VIU takes to home court once more

Vancouver Island University's basketball teams host tough UNBC Timberwolves in PacWest action.

The Vancouver Island University Mariners have saved the best for last in their home gym.

VIU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams play their final home games of the regular season Saturday (Feb. 11) at the school gym against the University of Northern B.C. Timberwolves.

UNBC is the toughest possible matchup in the Pacific Western Athletic Association, both in men’s and women’s hoops.

The men’s T-wolves (10-2) are second in PacWest behind the M’s (12-1). There’s history between the programs, as the two teams have met in each of the last two provincial championship games, with UNBC winning in 2010 and VIU winning in 2011. More recently, the M’s defeated the T-wolves 84-77 in Prince George in December.

“You always look on the schedule to see when we’re going to play them; it’s always a good game when we do,” said Tyler Olsen, VIU player.

He said both teams match up well against the other.

“You’ve got the top two teams in the league and two of the top teams in the country going at it. It’ll be a war,” said Tony Bryce, coach of the M’s.

The coach said UNBC plays hard and plays a physical style.

Olsen said VIU needs to play team defence and make smart choices on offence.

“They like to pressure when you’re bringing the ball up, so you just have to break pressure and then pick them apart,” he said.

Olsen said he and his teammates like the idea of facing such a tough opponent at this stage of the season, to see how they stack up. It might also give one team a leg up with provincials nearing.

“In my opinion, right now, they’re playing, probably, the best basketball out of anybody in the league,” Bryce. “I think they’re the best defensive team in the league right now and we’re going to have our hands full.”

In the women’s game, the Mariners (12-1) are preparing for a Timberwolves team (12-0) that handed them their only loss of the season back in December.

GAME ON … The women’s game tips off at 6 p.m. Saturday with the men to follow at 8 p.m. … In addition to the hoops action there will be a ceremony honouring VIU’s graduating players. Brittany Knievel, Richelle Rafnkjelson, Jacob Thom and Patrick McCarthy will all be playing their last home games at the VIU gym.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com