By John DeCoste
It might not necessarily look like it with a 2-3 record, but the first semester was “full of positives” for the Acadia men’s basketball team, according to head coach Steve Baur.
“We have a great group of guys and a lot of talent,” Baur said last week, but “we are still in the growth phase of our team.”
The team’s record, which includes four-point wins over Dalhousie and UNB, a one-point overtime loss to St. F.X. and a pair of competitive losses to much-improved UPEI, might be a bit misleading, Baur suggests.
“We were without (some of) our veterans during the pre-season, and since they returned for the regular season, we have been learning about each other and how we work together in regular season play,” he said.
Acadia has a number of new players on the roster, including Tyler Scott who has been starting during the absence due to the injury of Anthony Sears.
“Tyler’s emergence has been a big plus for us,” Baur said. “He has added some great scoring and is creating turnovers on defense.”
The Axemen also now have the services of Anthony Ashe and Jonathan Tull, both of whom sat out last season after transferring to Acadia.
Baur describes Tull, who has both started and come off the bench, as “the unsung hero” of the first half.
“He’s done stuff to help us win,” he said, “making big shots and creating for others when we’ve needed it most.”
Other newcomers such as Brad States and Rhys Larry have also been more of a part of the mix than expected for first-year players, particularly during Owen Klassen’s absence to compete for Canada at the Pan-Am Games.
When he has been able to practice and play, the coach said, Klassen “has been a vocal and example leader for us,” even more than before given the international experience he gained this past year.
Baur is looking for good things from the Axemen in the second half as the players continue to get more familiar with each other.
“Roles and expectations are an important part of any team, and we are much closer to that, now that everyone is back practicing together, than we were by trying to do it on paper in the pre-season and off-season.”
Areas in need of some improvement include “rebounding the ball better and cutting down on our unforced turnovers.”
The Axemen will compete at the Rod Shoveller tournament in Halifax right after Christmas, and are scheduled to open the second half Jan. 5 at home against Cape Breton. “We think we are ready and moving toward a great second semester,” Baur said.