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Armaan Ahluwalia’s AUS Championships Preview

The Metro Centre will be rocking this weekend for the Subway AUS Men’s Basketball Championships

by Armaan Ahluwalia

The post season has arrived and it couldn’t have come quick enough. We have finally finished the regular season and now move on to the Championships. This year the AUS finals are being held at the Halifax Metro Centre where thousands of students and fans will join to watch some of the premier players in the country compete for AUS Supremacy.

The regular season ended with the CBU Capers finishing in first with a 10 point advantage. The Capers also manged to only lose one game in the entire season which happened to be to the second place team. Second place is held by the Dalhousie Tigers who started off the year strong and had a few speed bumps along the way but managed to secure the first round playoff bye.

Just behind them in 3rd place is the St. FX X-Men who less losses than the Tigers but fewer 4 point Wins which made the difference. Following them in 4th is the Acadia Axemen who managed to grab the closely contested 4th place with a few key victories down the stretch including one against the Tigers. 5th place is held by the UNB Varsity Reds who have pulled off some surprising victories this season including a surprise victory over the X-Men. Rounding out the final playoff spot is the SMU Huskies who with all star Joey Haywood at the helm managed to hold on to that final and competitive spot just edging out the UPEI panthers.

ST. FX X-Men (3) vs. SMU Huskies (6)

ST. FX X-Men – 3rd in the AUS – record (15-5) The X-Men were heavily favoured going into this season but with a slow start head’s were starting to be scratched. Although they had 5 losses this season they lost 4 out of those 5 to Dal and CBU. The other loss was to UNB in a surprising game at UNB. In the games that they have lost at home it has been extremely close losing both games by only 3 points. This being said X is a much better home team. Bad news for them is that this is at the Metro Centre and will not be a home court feeling for them. They are currently on a 5 game winning streak scoring 100+ points in 4 of the 5 games and limiting their opponents to under 80 in 4 of the 5 games. This is a positive to take away but they were against Memorial x2 (8th), Acadia (4th), UNB (5th) and UPEI (7th). Now the AUS has good competition but these are games that should be won when they are home. The X-Men are lead by Christian Upshaw who is averaging 18.1 pts per game. Also giving solid contributions to the team are Will Silver and Charlie Spurr. With big man Rinny Ngot giving little big man help they are stronger on the front court than they are the back.

SMU Huskies – 6th in the AUS – record (7-13) Do not let this record fool you. These Huskies mean business. They are a tough team which does not go away easily. The season started off fairly slow with the Huskies as they lost their first 4 games. Now in those 4 games they played some very good competition CBU x2 (1st), St. FX (3rd), and Acadia (4th). Unfortunately 3 of those games were at home, now to be fair they did bring in a lot of new players so it takes time to get used to playing with new teammates. The last stretch of the season has been tough on the Huskies as in their last 7 games they have gone an abysmal 1-6. Not a championship type record right there. Again they played some very good teams, but in this league if you want to win you have to beat the best teams. The Huskies are lead by AUS All-star Joey Haywood who set the single season record for points in a season. Joey started and played in all 20 games this season posting a 28.8 pts per game average. He also had a few 40+ performances in there as well. With a relatively young bench Tony Fassett has picked up some of the offensive load averaging 16 pts per game. Another player that has helped the Huskies Harry Ezenibe who is averaging 10 pts per game but just under 7 rebounds a game.

Decision: In the last game between these two the Huskies gave up a 4th Quarter lead defensively allowing the X-Men to score 34 points in the quarter and take the game 93-92 at the Tower. This game is going to be another close one as the Huskies have been less than par down the stretch while playing good teams. On the other hand the X-Men have been playing well on a 5 game win streak but against middle of the pack teams. The Huskies will need Joey Haywood to carry the offensive load and have supporting players contribute to the attack. For the X-Men they will have to shut down Joey Haywood completely as once and if that happens the Huskies offense slows down to nothing. In the end I like the X-Men to emerge victorious only by a slim margin because these Huskies have a lot of determination and could pull a shocker early.

Acadia Axemen (4) vs. UNB Varsity Reds (5)

Acadia Axemen – 4th in the AUS – record (7-13) These Axemen are one streaky team. They started the season out with a strong victory over the Huskies than fell into a 3 game losing slump. Following that they played well and won 3 games in a row. Than the season really fell into a slump. They went on a 9 game losing streak and was only able to score over 75 points twice during that stretch. They then proceeded to finish the season going 3-1 and beat Memorial twice to get those crucial 8 points. The Axemen are lead by Owen Klassen who is averaging just over 18 pts per game with 9.6 rebounds per game as well. This solid play has been great for the Axemen as he has started every game this year becoming a crucial part of the team. Also helping the Axemen is Anthony Sears who is averaging 17.9 points per game as well as 2.4 assists per game. These two have been very solid for the Axemen and will need to show up as they take on the Varsity Reds.

UNB Varsity Reds – 5th in the AUS – record (8-12)

Yes you did read correctly, the Reds do have more victories than the Axemen. They just failed to capitalize on the crucial 4 point games, therefore making a difference in the standings. These Reds started the season as many expected them to 3-0 with 3 fairly easy games to start. They then split the weekend with UPEI taking them to 3-1, a minor setback. They then also managed to lose 2 more games bringing their record to 3-3. Going to Memorial proved to be somewhat difficult as they split the weekend their record then going to 4-4. This season was up and down the whole time. With key victories coming up against St. FX, SMU and Acadia they Reds have pulled the upset card and know how to do it. UNB is not a team that has high scoring games they like to keep it low play defense and shut down teams. Only 3 times this season an opponent score more than 90 on UNB. They spread the ball around offensively to create defensive matchup problems. Andrew Wright and William McFee were the leading scorers averaging 13.7 points per game. Then the next leading scorers were Daniel Quirion and Alex DesRoches who averaged around 10 points a game with DesRoches averaging 8.8 boards a game.

Decision: This will be a good matchup as both teams have that talent to go ahead and take the victory. The Axemen will rely heavily on trying to score as much as they can trying to out do the Reds on Offense in the idea that they will prevail. The Reds will try to shut down their players and play good defense. They split the season series and it looks like this one could come down the wire as the last game was only 3 points between them. I like the Varsity Reds to come out with a victory over the Axemen as the Reds have shown that they can beat and compete with the best teams in the conference. I just feel that the Axemen were lucky getting into the playoffs thanks to Memorial who accounted for 8 of their 22 points.

The Dalhousie Tigers own the #2 spot and will play the winner of the St Fx – SMU game on Saturday night. The CBU Capers are the #1 seed and will play the winner of UNB – Acadia as well on Saturday. The winner of the Semi-Finals will automatically earn a berth to national’s which will be held here in Halifax a week from the start of this tournament. Look for the Capers to roll against their opponent whoever it may be as they have rolled this season and have no signs of slowing down. The Dal game will be close as a victory by St. Fx will pose a greater challenge than expected by many Tiger fans as the X-Men were robbed last year in the finals a year ago.

Armaan Ahluwalia is a writer with the Dalhousie Gazette and www.1inthestands.wordpress.com. Follow Armaan on twitter @therealbrindian.

Sportstream.ca is the webcasting home of the Subway AUS Men’s Basketball Championships. Follow us on twitter @_sportstream_.

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