AUS Basketball 2014-2015 Season Preview & Predictions
As the University preseason comes to a close this weekend across the country we have received a rehearsal for the 2014/15 season.
It is important to remember that the preseason is just that and some coaches manage it accordingly and others reveal their cards or at the very least their players.
New players to the program get the time to acclimate themselves to the school and system they will call home for a few years.
Returning players get practical experience to show how they have developed their games and body during the offseason. These returning players also get the opportunity to fill the now vacant roles left by departing seniors and teammates.
AUS basketball will be underway, and here is what you need to know:
The Cape Bretons Capers biggest addition for this season may be the fact that big man Meshack Lufile is healthy and playing great basketball through the preseason. Lufile, a rare combination of power and finesse will be a match up nightmare especially considering the powerful forward is now surrounded by guards that not only get him the ball but you can’t double off them. The combination of Vishal Banipal, Tevaun Jackson, Akeem Issac-Phillip, Kayon Mayers and Cedric Kasongo are all players that can light it up in a hurry. Lufile will not be manning the interior alone as the return of AJ Geuges and the addition of Kenny Jean Luis will more than help carry the load. Look for the Capers to be standing at centre court holding another AUS banner on the back of its outstanding depth and talent.
Prediction: 18-2 Win AUS
The St FX X-Men have added solid young players in Alastair Cole, Roydell Clarke, Cameron Creightney and Cassio Rodrigues and are a very talented and deep team. St FX made a surprising run to the AUS Championship game behind solid team play that was centered on freshman Kevin Bercy and the play/leadership of senior Will Donkoh as well as Jameel Williamson and Jordan Tyrell. The story for the X-Men will be who will step up and be the extension of Hall of Fame Coach Steve Konchalski and fill the void left by Donkoh. 5th year senior Jameel Williamson is the number one choice but 2nd year player Jordan Tyrell will also be huge for the X-Men. Again look for X to give an all out war in the AUS Championship against the Capers.
The UNB Varsity Reds will have the best 1-2 guard combination in the AUS with Javon Masters and Will McPhee as the most dynamic scoring duo not only in the AUS but in the country. 6-7 4th year forward Nikola Mandic from Belgrade Serbia has been solid in the preseason and Jordan Irvine will be other producers throughout the season. At the end of the day the Varsity Reds fate lies in the hands of potential AUS MVP Javon Masters and his backcourt mate Will McPhee. After a breakout season by Coach Bakers Varsity Reds and a disappointing playoff run, this team is hungry and has the ability to slide into the top spot in the AUS.
Last year’s AUS Champions The Saint Mary’s Huskies will be led by the dynamic Theon Reefer, and a deep engrained championship know how through Kadeem Scott, Brian Rouse and Marquis Clayton. The Huskies however fall in the same area of the X-Men, how do you replace Harry Ezenibe (Congratulations to Harry on position with the Raptors) who was a rebounding demon and a defensive specialist. But more important than this, how do you replace one of the best leaders to ever wear a uniform in the AUS. No worries, Coach Taussig is an outsanding coach and leader, who will get these Huskies with championship pedigree rolling along and they will also have the ability to break my bold predictions and hang a second straight AUS banner. Achuil Lual a transfer from Crandal University will be a huge part of this success as the man that controls the paint for the Huskies.
The UPEI Panthers have one of the largest turnovers in players that I have seen from one year to the next (9). But this team has very good talent and its ability to gel this talent quickly will determine its success. Acadia transfers Brad States and Tyler Scott will need to be huge in addition to Geoff Doane and Ellis Ffrench. Miki Sedlarevic looked very good in the preseason and is a perfect player for Coach Kendrick’s system and should get better game by game as he adjusts to the UPEI and the AUS. The Panthers will be solid but throughout the course of the season and individual games their depth is going to be a huge factor. In a preseason triple overtime loss they got four points outside of their starters.
The Memorial Seahawks seemed to find some rhythm at the end of last season after winning three of their last 5 games, following one win in their first 15. Memorial has good talent in the AUS’s best big man Vasilije Curcic, forward Caleb Gould and PG Davion Parnsalu. The question is, will this be the year the team from The Rock breaks back into the AUS playoffs, YES. But it is going to be an absolute dog fight for the sixth spot.
The Dalhousie Tigers have basically stood pat with a 6-14 team from 2013-14 that will rely on the second best big man in the conference in Devon Steadman. Kashrell Lawrence is an absolute beast, while Ritchie Kanza Matta and Jared Reid will add solid guard play. New players Jonathan Kamba and Maurice Colley who both spent last year not playing will have to acclimate themselves to competive basketball quickly for the Tigers to claw their way out of the AUS basement.
The Acadia Axemen suffered a huge loss in Owen Klassen who was one of the most unique talents to ever play in the AUS, and with this I see the Axemen sliding from the penthouse to the basement. Ben Miller is a great recruit and returning players Kyle Arseneault and Shaquille Smith will all have good years but Acadia will struggle to find its identity. This extremely young team including first year Head Coach Kevin Duffie will compete hard but will fall short on experience.