October 6, 2014 – Victoria, BC – ISN’s Lachlan Ross wraps up the University of Victoria’s Guy Vetrie Memorial basketball tournament.
UVic’s Mack Roth drains a clutch jumper against Bishop’s University
Written by Lachlan Ross (ISN) / Photos by Jeff Morrison
The University of Victoria Vikes began their season with a deer in headlights start Friday night. The University of Alberta Golden Bears, who defeated the Vikes last season in the Canada West final, opened on a 12-0 run in both team’s first matchup of the Guy Vetrie Memorial tournament at McKinnon gym.
Graduated All-Canadian Terrell Evans’ absence was clear, leaving an eerie quiet on defence where last season energy could be felt fuming into the crowd. Offensively the Vikes settled for long three-pointers, shooting just six of 24 in the game, and struggled to get the ball into fifth year center Chris McLaughlin.
A mix of slashing layups and pull-up jump shots from Alberta’s six-foot-seven wing, Mamadou Gueye, led the Golden Bears with the long, athletic second year dropping in 20-points. Alberta held their lead throughout, taking the game 80-65 with no Vikes players managing to score double digits.
The Guy Vetrie Memorial – held every second year at UVic – commemorates the late Vikes coach while providing UVic an opportunity to play teams from across the country. This year the competition was held at the beginning of October, rather than mid October or Christmas break, giving each squad a few extra practices to take back lessons learned and develop before conference play in November. Three of last year’s final four competitors at Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Nationals – Carlton, Alberta, and Victoria – were joined by Bishop’s University from Quebec to fill out the four team tournament.
On the second night of the competition, Saturday, face painted students from UVic’s dorms crammed into the bleachers. The gym held a crowd of 1,500 people, including a small live brass band and the Vikes cheer team flipping gymnasts into the air and hyping up the students.
Defending national champions – and winners of 10 of the past 12 national finals – the Carlton Ravens were playing their second game of the weekend after comfortably beating Bishop’s Friday. The Ottawa based school featuring last year’s CIS Player of the Year, Philip Scrubb, and his brother and CIS Defensive Player of the Year, Thomas.
The Scrubbs scorched UVic, scoring all but two of their team’s points in the first quarter, leading UVic 25-9. Carlton’s ability to swing the ball around the three-point line, drive and dish, and pass out of the post, left shooters wide open, with only bad bounces off the McKinnon hoops keeping the Vikes alive.
Thomas Scrubb showed his smooth lefty stroke, finding just net on a pair of threes, before demonstrating a soft touch on multiple hook shots. Meanwhile, Philip sliced through the key finishing shots while falling out of bounds. The away team’s tandem even had Vikes fans cheering on baskets like Philip’s “and-one” layup in transition.
Philip pushed the ball over center court, weaving past one defender. A red and white mouth guard hung out over his right lip and jersey – where it spent most of the game – seeming to act as Philip’s stress reliever to chew on more than a protection piece. With a defender in front and another to his left, he zipped toward the free throw line and brought the dribble left to attack the gap. Then as if with the push of a button, he twirled back right with such force it replicated “super dry” on the spin cycle. The UVic defender had no choice but to foul him – and did so, leaving Philip sent soaring over the baseline – but not before he banked home the basket for a three-point play. The Carlton bench and several people in the Vikes students section rose to their feet.
Vikes fourth year forward, Reiner Theil, fought back, crashing the offensive boards with reckless abandon. In the third quarter, as a teammate’s air ball from the top of the key headed over the baseline, Theil hurled himself after it, caught the ball one handed and flung it back to another teammate for a close range jumper to cut the score to six. The UVic crowd responded, sensing the chance of an upset.
Then as quickly as the feeling came, Carlton capitalized as Theil and point guard Marcus Tibbs were subbed out. Within two minutes, the Vikes were back down 14 going into the fourth.
