by Ali Lee,
VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team are on the hunt for their third-straight CIS national championship appearance. Following their 2014 fourth-place national finish, Vikes men’s basketball head coach Craig Beaucamp will be looking to improve that with a medal-finish in 2014-15. The Vikes have had several pre-season matches against some of the best CIS competition and it was a big test for a young Vikes line up that boasts eight new players and loses 2014 CIS First Team All-Canadian and leading scorer Terrell Evans.
Fifth-year forward Chris McLaughlin and fourth-year guard Reiner Theil are undoubtedly the most experienced duo for this year’s team. Both have been pivotal for the Vikes in the past two-straight CIS Final 8 appearances. Theil was last season’s Canada West Defensive Player of the Year, while McLaughlin was a Canada West Second Team All-Star. With the loss of point guard Kyle Peterson, who transferred to Lethbridge, fourth-year transfer Marcus Tibbs has stepped into the point with relative ease and leading the Vikes in scoring for several of their pre-season games.
This year’s recruit class has four true freshmen (Kai Greene, Taylor Montgomery-Stinson, Justin Kinnear and Hayden Lejeune), while three new Vikes transfer over with eligibility still remaining. Fifth-year guard Jeremy Leonard-Smithcompletes his last year after transferring from the Bishop’s Gaiters and Hassan Abdullahi and Rulon Schmidt transfer from Dalhousie University and Camosun College, respectively.
Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp enters his 12th season with the Vikes and has established himself as one of the top coaches in the CIS. Beaucamp was named Canada West Coach of the Year for the past three-straight seasons and has continued to keep the Vikes improving. Two seasons ago (2013), the Vikes made their first CIS national championship appearance since 2002. Victoria finished sixth overall but improved last year, 2014, to fourth place.
The Vikes had a 4-3 record in their pre-season campaign with wins over Bishop’s, Fraser Valley, Nipissing and MacEwan, while conceding loses to CIS contenders Alberta, Carleton and Saskatchewan. The Vikes will open their regular season on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 with a double header against Regina. In the season-opening coaches polls for the Canada West, the Vikes ranked No. 1, while Regina ranked 14. Behind Victoria in the polls were No. 2 Alberta, No. 3 Saskatchewan and No. 4 UBC.
2013-14 Regular Season Record: 19-3 (1st, Pacific)
2014 Playoff Record: 3-2 (2nd)
2014 Playoff Result: Canada West Silver
2014 CIS Record: 1-2 (4th)
Last CW Championship: 2005-06
Last CIS Championship: 1996-97
CW Ranking: No. 1
CIS Ranking: No. 10
Key Additions: F Grant Sitton, G Kai Greene, F Rulon Schmidt, G Jeremy Leonard-Smith, F Justin Kinnear, F Hayden Lejeune
Key Returnees: F Chris McLaughlin, G Reiner Theil, G/F Mack Roth, G Marcus Tibbs
Key Departures: F Terrell Evans, F Ryan Erikson, G Kyle Peterson