Wednesday, October 27, 2010

UNB Varsity Reds Preview

With much thanks to Greg Maillet who contributed the bulk of this article.

Coach Brent Baker enters his third season at the helm of the Varsity Reds and has built his team with young players, choosing patience over quick fixes and UNB is already starting to reap the rewards as the Reds already have some high profile wins on the early season at Laval and over Cape Breton and Saint Mary's, three teams ranked much higher in most observer's minds. 

Baker is known as an excellent teacher of the game and is creative with his defensive schemes, using a combination of full court pressure, pressure man and multiple zone defenses.  But ultimately, Baker plans to build a winner with a foundation of keeping teams from getting to the rim and rebounding, as he intimated in a April 2010 newspaper article: “We're a little bit of interior defence and rebounding away from being a playoff team.” 

To that end, this season likely depends on the continued development of Baker’s three bigs including 6'7" Lonzel Lowe, 3rd year post with excellent strength who is learning to compete for the big rebound and stay out of foul trouble.  Lowe can be an effective finisher down low and is becoming more confident in his ability to finish around the rim.  As his mental game develops, Lowe has the potential to become a beast inside.  Joining Lowe up front is 6'10" Australian import Michael Suffield, by way of Lee Academy in Maine, a former Australian Rules Football player who could develop into the inside presence on defense that UNB sorely needs.  Suffield has a good mid-range jumper, but must develop a consistent inside game and adapt to the size and athleticism of AUS basketball.  Baker hopes Lowe and Suffield develop into a formidable high low combination with Lowe low and Suffield in the high post.  6'6" Colin Adams, a second-year post from Peterborough ON should provide added interior rebounding off the bench as his body continues to adapt to the CIS level.

Probably UNB's best overall player is 6'4" Alex DesRoches, a smooth swingman from Dieppe, NB who knocks down the open midrange jumper, moves without the ball and consistently gets after it on the defensive glass. On many nights, he is UNB’s best all-around player, and led the team in most statistical categories last year. DesRoches is the one guy that Baker can consistently count on to go after defensive rebounds even though he could benefit from getting stronger physically.

On the perimeter, V-Reds rely primarily on 6'0" Daniel Quirion, a 2nd year shooting guard from Moncton who has the athleticism to be an effective scorer, especially in transition and from beyond the arc.  Like many young players, Quirion is learning to bring the same level of intensity to defense that he brings to transition O.

Setting the table at the point is experienced fifth-year 5'10" guard Andy Wright, who previously played three years at Bishop's.  Wright is a good penetrator and passer who also has deep range on his jumper as is effective defensively on the press.  Wright came home to complete his career in New Brunswick and provide Baker with a veteran decision-maker on the floor for his maturing group.  Also in the mix at the point is 6'0" third-year combo guard Antwann Parks from Queens NY, currently recovering from a knee injury but when healthy gives more penetration and scoring abilities.  Also firmly in the rotation at the off guard spot is 6'0" Dustin Anthony, a strong combo guard from North Bay, ON who is an excellent shooter in the screen and roll game.

Others in the mix off the bench include 6'3" William McFee from Northbridge Australia, perhaps UNB’s most intriguing player:  a very strong, physical swingman.  As he learns the CIS game, McFee could provide the perimeter defense and rebounding that UNB needs to become a playoff team. Gets to the rim and to the line offensively and is a tough kid who in one weekend grew on at least one observer, at a minimum because he goes after every rebound hard.  Also, 6'5" forward Jordan Irvine from Woodstock High in NB, a strong swing man who can hit the three and rebound with bigs.  Irvine should develop into a solid CIS player once he begins to understand the nuances of team defensive play that usually plagues most freshmen.

The Reds play very hard for the most part and are a group that he been together for a couple of seasons with a veteran point guard and improving front court play.  Expect them to push for a spot in the AUS tournament and possibly work towards a top 4 finish.

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