The VIU Mariners lost a star player but fully expect other guys will shine.
Vancouver Island University’s basketball programs get the PacWest season started this week.
The Mariner men get their first meaningful games since getting upset by the Douglas Royals in the provincial championship game in their home gym last March.
“I feel like we’ve come back a lot stronger,” said Harry Fayle, VIU point guard. “We’re more athletic I feel, the offensive scheme is in, we’re running it, we’re running fast. It’s super fun to be playing.”
The Mariners no longer have star shooting guard Usama Zaid, who left the program to play pro basketball in Morocco.
“That changes the face of the way we play,” said Matt Kuzminski, VIU coach. “We’re much more balanced this year, we play with more pace, the ball is shared a little bit more because we don’t have a dominant-type scorer. Collectively, we have a group of guys who on different nights, you’ll see different guys leading our team in scoring.”
Fayle said the game plan changes a little bit from last year to this year.
“It shifts around scoring, for sure, and people have to step up into roles, which I think are being filled pretty nicely,” he said. “Everybody’s ready to step up. Everyone’s trying hard to be ready for that type of role.”
Fayle and power forward Tyus Barfoot will be expected to be high scorers this year for VIU. Veteran centre Jerod Dorby returns, as does small forward Brett Christensen. Newcomer Cameron Gay, from Washington State, slots in at the shooting guard position.
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Covered VIU men's basketball practice tonight; working on an article now. Home opener is Saturday, Nov. 3, against the Okanagan Coyotes at 2 p.m. at the VIU gym, following the women's game at noon… pic.twitter.com/eTitwLiqkh
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) October 31, 2018
The Mariners were challenged with high-calibre opposition in exhibition play and won half their games. Kuzminski said the games were beneficial in numerous ways.
“We were able to figure out some things that we do well, but we faced three different opponents that showed us completely three different styles and kind of gave us some insight on things that we really need to work on moving into the season,” he said. “Now it’s just about trying to get better as the season progresses.”
VIU visits the Camosun Chargers tonight, Nov. 1, in the season opener, and the home opener is Saturday, Nov. 3, against the Okanagan Coyotes at the Vancouver Island University gym. The Coyotes are new to the Pacific Western Athletic Association this year, but played the Mariners last season in exhibition.
“They’ll be tough,” Kuzminski said. “It’s not going to be your deal where it’s a new team and they’re going to take some years to get going. They’re going to be good right away.”
The Mariners say fans can look forward to some good basketball at the VIU gym this year, with lots of pace, lots of three-point shooting and slam dunks.
“Really fast, up and down, a lot of scoring,” said Fayle.
GAME ON … VIU’s men’s basketball team opens the PacWest season Saturday against the Okanagan Coyotes at 2 p.m. at the Vancouver Island University gym. VIU’s women’s team plays at noon. For a recent article on the VIU Mariners women’s basketball team, click here.