Wednesday, 29 September 2010

St. FX X-Men Preview

With the core of his AUS finalist team back plus at least two impact newcomers, and five fifth-year rotation players including the return from injury of an All-Star calibre four man, it's no wonder that long-time St.FX mentor Steve Konchalski is as excited about his present group as any X team in recent memory.  It all starts with lightning quick reigning AUS POY Christian "T-Bear" Upshaw (19.6 ppg/30 mpg) who is lethal in transition and as a water-bug press defender.  Upshaw shares the guard spots with maybe the most underrated and underappreciated players in X history, 5'9" fifth-year Will Silver, a mentally-tough, high IQ guard who last season consistently threatened to put up triple/doubles and in many eyes is X's true leader.  Interchangeable at the point and off guard spots, Upshaw and Silver can both lead the break, start the offense and make shots. 

X also brings in off the bench 5'11" Charlie Spurr, a former CCAA All-Canadian with lights-out range from beyond the three point line, as a complement to the starters.  Biding his time and getting more and more important minutes in the rotation is 6'2" sophomore Jordan Clarke, an athletic guard with a huge upside who should mature into the next great guard at X.  Also likely to be in the mix on the wing and eventually take major minutes in the rotation is 6'4" Terry Thomas, a true freshman from Auburn Drive H.S. in East Preston, NS, described as a sparkling athlete who can defend and get on the glass.  Thomas, originally from Nova Scotia before spending two years in Brampton, ON before moving back out east to finish high school, flew under the recruiting radar somewhat but the coaching staff expects him to get good time immediately and inject athleticism into the lineup.  Thomas is likely to bring the same type of athleticism to the lineup that departed 6'5" Terrence Taylor brought when healthy.

Up front, X has tremendous depth, experience and size - Konchalski claims this is the "biggest team I've ever had" - starting with 6'9" fifth-year post Alberto Rodriquez (9.5 ppg/6.3 rpg).  Rodriquez is happy working to get his own offense with put backs and plays with fire.  7'2" Rinny Ngot (8 mpg) provides a defensive presence and when potentially matched with 6'10" 260 pound freshman Rodrigo Madera, X could have one of the largest front lines in CIS/CIAU history.  Madera, originally from the Dominican Republic, played one season of high school in Oklahoma, where he averaged 14 rpg (2nd in the state), also flew under the radar, not playing last season while waiting for clearance from the U.S. clearinghouse.  A member of the Dominican Republic National team, Konchalski met Madera's father several years ago while scouting for Canada's National team; it was Madera's father who called the coach and helped arrange for his son to attend X.  Madera is a horse who is strong with nice hands and a nice touch around the rim.

Three hard-working forwards who have inside/out skills round out X-Men front line, led by 6'5" Dwayne Johnson, who sat out last season due to injury and is back healthy for his fifth and final season.  When right, Johnson must be accounted for on the offensive glass and finishes in the paint and in transition.  6'5" fourth-year forward Chad Warren (7.0 ppg/19 mpg) is another blue collar forward who defends, rebounds and works for his offense.  6'5" Jeremy Dunn (10.7 ppg/5 rpg/25 mpg) continues to mature as an athletic wing who could be an AUS all-star before all is said and done.

A pair of newcomers also look to push for time including 5'11" Ellis Ffrench, a transfer from Windsor who returns back to Atlantic Canada and 6'5" Australian import Shane Coupland, currently nursing a shoulder injury but a big wing with lots of range on his jumper.

X has put together a very strong pre-season schedule including arguably the strongest tournament field of the pre-season with Cape Breton and Lakehead during the third weekend in October at the Eric Garland UNB tournament which again will be played at the Aitken Center usually reserved for the V-Reds hockey team.  X also makes a trip in to Ottawa to the Jack Donohue Memorial tournament which has CIS Final 8 participants UQAM Citadins and U of T Varsity Blues.

X-Men and arch rival Cape Breton Capers renew their fierce rivalry very early this season on the opening night of the Garland Classic at UNB in a rematch of last season's AUS championship game with both teams returning basically the same key players.


Anonymous said...

Too bad Bol Kong wasn't at X this season instead of wasting his time at NAIT.
No offense, but Kong playing CCAA ball...again..IS a waste of his time, but that's his own fault, aint it?
Kong would have been the crown jewel on a deep, athletic X roster.
The X Men have already got what it takes to contend for a national title but Kong would have put them over the top, IMO.
Meanwhile, congratulations to NAIT on your 2011 championship.

Anonymous said...

Kong is at Gonzaga last time i saw!