By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
March 5, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team are right where they want to be – heading to Ottawa as one of eight teams vying for a CIS national title.
The Vikes men are after their ninth CIS title and it would only seem fitting that they are pitted against the No. 1-ranked Ravens in the opening round. Carleton and the Vikes each share the record in national titles, with eight a piece.
This Friday, Mar. 9, the Vikes will make their 23rd national championship appearance. Their last appearance was in 2006, when the Vikes lost in the gold-medal game to Carleton, 73-67. This year, however, the pressure lies on the Ravens, who enter as both the tournament host and favourites after a 19-1 regular season record. Meanwhile, the Vikes, who earned the Canada West finalist berth, are the eighth-ranked seed.
“We are certainly very happy to still be playing at this time of the year,” said Vikes men’s basketball head coach Craig Beaucamp, who was named the Canada West’s 2013 Coach of the Year. “Qualifying was one of the goals we had at the beginning of the year and now we have accomplished that goal. We are one of eight teams that is a short term away from winning a national championship so, we are ecstatic to still be playing. There are so many good teams that are not playing right now.”
The Ravens were ranked No. 1 in all 14 CIS top-10 polls this seaosn, while the Vikes cracked the list only twice this season. Despite the numbers, the Vikes have proven their worth all season, going 16-6 in conference play and 3-1 in their playoff run. The championship berth comes well deserved, as Vikes bench boss Beaucamp, has steered his team in the right direction with only three graduating players and five players in either their first or second year.
The Ravens boast the country’s top all-round player in Philip Scrubb, a third year from Richmond, B.C., who averages 18.6 points per game from the point guard spot. Scrubb and his supporting cast captured the OUA title this season are currently the two-time defending champions of the W.P. McGee Trophy.
“We knew to win a national championship this year we were probably going to have to face Carleton along the way,” said Beaucamp about the tough, Friday match up. “To be honest, we think that our best chance to beat Carleton is in the first game rather than the third game. With Carleton’s depth and experience, they will just get better throughout the tournament. It gives us a chance to prepare during the week as opposed to the short turnaround time. For us to win a national championship, playing them first is probably the best scenario.”
The Vikes and Ravens have only matched up once this season, with that game coming early on at the 2012 Guy Vetrie Memorial tournament, hosted by Victoria, Oct. 19-21. Carleton downed the Vikes by an impressive 87-63 scoreline but the Vikes know they have come a long way since that game.
“At that time of the year we weren’t a very good team and we were still trying to find out our identity,” added Beaucamp about the 24-point margin. “We had a lot of new players in the mix and we lost a lot of good players the year before. Really, it’s nice to look back and see how much we have improved. We are anxious to get out there now and show everyone just how far we have come since that game.”
The Vikes and Ravens will tip off at 5 p.m. PST from Scotia Bank Place in Ottawa, Ont. The game will be streamed live at http://cis-sic.tv
2013 playoffs: 3-1 (2nd in Canada West)
2013-13 conference record: 16-6 (2nd, Pacific)
2012 playoffs: 2-3 (4th, CW)
2011-12 conference record: 14-4 (1st, Pacific)
Last CW title: 2006
Last CIS title: 1997
CIS ranking: No. 8
Key additions: G Kyle Peterson, G Brin Taylor, G Dominic Ohl, F Ted Neilson
Key returnees: G Michael Acheampong, F Terrell Evans, F Chris McLaughlin, F Pierce Anderson, G Brandon Dunlop, F Reiner Theil
Key departures: G Ryan MacKinnon, G Zac Andrus, F Mike Berg, G-Reese Pribilski
Journey to the Final 8 – UVic Vikes
The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball battled back from an injury-laden fall to finish second in the Pacific Division of the Canada West with a 16-6 record. During the season, the Vikes enjoyed a 12-1 record at home, and only suffered three losses in the 2013 portion of their season. Prior to the Canada West Final Four, the No. 8 University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team’s head coach Craig Beaucamp was named Canada West Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his 10-year career while fourth-year Terrell Evans (Las Vegas, NV) was named a Canada West second-team all-star.
Senior Evans has been the home-crowd pleaser all season as the social science major led the Vikes in scoring for 14 of the Vikes’ 26 games. Evans boasts a shooting percentage of .523, leads the team in rebounds, averaging 7.3 per game, and leads the conference in steals (3.0). Evans started 20 of the Vikes’ 26 games this season.
However, when Evans was shut down, there was a supporting cast of players to provide the offensive spark. Six-foot-ten Chris McLaughlin (Oakville, ON) returned from a fall ankle injury to lead the Vikes in field goal percentage (.555), rebound average (8.5) and blocked shots. McLaughlin also averaged 10.5 points a game throughout the regular season. Adding to the mix is transfer guard from the Humber Hawks, Michael Acheampong (Toronto, Ont.). The fifth-year led the Vikes in scoring in eight games this season with an average of 13.2 points per game.
All season long the Vikes have relished the entertaining point-guard duo of rookie Kyle Peterson (Edmonton) and senior Brandon Dunlop (Victoria, BC) Peterson’s speed up the floor and quick transitions helped the Vikes execute offensively, while Dunlop’s experience and three-point shooting has been clutch for the Vikes in the late season. Dunlop leads the Canada West in three-pointers, after he totaled 27-for-52 in conference play.
One of the Vikes’ most satisfied victory moments included the home-and-home sweep of mainland rivals, the UBC Thunderbirds, on Feb. 15-16. The Vikes entered the final regular season pair of games unranked in the CIS and went on to defeat the then No.2-ranked Birds on back-to-back nights. The Feb. 15 win was the first time the Vikes had downed the T-Birds in their own gym since 2007.
The Vikes boast the Canada West’s No. 1 scoring defence, with 68.8 points per game and the second-highest rebounding margin (+5.9).
The Vikes were able to secure a berth to the 2013 CIS Final 8 after downing the Winnipeg Wesmen on Mar. 1 in semifinal action. The 72-59 victory came after the Vikes outrebounded their opponents 50-25 and McLaughlin put up a season-high 23-point performance. The Vikes were later bested 72-69 in an action-packed conference final against the UBC Thunderbirds to win the Canada West silver medal. Both the T-Birds and Vikes secured spots to the CIS Final 8 national tournament.