1. Saint Francis Xavier X-Men (7-0, 16 points, 1st place)
Steve Konchalski and the X-Men are rolling so far in 2012.
They've won their second straight Rod Shoveller Tournament Championship, easily swept the UNB Varsity Reds in Antigonish to remain undefeated, and Coack K won his 800th game as Head Coach on Saturday.
The only negative is that highly touted recruit Bol Kong has been less than impressive in his AUS conference debut. Kong averaged 4.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over the weekend and has only made 3 of 15 shots, including 2 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Kong has returned from an injury and could still be feeling the effects and having difficulty shaking off some rest.
The X-Men are so deep and talented they likely won't even need an impact effort from Kong to remain the highest ranked AUS team in the country (# 2) and cruise to a first round bye at the Final 6.
Top Performer of the Week- Terry Thomas. The East Preston native had 14 pts, 6 rebs, and 5 assists on Friday, followed by 21 pts and 9 rebs on Saturday versus the Reds.
Interesting Stat- Rookie Marquis Clayton of Halifax averaged 16 points over the weekend coming off the bench.
2. UPEI Panthers (6-2, 12 points, 2nd place)
Dating back to the Rod Shoveller tournament the Panthers have lost four straight games to AUS opponents. The weekend sweep by the Huskies at the Tower seems to have rattled the confidence of a team that until this season had been painfully mediocre.
The Panthers still feature the most talented, athletic starting five in the conference, but two major weaknesses have been exposed.
1) Depth- The Panthers have very little production off the bench, especially if sixth man Geoff Doane does not play well. In Saturday's loss to the Huskies the bench combined for 32 minutes and was 0-12 from the floor, scored 1 point, grabbed 6 rebounds, and committed 4 turnovers.
2) The Panthers like to spread the floor and use their collective quickness off the dribble to create shots. Versus Dalhousie and Saint Mary's, teams with a bunch of quick and athletic players,. the Panthers had trouble getting past defenders leading to stagnant offence and forced shots. The Panthers will need to add some new wrinkles to their offense when playing teams that can match them athletically.
Top Performer of the Week- Terrance Brown. The veteran guard averaged 21.5 ppg over the weekend.
Interesting Stat- Jonathan Cooper was a combined 17-17 from the free throw line in two games versus SMU.
3. Acadia Axemen (3-3, 12 points, 2nd place)
After a rough weekend at the Rod Shoveller the Axemen rebounded with their best performance of the year, a 108-65 drubbing of Cape Breton in Wolfville.
Anthony Sears had the stat line of the year, scoring 35 points on 14 of 15 shooting which included a perfect 5 for 5 from the three point line. Sears battled injury in the first term and struggled at the Shoveller, but if he can become a force for the Axemen, he could form the best 1-2 punch in the conference with post Owen Klassen.
Anthony Ashe made 9 of 10 shots for 21 points and would have been the major story had it not been for Sears.
With their next three games on the road at UNB and Memorial, the Axemen have a chance to get on a roll and become major contenders for a bye at AUS Championships.
Top Performer of the Week- Anthony Sears. Performance vs CBU will likely be the stat line of the year in AUS.
Interesting Stat- Sears, Ashe and Sean Stoqua were a combined 12-13 from beyond the arc vs CBU.
4. SMU Huskies (4-5, 10 points, 3rd place)
Nobody expected the Huskies to sweep the Panthers this weekend but a renewed commitment to defence and the blossoming of post players Ian Robertson and Riley Halpin has instantly made the Huskies legitimate Semi Final Saturday candidates come March.
Robertson and Halpin are barely distinguishable on the floor but the long armed, hard working combo provided lots of hustle, defense and some decent offensive numbers in the place of injured Harry Ezenibe.
Tory Fassett is the best mid range player in the AUS and the Huskies began looking like a classic Ross Quackenbush team with the sharing of the ball on offense, The Huskies are in for a stern test this week when they travel to Wolfville to play the rejuvenated Axemen on Wednesday, then head up the street to play the athletic Tigers on Saturday.
Top Performer of the Week- Riley Halpin. The Halifax product had 23 points on Saturday followed by a solid 14 point performance on Sunday.
Interesting Stat- The Huskies made only 8 of 18 foul shots in their victory on Sunday.
5. Cape Breton Capers (4-3, 10 points, 3rd place)
You get the feeling Tom Gillespie and the Capers are itching to get back on the floor and play.
After making the five hour drive to Wolfville only to get blown out by over 40 points to Acadia, the Capers had to take the rest of the weekend off.
The Capers host the Seahawks this weekend in Sydney where they should get back on track, but before that they have a Wednesday night date with the rival X-Men.
The X-Men and the Capers on the campus of CBU is always special and this time should be no different. The X-Men will enter the CBU gym with a renewed swagger while the Capers will have the confidence of knowing they have the best player on the floor in Jimmy Dorsey.
Top Performer of the Week- Hard to choose after abysmal performance vs. Acadia. Stephane Goosens had 9 pts and 7 rebs on 4 for 8 shooting.
Interesting Stat- The Capers were 3 for 16 from the 3-PT line vs Acadia.
6. Dalhousie TIgers (3-4, 10 points, 4th place)
The defending AUS champs are slowly starting to get their confidence and looking like a team to be reckoned with.
The Tigers had a momentum building win over UPEI in the Bronze Medal game at the Rod Shoveller and took care of business winning two hard fought games over Memorial in St.John's.
The emergence of rookie phenom RItchie Kanza Mata has provided a spark and Casey Fox finally had a break out game with a 24 point performance on Saturday. Stephen Lopez is doing a wonderful job of creating open shots for teammates off dribble penetration and Robert Nortmann has arguably been the best post player in the conference.
The Tigers now begin a brutal stretch where they play UPEI twice, St FX twice, and Acadia over the next few weeks. They'll play the Huskies this weekend at Dalplex in a game that should be the most athletic match up the teams have had in the John Campbell era.
Top Performer of the Week- Will Yengue. Averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds versus Memorial.
Interesting Stat- Stephen Lopez had 14 pts, 8 assists, 7 rebs. with no turnovers on Sunday.
7. UNB Varsity Reds (2-6, 8 points, 5th place)
The X-Men barely broke a sweat in sweeping the Reds this past weekend in Antigonish. UNB has now lost six straight games by a total margin of 136 points. Asides from the two 4 point wins versus Memorial (90-88 and 94-92 in OT) in Frederiction it's been a struggle. There's light at the end of the tunnel with a favourable February schedule that could help them make a push for the playoffs but before that they have to play UPEI, Acadia, and travel to Sydney for a two game set versus the Capers. Then they open a five game home stand by hosting the X-Men for two games.
Could be a long winter on the hill at UNB.
Star Performer of the Week- Alex DesRoches. DesRoches averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds over the weekend vs. X.
Interesting Stat- The Reds made only 9-42 Field Goals in the first half of Saturday's game vs X.
8. Memorial Seahawks (1-7, 2 points, last place)
The Seahawks missed a great chance to get back into the playoff race by losing two 4 point games in St.John's to a Dalhousie team still trying to find themselves and now the road gets alot tougher as they'll travel to Cape Breton for two games this weekend and then host Acadia the weekend after.
Lack of depth appears to be a significant issue for the Seahawks and their inability to get defensive stops kept them from making a second half charge vs. Dalhousie.
Star Performer of the Week- Jason Shephard. Averaged 24 ppg over the weekend.
Interesting Stat- Mike Helsby had 20 points and 8 assists in Saturday's game.