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Younger basketball squad looks to reclaim nationals berth

Men’s team hard-pressed without Farine, Schow

Archive shot from last year, photo by Paul Balite
Archive shot from last year, photo by Paul Balite

 

After winning the AUS championship and claiming a sixth place finish at nationals last year, the Tigers roster this upcoming season will miss some of the familiar faces that helped get them there.

Most notably, one of the best university players in the nation last season, Simon Farine has graduated and has signed a professional contract with Maccabi Haifa in Israel. As well, Joseph Schow, another graduated Tiger, is playing high-level ball with the semi-professional Medway Park in England. Also leaving Dal are Peter Leighton, a solid three-point shooter, Sandy Veit, a great big man in the paint, and Jason Wang, who was injured for most of last year.

While the Tigers wave goodbye to five athletes, they are also adding four more players: Ritchie Kanza (Mother Teresa High School, Ont.), Derek Norris (John A. McDonald, N.S.), John Traboulsi (Western High School, Alta.) and Askhat Onov from Russia.

Looking forward to the approaching season, the Tigers have a tough road ahead. Although they are not the only AUS school to have lost plenty of talent, it won’t be easy sailing for Dal as they attempt to find leadership in a locker room filled with younger players.

Head coach John Campbell knows this season will be a struggle.

I think we have a number of players that have played supporting roles in the past that will have the opportunity to establish themselves as major players in our conference. I think our ability to make good decisions offensively and continue to defend well will determine our success.”

Expectations for the Tigers might be high after winning a conference championship and earning a spot in the CIS Final 8 nationals last spring, but fans shouldn’t presume they’ll see the same team they watched last year. The Tigers will not be as deep as they once were at the centre or power forward positions, so instead anticipate a guard-heavy offensive team, relying on Casey Fox’s game behind the arc. Fox didn’t play a game last season, sitting out because he had transferred.

Offensive issues aside, the Tigers should retain their strong-suit this year, their defence, particularly with the aid of Stephen Lopez, who will be shutting down some of the league’s premier scorers.

The Tigers have a difficult path if they want to make another run at the nationals—held in Halifax for the second consecutive year—but even if they are young, you shouldn’t count the Tigers out just yet.

 

Dal will meet Acadia for their season opener Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the Dalplex. Preseason ball opens in mid-October.

 

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