November 1st, 2015
Duncan’s Jerod Dorby hopes to take the next step this season
By SCOTT MCKENZIE, Nanaimo Daily News
After a season in which he was named a second-team all-star, Duncan’s Jerod Dorby wants to do more this time around.
“I expect myself to be more of a leader this year,” said Dorby, a six-foot-seven forward with the Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s basketball team. “The past two years, I’ve been kind of a quiet, low key guy. But I plan to be on the court, loud.”
Dorby, a graduate of Cowichan Secondary School, will get a chance to make himself known when the Mariners open their season tonight at
8 p.m. against the Camosun Chargers at VIU.
It’s the start of a new season for Mariners, who are defending PacWest conference champions and national silver medallists.
“The whole team is super excited,” Dorby said. “We’re excited to finally play and be together on the court.”
Dorby took a major step forward in his development last season, averaging 11 points and 6.33 rebounds per game in the starting lineup in his sophomore year.
The biggest improvement, he said, was his court awareness.
“On defence, I know my position, on offence I know where to be and how to get there,” Dorby said.
But this year, he wants to be more of a threat on the court and be able to guard any of the league’s big men.
“I want people to see me and to know that I’m a threat on offence,” he said, “and to know I’m a stand-up guy on defence.”
Mariners head coach Matt Kuzminski can see the potential Dorby shows as he steps into his third year of college basketball.
All he needs to do is stay healthy.
“He’s a guy that, when he’s healthy and playing well, I think he’s the best big man in our league,” said Kuzminski, the reigning national coach of the year.
“He hasn’t been healthy this year so far, he’s been in and out of practice, so he’s still trying to get up to speed.”
When the Mariners begin their season tonight, they’ll do so with a bitter taste in their mouths after losing in the national championship game in February.
They’re not talking about it, but Kuzminski can sense it in fifth-year senior guard Jason Fortin’s attitude.
“We don’t talk about last year much, we’re trying to live in this year,” Kuzminski said. “But especially with Jason in his final year, there’s really nothing but business about him.
“He’s been a great leader, making sure the intensity is up in practice all the time. We’re really lucky to have him with what his approach to this season has been.”
Although only one player graduated last season from the VIU squad — first-team all-star guard Harrison Stupich — there was still plenty of turnover.
All-Canadian forward Justin King left after one year to pursue a pro career in Australia, while point guard Kadeem Stewart is no longer with the program.
But American guard Chris Parker is back and likely steps into a starting role this season, and will be joined by U.S. imports Josh Ross and John Thompson, who both transfered to play for VIU in the offseason.
The Mariners also added Victoria guard Kaz Kobayashi, who played for Camosun last season. Despite the turnover, Kuzminski said they have an idea of what their identity will be.
“Offensively, when we move the ball with our passers and our skill players, I think we could be one of our better offensive teams that we’ve had here in a long time,” he said.
“I think we have a lot of defensive potential, but we’re still trying to figure out some of the fundamentals — our jobs, and making sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re needing to improve in that area.”
But the Mariners will still be one of the favourites to finish atop the PacWest standings, and the players can see the potential they have.
“I think the potential is really high,” Dorby said. “It was a tough start trying to get chemistry back, but we’re finally clicked in, and I feel like we’re going to give other teams a good challenge.”