In some ways, it’s going to be a different VIU Mariners team that heads into the stretch run of basketball season.
Vancouver Island University’s women’s b-ball team (8-5) spends the next three weeks on the road, starting with games Friday (Jan. 25) against the Columbia Bible College Bearcats and Saturday against the Kwantlen Eagles.
The M’s women go into those games buoyed by confidence after winning by 30 points against the Pacific Western Athletic Association’s first-placed Capilano Blues this past Saturday at the VIU gym.
Mariners forward Shayna Worthington said the team’s recent victories make players believe they have the ability to win it all this season.
“It definitely boosts our motivation to work harder and play better knowing that we have a chance to compete,” she said.
Jocelyn Jones, named the PacWest Athlete of the Week, said last weekend's big win meant a lot to the Mariners.
"It gave us high expectations to go out and see the potential that our team has…" she said. "Throughout this year it's been a process for us and sometimes it's hard to see where we're going to be, but we know that we could be good. We just have to make sure that we show it every time we get on the court."
The M's can take a lot out of the win over Cap. Players see how a fast start can force opponents into catch-up mode, and they're also learning how to take advantage of team strengths. Worthington said VIU used its size in the post well last weekend, and also moved the ball around effectively. Jones said the post players set good screens to open up paths to the basket, and that ball movement then opened up time and space for shooters.
"We're realizing that now is crunch time, and we're finally playing as a team," Worthington said.
VIU takes another lesson from last week's win, too – seeing how they handled Cap reinforces the parity in PacWest, and the M's will be aware of that when they take on teams that might be lower in the standings.
"Our league's all over the place – there's no one team where you think it's theirs," Worthington said. "On any given day the team that plays better and works harder will win."
GAME ON … VIU's women's and men's basketball teams play the next three weekends on the road, starting with games Friday (Jan. 25) in Abbotsford against the Columbia Bible College Bearcats.