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UVic women return to court while Vikes men still sidelined

The University of Victoria Vikes basketball teams have received split decisions off the court.
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The University of Victoria Vikes basketball teams have received split decisions off the court.

The Canada West women’s games tonight and Saturday against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack will go ahead as scheduled at the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops. The scheduled men’s games between the Vikes and WolfPack, however, have been postponed due to COVID protocols.

Canada West said the change comes “as a result of the visiting team not having the minimum number of players available to safely compete due to COVID-19 related protocols,” meaning the issue is with the Vikes men’s team.

“We’ve had to be creative at practice each day with a different group,” said UVic men’s head coach Craig Beaucamp.

“We’ve not even been able to play five-on-five in practice for two weeks now.”

Beaucamp said his affected players’ physical reactions have ranged from being asymptomatic to having cold- and flu-like symptoms.

The re-scheduled dates for the men’s UVic-TRU games have not been announced. Neither have the new dates for the UVic men’s and women’s games that were scheduled for Jan. 14 in Prince George against the University of Northern B.C. and Jan. 16 in Kelowna against the UBC-Okanagan and were also postponed due to COVID protocols.

“It hit us in two waves,” said Beaucamp.

The Vikes men are 7-1, and back in the U Sports national top-10 poll after several seasons, but have not played since before the Christmas break.

“We haven’t played in two months. It’s going to almost feel like a new season when we get back,” said Beaucamp. “But we’re managing and the guys are resilient. They know it’s better than last [cancelled 2020-21 Canada West season] when there were no games.”

With the rest of the conferences in Canada yet to even start play, it is likely the U Sports national championships in March for both men and women will have to be moved back.

The U Sports men’s national championship is scheduled for March 10-13 in Edmonton and the women’s national championship March 10-13 in Kingston, Ont., with CBC scheduled to broadcast both tournaments.

The UVic women’s team (4-4), meanwhile, has been OKed to return to the court tonight against Thompson Rivers (1-12) after missing the UNBC and UBC-Okanagan games this month due to protocols. It will be the Vikes’ first games since before the Christmas break.

“After two months, there will be a little bit of rust to shake off,” said UVic head coach Carrie Watts. “But I expect a ton of energy. The players are excited to be playing.”