Kyle Peterson admits part of the lure of moving to Victoria from Edmonton was the weather.
“I went home at Christmas,” said the 18-year-old freshman point guard with the University of Victoria Vikes, who entertain the University of Northern B.C. Timberwolves tonight and Saturday at McKinnon Gym. “I came back and it was nice and sunny. I wear shorts to school all the time. I mean, all the time.”
He also emails or texts photos back home to friends in the Alberta capital — scenic sun-filled candids to keep his people abreast of Island living.
“I get a kick out of that,” the Harry Ainlay High School grad added with a smile.
It’s almost the same grin you’ll see on his coach, Craig Beaucamp’s face when the topic of Peterson comes up.
“If you look at his assist to turnover ratio in the second half here, it’s pretty good compared to the first eight games of the year,” Beaucamp said of his young recruit, who was thrust into a starting role right out of the gate. “Early on he was obviously having troubles with turnovers and inconsistent play, but he’s been one of our best players in the second half.”
Quite an accomplishment considering he jumped from the Harry Ainlay Titans — perennial Edmonton high school powerhouses — to CIS basketball.
“It’s a huge jump, going from playing against kids in high school to playing against men in university,” said Beaucamp. “He’s not just coming in on a role-playing role, he’s our starting point guard. I’m really proud of his development.”
Having lost starting point guard Zac Andrus to graduation, fourth-year guard John Woldu to an injured knee and Reese Pribilisky, who did not return, Beaucamp realized early that Peterson would need to respond.
“We knew in July that we would have to go that route and it’s obviously helped him,” said Beaucamp, who’s delighted with Peterson’s adaptability.
“As a university student, never mind athlete, there’s a big adjustment coming to a new city. The expectations here are high, there’s a little bit of pressure playing at Victoria and I think he’s really responded well to the speed, quickness of game and the size. It’s a big step up.”
Peterson has responded, averaging 8.4 points a game, and now has 62 assists to go against his 37 turnovers.
“I’m starting to get more comfortable each game. As it goes along it feels like it’s becoming a little easier,” he said. “It’s been a good year so far and I’m very happy to be playing as much as I have in my first year.”
Peterson has gone from playing 17 minutes a game to consistently turning in 30.
Of his 37 turnovers, only 13 have come during his last eight outings.
“As games go along you start figuring out what you can and can’t do,” said Peterson, who felt comfortable with his move to the Island, living with his aunt and uncle while enrolled in political science, with his eyes focused on a law degree.
“I knew about him early, went up to see him at the Reb Tournament [at Jasper Place in Edmonton].
“I saw him and I remember calling home and saying, ‘We need this kid. He’s going to be real good,’ ” recalled Beaucamp of recruiting Peterson. “And he hasn’t disappointed. I knew him from the provincial team and the coach at Harry Ainlay [George Hood] is an Island product. We’re really glad he came.”
IN THE PAINT: The Vikes men’s and women’s teams are both 11-5 this season. The UNBC women are 6-10, while the men are 5-11. The women’s game tips off at 6 tonight, followed by the men at 8.
© Copyright 2013