Vikes women face timely test with upcoming Manitoba series


By Ali Lee, with files from Canada West

(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – If there was a time for the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team to turn the tides, this would be the weekend. On Jan. 9 and 10 the Vikes (2-6) travel for two games against the Manitoba Bisons (1-9) and it’s as good a time as any to get back on winning track.

The Vikes opened their 2014-15 Canada West campaign upsetting the Regina Cougars for two games but Victoria and every other team have completely evolved since the start of the season in October. The Vikes capped their season off with six straight losses, two to each of UBC, Saskatchewan and Alberta. All three teams ended 2014 ranked in the CIS top-10.

“The holiday break came at a really good time,” said Dani Sinclair, Vikes women’s basketball head coach. “In the first half we faced all of the favourite teams in our conference and we wanted a better record and a better overall performance. We’ve had a break from game play and had time to recover and go back to the things we need to focus on.”

For Sinclair’s squad that means working on rebounding and the ability to guard the ball on the perimeter. The Vikes are at the bottom of the table in rebounding, averaging just 27.9 per game.

“We gave up a lot of points per game and we have been addressing that over December,” added Sinclair, whose team travelled to California for training and two exhibition games. “We also need a more consistent performance from our bench players. We are continuing to send that message to our players in practice that they need to step up and want it.”

That will begin with contending with Manitoba’s leading scorer Robyn Eyer, one of five fifth year Bisons players. Eyer has averaged 13.3 points per game while fellow seniors Sheree Carmona-Galdamez and Vanessa DeVries will also be key scoring factors.

The Vikes have their own pair of seniors carrying a lot of the weight.

“We have two true fifth years who have really raise their game this season,” said Sinclair about forward Jess Renfrew and point guard Cassandra Goodis. “Cass has been making those game-changing plays and really taking the game into her own hands. Jess battled injury in the first half but her numbers already show that she is getting her form back.”

Sinclair noted the strong consistency of Jenna Bugiardini and Shaylyn Crisp, while Amira Giannattasiohas been a strong performer for a first-year player.

“We need to play desperate every game,” concluded Sinclair, whose team has just 12 games to turn their season around.

The weekend series tips off on Jan. 9 at 6:00 CT. The second game is on Jan. 10 at 5:00 pm CT. Both games will be available with live video and stats on CanadaWest.TV.