VIU men want to play relentless style

VIU Mariners centre Adam Connolly lays the ball in during a practice drill Tuesday night at the Vancouver Island University gym. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
VIU Mariners centre Adam Connolly lays the ball in during a practice drill Tuesday night at the Vancouver Island University gym.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Opposing teams might be able to stick with the VIU Mariners for a quarter or two. But as the game wears on, the M’s think their depth, pressure, aggression and work ethic will give them the edge.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team tips off the 2012-13 Pacific Western Athletic Association season on Friday (Nov. 2) at the VIU gym.

It’s a bit of a different Mariners team this year, starting at the top with new coach Matt Kuzminski. He takes over a program that reached the PacWest gold-medal game each of the last three years.

For VIU to get there again, it will take a team effort, says the new coach.

“We’re definitely going to be a different team this year,” said Kuzminski. “You’ll see a lot of different guys contributing on different nights … We’ll play a really in-your-face-style defence. I think it will be entertaining and I think our players are going to enjoy playing that way.”

Brandon Jones, VIU guard, said he thinks this year’s team is deeper than it was a year ago.

“We’re much quicker, so we’ll run more,” he said. “Speed, and the toughness of our guards, pressure in our game will allow us to be successful.”

With so many guys capable of stepping on the court and contributing, it’s a constant competition for minutes. But the M’s look at it more like each of them are a part of something greater.

“It’s going to take the full team this year; it’s going to take all 13 guys buying in and getting the job done,” said Jason McKee, VIU forward.

Fifth-year veteran forward Tyler Olsen, along with McKee, will be two of the key players up front. Jones, Clayton Billett and rookie point guard Jon Bethell will be some of the main contributors in the backcourt.

Guard Trevor Davidson also returns, Ryan Davidson will provide scoring and 6-foot-9 addition Adam Connolly will give the M’s a new dimension in the post.

“With the guys we have, we’ve got enough talent and it’s just about putting in the work,” said McKee. “As hard as we want to work during the season, as much time as we want to to put in, sacrifice, then I think we can accomplish all our goals.”

It starts Friday against the Camosun Chargers. Jones said this time of year is a lot of fun, and a chance to create positive energy to carry the M’s through a long season.

“It’s definitely exciting,” McKee said. “Games are going to start rolling now, and oh man, we’ve been waiting for this since the end of last year.”

GAME ON … The Mariners and Chargers play Friday at 8 p.m. at the VIU gym following a matchup between the schools’ women’s teams. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for alumni and seniors, $2 for youths and free for VIU students and children 10 and under … To read a season preview on the VIU women's basketball team, please click here.

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