The Ravens held off pulses of Vikes comebacks and kept the gap around 10-points for most of the final quarter, before stretching it out to a final score of 80-64. Philip Scrubb topped the scoring with 32 points, while Thomas had 24 and nine rebounds. For the Vikes, six-foot-ten McLaughlin was a force with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Watching the interactions between the Scrubb brothers and the Ravens’ coach Dave Smart, it is clear how their team competes – and even beats – top American colleges.
Despite being up comfortably late in the fourth quarter, Philip Scrubb made another spectacular spin move between two defenders and somehow slung a pass out to a Raven in the corner. The teammate missed the shot, but the rebound flew back out to Philip on the perimeter where he caught it and knocked down a three. Vikes called a timeout and rather than being content with another guaranteed win and three points to his name, Philip chased down the teammate and let him know he needed to hit that shot. No matter what the score, situation, or opposition, coach Smart and the Scrubbs settle for nothing shy of perfection.
The final game of the tournament saw UVic play Bishop’s – both teams winless and looking for something to take into the next week of practice.
Vikes center Chris McLaughlin started strong, using his size and patience with combinations of drop steps and head fakes to finish around the hoop. But Bishop’s guards continually ventured into the paint, finishing over the bigger Vikes and getting their team out to a 30-20 lead at the half.
The Vikes came out of the locker room with stern faces, scowling at the scoreboard before taking the court. McLaughlin continued to work against Bishop’s big men, finishing with 19 points and seven rebounds while Marcus Tibbs began his big second half, hitting some key threes and getting in the lane to top score with 21 points. UVic scored 24 third quarter points – four more than they managed in the entire first half – to bring it back to 44-47 for the start of the fourth.
The final quarter began trading buckets until Tibbs drilled a go ahead three, sparking his team. The Vikes pushed out to a seven-point lead, but a bizarre number of errors from both teams left the final two minutes up for grabs.
Good looking shots and free throws failed to fall as both teams got to the bonus, but couldn’t convert. A mid range jumper from fourth year forward Mack Roth shot the Vikes out to a four point lead and late game fouling began.
Up three points with 20-seconds left and at the line, a Vikes win seemed sealed. But three of the next four free throws rimmed out, while Bishop’s continued to miss shots at the other end. The final play of the game saw Bishop’s down four, passing the ball around the key as single digit seconds flew off the clock. With a final mid range miss, the siren sounded, giving the Vikes their first win of the season 67-63.
The three visiting teams headed home with Carlton once again showing their dominance, their closest contest being a 16-point win over the Vikes. Alberta took two of three games, and the Vikes salvaged a win over Bishop’s.
While three games in three days put a physical toll on the players, fifth year McLaughlin says, “it gives guys a taste of what it’s like to be on the road and play tired. I think it was good to introduce the new guys to the lifestyle and how it is to play in the Canada West.”
Vikes coach Craig Beaucamp was upbeat about the weekend saying, “It was really beneficial just to see where we are as a team and where we are individually… We have three almost four weeks of solid practice and a few more games to really make some significant adjustments to what we’re doing.”
Despite Beaucamp emphasizing improvement over victories going into the tournament, Sunday’s win paired with the ability to keep it close through much of the game against Carlton all counts. McLaughlin says the Carlton game is one the team can look back on throughout the season as an example of how they battled with the best. He adds as reigning champs, Carlton always sets the standard. “It gives us an idea of where we need to be at.”
Next up the Vikes take on Fraser Valley October 19 at McKinnon gym.
Photos of the Vikes at the Guy Vetrie Memorial:
UVic’s Chris McLaughlin throws down a fastbreak dunk against Bishop’s.
Vikes rookie Kai Greene attacks his defender.
Vikes point guard Marcus Tibbs looks for Chris McLaughlin over Carlton defenders.
Reiner Theil rises up to contest a Bishop’s layup.
Lachlan Ross is a graduate of the University of Victoria’s writing program and intern with Independent Sports News. More of his work can be found at lachlanross.org.
Follow Lachlan @LachlanRoss89