Friday, 7 August 2009

St. FX Update

Despite a challenging season that included several injuries and some off-court issues that depleted his rotation by year-end, Coach Steve Konchalski was still able to guide his X-Men to another CIS Nationals tournament and with another veteran group, including a big senior class that has been together for going on their fourth year, X again expects to be in the mix come AUS tournament time in March. X-Men's strength is in the back court and on the wings, led by 5'10" Canadian FISU games team guard Christian "T-Bear" Upshaw, an absolute blurr in the open court, a key to Coach K's usual preference for a gambling, trapping defensive team and now in his fourth-year expected to provide overall leadership. Upshaw, who also is X's most dangerous returning 3 point shooter (44% last season) is battling a bone spur problem in his ankle and will have a minor procedure done shortly to clean it up but is expected to be 100% by the time camp opens in the early autumn. Having lost graduated 6'2" guard Tyler Richards, Konchalski felt he needed another scorer to complement Upshaw and with 6'0" Algonquin College transfer Charlie Spurr, X may have got one of the better newcomers to any roster in the AUS. Spurr, who hails from B.C., played his first two seasons at Thompson Rivers U. before heading east to play for in the Nation's Capital where he led the team in scoring. Spurr, who should enter the starting lineup from Day One, has two seasons of eligibility remaining and is best known for knocking down deep "3's". 5'9" Will Silver, a tough, leader-type, is definitely in the mix in the backcourt and gives X the ability to play up tempo including, on occasion, three quick guards. Adding athleticism to the back court is 6'3" freshman Jordan Clarke (Oakville Holy Trinity), nephew of former X-Men star guard Chris Clarke (mid 90's, Hamilton Cathedral). The ~170 pound Clarke is a solid open court player who has an evolving mid-range game and should see his roles increase as his body matures and he adds strength. As well, expect 6'2" William Donkoh to be in the mix, especially as a defensive stopper. Donkoh was unfortunately associated with some off court issues last season but is a very solid kid who conducts himself with dignity and is well respected among his teammates and coaching staff. 6'3" forward Dwayne Johnson, X's only projected fifth-year starter, has battled disc problems in his back for much of his career including last season and the injury continues to plague him through the summer to the point where doctors have told him to rest completely, putting his status for this coming season in jeopardy. In addition, 6'6" Terrence Taylor, another 4th year senior, continues to battle through the effects of two concussions sustained last season and may not be ready for the start of camp, although he is more likely to play this season than Johnson. If the probable does happen and Johnson and possibly Taylor must redshirt while rehabbing, last season's top freshman 6'5" Jeremy Dunn (Wolfville Horton), who showed he has the makings of a future AUS all-star, will be thrust into a lead role up front. Dunn, who can play both the 3 and 4, is more likely a better 4 with this group, creating matchup problems with his face up game and perimeter shooting while not giving away anything defensively against opposing AUS 4's. Joining Dunn up front is 6'8" Alberto Rodriquez (Kitchener, ON), another fourth-year senior, who has had an injury plagued career but started to show some assertiveness offensively last season and must be the go-to post presence in big parts of games to open up the perimeter for the cast of long-range shooting guards and wings. 6'5" Chad Warren, a hard working team player who can shoot the 3, should be the one of the first bigs off the bench. A wild card up front is 6'5" Jordan Hope, probably X's best overall athlete who suffered through a series of injuries and inconsistencies adjusting to the CIS game. Hope has all the tools to be a great player and is likely to be impactful if he plays hard more consistently. Finally, X welcomes impact pg Ellis Ffrench to roster after Ffrench decided to transfer back East from Windsor where he played sparingly as a freshman. Ffrench, who must sit out this coming season due to transfer regulations, will be reunited with high school teammate Dunn. The dynamic duo won 64 consecutive games and back-to-back Nova Scotia provincial high school championships while at Wolfville Horton High School. X has a challenging pre-season schedule including a trip into Southern Ontario to face McMaster, Brock and Guelph which should get them ready for the AUS regular season kickoff in early November.


Anonymous said...

Having watched Charlie Spurr play a number of times at Algonquin I believe he will challenge Carleton's Mike Kenny as the best 3 ball shooter in the CIS.
When he gets on a roll, Spurr can knock down treys with ridiculous ease.
If he gets hot and the opposition start making adjustments to stop him, look for openings inside for the X Men.

Anonymous said...

I have played with and against jordan clarke. He is a tremendous player, and you just need to give him some time, he will show you he's worth it. Very quick, atheletic, versatile, and his awareness incredible. Good luck JC, I hope you succeed.