Dalhousie basketball, hockey, swimming and volleyball are all deep into their seasons while track and field has had one minor competition so far. The Dalhousie Gazette takes a look at each team’s season and gives analysis of what might happen in the winter semester.
The men’s basketball team has been off to a great start despite having many players playing bigger or newer roles this season.
All of their starters have increased roles on the team this year and have succeeded in those roles. The bench is stepping up when they need too as well.
Dal is playing stereotypical Rick Plato basketball. They’re not a high scoring team; scoring 83.7 points per game, which is fifth in the league. But they’re a defensive juggernaut only allowing 70 points per game – which is best in the league.
Historically Dal men’s basketball has been a great defensive team so that should continue. Their high shooting percentage might go down and may be a little worse off offensively but their ability to move the ball should continue to wear down defenses so their offense shouldn’t take too bad of a hit.
Even though they’re not scoring many points they’re efficient offensively. They lead the league in shooting percentage. They shoot 48 per cent from the field and 40 per cent from the three-point line. Their three-point percentage is best in the country. They also lead the AUS in assists with 20 assists per game. Which are 0.2 assists back on the national leader University of British Colombia.
They’re in a three-way race with University of New Brunswick and Acadia to be AUS champions. They haven’t played UNB yet, but have lost both of their games against Acadia, which is a powerhouse since they’re hosting the national championships this year in Halifax. Dal will need to overcome that hump in order to win their fourth straight AUS championship.
In 2017, the women’s basketball team finished second last in the league; and they’re tied with University of Prince Edward Island for that spot again this year.
The Tigers started off the season winning their first two games against the winless St. Francis Xavier University followed by losing their next five. Two of those games were against the nationally top ranked Acadia but they lost by 22 and 29 points to Memorial University (who is third in the league.)
Dal is second last in the league in points. They need to do better than getting 54.1 points per game and has allowing 73.7 points per game.
The team is hoping to improve and get into the playoffs this year, which is still a possibility.
Only the last two teams miss the playoffs. Being tied with UPEI, which has similar stats defensively, but UPEI has scored 87 more points than Dal.
Dal’s going to need to find some edge to separate themselves.
At the start of the year they wanted to improve free throw shooting and their defensive play. They’ve improved free throw shooting but Dal’s shooting percentage is last in the league at 30%. It’ll be tough for them to improve their shooting drastically over the course of the season; student-athletes tend to make drastic improvements in the summer. Without being able to get that summer practice in, the Tigers need force more open looks at the net.
The women’s hockey team has drastically changed from last season. Last year they were a veteran team that had a tough time scoring; this year’s team is young, fast and can explode for offense at any time.
Dal’s scored three goals per game, which is third in the league, and sits in the middle of the standings with eight wins and six losses.
Tigers captain Lisa MacLean is third in the league in points with 18 – one point behind Daley Oddy and Emerson Elliott of St. FX who are a part of one of the most dangerous lines in the country.
I would expect the Tigers to take a step back in the second half of the season. They shoot 25.6 shots per game, which is second last in the league but score at a high rate. It’s likely their high shooting percentage will go down which means they will be scoring fewer goals. They allow 2.87 goals per game, which is close to their three goals a game that they score. A slight drop in goals could result them in losing more games than usual. However, they have proven they can beat any team in the league outside of Saint Mary’s University.
Dalhousie lost their top two scorers from last season and it’s showing.
They’ve only scored 1.78 goals per game – last in the league. And their leading scorer, Jackson Playfair, is tied for 46th in the league in points. Defensively they’re lagging because of giving up 3.47 goals per game – fifth in the league.
Dal played well heading into the holiday break: in their last 10 games they either outshot or were fairly even in shots against their opponents six times. But they lost all 10 of those games and are now on an eleven-game losing streak. In that 10-game span they’ve only scored more than two goals twice.
The problem for Dal seems to be execution; it’s not for a lack of effort. Luckily for them only one team misses the playoffs and they are only three points behind Moncton for that final playoff spot. They have a favourable record against Moncton and if Dal can squeak in a few wins in they should give themselves a good chance to get into the playoffs.
