VIU men win national championship

VIU's men's b-ball team won the national championship on Saturday in Montreal, defeating the Holland Hurricanes 77-70.

The VIU Mariners are the best in Canadian college basketball.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s b-ball team won the national championship on Saturday in Montreal, defeating the Holland Hurricanes 77-70 in the gold-medal game.

“It was just unreal and it’s hard to describe a feeling like that,” said Tyler Olsen, VIU veteran. “Knowing that you worked so long and so hard for something and you finally accomplish your goal and that nothing could ever take it away from you, that we’re national champions, it’s a surreal feeling.”

The Canadian Colleges’ Athletic Association championship final ended up being a matchup between the No. 5-seeded Hurricanes and the No. 6-seeded Mariners.

“We sort of just tried to approach the game the same way we always do,” said Matt Kuzminski, VIU coach. “I … made a comment along the lines of, ‘It’s another game of basketball – there just happens to be a lot more focus on this.'”

Early on, the M’s found an advantage inside, which not only helped open up a balanced attack for the Mariners, but it also forced the opponent into foul trouble.

VIU led 40-31 at halftime but Holland chipped away and even briefly took a lead late in the fourth quarter.

“Guys, we’ve been here before,” Kuzminski told his players. “We’re down one point, there’s two minutes, we’ve executed in these situations.”

Olsen said the team kept confident and focused at that critical point of the game.

“We all really believed that we could do it,” he said. “We all worked really hard for it and we weren’t going to let it get away from us.”

The M’s scored a basket, got a steal, scored another basket and got another steal to wrest back control of the game. Time expired and the Mariners were national champions.

“It’s crazy, honestly,” said Kuzminski. “Just seeing the guys and how happy they were, running on the court, and how much has gone into that, our early morning practices, all our training we’ve done, to get to a moment like this and have all that be rewarded, it’s a great feeling.”

Brandon Jones had a huge 34-point performance in the final and was selected tournament MVP. Olsen, playing his last game of college hoops, had 17 points and 12 rebounds and was a first-team all-star. Ryan Davidson was chosen a second-team all-star.

Even though nationals were three time zones away, the Mariners felt the support of the VIU Nation. Kuzminski said he had 60 congratulatory text messages, not to mention all the fans cheering along over social media.

“VIU men’s basketball must be trending, because everybody was talking about it,” he said.

It’s the first national title in 19 years for the Mariners program. A Canadian championship, obviously, doesn’t come along every year – it takes a special group, and the M’s had that, said Olsen.

“We’re the essence of a team,” he said. “We all bought into what we were doing, we all knew we could accomplish it and it all just came together perfectly.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Nanaimo RCMP had been asking for help locating a 43-year-old man whose family was ‘extremely worried.’ (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP report man who had made ‘troubling’ comments has been found

43-year-old is receiving treatment he requires, say police

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

An event on the lawn of the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Tuesday to remember the 215 children whose remains were confirmed buried in unmarked graves outside a Kamloops residential school. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Canada’s racist systems cannot ever be forgiven

Teen letter writer from Nunavut calls for truth and reconciliation

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

City of Nanaimo council has approved amendments for an animal control bylaw requested by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The bylaw includes language related to quail. (Wikipedia Commons photo)
Province asks for tweaks to Nanaimo’s animal responsibility bylaw

Ministry concerned bylaw wording could create municipal and provincial jurisdictional overlaps

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo hospital district seeks help from other districts for $1-billion project

Funding for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital patient tower discussed by committee

Stuffed toys, many with donations pinned to them, are piled in the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park at a vigil May 31 honouring the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were discovered outside a residential school in Kamloops. (News Bulletin file photo)
Thousands donated to child and family service agency following Nanaimo vigil

Toys and money donated to Kw’umut Lelum child and family services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Most Read