Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dalhousie Tigers Preview

The final season of the Simon Farine era may prove to be one of the finest in Tigers history with the talented set of returning starters and the plethora of new talent brought in by veteran Head Coach John Campbell.  Dal captured their first AUS championship in over a decade in 2008-09 but was unable to repeat last season in Cape Breton, losing in the semi-finals.  Campbell has more quality depth and athleticism than last season, allowing the Tigers to get more aggressive defensively, something the group did very well on their way to the AUS title a couple of seasons ago.

Farine looks to cap off a wonderful career in Halifax.  Usually pushing for a triple/double each night, Farine is an explosive scorer, a very good decision maker in transition and very durable, averaging 37 minutes per game last season.  Expect Farine to play more at the off guard spot where his pure scoring abilities can be highlighted, especially with the arrival of blue chip 6'3" point guard Juleous Grant, a third-year transfer from Northern Oklahoma Junior College.  Grant, originally from Nova Scotia before spending his final two seasons at Toronto's Eastern Commerce H.S. under current Ryerson Head Coach Roy Rana and then moving on to the U.S., is a long, smooth, deceptively quick and athletic guard with a pass first mentality.  A guy who can dominate games without stuffing the score sheet, Grant allows the Tigers to have two strong decision-makers on the floor at the same time.

Although both are battling through injuries presently, Dal has a pair of solid, experienced big men up front in 6'9" Joe Schow, a proven scorer and rebounder with all-conference capabilities plus 6'7" Sandy Viet, who came into his own down the stretch of Tigers AUS championship season, especially on the glass before suffering through an injury-plagued fourth-year.  With the strong front lines in the AUS this season, Dal will need both Schow and Viet healthy and productive.

With the loss to graduation of Rhodes Scholar Andrew Sullivan, Dal was fortunate to be able to bring in 6'0" Acadia transfer Peter Leighton, the hero of the Axemen's historic triple overtime CIS semi-final victory over Carleton Ravens in 2007-08.  Leighton may be the best pure shooter in the AUS and provides space for the bigs, playing off both Farine and Grant.  6'1" Stephen Lopez also returns after an injury redshirt season in '09-'10 nursing a bad knee.  When healthy, Lopez can guard the ball and jump passing lanes in Dal's pressure "d" system.

A pair of second year fowards 6'5" William Yengue and 6'6" Chris Hunt complement each other with Yengue's in-between game and Hunt's ability to shoot over people from long distance.  6'6" Jason Wang was likely to be in the picture up front but has his hand in a cast after breaking his scaphoid bone in his wrist and is likely out for an indefinite period.  The loss of Wang is somewhat offset by the continuing improvements of 6'9" Tim Coote, a third year post from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia who continues to become more active and show off his improved athleticism up front.

Two more freshmen from Scarborough should ease their way into the rotation over time:  6'0" Jumol Mullings, originally from Scarborough Mother Teresa, returns to organized ball after several years in the work force.  Mullings, now 24 years old, is a mature combo guard who should provide depth behind Farine, Grant, Lopez and Leighton as he gets back into playing shape; 6'4" Alex Arthur from Scarborough West Hill spent some time down south in the U.S. prep system but has returned and initially will be asked to rebound and defend.

The AUS has several very good teams at the top and the Tigers are right there, making this coming AUS season one of the more intriguing in recent memory and the annual AUS tournament, which returns to the Halifax Metro Center this season, likely another memorable one.

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