“Balance” has been a popular term thrown about to describe AUS men’s basketball recently. And the term has been appropriate to describe the past few seasons. This season however one could argue – using the facts – that the league has at least two if not three tiers of teams. Balance usually implies that regular season standings are tight such that playoff races and battles for top seeds last well into the late stages of the season or right up until the final day of the regular season. AUS playoff participants were mathematically finalized two weeks before the end of the season and practically speaking the playoff race was over in late January. The battle for the top two seeds is already decided – the only mystery remaining is how seeds #3 through #6 will emerge. Also, given the relative dominance by Dalhousie (15-4 record), we have generally ascribed more value to winning than individual statistics when selecting All-Stars this season. With that back-drop, we share our picks for AUS honors, as follows:
Kashrell Lawrence, Dalhousie… Tigers have surged to the top of the AUS with 15-4 record and in most big games, the difference has been the inside play of Lawrence, the undersized post with the guile and strength to score inside and rebound at both ends. Averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game on a team where “balance” is most appropriate, Lawrence has shown to be a money player at key times in big wins all season.
Kevin Bercy, St. FX… Arguably the one player who carried his team throughout the season, Bercy is a beast inside at both ends, can stretch the “d” to the perimeter and shares the ball well as part of the most complete package of any player in the conference. Averaging 20.2 points, 11.2 rebounds in leading X back to the playoffs after a two-season absence.
Javon Masters, UNB… The perennial 1st team all-star had some injury issues this season with his ankle but still led the AUS in assists with 6.1 per game while averaging 19.1 pts and 6.4 rebounds; most importantly, the Reds will finish in the top 2 of the AUS for the second time in three seasons. Masters will try to lead the Reds in the AUS tournament where he has yet to win a game in his three prior seasons.
Marquis Clayton, Saint Mary’s… Coming off an injury-plagued fourth season, Clayton has had 8 games of 20+ points including a career-high 38 vs. Acadia in November and culminated his career with the game-winning three vs. Axemen on his Senior’s Day last weekend.
Erik Nissen, Acadia… Solid, skilled lefty who has helped the Axemen return to the AUS tournament with a stellar season averaging 18.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Consistency has been a hallmark as Nissen has hit double figures in each of Acadia’s 18 league games to date including a season-high 33 in a victory at UNB.
Theon Reefer, Saint Mary’s… Strong numbers again (17.5 ppg/6.7 rpg) for this high-energy forward who loves transition and the offensive glass.
Sven Stammberger, Dalhousie... Another key cog in Tigers 15-4 club that has been ranked in the Top 10 all season. One of the more consistent three point shooters in AUS (14.5 ppg/4.9 rpg)
Ritchie Kanza Mata, Dalhousie... Arguably one of the best on the ball defenders in the entire country and the AUS leader in career assists, Kanza Mata has been vital to Tigers success this season, usually flirting with triple doubles (12.2 ppg/4.4 apg/5.8 apg – 2nd in AUS just behind Javon Masters).
Vasilije Curcic, Memorial… Solid inside/out presence for the Seahawks and one of the main reasons Memorial has returned to the AUS tournament.
Tyler Scott, UPEI… Leading scorer in the AUS has been a high-volume shooting scorer for Panthers who had a disappointing season after reaching the AUS tournament final in 2016.
Kenny Jean-Louis, Cape Breton (20.7 ppg), Jamaal Potopsingh, UNB (13.0 ppg), Kyle Arsenault, Acadia.
AUS CO-MVP’s: Kashrell Lawrence, Dalhousie and Kevin Bercy, St. FX.
Defensive Player-of-the-Year: Ritchie Kanza Mata, Dalhousie
All Freshman Selections: Nathan Barker, Memorial (7.8 ppg on a playoff team), Justin Andrew, St. FX (6.2 ppg, 2 rebounds, 2 assists off the bench)
Others: Kordiero James, Saint Mary’s; Tyrell Leotaud, UNB; Jerome Mugambi, Acadia; Alex Carson (9.5 ppg but only 6 league games played; missed entire second half of the season due to groin injury)