NPH CIS Team Previews: St. Francis Xavier X-Men

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The X-Men usually always make the playoffs. Always. Will they bounce back this season?

St. Francis Xavier X-Men

Head coach: Steve Konchalski X-StFX-2-

Record in 2014: 4-16 (Last in AUS Conference)

Playoffs: No playoffs

Points scored per game: 73.1

Points allowed per game: 83.4

Key players: Kevin Bercy, Julius Antoine, Cameron Walker

Key losses: Shane Coupland, Jameel Williamson, Jordan Tyrell

Schedule breakdown:

Steve Konchalski enters his 41st season at the helm of the St. Francis Xavier X-Men basketball program; he likes the AUS and the school a lot. “What I like about our conference is that it has many small schools that have great school spirit,” he says, adding that, “We don’t have the Montreal Canadiens or the Blue Jays or whomever to compete with.” But this isn’t always just a positive. “You’re at a small school in a small town,” Konchalski says. “There are […] potential recruits who want to be under the bright lights.” The rub, of course, is that over his tenure, the X-Men have more often than not found themselves under these bright lights of the playoffs. If they hope to make a return this season, they need better results; a simple return to health should be enough to push them back up the standings. “Our league is going to be better from top to bottom,” he says. “The calibre is going to be the best it’s been the past few years.”

Key games: VS Saint Mary’s, Nov. 21; at Saint Mary’s, Jan. 30

                     VS Dalhousie, Nov. 28; at Dalhousie, Jan. 8

                     VS Cape Breton, Jan. 13; VS Cape Breton, Feb. 20

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CBG’s take:

The 2014-15 season was an anomaly for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men: at 4-16, the team missed the playoffs for the first time after a streak of 38 seasons. How did that happen? “Our best shooting guard and our best forward were both out for the season with injuries,” head coach Steve Konchalski tells NPH. “We didn’t have enough firepower and we didn’t have many options.”

The diminished X-Men lost two of their final 11 games and seven games by single digits. That sounds like an excuse but considering Konchalski’s track record, we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt. “I’ve always tried to look ahead,” he says, “and make sure the cupboard never got too bare.”

The aim is to add to the players already on your roster, and not to replace ones who have left. Take this season, when a healthy Kevin Bercy will join Julius Antoine and Cameron Walker to give St. FX a good core. “Several of our recruits have college basketball experience, so it’s another reason why I’m confident that,” Konchalski says, “we can make a significant improvement over the last year.” 

Kevin Bercey

Kevin Bercy

Will it be enough? The head coach wants to improve on his team’s three-point shooting: the X-Men ranked 39th in the CIS for three-point proficiency a year ago and dead last for efficiency. Tristen Ross should help with that. Another issue? “We weren’t getting much scoring (at the point guard position),” the head coach says. “Devante Provo has taken a big step in that direction.”

The end result could be familiar to X-Men fans. “Once we get into a rhythm,” Konchalski says, “we’ll be competitive for an AUS championship. And good enough to make us a legitimate contender.”

If the past is indicative of the present, that’s not an empty promise.

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