Getting to as many lose balls as possible has been key to the UPEI Panthers success so far this season, says the team’s leading scorer.
“We come out every game trying to win every lose ball,” Geoff Doane said following Wednesday’s practice. “The 50-50 balls, if we get those we have the advantage, more possessions, more shots.”
It becomes even more important for the Panthers (3-1) tonight when they try to knock off the country’s second-ranked team. The defending conference champs from Acadia come to town for an 8 p.m. tipoff.
“They make very limited mistakes,” Doane said. “They’re crisp with the ball, execute very well and we have to play up to their level.”
Coach Tim Kendrick said getting the loose balls and taking charges are part of the recipe for success.
“You have to outwork and outhustle them,” he said.
One player the Panthers will try to limit is Owen Klassen. The six-foot-10 forward is averaging 16 points a game this season, but is only shooting 11 per cent from downtown this year.
“Klassen is a kid we have to make sure he doesn’t have a big game against us,” Kendrick said, noting if they can keep him to his averages they would be happy.
The teams split last year’s four games with the home team winning each contest.
“We love playing in our gym,” Doane said. “We love just walking across the street and playing basketball.”
The game will be special for Panthers rookie Lorenzo Parker, who grew up watching Axemen games.
“I played for coach (Stephen) Baur on the under-17 team a couple of years ago and I know all the guys there,” said the New Minas, N.S. native. “It’s going to be pretty wild.”
But when tonight game starts it will be about the task at-hand for the rookie guard.
“I’m a Panther,” the six-foot-three guard said.
The Panthers hope to dress 12 players for tonight’s game after dealing with a slew of injuries to start the season.
“I wouldn’t say we’re healthy, but we’re better than we were,” Kendrick said. “We’re 3-1 in the league. It’s a testament to how tough mentally that we’re becoming. . . .
“I’m awful happy with the way our guys have responded and I expect us to respond big (tonight).”