By Ali Lee,
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball head coach Craig Beaucamp has just four pre-season opportunities left to shape his squad up in hopes of making their third-straight appearance at the CIS Final 8. The Vikes will host their final pre-season home game against Fraser Valley on Oct. 19 at 4 p.m. in McKinnon Gym.
Following this weekend’s single game the Vikes will travel to Saskatoon for three games, Oct. 23-25, in the Graham Shootout hosted by the Saskatchewan Huskies.
With the Canada West season just around the corner, starting on Oct. 31, the Vikes men will be utilizing every minute of the next two weeks to tune up and find the right mix of players for the season.
“There are a lot of opportunities out there and it is a competitive situation,” said Beaucamp of players juggling for starting spots. “Roles are not guaranteed on this team and at this point of the season, it’s about improving. We are still trying to sort out rotations and execution offensively and defensively on the court.”
The Vikes return the talented trio of fifth-year forward Chris McLaughlin, reigning Canada West Defensive Player of the Year Reiner Theil and point guard Marcus Tibbs. The rookie class features guards Kai Greene, Taylor Montgomery-Stinson and Hayden Jejeune, while returnees Jordan Charles, Patrick Pilato and Mack Roth will all be required to step it up this season.
“We need different contributions from more guys this year,” added Beaucamp, who competes this season without the offensive talents of CIS All-Canadian Terrell Evans and point guard Kyle Peterson. “We can’t lose sight of the big picture. We have traditionally been a good defensive team but that doesn’t just come. We have to continue to work on all the little pieces.”
The Vikes had a good challenge to open their 2014-15 season, hosting the Guy Vetrie Memorial tournament Oct. 3-5. The pre-season tournament featured the reigning CIS champions, Carleton, the 2014 CIS bronze medalists, Alberta, and OUA finalists, Bishop’s. Both Alberta and Carleton edged the Vikes in their opening matches, while the Vikes found their strides and a 21-point performance from Tibbs lifted the home team 67-63 over Bishop’s to close out the weekend.
McLaughlin was also a big scorer throughout the tournament with a team-high 20 points against Carleton and 19 points against Bishop’s.
Last season the Vikes finished first in the Pacific Division with a 19-3 record, while the Cascades were on their heels with a 17-5 record. At the Canada West Final Four, Alberta took the conference banner with a 82-77 victory over Victoria, while Fraser Valley finished fourth after losing 79-70 to Saskatchewan. The Vikes went on to finish fourth at the CIS Championship, improving on their 2013 sixth-place finish.
The Vikes and Cascades will clash on Oct. 19 at 4 p.m. in McKinnon Gym.