November 18th, 2014
Mariner men remain a perfect 5-0
Ross Armour / Daily News
November 17, 2014
VIU's men's basketball team made it five wins in a row with back-to-back wins this past Friday and Saturday.
On their home court in both games, the No. 4 Mariners beat the No. 10 Quest Kermodes 84-77 Friday and then the Capilano Blues 91-62 the following night to maintain their impressive start to the season and to stay top of the PacWest conference.
"Friday was a tight game where we had a reasonably big lead and then they came back into it, but we were able to pull it off in the end," said head coach Matt Kuzminski. "Saturday was a pretty close first quarter but then we just pulled away after that."
The two wins came without star guard Justin King, who went down with an injury two minutes into the Kermodes game Friday night. King is the Mariners' top scorer so far this season and will have a physiotherapy appointment today.
"He went down with a lower leg injury just above the ankle and wasn't able to play after that," said Kuzminski, who was relieved that X-Rays confirmed minimal damage.
"He didn't roll it, but I thought it was more serious than it turned out. He said the pain has gone down a lot already.
"With one weekend of league play left until the winter break, there could have been worse weekends for him to get injured."
King's replacement, Woodlands grad Bryson Cox, came into both games to good effect, starting against the Blues Saturday and scoring 15 points in the process.
He also had three rebounds and four steels in the game.
Harrison Stupich, a senior out of Cedar, also finished Saturday's game with 15 points
and one rebound short of a double-double.
"We have players who can come in and Bryson did well," said Kuzminski, who, despite the two wins, was still frustrated with his team's effort throughout the entirity of both games.
"We aren't giving maximum effort all the time and are still lacking in our execution at times," he said. "However, Quest in particular is a strong team and that's their only loss so far.
"But we still aren't as strong yet as what we could be."
Despite a 100 per cent start, Kuzminski still said his team must continue to improve and work hard from the first whistle to the last.
"I said Friday night that we are still just nudging up to the standards that we expect," he said. "I didn't think our effort was there for the full 40 minutes in both games and I know the other coaches agree with me. We're trying to put together the complete game."
The coach also believes the Mariners to be far superior talent wise to the majority of teams they'll face in the PacWest this season.
As such, he wants to dominate games for longer spells and start putting more points on the board.
"Everyone who comes in has to perform to a high level," Kuzminski said. "Most of the teams we'll play in the PacWest, I feel we are more talented than most of them. We should be beating them by bigger margins. Our goal is to continue to get better."
Kuzminski does believe that the Mariners have it within them to score more points in each game and he says doing the fundamental things that his coaching staff ask for throughout, will enable his players to do that.
"We keep saying that if we do our jobs right and play with energy and enthusiasm and get the mental aspect right all the time, then the scoreline will take care of itself."
The Mariners now face two games on the road this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 21 and 22, with games against Columbia Bible College and Kwantlen.
Following that will be a friendly matchup with Balloholics ABA on Nov. 29 before heading into the winter break.
Kuzminski is determined to maintain that unbeaten run, heading into Christmas.
"In the past we've tended to be unbeaten up until Christmas but then lose one just before it," he said. "Kwantlen and CBC are teams we should be beating if we play to our full potential."