The past two seasons the team has been able to win games when they have confidence. If they can get two wins in a row early in the winter that should get them on the right track to have a decent second half and possibly earn their first playoff berth in seven years.
The men’s swimming team has won every meet this season.
At their first meet of the season, only one Dal swimmer didn’t finish first in one event: the 200-meter breaststroke.
In their next meet at the Jack Scholz Invitational, Dal gave up a few more first place finishes but still scored 79.5 more points than second-place Acadia University.
At the Kemp Fry Invitational, Dal outscored second-place Acadia again, this time by 209 points; there were more points handed out in that meet which is why there is a much larger gap.
The usual suspects are leading the way for Dal: swimmers Gavin Dyke, Alec Karlsen and Tyler Immel-Herron have all had a great season so far. In all finals races he competed in, Dyke finished first. Karlsen finished first in all but one. Immel-Herron hasn’t finished lower than second, and all the races he did finish second it was a fellow Dal swimmer that finished first. If the Tigers keep this success going they should be on track to win their 19th straight conference championship.
The women’s teams were also dominant in the pool – winning every meet far this season. They finished first in all but two races in the first meet of the season. At the Jack Scholz meet they finished first, beating Acadia who finished second by 146 points.
At the Kemp Fry meet they beat second-place Acadia again, this time by 570 points. More points in general were handed out in the Kemp Fry meet so the points ratio was similar at the Jack Scholz and Kemp Fry meets between Dal and Acadia.
The Tigers are led by Isabel Sarty, Lise Cinq-Mars and Claire Yurkovich. Similar to Dyke, Sarty and Cinq-Mars have finished first in every finals race so far.
Yurkovich has finished either first or second in most races, only finishing behind other Tigers.
Like the men’s team, if they keep up what they have got going so far, this team should win their 17th straight conference championship at the end of the year.
The Tigers ended last season as AUS champions and are on track to win their sixth straight championship this year.
Heading into the winter break they had an 8-1 record losing the last game of the fall semester in straight sets to Acadia.
Dal’s played the least amount of sets in the league because they usually win in straight sets. The Tigers lead the league in hitting percentage and kills per sets, assists per set, service aces per set, total blocks per set and points per set.
They also have the lowest committed service and reception errors. These stats show how dominant Dal has been so far.
Dal has had some key performances from both veteran and young players: first-year Julie Moore leads the league in points per set with 4.7 and fourth-year Mieke DuMont is not far behind in third place with 3.7.
Third year setter Courtney Baker leads the league in assists per set with 9.54 and third-year Victoria Haworth leads the league in blocks per set with 0.86.
If Dal keeps playing at their high level they should be AUS champions and they might have a shot at making some noise at nationals.
The men’s volleyball teams are in an interesting situation, as they only need to beat UNB in order to win the AUS championships.
Right now, Dal’s slightly behind UNB; they’ve lost two out of three games and both teams’ records – including AUS and interlock play with Quebec’s RSEQ university league – leave UNB with a 3-3 record and Dal with 2-4 record.
The stats show that Dal isn’t really that far behind from UNB. UNB scores 0.2 more points per set than Dal does, while Dal has significantly higher hitting percentage at .210 against UNB’s .174.
Dal also has 10 more assists and 10 more digs than UNB. UNB leads Dal in blocks by 20 and services aces by two.
In three games, both teams played against each other, both teams won one game by 3-1 and UNB took the other winning three sets to two. It seems like either team can win the AUS title.
Track and Field
Dal’s track and field team have only competed in one small competition so far called the Athletics Nova Scotia (ANS) Last Chance Meet. It combined a few university teams and many non-university teams. Also, not all of the athletes competed so the sample size makes it hard to analyze the team.
Compared to the AUS championship results from last year, the returning athletes that competed had similar results. That’s good for Dal, as their teams last year were able to win the AUS championship.
The Dal men’s team lost two strong throwers and there was no throwing at the ANS Last Chance Meet.
On the women’s side, Colleen Wilson and Sarah Myatt were the big losses, but Dal’s replaced their spots with Savanna Jordan, and Michelle Reddy who’s just come back from injury.
Early indications show that both teams are going to be good this season but a much better indication of that will be in the end of January when the track and field team has a few more meets.