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Robinson to the rescue for UVic in Maffia's absence

Last weekend’s performance ignited Robinson’s sophomore season
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UVic Vikes’ Renoldo Robinson drives against UBC Thunderbirds’ Jack Cruz-Dumont last year. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Mercurial shooting-guard Diego Maffia, on whose wings the University of Victoria Vikes fly or crash, will be a game-time decision tonight when the Vikes play the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in a Canada West men’s basketball game on Ken and Kathy Shields Court at CARSA Gymnasium.

Being without Maffia, the defending Canada West MVP and U Sports national scoring champion, for the last three games may have been a good thing for the Vikes in one regard.

“You can’t outscore your problems and you can’t rely on that in the playoffs,” said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp.

But you still need scoring, and in Maffia’s absence, that came last weekend in Winnipeg for U Sports national No. 2-ranked UVic from the explosive sophomore Renoldo Robinson. Robinson was named Canada West and U Sports player of the week with his 26 and 46 points in the Canada West split against the U Sports national No. 6 University of Manitoba Bisons.

It ignited Robinson’s quieter sophomore season after his electric Canada West rookie debut last year.

“Renoldo picked everybody up last week and energized the group,” said Beaucamp.

“He’s had an OK season so far [averaging 16.6 points per game] but not great. That was the breakout performance for him this season.”

UVic is 9-3 in conference and Saskatchewan 8-6.

“[Huskies head coach] Jamie Campbell is [a former assistant coach] from the Carleton coaching tree,” noted Beaucamp.

The Carleton Ravens have won a remarkable 17 national championships since 2003, including the last four in a row, and 11 of the last 12. The Huskies are hoping some of that has rubbed off on them with Campbell on their bench

“The Huskies do a lot of similar things to what the Ravens do. Saskatchewan is a solid team,” said Beaucamp.

Coaching is also key to the Saskatchewan Huskies women’s team. Lisa Thomaidis, current head coach of the German national team and who coached Canada to and at the 2016 Rio and 2000 Tokyo Olympics, has the U Sports top-ranked Huskies off to a 14-0 start in Canada West in her 24th season on the Saskatchewan bench. It will be an interesting weekend match-up with the Vikes (4-8), guided by former national-team player Carrie Watts, having won four of their last five games after a winless start to the season.

The women’s UVic-Saskatchewan games are at 6 p.m. tonight and 5 p.m. Saturday at CARSA Gym and the men’s games at 8 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com