Acadia Axemen Tip Off Pre Season Showcasing New Talent

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WOLFVILLE,NS–To basketball fans it is the most wonderful time of the year.

As the calendar flips to October, our attention turns to exhibition basketball. Well, let’s start by saying without the NBA maybe it’s a great time to really start paying attention to the Canadian game. 

So back to the exhibition season in the CIS and more particular Axemen Basketball in Wolfville Nova Scotia. I took the opportunity to catch Acadia’s games against UQAM and McGill this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed what I saw.

The Axemen are a very young team again and unfortunately team leader Justin Boutilier was not in uniform. There was no issue in finding players that wanted Boutiliers shots, the new Axemen took the opportunity in stride and no one was shy about getting the ball up. 

I should take the time to reference the 2010/11 season in which the Axemen played without Boutilier until after the break and behind his leadership pulled off a huge upset over Cape Breton in March and secured a spot in Nationals. 

The supporting cast seems to be stronger this year. New players, Jonathan Tull (Ajax, Ont), Anthony Ashe (Stittsville, Ont), Tyler Scott (Halifax, NS) looked real good. Tull who started at the point showed a real strong ability to lead the team offensively and his ability as a point defender really disrupted both UQAM and McGill in any offensive rythm.

Ashe, who started in the 2/3 spot (interchangeable with Anthony Sears who also started) showed his ability to shoot the ball deep as well as his mid range game and ability to get to the rim. His defensive prowess was equal to his backcourt mate. 

Tyler Scott who was the third man off the bench in game one against UQAM and first off the bench against McGill, showing his basketball maturity by being the consummate team player and using his all around skills to make the plays that were needed which included scoring, passing defending and defensive rebounding.

As a team, you could see their youthfulness; despite cruising to a 93-68 win over UQAM and a 74-62 win over McGill, a large part of their success was due to their individual talent which was superior to both teams. Most of the half court offense was created through individual one on one play. This was revealed greatly in the second half against McGill when a 19 point half time lead shrunk to an eight point lead by mid quarter. 

There was a lot of reluctance, and when individuals tried to create like they had against man D it led to turnovers and bad shots. Yes, you can say this is consistent with preseason basketball, but it was also due to lack of familiarity and a team that doesn’t know each other very well in competition play yet. 

That being said, when the Axemen bring this together (and I believe they will), they are going to be a very good team and challenge for an AUS title and a trip to nationals. They played tenacious defense, by being physical and defending on the ball as well as off the ball. They pursued loose balls like a girl friend they haven’t seen in a while and when they got in trouble, Owen Klassen was there to protect the rim. They also showed a great deal of passion for one another; all the components to a great start and team that can really come together.

The Axemen travel to compete in the Graham Construction Shootout at the University of Saskatchewan On October 28 and to the Brock University Invitational on October 28.  Stay Tuned, more to come on all the Axemen, exclusively on NPH!

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