Vancouver Island University’s basketball teams had the results they’ll be looking for all season long in their home gym – convincing wins.
The VIU Mariners men’s and women’s hoops teams both won their PacWest home openers against the Okanagan Coyotes Saturday at the VIU gym. The Mariners men defeated the desert dogs 103-87 after the M’s women had won the early game, 77-57.
Matt Kuzminski, coach of the VIU men, liked what he saw at both ends of the court against Okanagan.
“That was probably our best rebounding game. We were really worried about that with them – they’re a big, physical team. We did a great job in the first half limiting them…” Kuzminski said. “When we shared the ball and played together, offensively we looked really good. There was a few times where we tried to do a little bit too much, but the ball movement, the player movement was good. We can play free-flowing and shooters can get shots that way. That will be big going forward.”
Jerod Dorby, Mariners centre, said all the VIU players were giving full effort.
“We all came out full of a little grit and we just kept running the floor…” he said. “We didn’t take our foot off the gas. We kept doing what we knew works, kept doing it, kept working.”
The Mariners men won their season opener two nights earlier in Victoria against the Camosun Chargers. The team said that game ended up being harder than it needed to be, so Dorby said with the first two games, taken as a whole, were good experience to begin the PacWest campaign.
“Each day we get better and better in practice, we get more physical, we get smarter off the ball,” Dorby said. “These two games were perfect tests for the season. I’m really confident in the players taking the right steps forward.”
Harry Fayle led the Mariners with 35 points and Brett Christensen and Cameron Gay scored 20 points each. Dorby had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
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Mariners women win by a wide margin
The Mariners women are also off to a 2-0 start as they had a relatively easy time with the Coyotes women, jumping to a huge first-quarter lead and protecting it.
“We had a really good first half. The second half, I definitely think we could have improved, but it’s early, so we’ll take a win any day,” said Amber Lease, Mariners guard.
With a big lead, the M’s were able to try some different things and tried to switch up the pace of the game at times.
“We really tried to push the ball more,” Lease said. “I thought that was really good for us because sometimes we like to set up our offence, and showing that we can run the floor is a big thing.”
With the first weekend in the books, Lease said the Mariners feel good about how they’re getting along and working together.
“We have really great team chemistry and I think that’s huge,” she said. “Having a really tough pre-season schedule helped us a lot to get ready for league, so hopefully we can just chip away.”
Shayce Johnston led the Mariners with 18 points in the home opener and Emma Platner added 13.
GAME ON … VIU’s basketball teams are on the road next weekend, Nov. 9-10, against the Capilano Blues and Douglas Royals, respectively. Next home action at the VIU gym is Nov. 16-17.