AUS: Miller rescues Axemen; Huskies dominate inside


For much of this season we on this site have been touting the strong all-round play of Acadia’s 6’3″ sophomore Ben Miller – even naming the multi-talented combo guard as a First Team all-star in our choices despite him not being mentioned in the official league selections.  And for the first three quarters of last night’s AUS quarter-final between the Axemen and Cape Breton Capers, the rest of the crowd’s view was justified as Miller missed his first 8 shots and Acadia struggled, looking listless offensively, getting beat on the glass and trailing by as many as 8 points early in the 4th.  But Miller, who has represented Canada internationally and remains among the most competitive players in the country, shook off the rough start and came to the rescue – scoring all of his team-high 19 points in the final 11 minutes of play including 4 3’s in the final 4 minutes of play as Axemen came back to shock the Capers 69-68.

6’3″ Shaquille Smith and 6’5″ Kyle Arsenault were also important contributors for Acadia as Smith knocked down the go-ahead free throw with just 20 seconds remaining and Axemen survived 6’3″ Cedric Kasango‘s decent look at a right corner 3 on the final possession.  Arsenault, himself quiet through out the first 3 quarters of the game, hit back-to-back 3’s, the second from deep early in transition that appeared to be the emotional spark for Acadia that got the game from 8 down to 2 quickly.

Arsenault’s heroics preceded what appeared to be a game-determining two-handed dunk in traffic by Capers unlikely hero 6’5″ Tevin Bartley, the first year player out of Toronto’s Eastern Commerce via Allen County Community College in Kansas who averaged just 3.8 points and 8.3 minutes per game during the regular season.  Bartley had 14 points on 6-11 shooting in 17 minutes including an early dunk, a huge 3 from the top of the bowl and, taking a pick-and-roll feed from Kasango, a thunderous slam that brought the crowd and his bench to their feet, seemingly sealing Acadia’s fate.  In fact Bartley followed Arsenault’s 3’s with a clutch 3 of his own.  But Miller would not be denied.

With all due respect to the great Javon Masters, Tyler Scott and Bradley States, Miller would be the first player I would take out of the AUS to start a team.  He is by far the best passer in the conference despite playing all season out of position as a pure point guard – he would be much more effective with another pg would could bring the ball up – he defends, makes shots and is scrappy.  Last night, Capers continually went under the wing ball screen and the tactic worked – Miller missed his first 5 3’s – but down the stretch when it mattered Miller eventually made CBU pay for the defensive decisions as he was on fire.

Kasango was Capers main offensive catalyst all night with 20 points and 18 rebounds while Kenny Jean-Louis had 16 points and 7 boards.  Graduating fifth-year senior center Meshack Lufile struggled amid foul trouble with just 2 points and 9 rebounds in 18 minutes of what turned out to be the final AUS/CIS game of his career for the star from Burlington, Ontario.

Capers out rebounded Acadia 56-47 but could not survive Axemen making 6 of their final 8 threes in the final 6 minutes after making just 7 of their first 30 from downtown.

Acadia advances to this evening’s second semi-final against #2 ranked UPEI Panthers in what promises to be another up-tempo, transition shot filled affair featuring UPEI’s Tyler Scott and Brad States, two of the top players in the conference.

In the earlier game, Saint Mary’s dominated inside as 6’8″ Osman Barrie, snubbed in the official all-star voting, finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds while 5’11” Marquis Clayton proved he is all the way back from his mid-season injuries, scoring 15 of his team-high 25 points after halftime and flirting with a triple-double by adding 9 rebounds and 8 assists as the Huskies pounded the defensively-challenged V-Reds 102-93.  Saint Mary’s shot 55% from the floor, pounding it inside and getting to the rim, winning comfortably despite shooting just 53% from the line in what was a highly-emotional game with plenty of chatter, after-whistle gamesmanship and almost a bench-clearing incident near the end of the game but cooler heads prevailed.

5’9″ Matt Daley, playing in what turned out to be the final game of his career, led all scorers with 28 points including 26 in the second half – 18 in the third – but Reds simply could not get consistent stops – their decided lack of a rim protector inside was exposed on this day.  AUS MVP Javon Masters struggled, going just 7 for 24 from the field and was just 1 for 4 from downtown, part of a 9 for 28 effort by the Reds (32%).  6’2″ Jesse Kendall had a strong 18 point effort for UNB.

Saint Mary’s advances to meet Dalhousie in an all-Halifax semi-final this evening beginning at 6:30 PM AT/5:30 PM ET.

Another memorable evening of AUS tournament basketball – the most exciting conference event in the CIS.

