© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
The UPEI Panthers men’s basketball team’s starting five, from left, are Deontay (D.J.) Smith, Geoff Doane, Aaron Robbins, Donathan (Donnie) Moss and Ellis Ffrench.
UPEI team looking to end playoff drought at AUS men’s basketball championship
Geoff Doane is looking to win a playoff game Friday for the first time in his university career.
The Panthers basketball team missed the playoffs during his rookie season four years ago.
“The last two years we were the third seed and we didn’t make it past the first round. We’re going to make it past the first round this year,” said the St. Margaret’s Bay, N.S., native. “I’m thirsty for that win.”
The Panthers are again the third seed in the six-team Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s basketball championship in Halifax. They meet the Cape Breton Capers Friday at 8 p.m.
“Their big guys are really where they thrive,” Doane said. “As long as we keep them off the (offensive) glass we should be good.”
Brian Ofori, the six-foot-five forward from Montreal, is one of the Panthers who will be matching up with the Capers inside.
“They’re a lot bigger,” the second-year Panther said, “but I know our bigs are definitely a lot more athletic, a lot faster (and) quicker on our feet.”
The Panthers (11-9) swept the Capers (9-11) this season, 89-85 on Nov. 29 in Sydney, N.S., and 98-60 on Jan. 10 in Charlottetown. Coach Tim Kendrick said the first game is closer to what he expects from the Capers on Friday and despite being the higher seed the Panthers are taking nothing for granted.
“Don’t every underestimate the heart of a champion,” Kendrick said.
The Panthers’ recent history can’t be changed and is not worth dwelling on, the coach said.
“We want to win because we want to win and we want to advance,” he said, “that’s all we kind of think about.”
The Panthers lost the quarter-final the past two seasons to Saint Mary’s with both games going down to the wire.
“I think there has to be some disappointment, some heartbreak on the way to building (successful teams),” Kendrick said. “Are we ready to win? I think we are.”
The AUS championship is the big show of the season. It is at the largest venue, with the largest crowd and for all the marbles.
“Everyone is going to have some nerves, whether they want to admit it or not, but I think that’s a good thing,” said guard Joe Kendrick.
“It really gets you going and it’s like no other games all year. It’s a special tournament, for sure.”
Ffrench said the team has to stay in the moment.
“I think we’re all keeping a pretty level head about the weekend,” he said. “We know it’s going to be one game at a time. Right now, the focus is on Friday night and Cape Breton.”
Doane said the team has learned from the experience the past two years.
“We know the routine now. We know we have to get good sleep, eat right and get to bed on time.”
Jayden Skinner-Nordin is one of UPEI’s freshmen who has played a big role this season. He watched the tournament growing up in Halifax and is excited to play in the championship.
“Hopefully we can play on Sunday and get that W and go to nationals,” he said. “We’re ready for it.”
Playing on the big stage is not a worry for him.
“At the end it’s just playing ball,” he said. “That’s what we’re really focused on.”
Joe Kendrick is in his second season with the Panthers, but in his final year of eligibility. He began his university career with the Brock Badgers in 2008.
“I started my career with a national championship win and I plan on going out and doing the same thing this (year) and it starts this weekend. We have to win the AUS,” he said. “I think we’re really going to come out and turn a few heads.”
A look at the UPEI Panthers’ active roster for this weekend’s Atlantic University Sport men’s basketball championship in Halifax:
Lorenzo Parker, New Minas, N.S.
Joe Kendrick, Wolfville, N.S.
Will Caesar, Toronto.
Jayden Skinner-Nordin, Halifax
Ellis Ffrench, Wolfville, N.S.
Deontay (D.J.) Smith, North Preston, N.S.
Mahad Mohomed, Toronto.
Donathan (Donnie) Moss, Nassau, Bahamas.
Aaron Robbins, Stratford.
Ethan Deruelle, New Waterford, N.S.
Geoff Doane, St. Margaret’s Bay, N.S.
Brian Ofori, Montreal.
Stefan Vujisic, Kraguievhe, Serbia.
A look at the UPEI Panthers men’s basketball team’s
regular season results:
Acadia 81, UPEI 76
Acadia 86, UPEI 85
UNB 93, UPEI 81
UNB 103 UPEI 91,
UPEI 80, Dalhousie 79
UPEI 96, Dalhousie 95
UPEI 89, Cape Breton 85
UPEI 109, St. F.X. 106
UPEI 98, Cape Breton 60
UPEI 92, Saint Mary’s 81
Acadia 89, UPEI 73
UPEI 88, Acadia 80
UPEI 85, UNB 75
UPEI 95, UNB 77
UPEI 81, Dalhousie 66
Dalhousie 91, UPEI 88
UPEI 97, Saint Mary 93
Memorial 83, UPEI 78
Memorial 103, UPEI 97
UPEI 96, St. F.X. 77
A look at the recent AUS
men’s basketball champions:
2012-13 - Cape Breton
2011-12 - Acadia
2010-11 - Dalhousie
2009-10 - Cape Breton
2008-09 - Dalhousie
2007-08 - Saint Mary’s
2006-07 - Acadia
2005-06 - St. F.X.
2004-05 - St. F.X.
2003-04 - St. F.X.
2002-03 - UPEI
A look at this weekend’s
AUS men’s basketball
with seeding in brackets:
6 p.m. – UNB (5) vs. St. F.X. (4)
8 p.m. – UPEI (3) vs. Cape
6 p.m. – Acadia (1) vs. first
8 p.m. – Saint Mary’s (2) vs.
second quarter-final winner
2 p.m. - Final
Did you know?
u Ticket packages can be purchased by contacting the Ticket Atlantic Box Office at 451-1221 or visiting www.ticketatlantic.com.
u All five tournament games will
be webcast live at www.AUStv.ca.