Basketball BC team of the year !!

April 21st, 2013

Mariners named best in B.C.
VIU men's basketball team adds two more awards to championship season
 
Josh Aldrich
Daily News

 

The Vancouver Island University Mariners received two more honours this weekend as they were named team of the year by Basketball B.C. and Matt Kuzminski received a coaching excellence award.

The Mariners surprised many by winning the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association national championship as a Pacific Western Athletic Association wild card team in Montreal in March. Star guard Brandon Jones carried the team during their post-season run, earning most valuable player honours at both the provincial and national championships. For his efforts he was a finalist for the Basketball B.C. player of the year award, but was edged out by Langara Falcon Brody Grigg.

"It caps what has been an exciting and pretty excellent year for us . . . it's a good end to our season," said Kuzminski of the team of the year award. "VIU, with (former coaches) Tony (Bryce) and back with Mark Simpson, always had a strong reputation and that's something we hope to continue on, and we got off to a good start."

The Mariners earned silver at the PacWest championships and then went undefeated at the CCAC championships, beating the Holland Hurricanes 77-70 in the gold medal game.

It was a long road to glory for Kuzminski, who was a controversial hire for VIU athletic director Bruce Hunter.

He was brought in with little coaching experience to replace Bryce who stepped down after turning the program into a national contender.

Kuzminski says he is honoured to receive his award.

"It's been a lot of work and it's gone by really fast. There's been a lot of fun times and a lot of stressful times in the work, but it's a great honour for me to be named that," he said.

"But at the same time, I didn't come into this for the awards, and I don't strive for the awards . . . I'm just happy to see the guys develop forward as players and have success."

Grigg led the PacWest in assists with 9.25 a game as he set up the Falcons high-powered, but balanced, offence. The Falcons led the province with 1,964 points in 21 games on their way to a PacWest best 20-1 record, but did not have a single scorer in the top 10.

Jones, meanwhile, became the heart-beat of the Mariners, emerging from a supplementary role last season, to lead VIU in scoring with 19.43 a game, third in PacWest, was second the team and sixth in B.C. in rebounding with 7.19 a game and was fifth in the PacWest in assists with 4.33 a game. But it was the post-season where he really showed what he was capable of, scoring 34 points in the national championship game.

For his efforts he was earlier named the PacWest Male Athlete of the Year across all sports.

"It could have gone either way, Brody's a very good player. I thought hands down him and Brandon were the best players (in the PacWest)," said Kuzminski.