If whiplash swings of fortune and emotion are your thing, then CARSA gym is turning into the place to be this U Sports basketball season. At least it was last weekend. Both Canada West men’s games in the University of Victoria Vikes two-game split against the Regina Cougars were not decided until the final shots both nights.
The UVic women’s team, meanwhile, rallied from a 35-point loss the night before to stun national power Regina on a last-gasp basket by Katie Langdon for the dramatic victory in the second game.
Up tonight and Saturday on Ken and Kathy Shields Court are Canada West games against the Fraser Valley Cascades. The Vikes (7-5) and Cascades (9-5) meet in the women’s game tonight at 6, while the men’s game between UVic (5-7) and Fraser Valley (10-4) is at 8 p.m. Game times Saturday are at 5 and 7 p.m., respectively.
Vikes women’s head coach Dani Sinclair said she was talking to legendary former UVic coach Kathy Shields following the lightning turnabout in games last weekend. Shields, who guided the Vikes to eight national titles, told Sinclair she always hated winning big on Friday night because it was sometimes harder to motivate the players for the Saturday game, not that Shields ever seemed to have any problems doing so.
Sinclair said she knew her players were capable of responding to the blowout loss last Friday against Regina.
“It’s hard to beat anybody back to back. There’s that momentum shift and keeping players motivated,” noted Sinclair.
“We challenged the girls. The biggest difference between the two games is that we competed in the second game. We still very well could have lost that game against a very good Regina team, but we would have still been proud of the effort. We were much better at moving and sharing the ball and playing a team game.”
The task doesn’t get any easier against Fraser Valley as both the Cascades women’s and men’s programs seem to be blooming.
“Fraser Valley is a big, strong and physical team that plays hard,” said Sinclair.
“We need to manage the excitement of last weekend and build on it but not get too ahead of ourselves.”
The Vikes men, meanwhile, go into this weekend missing injured starting point-guard Mason Loewen. The athletic and dynamic Loewen is believed to have a sprain or hyperextension of the knee and is listed as week-to-week but is definitely out against the Cascades. But the Vikes didn’t miss a beat as Scott Kellum from Issaquah, Washington, stepped in at point guard to lead the Vikes to last Saturday night’s victory over Regina. Not that third-year import player Kellum’s performance wasn’t expected. He was, after all, Canada West rookie of the year in his freshman season on Ring Road.
“Scott has been our sixth man all season but he can easily be a starter,” said UVic head coach Craig Beaucamp.
“He is one of our most consistent performers and he stepped up and led us offensively. In fact, everyone pulled together and rallied in that second game.”
They will have to again against a difficult matchup, especially inside, against the Cascades.
“Fraser Valley is a taller, heavier team with length and size relative to us,” said Beaucamp.
“So, defensive boards will be key for us. Rebounding as a whole will be important.”
It is a classic matchup between the primarily outside-shooting Vikes and inside-the-paint game of the Cascades.
“We have to shoot the ball well while also finding different ways to get people to the post and into the elbows,” said Beaucamp.
“But shooting is still the key for us.”