Brent Mutis, CapU Sport Information & Compliance Officer
The Capilano Blues men's basketball team was on an island as they started the 2019-20 PACWEST season, Vancouver Island specifically, for a Friday-Saturday two-step against the Camosun College Chargers and Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners, then ranked No. 15 and No. 1 in the nation respectively.
Friday saw an 86-72 setback at Camosun and despite a better effort Saturday, the Blues came up short in a 75-68 result at VIU.
A solid start at Camosun had the Blues leading 21-20 after the first quarter but in the second, despite the ejection of Chargers dynamic swingman Shaquille Maharaj for a second technical foul, the Blues hurt themselves with 12 turnovers in the second and the home side took full advantage on the way to a 43-25 lead at the half.
Camosun bench players Isaiah Romanow and Andrew Larson combined for 16 points in the third quarter and the Chargers were in command heading to the fourth. Capilano outscored the hosts 32-16 in the final frame with Nathan Bromige scoring 10 of his team-leading 21 points on the night as the visitors clawed back to make the final score respectable.
"We had pretty good starts in both the first quarters on Friday and Saturday (but) I thought that the second quarter on Friday, we were discombobulated and it almost looked like at times we forgot how to play basketball," said Blues head coach Cassidy Kannemeyer. "I think there's going to be a lot of tinkering still; I don't feel like we found a starting lineup and I thought both nights we had different finishing lineups based on foul trouble."
Regrouping overnight for the Saturday afternoon tip-off at VIU, Capilano showed more poise in the second game of the trip. They reduced the turnovers and led 54-52 heading to the fourth quarter, increasing the lead to seven early in the fourth before VIU starter Landon Ratliff went to work, scoring 13 of his 23 points on the night including six points in 19 seconds on a three-pointer, a free throw and a layup which gave the Mariners a lead they would not relinquish.
Despite coming away winless, Saturday's adjustments are a positive indicator for Kannemeyer.
"I thought that shows some really good signs of the team that we've put together that they were able to spend Friday night and Saturday afternoon watching their game tape and moving forward from the mistakes they've made and having that short memory on that quick turnaround," said the fifth-year bench boss. "The Island trip is the toughest road trip of the season, bar none, and I thought our guys did a great job of bouncing back and just fell short of what would have been an excellent win on the road at VIU."
CJ Campbell played limited minutes due to a recent return from injury but still found a way to be effective, creating for his teammates and showing flashes of the quickness the Blues will rely on this season as he gets stronger. The third-year guard scored 17 points in just 19 minutes coming off the bench Friday and was in the starting lineup Saturday at VIU where he played 26 minutes on his way to 14 points, six assists and no turnovers.
"He's one of the guys that we have to lean on," said Kannemeyer. "He's a third-year guard, he was runner-up for (PACWEST) defensive player of the year last year. We need his ability to manage the opposing team's point guard and put pressure on him.
"I thought Jack Teny did an amazing job of handling that and Grady Huskisson at times as well, handling the other team's ball-carrier. When Campbell comes back (to full health), now we've got three guys that can do it and that's a good problem to have."
Next up for the Blues is their home-opener game Friday at 8 p.m. at the Langara Falcons come to CapU's Centre for Sport and Wellness.
- Seattle native Dawit Nuguse made his PACWEST debut and got into double digits in rebounds both games
- First-year Blues Scott Watson and Aamir Rajwani got their feet wet, making their collegiate debuts at Camosun
- Douglas College upset then-No. 1-ranked VIU Friday and have moved up to No. 3 in this week's CCAA rankings. VIU dropped to No. 6