Ellis Ffrench will be in the lineup tonight when the UPEI Panthers start their second half of the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s basketball season.
The fourth-year point guard from Wolfville, N.S., had been dealing with a knee injury. Coach Tim Kendrick said Ffrench, who is averaging 13.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his first year in the green and white, is a big component of the team.
“He’s kind of like a coach on the floor,” Kendrick said. “When you lose that it’s tough.”
Ffrench’s return also allows players to get back into their normal rotation with Jayden Skinner-Nordin coming off the bench while providing other Panthers, like Deontay (D.J.) Smith, to play off the ball more.
The Panthers host the Cape Breton Capers tonight at 8 p.m. in a four-point contest.
UPEI (3-5) is two points ahead of Cape Breton (3-4) in a tight AUS where eight points separate first from sixth place.
The Panthers beat the defending conference champion Capers 89-85 on Nov. 29 in Sydney, N.S.
“They’re going to come out with everything they have, especially after we beat them in their place,” Kendrick said.
The Panthers are among the top scoring teams in the country, but have given up among the most points.
“We have to defend better and make sure we take care of our own glass,” Kendrick said. “We have to make them work for every basket.”
Former Acadia Axemen guard Tyler Scott visited Charlottetown Thursday as he weighs offers to continue his basketball future.
Kendrick said the Halifax native is in high demand with upwards of 20 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) teams expressing interest.
“He’s a top player,” Kendrick said. “He’s very athletic and can really shoot it.”
Kendrick should know. He coached him with Nova Scotia’s 2009 Canada Games team, a squad that included current Panthers Geoff Doane and Deontay (D.J.) Smith.
Scott was the player who hit the game-winning shot to beat Ontario in the semifinal contest.
Scott, who is known for his extended shooting range and defence, left Acadia last year and is sitting out this season while taking courses.
He averaged 11.7 points, 4.8 assists and 1.4 assists in 18 games last season with Acadia.