Vikes well prepared

In their first transition, swimmers raced out of Goss Lake to shed their swimming gear in the parking lot, then ran to their bikes at a second staging area on Lakeside Drive. - Gayle Saran
In their first transition, swimmers raced out of Goss Lake to shed their swimming gear in the parking lot, then ran to their bikes at a second staging area on Lakeside Drive.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

Even at 18-3, the UVic men aren’t likely to win their division

The UBC Thunderbirds could wind up losing a game or two this weekend and allow the UVic Vikes to capture the Pacific division title.

Lightning could also strike the Queen and the Green Party could form the next federal government.

Vikes men’s basketball coach Craig Beaucamp isn’t holding his breath that his team will win the division and snag home court advantage for the first two playoff rounds.

Heading into the final two games of the regular season, the Vikes are deadlocked in first place with UBC at 18-3. However, the T-Birds own the tiebreaker, having won two of three games against the Vikes this season.

Both teams play divisional cellar dwellers Thompson Rivers Wolfpack and University College of the Fraser Valley Cascades this weekend at home.

Beaucamp has other things on his mind, such as making sure his players are prepared for what could be an interesting semifinal series against Simon Fraser or Trinity Western, who are scrapping it out for third this weekend.

“We’ve kind of prepared for playoffs the whole second half. We’ve been focusing mainly on ourselves and trying to get better as a team,” he said, noting that SFU and Trinity play distinctly different styles.

Whether it’s the run-and-gun, full-court press style of the Spartans, or the slower, deliberate, pounding front court style of SFU, Beaucamp wants his team to be ready to handle whatever comes their way. “We’ve been putting a few more tools in our toolbox.”

Vikes coaches have injected drills on zone and press defence into their practices and have tried it out in certain games, but neither is a staple of the team’s overall game plan. It hasn’t seemed to have hampered the nationally No. 4-ranked Vikes: they rank first in the Canada West in defence, allowing an average of 67.9 points per game, almost four points better than No. 2 SFU.

On the other hand, their 79.7 points scored per game is more than six points lower than Trinity. It’s clear, then that the Vikes will have a challenge no matter who they open against at McKinnon Gym Feb. 16.

For this weekend at least, the Vikes will be without standout guard Steve Moore, who is recovering from a separated shoulder. Beaucamp said he hopes to have the fifth-year veteran in the lineup come playoff time.

The Vikes women (9-12), meanwhile, are looking to overtake Fraser Valley (9-12) for third place in the Pacific.

Beating the Cascades and the Wolfpack (2-19) this weekend would likely send the Vikes to a first-round matchup against UBC (19-2) in Vancouver. Finish fourth and they’ll likely take on No. 1 SFU (20-1).

Senior’s day… Graduating players from both UVic teams will be honoured this Sunday when the Vikes finish out the regular season against the Wolfpack.

Moore, Graeme Bollinger and Brandon Ellis are in their final year of eligibility for the men, while the women’s team loses only Jania Mynott and Jamie Bell.

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