VIU’s first half bodes well

Mariners men's basketball team sits second at holiday break, plans exhibitions.

VIU Mariners player Greg Gillies makes a move in the paint during a game earlier this season.

VIU Mariners player Greg Gillies makes a move in the paint during a game earlier this season.

The VIU Mariners expected all along that this season would be a process.

That process is coming along, and as a bonus, the team is winning almost all its games, too.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team reaches the holiday break of the Pacific Western Athletic Association season with a 5-1 record, good for second place.

“We’re making steps in the right direction. Guys are starting to understand and trust our systems a little more, which is nice,” said Tony Bryce, coach of the Mariners.

He’s giving his players some time off now to step away from the court and get refreshed, because basketball starts back up in no time.

The M’s travel Dec. 27 to California to play exhibition games against NAIA schools in Fullerton and Costa Mesa.

Bryce said the trip is important, not only to get the guys back up to speed on the court, but also to build off the court.

“If you want to be a championship-type team, I think something like this is exactly what is needed,” he said. “That kind of bonding and spending a lot of time off the court and mixing business with pleasure, I think that just helps build a tighter-knit group, a group that’s willing to sacrifice more for each other, to win.”

And second-half wins this PacWest season will be perhaps more important than ever before, said Bryce, as his team pursues a top-two finish and a first-round playoff bye.

“The league is so balanced and difficult this year that if you can have the advantage heading into the playoffs of possibly playing one less game, I think that could end up being big,” said the coach. “That’s going to be our goal in the second half and it’s going to be a struggle to obtain it.”

GAME ON … VIU resumes the regular season Jan. 13 with a home game against the Quest Kermodes … For an article on the VIU women, please click here.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com