AUS announces official league All-Stars


AUS announced their award winners in advance of this evening’s AUS tournament first round and below is the official list.

Note that my choices were reasonably close (my choices were consistent with 4 of the 5 AUS first-team guys including AUS MVP Masters, Scott, Kanza-Mata, Rouse; States appeared to be 5th in the voting, I had him at #6).  Second team I had Jean-Louis from CBU and Barrie from Saint Mary’s while AUS coaches had Curcic (MUN), Lufile (CBU; who I had honorable mention) plus Daley (UNB; who I had honorable mention – note that Daley is one of my all-time favorite AUS players and in retrospect my selections should have acknowledged the scrappy guard as a top 10 guy in the AUS).

AUS coaches consensus clearly does not agree with my view of Acadia’s Ben Miller – in my opinion scoring stats don’t even begin to tell the story with this player who I contend – and have agreement from several others across the country – would get major minutes on any team in the CIS including the Top 3.  Curiously, the Axemen, who finished 3rd after missing the playoffs last season, had only one player (2nd Team All-Star Arsenault) on the All-Star team; no word on where Coach Duffie finished in the Coach-of-the-Year voting – taking nothing away from Coach Plato and his work with the Tigers, a team that consistently defends as well or better than any team in the AUS.  But, on the surface, league-wide recognition appears a bit light for Acadia, a team that made that much progress since last season to get #3 seed in the tournament.

Aquino-Serjue was a great choice for All-rookie selection (I had MacAulay); very good, promising player who did a great job when Kanza-Mata was out.

Good luck to all the teams and enjoy the weekend !

FIRST AND SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS AND ALL-ROOKIE TEAM

The Atlantic University Sport first and second team all-stars were also announced Friday, along with this year’s all-rookie team.

First team all-stars:
Javon Masters, UNB (3rd year – Kitchener, Ont.) ** AUS Player-of-the-Year
Tyler Scott, UPEI (4th year – Halifax, N.S.)
Ritchie Kanza Mata, Dalhousie (4th year – Toronto, Ont.)
Brian Rouse, Saint Mary’s (4th year – Mississauga, Ont.)
Brad States, UPEI (4th year – Bathurst, N.B.)

Second team all-stars:
Vasilije Curcic, Memorial (4th year – Kragujevac, Serbia)
Meshack Lufile, Cape Breton (5th year – Burlington, Ont.)
Kyle Arseneault, Acadia (4th year – Fredericton, N.B.)
Matthew Daley, UNB (5th year – Belledune, N.B.)
Kashrell Lawrence, Dalhousie (4th year – Brampton, Ont.)

All-rookie team:
Jordan Aquino-Serjue, Dalhousie (Montreal, Que.)
Jack MacAulay, Cape Breton (Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
Amin Suleman, UPEI (Toronto, Ont.)
Tyronn King, UNB (Toronto, Ont.)
Tristen Ross, StFX (Truro, N.S.)

AUS Tournament: 1st round previews


AUS

The greatest conference championship event in the country – passionate fans, great venue, solid attendance, great teams with parity and colorful coaches and players make the AUS tournament the Canadian equivalent to the ACC tournament down south.  Last season’s three days were among the most exciting in recent memory with a pair of upstarts in Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie tangling for the tournament championship with the Tigers using an impressive victory as the foundation for a solid first-round showing against UVic in the Final 8 and a first-place AUS finish this season.

Halifax remains the CIS basketball capital of Canada in many observers minds across the country given the warm hospitality of those in Atlantic Canada and the passion for University sports exhibited by fans, media, officials, players and coaches.  While I am certain that UBC/Vancouver will do a tremendous job with the Final 8 this season, I am just as anxious to return to the place where so many great CIS memories and relationships have been formed over the past 3-4 decades.

