Men’s hoops teams play exhibition game tonight before Christmas break
It may be exhibition, but don’t tell the UPEI and Holland College men’s basketball teams.
The squads meet tonight at 7 p.m. at UPEI in their final action of 2013 and both squads are looking to end the year on a positive note.
“We have finished on a good kind of run, so we want to keep some momentum going,” said UPEI Panthers coach Tim Kendrick.
The Panthers (3-5) started the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) season 0-4, won three straight games before losing in double overtime to St. F.X. in Antigonish, N.S., on Nov. 30 in its finale of 2013.
The team is playing at the Rod Shoveller Memorial Tournament in Halifax from Jan. 2 to 4.
“I’ve never liked this layoff. Really, it’s almost like two seasons,” Kendrick said.
But having the exhibition game against their collegiate neighbours before the Christmas break helps.
“They’re very close obviously and they’re very good. They’re one of the top college teams in the country,” Kendrick said. “They’re a very good team and we can get a lot out of playing them.”
Holland College Hurricanes coach Josh Whitty said tonight’s game has been valuable for the defending Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) champs.
“It’s been a focal point in practice,” he said. “We still have a game to play here before we go home. . . Practices have stayed intense.”
The Hurricanes (5-2) won its last game Dec. 1 at Mount Allison and is not back in action until Jan. 11. The team has battled injuries during the first part of the season, but had Chase Bowden back in the lineup against Mount Allison. He put up 29 points and nine rebounds after missing five games with an upper body injury.
“We’re certainly excited about coming back after Christmas,” Whitty said. “We have 14 games left in the regular season and we’re going to go out and try to win every one of them.”
The Panthers will be without guard Ellis Ffrench tonight. He has a sprained MCL, but is expected to be ready for the Shoveller tournament. There is a possibility a Panther or two may not play to rest nagging injuries.
The Hurricanes will not have Aaron Evans, who has gone home for the Christmas break. The Panthers and Hurricanes players know each other.
“The guys look forward to it,” Whitty said. “We’ve played UPEI in the pre-season and the two teams certainly know each other fairly well.”
After starting 0-4 the Panthers held some video sessions to highlight some of the positives the team was doing.
“I felt we were losing some confidence,” Kendrick said.
The team responded pulling out a pair of one-point victories at home against Dalhousie and then going into the Sydney, N.S., and defeating Cape Breton in a four-point game.
The team is scoring 88 points a game while giving up 91.
“We’re second in conference scoring and top-10 in the country in scoring, but our defence has been terrible. We have to get better and I think we will,” Kendrick said. “I don’t think I was at my best in the first half either. I told my players I will be a lot better in the second half as well.”
Kendrick said the team would need to play better defence and rebound the ball better in its own end while cleaning up some of the mental mistakes. If it does that it could score even more with an increase in transition baskets.
UPEI PANTHERS SCHEDULE
7 p.m. – Holland College at UPEI (exhibition)
Note: Game time was originally scheduled for 8 p.m.
* The following previously scheduled games have been cancelled.
UPEI vs. UPEI Alumni (exhibition)
UPEI vs. Crandall (Exhibition)