The VIU Mariners will try to keep the ball bouncing in the right direction with the appointment of a new head coach.
Vancouver Island University’s athletics department announced Tuesday that Matt Kuzminski has been hired as the new coach of the men’s basketball team.
The Nanaimoite said he’s “fired up” for the challenge.
“When this opportunity came up I felt it was definitely going to be a challenge but it’s something I can do,” he said.
Kuzminski played high school basketball with the Dover Bay Dolphins, then moved on to play two seasons at the University of Victoria and three seasons at Simon Fraser University, where he was team captain of the Clan.
He was assistant coach of the Dover senior AAA boys in 2010-11, coach of Dover’s Grade 8 boys in 2006-07 and also headed summer basketball programs at SFU and in Nanaimo.
“I still know a lot of the local talent as well as all the college and university coaches around here so that really helps,” he said.
Much of the high-school recruiting has already taken place by this time of year, but Kuzminski said there are still some players he is interested in who have not yet committed to a post-secondary program.
Kuzminski said former coach Tony Bryce re-established VIU as a place where players want to play.
“It’s one of the most desirable places for recruits to come; a lot of the returning players have been really well coached. There’s been a tradition set up here,” he said.
VIU athletic director Bruce Hunter said Kuzminski has a very good understanding of strategies and tactics.
“He’ll quickly have the respect of the returning players and the recruits,” said Hunter. “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be an exciting chapter of Mariner basketball.”
The new coach said the game plan will of course depend partly on the personnel.
“Regardless of who we’ve got, we’ll be a hard-working, defensive-minded team,” he said.
Hunter said 2012-13 could be something of a rebuilding year after the graduation of some key players such as all-Canadian point guard Jacob Thom.
“Certainly my expectation next year is that the team will be very competitive,” Hunter said. “Will they be challenging for a national medal in Matt’s first year? That might be a bit much to ask for but you never know.”