Tomorrow night’s first round begins with a 6:30 PM AT/5:30 PM ET match between #5 Saint Mary’s and #4 UNB which promises to be a contrast of styles with UNB’s draw-and-kick game setting up their perimeter shooting (V-Reds averaged 25 3’s attempted in the 4 games between the 2 teams this season going 36 for 100) vs. Saint Mary’s ability to get to the rim, pound it inside to their bigger more athletic front line and attack the offensive glass.  The Huskies out rebounded UNB is all 4 games by an average of 46-33 as 6’8″ Osman Barrie had double/doubles in all 4 games, highlighted by a 36-point, 10-rebound effort in November at UNB. The Huskies made their now-customary late January, February run to the tournament, winning 6 of 8 games after a 4-7 start put them in a position to miss the tournament.  6’3″ Brian Rouse has been the most consistent Huskie and has been especially good against UNB – the teams split 4 games 2-2 in the regular season, most recent of which was 5-6 February in Halifax.  In 3 games against the V-Reds, Rouse averaged 25.7 ppg including 31 and 11 in a 107-97 loss at home followed by 26 the following afternoon in a win.  The Reds remained near the top of the standings and had a chance for a first-round bye right up to the final night of the season but could not win the second of a back-to-back against a rested Acadia team and fell to 4th spot.  Probable AUS MVP Javon Masters – author of three 40+ point game in the AUS regular season – had his season-high of 43 in UNB’s most recent win at the Homburg Center.  Masters averaged a ridiculous 33.5 ppg vs. Saint Mary’s in the 4 games, well above his season average of 28 ppg.  Huskies perennial all-conference guard Marquis Clayton, who suffered through an injury-riddled 2015-16 season, missed both game between the 2 teams in February and is just now getting back to game shape/timing.

In the night-cap, #3 Acadia, coming off a wonderful bounce-back season after missing the tournament in ’14-’15, meets #6 Cape Breton and, while Axemen captured three of the four league games played between the two teams this season – plus a preseason win, all of Acadia’s wins were tight.  In the most recent game in Wolfville, 6’8″ Meshack Lufile sent the game into OT with a last second basket but Acadia, behind 6’3″ Ben Miller‘s 7 extra-session points including a dagger 3, prevailed 87-79.  Much like the SMU/UNB match-up, one team – the Capers – dominated the glass in the series.  CBU won the rebounding battle in all 4 league games (average 48-37 on the glass) with Lufile especially dominant inside, highlighted by an 18-point, 14-rebound effort in Capers only win over Acadia this season.  Capers will do well to account for 6’5″ Kyle Arsenault as the slick shooting wing averaged 23 points per game in the 3 Axemen wins including 10-18 from 3 but had only 8 in the one loss.  Lufile and Co. up front have given 6’9″ lefty newcomer Erik Nissen trouble all season – Nissen fouled out of two games and was in foul trouble with 4 in another.  The exciting post Nissen did drive home the go-ahead dunk late in the first meeting of the season between the two teams.  Capers star 6’5″ wing Kenny Jean-Louis, one of the more complete offensive players in the conference who authored several near-triple-doubles during the season, averaged a very pedestrian 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists against Acadia in the four games.

Two evenly-matched games with contrasting styles present some intrigue as #1 Dalhousie and #2 UPEI wait in the wings in Friday’s semi-finals.

CANHoops.ca 2015-16 AUS All-Star Team


FIRST TEAM ALL-STARS:

6’1″ Javon Masters, UNB (3rd Year)… Another sterling offensive season for the lefty from Kitchener, ON as Masters captured the AUS scoring title (28.0 ppg) while shooting a tidy 49% from the floor and 88% from the free throw line.  The ability to explode off the dribble and create contact allowed Masters to shoot a ridiculous 188 free throws on the season (~9.5 free throw attempts per game) as few if any defenders could keep up.  Still, Masters has struggled from deep, shooting only 28% from beyond the arc; he finished the season on a 1-19 streak from downtown.  Well deserving of a First-team all-star and AUS Player-of-the-Year selection.

6’2″ Tyler Scott, UPEI (4th Year)… Arguably the most explosive scorer in the country, Scott had another fine offensive season (25.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.6 apg) while leading the AUS in three-pointers made.  Scott tended to score in bunches and in Panthers fluid offensive system has license to launch from anywhere at anytime.  When right, Scott can turn games around at both ends but – much like UPEI which finished just 3-6 with 2 of those wins at home vs. non-playoff team MUN – Scott did not have a particularly strong finish to his season, which in my opinion was the difference in my Player-of-the-Year choice.

5’11” Ritchie Kanza-Mata, Dalhousie (5th Year)… The reigning AUS defensive player-of-the-year continued his ball hawking effectiveness for the AUS regular season champions Tigers.  Kanza-Mata led the way defensively and as the lead decision maker with the ball for the top defensive and rebounding team in the AUS and, despite less than eye-popping stats, is in my opinion well deserving of a first team all-star selection.  Finished with 12.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 6.9 assists per game, which led the entire AUS.

6’3″ Ben Miller, Acadia (2nd Year)… Axemen’s surprising jump from a non-playoff team last season to a legitimate AUS tournament contender was led by the high-IQ point guard from Winnipeg.  Similar to Kanza-Mata above, Miller’s offensive statistics (13.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.8 apg) are not headline-grabbing – his perimeter shooting could be more consistent – however all key decisions run through him offensively and his passing skills, decision making and competitiveness set the tone for Acadia all season long.  Miller would get upper-rotation minutes on any team in Canada and, if he stays healthy, should one day achieve All-Canadian status.

