Owen Klassen @NorthPoleHoops Diary #2 – Last Chance to Win it All
January already, and being back from the Christmas break it feels great to be playing again.
It seems like every year I need the break more and more to get my body on the right track and stave off nagging injuries. I don’t know if it’s because my game is getting a little more physical or if I’m just getting old, but I really hope it’s not the latter.
A lot has happened since my last entry. Our team went through some highs and lows over the first semester, but here we are with a 7-2 record sitting at the top of the AUS. Not too bad for a team who were practicing without five potential starters at points during the first semester.
That being said, I think the biggest thing that I’ve seen with our team is a no excuses attitude that fends off most adversity, and by next weekend we should have everyone but our duel sport (Apparently a broken fibula is a pretty serious injury).
We have played five games since returning at the end of December–three in an exhibition tournament and two regular season, all wins, so I think it’s safe to say the momentum is building.
We started off the second semester the same way we always do, vicious practices two days after Christmas that seem more like a track practice than basketball. Getting back to game speed is important though, as our first game was on January 2nd as part of the Rod Shoveller Tournament at Dalhousie. Our first opponent was a pretty scary SMU team whose athleticism and explosive scoring can turn a close game in their favor pretty quickly. Unfortunately for them, they were without a full roster and a big game from Kyle Arsenault helped us get passed them by double digits.
It’s not often that you get a chance to replicate the scenario that you will see in playoffs or nationals (3 games in 3 days) so we were using this tournament as preparation. After the game we quickly focused to our next opponent who happened to be St. FX, a team we had played right before the break.
There’s something about Acadia and St. FX games that seems to ramp up the intensity. I think both teams go in with the “we don’t like them, they don’t like us” attitude because there is always some tension. It also gave me another chance to play Rodrigo Madera who is probably the biggest player in our conference, a welcome challenge. Another team effort got us through this game, and a massive third quarter kind of sealed the deal for the win. Again following the game, slate wiped clean, start with the next opponent.
The AUS schedule is interesting because you end up playing a tonne of teams over and over. This can make the games seem boring and redundant, but when you face a team that beat you in the last match up I think it really sets the stage for the next meeting. That’s exactly the chance we got going into our final game against Dal. They didn’t just beat us, they smashed us the last time we played…let’s just say it wasn’t hard to get the boys fired up for this one. Ashe picked up an injury against X so he wasn’t able to go in this one, but once again solid team play and a strong third quarter won us the game.
Three wins, we made it out of the Halifax blizzard alive and a little hardware for good measure. Any time you get a chance to win a tournament on this level it’s something to be happy about. That’s the second this year (Preseason Cape Breton Tournament) so we’re feeling pretty comfortable with our ability to play games back to back to back.
Anyways, back to Wolfville, school starts, and everyone is getting back in the routine. Our first regular season match up was Memorial. Their 0-6 record (0-8 now) doesn’t truly reflect how they have been playing this year; I think they have been leading in the second half in like 6 out of the 8 games or something. The Memorial weekend turnaround is horrible. For those of you who don’t know, Memorial is in Newfoundland, which means that they have to fly in to all their games. Due to the way the flights work this means a game Saturday night, and the next one Sunday afternoon.
After practicing all week, and constantly reminding each other that their record isn’t a true representation of their team it seemed like it should be impossible to underestimate them. Ironically that is exactly what happened. They came out more physical, more energetic and simply hungrier than us; leading the game until late in the fourth quarter. Nice to see that we could pull out a close win, but I preferred the second game, where we lead by more than 30 in the second half.
One thing I will say about Memorial is those guys are physical, there wasn’t a span of more than a couple seconds without someone bumping into me or trying to push me around. Looking back on the weekend I’m glad I came out with nothing more than a sore back.
This week we’re preparing for a double header against UPEI. We took both games when we went to Charlottetown, but the games were really close. We have some bad blood with them too, so some more intense games are on the way…to be honest now that I think of it, there aren’t many teams that we don’t hate.
UPEI has an open motion system that seems to have no pattern to it which makes for some serious confusion on defense. Perfect time to work on our teams’ communication something that I think is really underrated by the casual fan. If all goes well, we will come out of the weekend that much closer to clinching the important bye in the playoffs.
Talking about playoffs is really making the whole final season thing more real and while I am looking forward to what’s next in my life–I wouldn’t mind an extra year or two in the fairy tale world of university; all the freedom you need without the adult pressures of real life is something I’ve grown accustomed to.
Who knows if I’m ready for mortgages, taxes and ‘the real world,’ it makes me anxious just thinking about it.
And with every game we get closer and closer to the last game that we will play together and I can’t help but think about how nice it would be to finish out on top.
I keep joking with the guys “if you’re not first, you’re last” (tight Talladega Nights reference) but it’s really the only way I can look at this season.
My last chance to win it all.