A breakdown of opening day action from the annual Rod Shoveller Tournament at Dalplex beginning Thursday, December 29th. The Shoveller is one of the premier holiday tournaments in the country and is a favorite amongst local Halifax basketball enthusiasts.
Acadia versus UPEI, 1:00 Atlantic (webcast: ssncanada)
Game featuring two teams with dramatically different seasons thus far.
Coming off their run at AUS Championships last March the Axemen were heavy favorites to win it all with almost their entire core returning. However Steve Baur's young team has struggled to score and lost three close games to conference front runners UPEI and St FX.
UPEI returns a group of players that finished out of the playoffs last year but added Tim Kendrick as their Head Coach and talented forward Donathan Moss who has averaged nearly 20 points per game.
The results have been staggering as the Panthers are undefeated through six games and in second place in the AUS.
UPEI beat Acadia twice last month in Charlottetown, 98-89 and 67-64. This could be the best game of the day.
Players To Watch
Acadia- Owen Klassen- 17 points and 10 rebounds per game this year for the best inside/outside player in the conference.
Tyler Scott- High flying rookie who may be the most exciting player to watch on Acadia.
UPEI - Manock Lual- Hard working, intense competitor who has averaged nearly a double/double throughout his career.
Donathan Moss- Gifted and athletic, can score in bunches and combines with Guard Jonathan Cooper to cause full court chaos.
Ottawa versus #2 Saint Francis Xavier, 3:00 Atlantic (webcast: ssncanada)
The Gee-Gees and X-Men meet once again at the Shoveller two years after they played a highly entertaining game featuring two of the best guards in the country.
Christian Upshaw led St FX to a decisive win over Josh Gibson-Bascombe and the Gee Gees in 2009 and tomorrow's game could be just as much fun.
The X-Men will be looking to show the country they are legitimate CIS contenders with a big win over a non AUS opponent, and they'll finally have the highly touted Bol Kong in the lineup.
The Gee-Gees are in second place in the OUA East division and have a core of players that nearly made it to nationals last season. Both teams feature depth and athleticism at the guard spot and like to push the basketball.
Players to Watch
Ottawa - Warren Ward - Played for Canada at the Pan Am Games this past summer, averaged 21 points and 7 rebounds last season.
Mike L' Africain- Quick freshman Point Guard averaging 11 points per game.
St FX- Jeremy Dunn - The leader of the X-Men, averages 22 points per game and has the best shot fake in the AUS.
Terry Thomas- Most exciting player in the AUS, averages 22 points and a monster on the defensive end.
RMC versus Dalhousie, 6:00 Atlantic (webcast: ssncanada)
Should be no problem for the host Tigers against an RMC team that has yet to win a conference game this season (0-8).
The Tigers can match any team in the AUS with their athleticism but have struggled to score and defend at times this season. Gone are Simon Farine and Joseph Schow, and the Tigers have nearly a completely different look from the group that won two AUS championships in three years.
Talented transfer Casey Fox will be looking to use the tournament as a chance to get on track in time for the second term, and the Tigers could get a much needed confidence boost with an appearance in the tourney final.
Players to Watch
RMC - Connor Duke- The Dartmouth, N.S. native comes home and will be looking to pull off an upset in front of his friends and family. The 6'3" Duke averages 15 points per game.
Idris Said- Madjid- Averages 16 points per game and shoots over 80 percent from the free throw line.
Dalhousie - Robert Nortmann- Athletic post player averaging 17 points and 6 rebounds per game. A beast on the offensive glass.
Casey Fox- Talented swingman who struggled in first term but was a dynamic scorer in his two years at Acadia.
#10 Concordia versus Saint Mary's, 8:00 Atlantic (webcast: ssncanada)
Possibly the most entertaining game of the day. An outstanding nightcap for fans of offensive basketball, and a match up that has become an annual tradition at the Shoveller as the two teams meet for the third straight year.
The Huskies score nearly 90 points per game and shoot over 50 percent from the floor while the Stingers average 80 and lead the CIS in steals with 13 per game. The last time the nationally ranked Stingers were in Halifax they nearly upset Carleton at the CIS Championships, while the Huskies are looking to get on track and make a run for AUS championships to send Ross Quackenbush out with a title.
Players to Watch
Concordia- Kyle Desmarais- Averages 17 points per game, shoots over 50 percent from the floor and averages 3 steals.
Decee Krah- Explosive guard averages 13 points per game and shoots nearly 40 percent from three.
SMU- Tory Fassett- Early AUS MVP candidate. Fassett averages 23 points, shoots over 60 percent from floor, and is a defensive menace.
Harry Ezenibe- One of the best athletes in the AUS, a force on both ends of the floor. Averages 11 points, 6 rebounds per game.