-day events Wednesday.

TAYLORSVILLE — The Utah Snowbears begin their season Friday night at home — for real this time.

The American Basketball Association team had a false start Tuesday when their scheduled opener in Calgary was called off because the Canadian franchise was unprepared. What would have been a five-yard penalty against the opposing Drillers in football turned into a three-day setback for the Snowbears, but head coach and owner Ike Austin has his team ready to go . . . Again.

Tipoff for the first game in franchise history will be at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Salt Lake Community College's Lifetime Activities Center.

The Snowbears were to play the Drillers in Calgary Tuesday and Wednesday, then return home for another pair of games Friday and Saturday against the same team.

The Visalia (Calif.) Dawgs, a team that was not slated to join the ABA until next season, will take over the Drillers' schedule and become the historic first opponent of the Snowbears.

Ex-Weber State Wildcat Harold "The Show" Arceneaux said he's ready for the curtain to open on this show. His teammates were ready to start Tuesday, he said, but he's looking at the bright side of the wait.

"To open up the season at home is always a good thing, so we'll just try to make a positive of it," he said. "We've been practicing for about a month now, so I think all the guys are ready to start playing some games."

The Snowbears' first signee, Arceneaux had knee surgery over the summer but should be close to 100 percent, he said. "We'll know (about the knee) when the games start."

Austin expects small forward Arceneaux, with Milwaukee-Wisconsin product Clay Tucker at shooting guard and 7-footer Adam Parada to be his "Big Three," a trio of scorers.

Parada, patrolling the paint at center, will be recognized by Utah State fans as a former member of Big West conference foe UC-Irvine. He spent the summer in camp with the Sacramento Kings and was one of the last cuts from the team. The team's other 7-footer, Cameron Koford, and point guard Travis Spivey both played for Rick Majerus at the University of Utah, joining Arceneaux as the team's in-state products.

"It's a great atmosphere, great environment" to play in front of a hometown crowd, Koford said. "It's real exciting to have another year to be around my family, having them be able to come and support me. The same crowd will hopefully come down for these games as up at the Utah games.

Nick Vanderlaan (6-foot-10, Concordia) will start at power forward. The three-day delay extended Dino Tanner and Chris Millage's battle for the point guard position. Austin will wait until Friday to decide, but he could be happy with either Oregon State's Tanner or Arizona State's Millage.

"We see in those two guys that they can get it done day in and day out," he said.

Austin, a former second-round pick of the Utah Jazz, is ready to apply the lessons he learned in his playing career as a coach. "He's kind of used the blueprint of past teams that he's played for, especially the Miami Heat," Utah general manager Mike Ponce said. "If you were to look at a Pat Riley team and look at our team, you'd see a lot of similarities."

Austin played for seven different NBA franchises and won the league's most improved player award in 1996-97, his first season under Riley with Miami. The Snowbears will play an up-tempo style, pressuring the ball both offensively and defensively, Austin said.

Utah Snowbears Roster

Colors: Navy Blue, Gray, White

Head Coach: Ike Austin

Asst. Coaches: Mike Ponce, Byron Boudreaux



21 6-6 Harold Arceneaux Weber State

42 7-0 Cameron Koford University of Utah

5 6-5 Clay Tucker Milwaukee/Wisconsin

1 6-5 Tyrone Hayes Idaho

25 6-2 Jared Ramirez U of Northern Colorado

11 6-3 Travis Spivey University of Utah

2 6-2 Dino Tanner Oregon State

22 6-5 DeMario Hooper Centenary

9 6-6 Alex Austin Arizona State

32 6-10 Nick Vanderlaan Concordia

12 6-11 Babacar Camara Cal State-Fullerton

8 6-2 Marlo Miles Tulane University

50 7-0 Adam Parada UC-Irvine

14 6-3 Curtis Millage Arizona State

E-mail: [email protected]