The regular season has unfolded and there are six teams left to compete for an AUS Championship this Friday to Sunday at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
The season has taught us so much. UNB’s Javon Masters continued his league dominance that he uniquely displayed as a rookie and without a doubt is one of the top players in the country, leading the CIS at 25.1 points per game.
Tyler Scott (after a year off due to transferring to UPEI) has showed what a special talent he is and sits at second in the CIS in scoring at 23.9 PPG.
Not far behind is Vasilije Curcic (Memorial) who sits fifth in the country at 21.0 PPG, Kashrell Lawrence (Dalhousie) at 17th at 18.1 PPG, and Ellis Ffrench, UPEI at 18th at 18.0 PPG. And then you throw in Meshack Lufile of Cape Breton at 18.0 PPG and a whopping National Best 69.6 FG percentage.
All this leads to one thing thing; it is going to be an explosive AUS Championship with some high tempo basketball that will keep fans on the edge of their seats.
Coach Jonah Tausig says it well, “more than any other year, I think all six teams have a legitimate shot at the title. It should be a good tournament”.
#4 Cape Breton Capers vs #5 Dalhousie Tigers
This game puts polar opposites against each other in how the season unfolded as the Capers started off slow and got rolling after the Christmas break, whereas the Tigers stormed out of the gate at 5-1 and then struggled a bit after the break.
Also of note- these teams may be more familiar with each other than the typical AUS teams as this game will make for the 5th meeting in the month of February with the Capers taking three and the Tigers winning the last game on February 21st.
The players utilized in each teams system are of different physical breeds but both teams styles rely on banging in the paint, knocking down threes and playing tough D. The difference is that Cape Breton’s focal point for the paint is through 6-7 centre Meshack Lufile and Dalhousie’s point of attach is 6-2 wing Kashrell Lawrence.
Look for a nice head to head guard match up between Dal’s Jared Reid and Cape Breton’s Akeem Isaac-Philipe.
You can bet that Lufile and Lawrence are going to get theirs so this game will come down to which team has players who step up and make three’s to open up the inside attack for these two.
#3 Saint Mary’s Huskies vs #6 Memorial Sea Hawks
Welcome back to the post season Memorial, for you we have the defending AUS Champions the Saint Mary’s Huskies.
Traditionally over the years the AUS champion has been the team that has “Big Men” who control the paint. Well this game is huge for that as Memorial’s 6-9 Vasilije Curcic and 6-8 Caleb Gould battle against SMU’s 6-7 Osman Barrie and 6-7 Achuil Lual.
Memorial’s big men have been much more successful in producing throughout the regular season and this will probably hold court for this game but how hard the SMU bigs make them work for it will be a factor.
That being said, post play always comes down to which teams guards do a better job of getting them the ball. Marquis Clayton is a wizard with the ball, while Brian Rouse and Jeremy McAvoy are more than capable of getting the ball to the right spots and making shots to open up the game.
Davion Parnsalu has done an excellent job of taking care of the ball and contributing on the score board but after that the Seahawks have seemed to be searching for another consistent guard.
That being said, this may be where the game is decided, is someone from MUN going to step up and be that glue guy? Will the SMU guards overwhelm and keep the ball from getting to the very efficient Sea Hawk bigs?
On the season SMU won two close games on the weekend of February 7/8.
#1 UNB will play the winner of Cape Breton vs Dalhouise at 6:00pm on Saturday
#2 UPEI will play the winner of Saint Mary’s vs Memorial at 8:15pm on Saturday.