It is a conundrum that Canada West basketball crowds in CARSA Gym, a state-of-the-art facility, have not matched those that used to watch the University of Victoria Vikes in the older and less-appealing McKinnon Gym.
Admittedly, the old mega-winning Vikes results haven’t been there, either, the past few seasons.
But last week, it was just like old times, as fans packed CARSA for the Canada West set against arch-rival UBC Thunderbirds. The Vikes hope that atmosphere continues for another B.C. rivalry weekend tonight and Saturday at CARSA against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack of Kamloops.
“It was great to see the gym full last weekend,” said Vikes men’s head coach Craig Beaucamp. “Hopefully, we can put a good product on the floor and make them want to come back.”
The Vikes, indeed, have a decent product this season at 10-4 in conference with a playoff berth clinched. The goal now is to secure either a first-round playoff bye with a top-four finish in Canada West or at least home-floor advantage in the first round.
“We’ve qualified for the playoffs so it’s not do-or-die for us this weekend,” Beaucamp said.
Coach Scott Clark’s WolfPack, controlled and methodical, has also clinched a playoff berth and is 11-3 in conference.
“[The Wolfpack] do not beat themselves,” said Beaucamp.
“They play a Princeton-style offence with lots of screens and cutting.”
The UVic Vikes women’s team (7-7) will try to stem a five-game losing skid. It seems like another century ago, but it was only earlier this season, that the Vikes were ranked in the U Sports national top-10 poll.
“We’ve used this opportunity to learn some hard lessons,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair.
The room is not down, she noted. “We have enough talent here for a deep run,” Sinclair said. “Over the years, this group has always shown an ability to respond.”
Crucial is the five-game home stand, which began last Saturday against UBC and continues this weekend with the two games against the WolfPack and next weekend with two against the Manitoba Bisons. “It’s huge and will define our season,” Sinclair said. “It was a great crowd and the place was electric last weekend against UBC.”
Thompson Rivers comes in this weekend tied with UVic at 7-7 in Canada West.
“[The Wolfpack] lead the conference in three-point attempts. If they’re on, they’re dangerous,” Sinclair said.