VIU’s Brandon Jones had on off-night against Douglas, but still led all scorers with 19 points. In the throwback above, Jones goes to the bucket during the 2012 PacWest championship semifinals. – Brian Jones photo
The Vancouver Island University Mariners had everything to lose on Friday night.
They had an undefeated record. They presented perfection dating back to last season’s national title. They came in ranked third in the CCAA’s national rankings. And, they had something a little more tangible to lose – their pride and confidence.
But it’s those last two that mattered most. Those two crucial facets of VIU’s identity, the building blocks of their genetic makeup that make them so good in the first place, were what helped them walk out of their battle with the Douglas College Royals not quite unscathed, but still undefeated.
VIU left New Westminster with an 83-79 win over Douglas last night, though the outcome was in question up until roughly 19 seconds left in the game.
Langara Falcons point guard, and PacWest player of the week, Brody Greig. – Brian Jones Photo
Two questions have hung over the Langara College Falcons like a cumulus Vancouver cloud for over a month:
Are they as good as they were last year?
And, can they beat VIU?
The answer to the first question is subjective. They’ve lost big pieces from last year’s historical provincial championship run, but their best players have gotten better and the supporting cast is still one of the best second units in the PacWest.
They addressed the doubts that any skeptic (including myself) had about their depth last night, as the Falcons bench contributed 43 points in a 101-80 win over the Douglas College Royals at Langara’s campus.
Four of the starting fourth-years posted double-digit scoring numbers, and Maple Ridge’s Max Neumann had his best game of the adolescent season, adding 10 points, eight rebounds, three emphatic blocks and went a perfect two of two from distance in 17 minutes off the pine.
Kristian Hlldebrandt picking up teammate Andrew Baron. – Brian Jones Photo
Around this time two years ago, Andrew Baron was averaging less than 10 minutes per game for the Douglas College Royals. He was a rookie on a team with an abundance of third and fourth-year players, and he was nervous.
After graduating from Elphinstone Secondary in 2008, Baron spent three years unsure of what direction he wanted to steer his life into. He knew that he wanted to play basketball at the collegiate level. He also knew that he was very capable of doing so after a stellar career at Elphinstone.
But life has a way of, well, getting in the way.
Then, in the summer of 2010, Baron contacted Denis Beausoleil – the newly-hired basketball coach at Douglas. That correspondence turned into informal summer league games. Those runs in August translated into tryouts, and those tryouts manifested into a spot on the roster.
But it was quickly realized that wearing a jersey and having his name inked on the pregame programs didn’t guarantee any sort of smooth sailing.
Blues point guard Tony Rowe adjusts under the outstretched arm of Douglas forward Ryan Hopson. – Brian Jones Photo
The mood was subdued, a few heads were hanging, and customary post-game handshakes were scaled back to a minimum.
Based on the player reactions, if you hadn’t watched the previous 40 minutes of gameplay, you would have never guessed who just suppressed a massive comeback to grind out a four-point victory.
Although a win is a win, some taste a little less sweet than others.
The Capilano University Blues clung to the last remnants of 17-point halftime lead to hold off the Douglas College Royals 76-72 on Saturday, November 9 at Capilano’s Sportsplex in North Vancouver.
The coach echoed his players’ temperament.
“I was really disappointed. I thought we had taken some good steps last night, in terms of learning how to play with a more consistent effort, but I think we regressed tonight,” said Blues bench boss Dwayne Selby.
Andrew Baron leads a young group of Royals into 2013-14. – Brian Jones Photo
Regular-season record: 8-13
Provincial tournament: 4th place
Key returning players:
Andrew Baron (3rd year)
Kristian Hildenbrandt (2nd year)
Ethan McKean (2nd year)
Tom Ghag (2nd year)
Mike Blaauw (2nd year)
Devan Haynes (Kwantlen)
Dustin Egelstad (Kwantlen)
Daniel Kim (Langara)
It’s not too hard to think back and reminisce about the year 2008.
Kanye West was beginning his affinity with auto-tune, Obama was beginning his first term as POTUS, the one kid in your school with an iPhone 3G was a king, and the Douglas College Royals had just finished putting together one of the most dominant seasons in CCAA history.