6’3″ Brian Rouse, Saint Mary’s (4th Year)…Consistently Huskies most productive player, especially at key points in several big games, Rouse has the entire offensive package, including a high-end motor on the offensive glass.  At 17.8 ppg, Rouse was 7th in the conference, adding 6.5 rebounds and 3 assists per game with a season-high of 31 at UNB and 42 vs. UPEI in a pre-season game.

SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS:

6’6″ Bradley States, UPEI… Author of many highlight-reel finishes including numerous put-back slams, this exciting forward can also rip down a defensive board and go coast-to-coast to get to the rim.  At 19.0 points per game including a season-high 29 at Cape Breton, States is arguably the top offensive forward in the conference, adding 7.8 rpg (8th in AUS).  Much like Scott, once States remains fully engaged for 40 minutes, he could easily have AUS MVP attached to his name.

6’5″ Kenny Jean-Louis, Cape Breton… With multiple triple-doubles under his belt, the sophomore from Montreal was Capers best overall player this season, getting to the rim, rebounding and making most key offensive decisions.  15.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 5 assists per game (5th in AUS) are numbers worthy of an all-star selection.

6’5″ Kyle Arsenault, Acadia… An injury that sidelined the burly three-point shooter (missed 5 games in January) likely prevented a 1st team selection.  Recall Arsenault finished the first half 25 for 47 from three-point land including a 14 for 21 stretch.  Overall, he scored at an 18.7 ppg clip in 15 games including 46% from 3 and adding 5.7 rpg.   While shot selection could improve, I am nit picking:  Arsenault three times made 6 3’s in a single game and was a major reason why Axemen returned to the post season.

6’8″ Osman Barrie, Saint Mary’s… Arguably the top pure low post player in the conference who can score with his back to the basket and on the offensive glass.  An efficient finisher (56% FG%/4th in AUS) and productive offensive rebounder (#1 in AUS), Barrie averaged almost 10 rpg (4th in AUS) while contributing 15.1 ppg.  Consistency at the defensive end and as a rim protector would make him a viable 1st team candidate.

6’2″ Kashrell Lawrence, Dalhousie… Not a banner season by his standards, Lawrence still had almost 15 ppg – while shooting 56% from the floor – and his one-game absence was evident when Tigers lost decisively to Saint Mary’s.  The undersized forward finished strong with a 30 point effort in the season finale at Cape Breton.

Honorable Mention:  5’9″ Matt Daley, UNB; 6’9″ Vasilije Curcic, Memorial, 6’8″ Kevin Bercy, ST.FX, 6’8″ Meshack Lufile, Cape Breton, 6’6″ Sven Stammberger, Dalhousie, 6’5″ Theon Reefer, Saint Mary’s.

ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM:

Jack MacAulay, Cape Breton (Freshman-of-the-Year)… With 41 3’s in his first season, MacAulay led all freshman and was the only first-year player with multiple 20 point games (24 vs. MUN and 22 vs. X); he had two games with 6 3’s and was tough down the stretch, making 7 of 9 3’s in the two games Capers needed to make the playoffs, capped by his improbable game-winning shot from deep in the left corner at the first overtime buzzer to defeat Dal and send CBU into the post-season.

Amin Suleman, UPEI… A strong finish to his season during which he put in good minutes as the back-up point guard, Suleman scored in double figures in 4 of the last 5 games of the season including a season-high 18 points at UNB.  He made 6 of his final 10 3’s of the season and shot 41% overall from downtown while averaging 6.4 ppg.

Jordan Aquino-Serjue, Dalhousie… Tigers had a strong freshman class led by this dynamic wing/guard from Montreal who averaged 7.1 ppg on the deepest rotation in the conference.

Tristen Ross, St. FX… Finished second among freshman with 30 made 3’s while average 6.4 ppg as a perimeter shooting specialist.  Ross however tailed off after mid-January

Sascha Kappos, Dalhousie… Promising stretch 4-type with nice perimeter skills who averaged 3.7 ppg but tailed off in the second half including missing 5 of the final 10 games of the regular season due to injury.

