Panthers ‘thirsty for that win’

Jason Malloy
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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.”

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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.”

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Roster

A look at the UPEI Panthers’ active roster for this weekend’s Atlantic University Sport men’s basketball championship in Halifax:

Guards

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.

Forwards

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.

Panther results

A look at the UPEI Panthers men’s basketball team’s

regular season results:

Nov. 8

Acadia 81, UPEI 76

Nov. 9

Acadia 86, UPEI 85

Nov. 15

UNB 93, UPEI 81

Nov. 16

UNB 103 UPEI 91,

Nov. 22

UPEI 80, Dalhousie 79

Nov. 23

UPEI 96, Dalhousie 95  

Nov. 29

UPEI 89, Cape Breton 85

Nov. 30

UPEI 109, St. F.X. 106

Jan. 10

UPEI 98, Cape Breton 60  

Jan. 11

UPEI 92, Saint Mary’s 81

Jan. 17

Acadia 89, UPEI 73

Jan. 18

UPEI 88, Acadia 80

Jan. 24

UPEI 85, UNB 75

Jan. 25

UPEI 95, UNB 77

Jan. 31

UPEI 81, Dalhousie 66

Feb. 1

Dalhousie 91, UPEI 88

Feb. 8

UPEI 97, Saint Mary 93

Feb. 15

Memorial 83, UPEI 78

Feb. 16

Memorial 103, UPEI 97

Feb. 21

UPEI 96, St. F.X. 77

 

Past champs

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

 

Schedule

A look at this weekend’s

AUS men’s basketball

championship schedule

with seeding in brackets:

Friday

Quarter-finals

6 p.m. – UNB (5) vs. St. F.X. (4)

8 p.m. – UPEI (3) vs. Cape

Breton (6)

Saturday

Semifinals

6 p.m. – Acadia (1) vs. first

quarter-final winner

8 p.m. – Saint Mary’s (2) vs.

second quarter-final winner

Sunday

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.

 

 

 

Organizations: Panthers, Atlantic University Sport, Ticket Atlantic Box Office

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Saint Mary, Halifax Montreal Sydney Charlottetown

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