Thursday, 2 December 2010

AUS Update

Last week was the final full weekend of first-half regular season play in the AUS although one game remains prior to the end of the first half as UPEI visits Acadia tonight.  The Panthers come off a pair of home losses to St. FX X-Men in which UPEI turned it over a total of 55 times over the 2 games.  Acadia came from behind in Fredericton to gain an important 15 point road win over UNB Varsity Reds, riding a game-deciding 23-9 third quarter run to hand the Reds their second consecutive home loss of the weekend after Dal Tigers held UNB to just 54 points in winning on Friday night.

X had consecutive nights of exactly 100 points scored, forging a 17 point halftime lead in the first game on Saturday night and creating 30 UPEI turnovers to win rather handily as Christian T-Bear Upshaw had 16 points and 6 rebounds to lead the way for X while 6'9" Alberto Rodriquez added a 10 point/10 rebound double double.  6'6" Manock Lual and 6'2" Jon Cooper had 22 apiece for UPEI which got only 4 minutes of play from starting center Jermaine Duke.  The following afternoon, the Panthers were able to adjust to X's overplay "d" and led by Cooper and Lual started taking the X-Men off the dribble, forging a four point halftime lead by negating X's turnover-creating pressure.  The Panthers were still in the game until late in the third quarter when Upshaw imposed his will on the game, getting into the lane and completing some acrobatic finishes and 6'3" Dwayne Johnson was able to lock down Lual, his good friend and summer teammate on the Ottawa Phoenix.  X also adjusted to some matchup problems in the first half by going small and getting their usual strong, consistent performances from 6'5" Jeremy Dunn and 5'9" Will Silver.  The Panthers got a very strong performance out of one of the AUS's best freshman as 6'5" Geoff Doane, from Sir J.A. MacDonald H.S. Nova Scotia provincial champions last season, who started and had 21 points including 3-5 3's in 38 minutes.  However, X's depth wore the thinner Panthers down and the X-Men exploded for 66 second-half points to claim the weekend sweep.  UPEI's slick point guard Terrence Brown, who had a pair of big games against X last season, was plagued by foul trouble all weekend while Lual, despite having trouble against Johnson, still finished with 19 points/12 rebounds.

Dal had another performance in which defense and rebounding were the keys as the Tigers outrebounded UNB 40-24 and held the Reds to only 35 points after the first quarter and 54 for the game.  Dal did not trail after taking the lead early in the second quarter and got a balanced effort with 5 players in double figures.  The following night, things became unravelled for the V-Reds against Acadia as, despite taking a lead into halftime, UNB watched as Justin Boutilier led a third quarter run that culminated in the fourth quarter ejection of V-Reds coach Brent Baker.  UNB did get another strong performance from freshman Aussie import Will McFee, who finished with 20 points but the talented Axemen came away with a comfortable road win against the Reds, who continue to look for that one signature league victory that gives them the swagger to be able to work into the tournament championship picture.

Once again, Saint Mary's Huskies found the going difficult in St. John's as MUN won their first of the AUS regular season on Sunday, shooting a sizzling 58% led by 6'0" Mark Woodland's career-high 38 points including 13-18 from the floor and 4-7 3's.  Earlier, SMU had taken game one behind 26 points from 6'3" Demetri Harris, who is coming into his own as an offensive force in the AUS, with his combination of slashing ability and knocking down 3's.  Saint Mary's owned the glass in the first game and shot 55% but nearly bit themselves with 21 turnovers.  AUS leading scorer Joey Haywood had 22 in the first game and then followed that up with a 26 point effort in the loss on Sunday afternoon.  Saint Mary's coach Ross Quackenbush started OCAA Mohawk College transfer Jerome Smith in the second game and the athletic guard contributed 10 points in 32 minutes while Simon Marr had arguable his best offensive game with 18 points including 3-4 3's as the Huskies also shot 55% including 12-25 3's but absorbed their fifth loss in 7 AUS starts.  One quick look at the team defense stats provide a clue as to why the Huskies are off to such a poor start - teams are scoring an average of 95 points per game against Saint Mary's, by far the most porous "d" in the AUS and likely CIS although Winnipeg has had some rough defensive efforts as well in the first half.

The Sea-hawks as always are a difficult out at home and over the weekend shortened their bench considerably, basically going 6 deep with the return to full strength of 6'4" Mike Helsby, one of three Ontario natives and two Waterloo, ON high school grads in the first six, into the rotation.  Woodland, the only native Newfoundlander in the six man rotation, was incredible against SMU on Sunday however solid 6'5" Robbi Habib (Lower Sackville, NS) was his consistent self, scoring 24 points on 3-4 3's in the win after Saturday's 16 point/6 rebound effort for MUN.  Others in the rotation include 6'4" fourth year forward Jason Shepherd (averaged 17.5 ppg over the two games), 6'1" second-year Mississauga native Justin Alliman (18 points on 8-11 shooting but 6 turnovers in the game one loss), 5'10" second year guard Will Bradbury (Waterloo, ON) and Helsby, who came off the bench in both encounters, averaging 9.5 ppg.  The Sea-hawks did a tremendous job taking care of the ball with only 11.5 turnovers average in the two games and made shots, shooting over 50% in both games.  After a sluggish 1 for 8 performance on Saturday, MUN coach Peter Benoite decided to bring Bradbury off the bench and he responded with a 4 for 8 effort for 11 points in 26 minutes in MUN's win.

We will have a comprehensive look at the AUS first half in the coming days.

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