AUS Tournament Bracket set


AUS

The field is set for the AUS tournament and by virtue of last night’s Acadia win at UNB, UPEI Panthers (12-8) clinch a first-round tournament bye along with first-place Dalhousie Tigers.  V-Reds, with a chance to vault into second place with a win over the Axemen last night, ran into a first quarter juggernaut in 6’3″ Ben Miller who led the Axemen – who made 7 of their first 11 3’s – to a 23 point lead early.  Acadia was aided by extreme foul trouble to fifth-year 5’9″ guard Matt Daley and 6’1″ Javon Masters who each picked up 3 first-half fouls.  UNB bench got into the act also, taking a pair of technicals but more importantly Reds, coming off an impressive Friday night win over UPEI, could not make shots, making just 1 of their first 17 3’s.  Daley almost made his Senior’s night legendary, scoring 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half including a stretch of 11 consecutive when UNB cut the lead to just 5 early in the fourth.  Daley finished with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists in what has been a tremendous season/career for the diminutive, scrappy pg.  But Acadia held firm and put it away late on the foul line.  In the other game, 6’8″ Meshack Lufile‘s final game in Sydney was memorable as he finished with 23 points and 9 rebounds as the Capers won both games this weekend ensuring a spot in the tournament.

The brackets look like this:

Friday, March 4th, 2016:

6:30 PM AT/5:30 PM ET   #5 Saint Mary’s vs. #4 UNB

8:30 PM AT/7:30 PM ET   #6 Cape Breton vs. #3 Acadia

Saturday, March 5th, 2016:

6:30 PM AT/5:30 PM ET  winner SMU/UNB vs. #1 Dalhousie

8:30 PM AT/7:30 PM ET  winner CBU/Acadia vs. #2 UPEI

Sunday, March 6th, 2016:

4:30 PM AT/3:30 PM ET  AUS championship game

 

AUS Final Standings 

** -Dalhousie 13-7, 38 pts. 

** – UPEI 12-8, 34 pts.

y – Acadia 12-8, 32 pts.

y – UNB 11-9, 32 pts. 

y – Saint Mary’s 10-10, 28 pts. 1 games & 4 pts. left:  at CBU (4)

y – Cape Breton 10-10, 28 pts. 1 games & 4 pts left: SMU (4)

——————————————————————

x – Memorial 7-13, 18 pts.

x – St. FX 5-15, 14 pts.

x = eliminated from post season

y = clinched playoff spot

** = clinched first round playoff bye

 

AUS Tonight: UNB looks to clinch second place


All six playoff teams have been decided in the AUS and tonight’s action – two games:  Acadia at UNB and Saint Mary’s at CBU – will decide first-round match ups at next weekend’s AUS tournament.  Note that the AUS has scheduled their playoff tournament a full two weeks prior to the CIS Final 8 in Vancouver – strong planning on their part.  It will be a four-hour time difference for the AUS champion and the extra week should be very beneficial.

A UNB victory this evening locks up second place for the V-Reds:  last night’s easy victory over UPEI, a team with outstanding athletes and offensive talent but one that has been porous defensively whether using their 1-3-1 zone or playing man, has opened up the possibility of the Panthers having to play a first round playoff game, a circumstance that seemed remote two short weeks ago.  Varsity Reds will face a rested Acadia group that last played at home on Tuesday night, losing to Saint Mary’s.  Huskies continue to peak at the correct time in the season and can potentially finish as high as 4th with a win tonight at Cape Breton.

Playoff seedings/ tournament bracket in the AUS should be available shortly after tonight’s action.

AUS Standings 

** -Dalhousie 13-7, 38 pts. 

y – UPEI 12-8, 34 pts.

y – UNB 11-8, 32 pts. 1 games and 4 pts left:  ACA (4)

y – Acadia 11-8, 28 pts. 1 game and 4 pts left: at UNB (4)

y – Saint Mary’s 10-9, 28 pts. 1 games & 4 pts. left:  at CBU (4)

y – Cape Breton 9-10, 24 pts. 1 games & 4 pts left: SMU (4)

——————————————————————

x – Memorial 7-12, 18 pts.

x – St. FX 4-15, 10 pts.

