Tuesday, 10 March 2009

AUS tourney to take hiatus from Metro Center ?

Will Sydney be the new Final 6 host ?

By CHRIS COCHRANE Sports Reporter
Tue. Mar 10 - 6:22 AM

NEXT YEAR’S AUS FINAL 6 men’s basketball championship won’t be held in its usual Metro Centre home.

The dates for that tournament conflict with the men’s national curling championship being hosted by the Metro Centre. And, according to AUS executive director Phil Currie, there isn’t any wiggle room for the Final 6 in terms of finding new dates at the downtown Halifax facility.

"We’re faced with that situation next year, the Brier is here over two weekends," Currie said Monday, noting that there’s a late regular-season schedule that runs up to the Final 6 and then the national Final 8 commitment right after the Final 6. "We can’t back up, we can’t go forward."

The Final 6 is a huge event for the local conference; in fact, it’s the top money-maker to help run AUS operations. Two years ago, the tournament made a profit of more than $100,000. This year’s tournament, which was forced by Metro Centre scheduling to start on the less attractive Thursday night instead of Friday night, still managed to generate a profit expected to be near $100,000.

The only Halifax site that holds sufficient fans to be an alternative to the Metro Centre is the Halifax Forum. But the Forum was tried once before, when the Metro Centre was booked, and it wasn’t deemed a great experience. The gate was understandably smaller than at the Metro Centre, the expenses were still high and some fans simply didn’t regard the aging Forum as the place for such a high-profile event.

Should the Final 6 hit the road, the leading candidate to host could be Centre 200 in Sydney. It’s an attractive building, is large enough for the Final 6 crowd and staff there are certainly accustomed to holding the big event. From an organizers’ perspective, there’s a belief that many fans from the Halifax area would still travel to Sydney for the Final 6, just as fans from across the province have long travelled to Halifax.


The Dalhousie Tigers were full credit for their weekend Final 6 title win. It’s a good story for the John Campbell program, which has had plenty of hard times on the way to the top.

Obviously, there were many highlights for Dal at the Final 6. What most stands out was Josh Beattie’s performance in the title game. I’ve rarely seen a player, at any level, get in the zone and stay there as long as Beattie did during a five-minute span in the third quarter.

Beattie threw up three-pointer after three-pointer, with nothing but net on most of the shots. His 17-point effort during those five minutes of play was easily the difference in the title game and the biggest surprise of the tournament.


The most-asked local question regarding the upcoming Final 8 in Ottawa has to be whether wild-card entry St. Francis Xavier will dress the three players who were held out of the Final 6.

Tyler Richards, Eamon Morrissy and William Donkoh, each facing recent assault charges, didn’t dress for the X-Men at the Final 6. But they weren’t suspended by St. F.X. so their status is unknown for the Final 8. Richards, the X-Men captain and first team all-star, particularly makes the X-Men a better team when he’s in the lineup.

I’ve as yet heard no reason why the X position on the players’ status for the Final 8 would be different than it was for the Final 6. Coach Steve Konchalski said Monday a decision is expected today. Until that happens, this will remain the hottest topic of Final 8 speculation at this end of the country.

( ccochrane@herald.ca)

Chris Cochrane is a columnist with The Chronicle Herald Sports.

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