One local face has replaced another, as point guard Brandon Dunlop is back after a three-year absence from the UVic Vikes.
Dunlop last played for the Vikes in 2009, when he dished passes to CIS stars Tyler Hass and Mitch Gudgeon. Now the 24-year-old is back, a little wiser, and a little stronger.
It’s a timely return for the 2006 Claremont secondary grad, who will help fill the void as last year’s point guards have moved on. Reese Pribilsky (Oak Bay High) stepped away from the game this season and Zac Andrus graduated.
Dunlop played 27 minutes in the Vikes’ 75-70 win on Sunday over the Alberta Golden Bears. It was the Vikes second win in three games at the Guy Vetrie Memorial, hosted at UVic over the weekend.
“It’s still early, the goal is not to take any steps back, as long as we can take steps forward,” said Dunlop. “It’s not about winning or losing this time of year, it’s about getting ready for the first regular season game.”
Dunlop left the Vikes but never left basketball, coaching the Claremont Spartans junior boys team the past few seasons. He also assisted with the senior boys team from time to time, which meant some instruction time with current Vikes forward Domenic Ohl.
“It’s a little bit weird to be on (Ohl’s) team now, but nice to have some Claremont guys around, that’s for sure.”
Dunlop’s last game was Valentine’s Day 2009. The Vikes were in Langley, down 54-32 at half time to the Trinity Western Spartans in the deciding game of the first round Canada West playoff series. The Vikes roared back, only to lose by a basket.
“I don’t actually remember what’s what from the playoffs, I’d have to be reminded,” said Dunlop, who is carrying muscle that wasn’t there in 2009. That came from spending more time in the weight room with his three older brothers. As for playing, Dunlop’s been lacing the high tops in the city’s night leagues, but it’s not the same, he says.
“Through coaching, I’ve seen the game from a different perspective. But it’s a been a tough road back. When you take two years off, there’s a speed adjustment, but my motto is, if I keep working hard I can get through anything.”
Originally, Dunlop stepped away due to family issues, his dad’s ailing health, and wanting to focus on school.
To say his schedule is fully loaded is an understatement. The fourth-year student athlete is in his first year of the post-degree professional program for teachers, and plans on coaching the Spartans senior boys team as well.
“Coaching was always very important to me and I didn’t want to give that up, and now to be able to play for the Vikes again is what I always wanted. I was approached to come back and jumped at the opportunity.”
The Vikes only loss of the Guy Vetrie tournament was to the defending national champions, Carleton Ravens, 87-63. The Ravens dominated the tourney, and won all three games by at least 23 points over the Vikes, Golden Bears and Lethbridge Pronghorns.
Vikes here and away
The men host the Lakehead University Thunderwolves tonight (Oct. 24), 7 p.m. at McKinnon Gym.
This week the Vikes women’s team is touring Ontario, against the McMaster Marauders in Hamilton tomorrow, the Guelph Gryphons on Friday, the Toronto Blues on Saturday and the Western University Mustangs in London on Sunday.