x = eliminated from post season

y = clinched playoff spot

** = clinched first round playoff bye

AUS: “Miracle MacAuley”, Capers shock Dal at OT buzzer


Cape Breton 85, Dalhousie 84 OT  In Sydney, freshman reserve shooting guard Jack MacAulay, substituted in only for the final possession of overtime, hit the game-winning three from deep in the left corner as the buzzer sounded, clinching a playoff berth for the Capers and sending the bench and crowd pouring onto the court to celebrate into a wild frenzy with the Cape Breton native.  Capers trailed by 1 with 8 seconds left before Tigers 6’5″ forward Sven Stammberger was fouled, making the first before missing the second.  Capers grabbed the rebound, looking for a clean look and one did not materialize.  Miraculously, guard Seth Amoah found MacAulay in the corner with under a second to play and the freshman barely touched the ball – more like redirecting it into a hoop from long-range in a shot that will likely be remembered for many years in Cape Breton.  CBU was fortunate to get to the overtime as, down 3 on the final possession of regulation, 6’5″ Kenny Jean-Louis got himself to the top of the bowl, shot faked away a Tiger defender and then nailed a three to tie it and send it into OT.  Just prior to that shot, Tigers Jordan Aquino-Serjue had a chance to ice it but could make only 1 of 2.  6’2″ Kash Lawrence was dynamite inside all night for Dal with 30 points – 23 in the second half and OT – and his jumper from the elbow in regulation and lay-up in OT gave what appeared to be game-deciding leads in both situations.  But the resilient Capers prevailed coming from 12 points down late in the third quarter to clinch 6th place.  Tigers were just 11 of 21 from the foul line.

UNB 102, UPEI 87  5’9″ Matt Daley and 6’2″ Jesse Kendall stole the show in what was billed as the AUS MVP showdown between Panthers Tyler Scott and V-Reds Javon Masters as the Reds put themselves in position to clinch second place and a first-round bye in the AUS tournament tomorrow with a decisive win at home over UPEI.  UNB hosts Acadia tomorrow night and a victory in that 4 point game gets them second spot.  Kendall made 5 3’s in the first half as Reds built a big lead while Daley had 18 of his 23 points after halftime, adding 8 rebounds and 6 assists as the scrappy, competitive floor general continues to get it done.  Masters started slowly, finishing just 5 for 20 from the floor without making a three but had 23 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists including several draw and kicks for Kendall.  Scott was saddled with 2 fouls in the first half and was never a factor in the game finishing with just 12 points and 6 rebounds on 4-15 shooting.  6’6″ Brad States attacked the rim with abandon from the perimeter and from the low block, drawing all kinds of calls – Reds were whistled for 31 fouls and States was 16-20 from the line, finishing with a game-high 28 points.  But Panthers trailed by as many as 29 at one point, finishing at 12-8, including just 2-7 away from the friendly confines of Chi Wan Young Sport Centre in Charlottetown.

Memorial 104, St. FX 84  In a game that MUN took a 20+ point lead early in the second quarter and led by as many as 29, Sea-hawks played very well but were nonetheless eliminated by virtue of “Miracle MacAuley’s” buzzer-beating three in Sydney.

AUS Standings 

** -Dalhousie 13-7, 38 pts. 

y – UPEI 12-8, 34 pts.

y – UNB 11-8, 32 pts. 1 games and 4 pts left:  ACA (4)

y – Acadia 11-8, 28 pts. 1 game and 4 pts left: at UNB (4)

y – Saint Mary’s 10-9, 28 pts. 1 games & 4 pts. left:  at CBU (4)

y – Cape Breton 9-10, 24 pts. 1 games & 4 pts left: SMU (4)

——————————————————————

x – Memorial 7-12, 18 pts.

x – St. FX 4-15, 10 pts.

x = eliminated from post season

y = clinched playoff spot

** = clinched first round playoff bye

AUS: Capers can clinch tonight


With a six-point lead for sixth spot and the final AUS playoff berth, Cape Breton Capers can lock up a spot in the AUS tournament as they host first-place Dalhousie Tigers tonight in Sydney.  With a win, Dal can lock-up first place – Tigers already have clinched a first-round playoff bye.  The teams met a couple of weeks ago in Halifax with Tigers prevailing 76-74 in overtime however the smallish Dal front line had their hands full with Capers 6’8″ Meshack Lufile, who had 20 points and 16 rebounds.  Expect more Lufile tonight as Capers hope to clinch.

Chasing the Capers are Memorial Sea-hawks who require a pair of wins at home in St. John’s over last-place and since-eliminated St. FX X-Men, beginning this evening in a rare Friday night home game.  The teams play their second of two four-point games tomorrow.  No word on the availability of MUN’s steady 6’6″ forward Caleb Gould who did not play in Sea-hawks second of two games last weekend at UPEI and appeared in only 16 minutes of the prior evening’s matchup.

In what some are considering a battle for the AUS MVP, UPEI Panthers, looking to clinch second-place, travel to Fredericton to face UNB Varsity Reds as 6’2″ Tyler Scott (25.8 ppg/7.7 rpg/3.6 apg) of the Panthers faces off against 6’1″ Javon Masters (28.6 ppg/4.2 rpg/3.2 apg) of the Reds.  Schedule makers were somewhat clairvoyant as what better way to sway what most feel is a very evenly split vote – while clearly individual performances will be influential, assuming both great players have great games, the winning team – and the second place bye – could be the determinant as to which of these two marvels is voted as AUS MVP.

