#8 Saint Mary’s Huskies (23-10 overall; 13-7 in AUS; 2-1 in AUS playoffs, 2-1 vs. non-AUS teams): First round game against #1 Ryerson Rams (22-4)… With several big athletic wings, Saint Mary’s Huskies can present perimeter match-up problems for some teams, usually forcing opponents to play a bit smaller than normal. Four starters – all capable of creating off the bounce – play about 30 minutes per game including AUS 1st team all-start 5’9″ Marquis Clayton, 6’5″ Theon Reefer, 6’5″ Brian Rouse and 6’3″ Kemar Alleyne.
Clayton (19 ppg in the regular season), best described as a scoring point guard, looks to create off the dribble and is a very confident three-point shooter. His game-winning buzzer-beater against Acadia on Senior’s Night will remain part of Saint Mary’s basketball lore. After a big start to Sunday’s AUS championship game, Clayton finished with just 3 points after halftime and turned it over 6 times.
Rouse and Reefer can pull taller, less mobile defenders away from the basket and are strong enough to post-up more favorable size match-ups. Both must be accounted for on the offensive glass and in transition. Rouse is crafty inside, using his body well and a decent passer. Reefer enjoys calling his own number and thrives when in rhythm.
Starting 6’8″ forward Achuil Lual logged about 28 mpg during the regular season however the late-season emergence of 6’6″ third year forward Brent Martindale who averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds in the first two games of the AUS tournament, has brought a complementary element of strength and toughness to the Huskies front line.
Despite the size and athleticism up front, Saint Mary’s actually ended the regular season with a negative rebounding margin and Dalhousie did a splendid job of keeping Rouse/Reefer and Co. off the “o” glass on Sunday.
Pre-tournament recap: Saint Mary’s defeated X and UNB at the AUS tournament before bowing to Dalhousie in the championship game on Sunday – it was the sixth meeting of the season between these two Halifax rivals with each team winning three including Huskies upsetting Tigers in the semi-finals of the Rod and Joan Shoveller Invitational over the Holidays. In fact, SMU played only three games all season against opponents not in the AUS, a victory over Bishop’s (last place in RSEQ – game played at Eric Garland tournament at UNB in October), a win over Queen’s (first-round playoff loss in OUA – game played at the Shoveller) and a 9 point loss to the uOttawa Gee-Gees in the championship game of the Shoveller.
Saint Mary’s is at their best when getting out in transition and pounding the offensive glass. Perimeter shooting is, at best, streaky (2nd fewest threes made in the AUS this season) with Clayton usually leading the way with Reefer, another streaky three-point shooter. Off the bench, 6’2″ sophomore Will Fiander, who logs about 18-19 mpg, is a three-point threat but his offensive production diminished after a promising early-season start. Freshman 6’2″ Kordeiro James had 26 points in his U Sports debut at UNB in October but then went 22 games without a double digit scoring game until his AUS-regular season career high 15 points at UNB in late January when the former Vaughan S.S. star went 3 for 4 from downtown.
Usual Starters: 5’9″ Marquis Clayton (5th Year), 6’3″ Kemar Alleyne (3rd Year), 6’4″ Brian Rouse (5th Year), 6’5″ Theon Reefer (5th Year), 6’8″ Achiul Lual (4th Year)
First guard off the bench: 6’2″ Will Fiander (2nd Year)
First big off the bench: 6’6″ Brent Martindale (3rd Year)
Also usually in the rotation for double digit minutes: 6’2″ Kordeiro James (Freshman).
Six of the first 8 in the Saint Mary’s rotation hail from Ontario including Alleyne, Reefer, Rouse, Lual and Martindale. Both Clayton and Fiander are from the greater Halifax metro area.