Despite the loss to graduation of veteran guard Cyril Indome, last season's leader, the Vikes retain a veteran-laden starting lineup (three fifth-year and two fourth-year players) and Victoria's continued commitment to defense and rebounding always makes them a very difficult team to play against. To add more challenges for opponents, Coach Craig Beaucamp has installed a high-post offense predicated upon reading, making cuts and getting open 3's and back-door layups, an offense that most refer to as "Princeton" after the famous coach Pete Carril. If the first half of Vikes' Labour Day tilt against Minnesota Golden Gophers is any indication, his experienced group has grasped the concepts of this offense well, illiciting the following quote from Gophers legendary head coach Tubby Smith: "We couldn't guard their motion offence in the first half. We were really having a lot of problems. Five different guys hit three pointers against us and we actually had to go to the zone to curtail some that."
Vikes starting five are collectively as experienced and savvy as any first five in the CIS, so the personnel at the top is there to run this type of offense. 6'4" fourth-year wing Ryan MacKinnon, a former Canada West Rookie-of-the-Year, is the best pure scorer of the group with the size to get inside and perimeter shooting ability to knock shots down over smaller checks. But 6'1" Jeff Cullen could be the underlying key with his strong decision-making abilities starting the offense. Cullen was very strong running the offense in the first half against Minnesota and expect the fifth-year guard to log 30+ minutes each night as the season progresses. 6'2" Marco Dolcetti, who originally transfered in from UBC-Okanagan a couple of years ago and is also in his fifth year of eligibility, should see much more significant time this season after averaging just 2.8 ppg last season. Up front, 6'8" fourth-year post Mike Berg can put pressure on defenses in the low block and is an able passer - his ability to attract double downs will help determine how many open looks Vic will get on the perimeter. 6'6" forward Wendell Thomas, another UBC-O product, complements Berg will his quickness, rebounding and ability to get up and down the floor.
Likely the first big off the bench and possible some time starter is 6'7" third year forward Pierce Anderson from Calgary. Expect former U.S. Junior College transfer 5'11" fourth-year guard Zac Andrus (8.9 ppg in his first season with the Vikes) to also be firmly in the rotation as he continues to get comfortable with Vikes systems. On the wing Vikes have third year 6'5" shooter Eric Casey, giving Beaucamp eight solid players with experience to which three solid recruits were added.
Likely tabbed as the point guard of the future is prized recruit 6'0" Reese Pribilsky from Victoria. Pribilsky has a strong basketball IQ and at 160 pounds currently should fill out and get stronger to help him take the poundings of a long CIS season at arguably the most important position on the floor. Another big wing who can shoots 3's is 6'6" freshman Ted Neilson, who knocked down a pair from beyond the arc in the first half against Minnesota when it was still a game. Vic also secured one of the top big men from Ontario with the arrival of 6'10" Chris McLaughlin from Oakville, ON, who should develop into a strong CIS big man over time at a position at which most players take time to develop into bona-fide productive players.
The Vikes play an abbreviated pre-season schedule, travelling to Carleton this coming weekend to play in the House-Laughton tournament with Windsor, McGill and the host Ravens. Later in October, Vic kicks off the new-look, 22 game Canada West schedule.