 

AUS Standings 

** -Dalhousie 13-6, 38 pts. 1 game 4 pts. left:  at CBU (4)

y – UPEI 12-7, 34 pts. 1 game 4 pts. left: at UNB (4)

y – UNB 10-8, 28 pts. 2 games and 8 pts left:  UPEI (4), ACA (4)

y – Acadia 11-8, 28 pts. 1 game and 4 pts left: at UNB (4)

y – Saint Mary’s 10-9, 28 pts. 1 games & 4 pts. left:  at CBU (4)

Cape Breton 8-10, 20 pts. 2 games & 8 pts left: DAL (4), SMU (4)

——————————————————————

Memorial 6-12, 14 pts. 2 games and 8 pts. left:  X 2 x (4)

x – St. FX 4-14, 10 pts. 2 games and 12 pts. left: at MUN 2 x (4).

x = eliminated from post season

y = clinched playoff spot

** = clinched first round playoff bye

AUS: Huskies start to peak at playoff time again


Saint Mary’s 90, Acadia 74  It was only three short weeks ago when observers including this one made mention of the possibility that the Saint Mary’s Huskies could be battling for their playoff lives right down to the end of the ’15-’16 AUS regular season.  However, much like last season when SMU started just 5-6 and then won 8 of their last 9 regular season games and then captured their first two games of the AUS tournament before bowing in an exciting, almost-legendary AUS championship final against Dal Tigers, Huskies under coach Jonah Taussig are peaking at exactly the correct moments again this season.

In a playoff atmosphere this evening in Wolfville on Acadia’s Senior’s Night, Saint Mary’s held off several Acadia runs, getting out in transition, attacking the offensive glass and defending very well in a tidy 90-74 victory over the Axemen.  The loss ended Acadia’s hopes of securing a first-round bye in the AUS tournament.  Only UNB Varsity Reds, with two games and 8 points remaining to gain, has a shot at catching UPEI for second spot.  The Reds and Panthers meet on Friday in Fredericton with not only second place on the line but a potential AUS MVP showdown between the two leading candidates:  6’2″ Tyler Scott of the Panthers and 6’1″ Javon Masters of UNB squaring off in what is one of the closest races for league MVP in recent memory.

But back tonight where a pair of outstanding sophomores were on display as 6’2″ Kemar Alleyne of Saint Mary’s has played his way into all-star discussion consistent with Huskies re-emergence as a legitimate AUS championship contender.  The rapidly-improving guard from Scarborough had a game-high 23 points and added 10 boards making 3 of 7 3’s.  More importantly, Alleyne was the catalyst in a game-deciding 23-6 run late in the third – he had 7 of his 13 third-quarter points during the run when Huskies scored in bunches in transition and on the offensive glass.  Highlighting the run was a spectacular ally-oop slam by 6’5″ Theon Reefer (18 points) on a slick feed from 6’0″ Marquis Clayton who is starting to get his timing and skills back after missing much time in January and February due to injury.  But Reefer, who attacks the offensive glass with aggression, did his best work on the defensive end, helping to hold Acadia 6’5″ wing Kyle Arsenault to just 1-9 from 3 and 2-10 overall.

Acadia continues to be led by their star 6’3″ sophomore guard Ben Miller who I predict, barring injury, will be an AUS MVP before his career is said and done.  Miller simply sees the game on a different plane than others and would be a high-end rotation guy on any team in Canada (yes including #1, #2 and #3) given his ability to read the ball screen, make the correct pass/decision on virtually every play and his sneaky competitive drive.  Miller has not shot the ball very well over the past few games and tonight finished with only 8 points, 4 rebounds but did have 9 legitimate assists and 5 steals while playing most of the first half with 2 fouls – Coach Kevin Duffie revealed how important Miller is to his team’s success allowing the sophomore to play at least 7 minutes in the first half with the 2 fouls and then Miller remained in the game even after picking up his 4th foul early in the 4th quarter.

Axemen fell behind by 19 points early in the fourth and went to a tight 2-3 zone that slowed the Huskies down, creating turnovers and tougher shots.  The result was one final 11-0 run that got the game back down to 8.  But three possessions, all resulting in terrible decisions/shots and none of them involving Miller orchestrating, doused the run and then SMU’s 6’8″ Osman Barrie hammered home a slam of his own to all but seal it.

