VIU Mariners player Madeline Hart protects the basketball from Okanagan College opponents during exhibition play last week at the Snuneymuxw First Nation’s gymnasium. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Basketball’s back for a new season at VIU

Women's and men's hoops squads tip off PacWest play at VIU on Thursday, Nov. 9

Vancouver Island University’s gym will be filled with all the hoopla of a home opener tonight.

The VIU Mariners women’s and men’s basketball teams begin the Pacific Western Athletic Association regular season Thursday, Nov. 9 with games against the Camosun Chargers.

Every season brings changes, but it’s particularly pronounced on the women’s squad as Tony Bryce is the new head coach. Bryce formerly coached VIU’s men’s team.

“There’s been a lot of change, but week by week, we’re making strides,” he said. “We’ve talked about the process since I came on, that there’s going to be new faces, there’s a new coach, there’s new systems and we need to be patient, I need to be patient and let’s just push through the process. And I think we’re doing that.”

Bryce said he feels as though he has been pushing and challenging the group and said the women have answered the bell that way, while also building chemistry among themselves.

“The team has a real good vibe. They’re very supportive of each other and they need to be,” he said.

Bryce said he thinks the team will have great depth this year and said decisions about who plays each night will be continually revisited depending on who’s playing well.

Some of the key returnees include guards Celina Guadagni, Emily Clarke and Kaitlyn LaFontaine and forward Victoria Brown. Guard Madeline Hart joins the team from Dover Bay Secondary School. Guard Avery Snider, who missed much of last season with injury, suffered another injury that will keep her out long term.

“We have a variety of people that can score in different ways,” he said. “And I have multiple people that I can bring off our bench where we don’t lose much, if anything. So we’re going to try to wear [opponents] out, I think, with depth.”

GAME ON … VIU and Camosun meet Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Vancouver Island University gym. The women’s game is at 6 p.m. followed by a men’s game at 8 p.m. The Mariners basketball teams are on the road the next night at Columbia Bible College.

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