NPH CIS Team Preview: Acadia Axemen
Overall Pct. Conf. Pct. Streak Home Away Neutral
19-8 .703 15-5 .750 L5 8-2 7-3 4-3
Head Coach: Steve Baur
Assistant Coaches: Kevin Duffie, Kevin Veinot, Nick Jordan
Key Players: Owen Klassen, Athony Ashe, Anthony Sears
Returning Players: Owen Klassen, Athony Ashe, Anthony Sears, AJ Simmonds, Sean Stoqua, Lauchlan Gale, Kyle Arseneault, Shaquille Smith, Thomas Johnston, Rhys Larry (redshirt 2012/13).
- Alex Thomas (Wolfville, NS)
- Luciani Gianmarco (Maple, Ont)
- Nathan D’Entremont (Quispamsis, NB)
- Andrew Blackmon (Den Hagg NLD)
- Alex Johnson (Bedford, NS)
- Christian Puchalski (Thunder Bay, Ont)
- Ethan Anderson (Mississauga, Ont)
- Kyle Rogers (Moncton, NB)
Departures: Jonathan Tull, Brad States, Tyler Scott, Thomas Filigiano, Kyle Jennex
Acadia has been the AUS’ top team for the last three years with three consecutive trips to Nationals. These trips have been on the backs of fifth year players Owen Klassen (the best big in the country), Anthony Ashe and Anthony Sears.
This is a big year for fifth year head coach Steve Baur and his seniors. Can they take the next step and play in a National Championship game?
These seniors have carried the load but will fill the void left by the departures of Jonathan Tull, Tyler Scott, Brad States and Thomas Filigiano as they were all huge contributors that provided the spark off the bench for the Axemen throughout the season.
That being said Acadia’s season and whether they make a fourth consecutive trip to Nationals may depend on how quickly the newcomers adjust to CIS basketball and how they react to the metro centre in March.
There is no question that Klassen is the real deal and as he goes, so does the fortunes of the Acadia Axemen. Klassen is as versatile as they come and can basically play all five positions. His ability to defend and protect the rim allows the guards to be more aggressive defensively and sets the tone for all games. The return of Rhys Larry, a very strong paint player will give Klassen a little more freedom to show his versatility and make the Axemen more potent on both ends of the floor.
The 2-3 spots are solid for the Axemen as well with sharp shooting tandem Anthony Sears and Anthony Ashe making it darn near impossible for double teams to the paint. They are both capable of making big shots and taking over games to lead the Axemen to wins. The trio of Klassen, Ashe and Sears will give ample opportunity for other Axemen to step in and support them as the “The BIG 3″.
The Axemens floor general Sean Stoqua who normally misses most of first semester while playing football is expected to return to play in January after injury. Look for Lauchlan Gale and Shaquille Smith to be key contributors off the bench as utility players who get boards and points off hustle and cutting.
This gives the Axemen seven mature players who understand what it takes to return to Nationals and help mentor the young athletes into roles that help the Axemen battle a tough and what looks to be a balanced AUS in 2013-14.
Klassen, Ashe and Sears are more than enough to get the Axemen to another AUS title game and beyond. But for this team to make the next step they are going to need a fourth, fifth, sixth and maybe a seventh guy to step up, as Carleton is definitely the bar for this team.
“We have a group of veterans we are relying on to endure the challenges of the AUS schedule. With their experiences and the talents of our incoming group our goals are set on an AUS title.” Coach Baur says of his team.
“The AUS has shown early in the non-conference play that it is going to be a tough league, so our goal is to improve all year on the defensive end, and to be playing our best at tournament time.”