One of Acadia’s better scorers this season has been Arsenault who at Christmas led the entire country in 3 point percentage (near 60%).  Unfortunately the lanky wing forward missed time with a January injury and has not returned to his pre-injury form.  Tonight, hounded primarily by the longer, quicker 6’5″ Reefer, Arsenault was under duress all night.  At the end of Acadia’s final 11-0 run, on consecutive possessions he tried to drive the lane and fell – turning it over and then took two threes early in the shot clock that were not close and as a result his team got no closer.

Barrie finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Saint Mary’s while Achiul Lual added 10 and 8 as Saint Mary’s completely dominated the glass winning the rebounding battle 53-30.  Axemen forward 6’9″ Erik Nissen sat for much of the first half with 2 fouls and finished with 12 points and 6 boards.  Slick shooting Nick DePalma got red-hot in stretches, especially in the first half for Acadia when twice Huskies grabbed double digit leads only to watch DePalma knock down quick 3’s, finishing with 21 points on 5-8 from downtown.

The battle for the final playoff spot in the AUS continues Friday night as Cape Breton (20 points), presently in the sixth and final spot, hosts first-place Dalhousie while Memorial (14 points, 8 points remaining) hosts St. FX X-Men for two games in St. John’s on Friday and Saturday.  The Seahawks must sweep and hope that the Capers drop home games to the Tigers (Friday) and then Saint Mary’s on Saturday, both in Sydney.

AUS Standings 

** -Dalhousie 13-6, 38 pts. 1 game 4 pts. left:  at CBU (4)

y – UPEI 12-7, 34 pts. 1 game 4 pts. left: at UNB (4)

y – UNB 10-8, 28 pts. 2 games and 8 pts left:  UPEI (4), ACA (4)

y – Acadia 11-8, 28 pts. 1 game and 4 pts left: at UNB (4)

y – Saint Mary’s 10-9, 28 pts. 1 games & 4 pts. left:  at CBU (4)

Cape Breton 8-10, 20 pts. 2 games & 8 pts left: DAL (4), SMU (4)

——————————————————————

Memorial 6-12, 14 pts. 2 games and 8 pts. left:  X 2 x (4)

x – St. FX 4-14, 10 pts. 2 games and 12 pts. left: at MUN 2 x (4).

x = eliminated from post season

y = clinched playoff spot

** = clinched first round playoff bye

AUS Tonight: Acadia continues turnaround season


In Wolfville this evening, surprising Acadia – Axemen did not qualify for the playoffs last season – look to move into the race for one of two first round byes in the AUS tournament, hosting Saint Mary’s in a four-point game.  An Acadia win would move them within 2 points of second place UPEI with both teams having 4 point games remaining at UNB.

Coming off a 5-15 season after which the roster lost starting pg Sean Stoqua and key reserve Gianmarco Luciani and then watched as starting 6’8″ center Rhys Larry went down for the season earlier with an injury, Axemen under second-year Head Coach Kevin Duffie have renewed their commitment to the defensive end, improved their shot selection and received big seasons from 6’5″ wing Kyle Arsenault (who battled injury also), 6’3″ Ben Miller and 6’7″ Erik Nissen among others.  The progress Acadia has made this season after 2014-15’s finish should make many believe that Duffie is a leading candidate for AUS Coach-of-the-Year.

This is the third meeting of the season between the two teams and second in AUS play.  Two weeks ago the Huskies had fourth-quarter rally led by 6’2″ second year guard Kemar Alleyne (game-high 26 points) to defeat Acadia by 5 at the Homburg Center in Halifax.

 

AUS Standings 

** -Dalhousie 13-6, 38 pts. 1 game 4 pts. left:  at CBU (4)

y – UPEI 12-7, 34 pts. 1 game 4 pts. left: at UNB (4)

y – Acadia 11-7, 28 pts. 2 games and 8 pts left: SMU (4) at UNB (4)

y – UNB 10-8, 28 pts. 2 games and 8 pts left:  UPEI (4), ACA (4)

y – Saint Mary’s 9-9, 24 pts. 2 games & 8 pts. left:  at Aca (4), at CBU (4)

Cape Breton 8-10, 20 pts. 2 games & 8 pts left: DAL (4), SMU (4)

——————————————————————

Memorial 6-12, 14 pts. 2 games and 8 pts. left:  X 2 x (4)

x – St. FX 4-14, 10 pts. 2 games and 12 pts. left: at MUN 2 x (4).

x = eliminated from post season

y = clinched playoff spot

** = clinched first round playoff bye