by Cody Baugh
Looking to Repeat
The men’s basketball program is alive and well at Dalhousie University. The 2014-2015 defending AUS champions look to start their title defence this weekend at the Dalplex after a red hot 8-1 pre-season record.
It will be a rematch of the AUS semifinals as the Tigers host the UNB Varsity Reds for a two-game set. The Varsity Reds tore up the AUS in the regular season last season finishing first with a 16-4 record.
Last season’s AUS champions surprised everyone after posting a .500 record in the regular season finishing fifth in the AUS standings. The resilient Tigers never doubted themselves and got hot at the right time; the AUS championships.
In the CIS Final 8, the Tigers fell short by just one point in their first-round match up against the Victoria Vikes.
The expectations were low for the Tigers last season as coach Rick Plato re-tooled the team with eight rookies but that won’t be the case this year, as all the Tigers core players are returning. Add in two-time AUS all-star William Yengue, who returns to the lineup after a two-year hiatus with the addition of four fresh faces, including Sascha Kappos (6’9, Miami, FLA), Jordan Aquino-Serjue (5’11, Montreal, QC), Matt McVeigh (6’2, Tantallon, NS) and Alex Petronis (6’4, Toronto, ON) the squad’s composition remains largely the same.
The starting five spots are very much up for grabs this year. Last year’s team and AUS championship MVP, Kashrell Lawrence will be a fixture on the court after posting career numbers last year, averaging 18.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Ritchie Kanza Mata is arguably the team’s best distributer, averaging seven assists a game last season, second most in the AUS. Last season’s AUS defensive player of the year, he also put up 9.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game making him a threat in every area of the court. Kanza Mata suffered a concussion in the pre-season so he won’t be in the lineup to start the season.
Jarred Reid was the team’s second biggest offensive weapon, putting up 13.6 points and 2.3 assists per game. Third-year Sven Stammberger, who stands 6 feet 5 inches tall, really came into his own last season and had a big hand in the Tigers success. He went from averaging 3.8 minutes and 0.5 points a game in the 2013-2014 season to over 27 minutes, 8.8 points, 5.2 rebounds a game. Both have had pre-seasons and should be a consistent presence on the court for the Tigers.
Expect to see William Yengue get lots of court time and last year’s CEGEP player of the year Jordan Aquino-Serjue will lead the Tigers offence early on.
It is an exciting time be a Tigers basketball fan as the team looks to have what it takes to repeat. After a lengthy pre-season schedule that included trips to Ontario and Quebec, the Tigers should be in tip top game form.
They will be tested early out of the gate against one of the AUS best teams over the last couple years in UNB Varsity Red’s. Tip off will be at 8pm on Friday, November 6.