With apologies to the Who, the kids are alright.
The University of Victoria Vikes’ youth corps Super Six has helped carry the Vikes to the No. 2 ranking in the U Sports national top-10 men’s basketball poll behind the dynastic Carleton Ravens.
Showing maturity beyond their years, freshmen Izzy Helman from Claremont Secondary, Shadynn Smid out of Cowichan Secondary and Renoldo Robinson from Montreal have made immediate impacts. Sophomores Ethan Boag out of Claremont, Sergio Pereira from Shawnigan Lake School and last season’s Canada West rookie-of-the-year Elias Ralph from Okotoks, Alta., continue to develop and make even stronger contributions.
To show the confidence he has in Helman, University of Victoria Vikes coach Craig Beaucamp put the rookie guard on Trinity Western University Spartans star Mason Bourcier for much of their weekend Canada West basketball set.
Bourcier was the 2017 Quad-A B.C. high school MVP with the Kelowna Owls and a CEBL pro over the summer through the same sort of arrangement that allows U Sports soccer players to perform in the pro CPL. Bourcier is going to get his points but Helman held him to 18 in Friday night’s 85-69 Vikes victory although Bourcier exploded for 38 in Saturday’s 97-85 UVic win as the Vikes moved to 6-2 in conference while TWU went to 4-4.
“We had no hesitation in putting Izzy on one of the best point-guards in Canada [Bourcier],” said Beaucamp.
Helman appears unflappable despite his age and scored 16 points himself Saturday while Ralph scored 25 and third-year shooting-guard Diego Maffia 24.
“I am not intimidated, I don’t get nervous and I’m not an emotional player,” said the hometown Victoria product.
“What I really care about is winning.”
He did plenty of that at Claremont but now comes the step up to the university level with different duties.
“I led a lot of the offence at Claremont but knew I had to get stronger on defence, too, and also got stronger physically over the summer doing weight training,” said Helman.
“I want to keep getting better.”
Sophomore Vikes guard Ralph was named Canada West rookie of the year last season, the first Vikes player to win the award since Scott Kellum in 2016-17, and some are looking at Helman this season but he says he isn’t gunning for individual honours. He just wants to watch, learn and get better: “[Fellow Vikes guards Ralph and Maffia] have helped me a lot as mentors and I’ve learned a lot by watching them and seeing how passionate they are about the game.”
In the earlier Canada West women’s game, UVic fell to 2-6 following an 80-74 loss to the TWU Spartans (6-2). Kate Johnson led UVic with 25 points with Ashlyn Day, the defending Canada West scoring champion, adding 22 points and Mimi Sigue 16. Jayden Gill of the Spartans led all scorers with 30 points.