Last year was a transitional period for the Tiger men’s basketball team. Although much of the roster remained constant from the year before, it was the first year of the Rick Plato era. The team struggled out of the gate, going 1-6 as the team headed into the holiday break.
The thing is, they weren’t playing like a 1-6 team. Four of their losses were by three points or less as they just couldn’t seem to put together a full 40 minute effort to get into the win column. January didn’t treat the team a whole lot better as they went 1-7 against the AUS, as the team battled with injuries. In February, they turned things around with a 4-3 record and ended off the season on a high note with a 75-62 win over Acadia in the final game of Simon Marr and Nathan Smith’s careers.
Gone this year is Marr, who was third on the team in scoring with 11.0 ppg. His leadership and versatility will be missed this year on a young Tigers team. The second unit will also have a new look this season, as many of the key reserves from last year including Smith, Derek Norris, Chidi Majok, Thomas Baltzer and Ryan Harnett are no longer with the team.
A pleasant surprise for the Tigers has been the emergence of Sven Stammberger. The second-year, 6’5 forward from Halifax had an admittedly small role with the team last year, seeing just 30 minutes of playing time all season. Plato gave him minutes in the pre-season and he responded with stellar play on both ends of the court, recording two double-doubles and three games of double-digit scoring.
He is joined in the frontcourt by fifth-year forward Devon Stedman and Kashrell Lawrence. Stedman was an absolute beast last season as he led the team with 13.1 points per game and 7.7 boards per game. Lawrence was hot out of the gate last year, averaging 17.6 points per game in the first half of the season, before cooling off slightly in the second half, finishing with 12.9 points per game. He was the spark off the bench that the Tigers needed, and he was sixth in the AUS with a 51.8 field goal percentage.
The big story this year will be the eight new players added to the roster this off-season including rookie guards Adam Karmali, Sean Dodds, Cedric Sanogo, Maurice Colley and Michael Fraser. Sanogo exploded for 20 points in just 18 minutes of action against MSVU in the pre-season and starting a few games. Colley, an explosive 6’2” guard from Dartmouth, NS has looked solid thus far for the Tigers and averaged 5.0 points in the pre-season.
Also joining the Tigers this year will be Jonathan Kamba, who’s in his second year of eligibility. Kamba is from France but played his high school basketball in Bathurst, NB and last saw CIS action in 2009-2010 with the Acadia Axemen. The versatile, athletic stretch forward averaged 18 minutes and 7.6 points per game in the pre-season and will be the oldest player on the Tigers roster.
They opened their season with a two-game set at home against UPEI (splitting 1-1) and came home with two wins over the Sea-Hawks in Newfoundland last weekend. The Tigers are back in action Friday night, hosting Saint Mary’s at Dalplex.