AUS Campionships Preview, 19-1 Cape Breton Capers #1 Seed & Favourite!
As a basketball fan the Month of March is the absolute best time of year. It is Championship time at almost every level of basketball with almost every game you see is a win or go home situation. The AUS Championship this weekend is no different with Cape Breton, Acadia, UPEI, Dalhousie, St FX and Saint Mary’s vying for a trip to CIS Nationals in Ottawa March 8-10.
The AUS like all leagues in the CIS is a highly competitive league and the teams compete for a 20 game schedule. The Cape Breton Capers were the top team going 19-1 in regular season play. As the number 1 seed the regular season champions should be considered the favorite for this weekends tournament.
But in contrast first year Coach Matt Skinn doesn’t see themselves as favorites “I think any of the 6 teams are capable of winning the AUS Championship this weekend. Our regular season record afforded us the bye of the quarterfinals, and we will have to be ready to compete for 40 minutes come Saturday night”.
Coach Skinn like all coaches at this time of year speaks about the simplicity of the game “we have to play great defense, rebound, and execute in both transition and the half court to have a successful weekend at the Metro Centre”.
Jimmy Dorsey the NPH #2 ranked player has been on an absolute tear in his fifth and final year and you can bet that The National Player of The Year candidate will be coming out full force and leaving it all on the court. That being said the most important piece for CBU this weekend may be 6-8 second year player NPH’s #40 ranked player Meshack Lufile as championships in the Metro Centre are usually decided by control in the paint.
The Capers will be challenged by the second seeded and defending AUS Champion, The Acadia Axemen who finished the season at 15-5. The Axemen are a very talented group and are led by 6-10 #4 NPH ranked Owen Klassen.
In the 6:00pm quarter final game the #4 seeded Dalhousie Tigers (11-9) play the #5 seeded St FX X-Men (9-11). These two teams met on four seperate occassions this year with Dalhousie winning the first three and St FX winning the fourth. The game puts contrasting styles against each other with the half court based Tigers looking to slow down the free flowing St FX X-Men. Look for 5th year players Jeremy Dunn (#16 NPH ranked) and Tyrell Vernon to lead the charge for St FX and push hard for one more national run for the X-Men. William Yengue is Mr Intangible for the Dalhousie Tigers and his energy will be essential for the Tigers to advance to the semi finals. The team that consistently dictates tempo will win this game and based on season statistics the Dalhousie Tigers are the most likely.
The 8:15 quarterfinals game puts the #3 seeded UPEI Panthers (13-7) against the #6 seeded Saint Mary’s Huskies (6-14). UPEI won the first 3 meetings between these teams with SMU winning the fourth. Saint Mary’s first year coach Jonah Taussig hopes that his Huskies reflect that of the Quackenbush era who always played exceptional basketball at the Metro Centre. The Huskies are a very talented team but showed little interest on the defensive side of the ball. Well for the second year in a row they have the perfect match-up for their style as they play the uptempo UPEI Panthers. The Panthers are led by AUS and CIS Freshman of the year candidate DJ Smith. This game will contrast the first game of the night where neither UPEI or SMU show much defensive prowess and focus more on getting up shots. This will be an exciting open style of basketball that fans will be kept on the edge of their seat and someone, my bet is DJ Smith, will make a great shot/play to win the game.
The Metro centre is a tough place to play and as Coach Skinn eluded to the AUS championship is anybodies title. We have seen #6 seed pull it together and take the banner and a trip to Nationals and have witnessed great basketball every year. So expect this year to be no different as basketball fans will be given another “treat to excellence”.