Maybe playoffs aren’t as far away as they seem.
It’s only the start of basketball season, but the Vancouver Island University Mariners do think about championships, and where they’ve been and where they want to be.
The M’s were national finalists last year. So in one sense, they’re at that calibre, but in another sense, they’re starting over.
“A bit of both, actually,” said Jerod Dorby, M’s centre. “Because it’s a new squad, new people, but I feel like the intensity and the teamwork is still there. We still have a lot to build, because any new team has that, but I feel like we’re going to hit our stride real soon.”
VIU’s top scorer from last year, Justin King, turned pro, but the Mariners recruited two American players – forward Josh Ross and guard John Thompson – who coach Matt Kuzminski said “are contributing at a high level and who I think can be awesome players in this league.”
Jason Fortin is back providing offence, defence and leadership at the forward position, and returning guard Chris Parker, as well as Dorby in the post, will also be impact players.
Kuzminski said it’s a good passing team, as both the guards and the bigs are capable of finding open teammates.
“When we’re at our best, the ball really moves and we make a lot of team scores rather than individual,” the coach said. “At the same time, we still do have really talented individual scorers. If things kind of break down, they can give us buckets.”
It’s a group that’s capable of achieving its goals.
“We really try to focus on the process of how we’re going to get there and that’s the stuff we do day in and day out, the fundamentals we have to build,” Kuzminski said. “So while [nationals are] a goal, we’re trying to distance ourself from it and focus on what we have to do right in the moment.”
GAME ON … The Mariners tip off the Pacific Western Athletic Association season against the Camosun Chargers on Friday (Oct. 30) at 8 p.m. at the VIU gym.