The men’s basketball team is coming off a disappointing finish last year that saw them eliminated from the AUS playoffs in their very first game versus the Dalhousie Tigers, the dark horse team that would go on to the win the AUS and represent the conference at the CIS championships.
“My ultimate goal is to win an AUS championship, we feel we have unfinished business to take care of,” said third year guard Javon Masters.
Masters is coming off a season that saw him win AUS MVP and fall just short in the CIS MVP race.
“It’s going to be difficult, truthfully,” said Masters when asked how he will follow up his MVP season. “I’ve worked a lot in the offseason on my jumper and finishing around the basket, I felt like there were some baskets when I got fouled I could have made but missed.”
UNB was consistently ranked in the CIS top-ten last year and saw their ranking reach as high as three in the nation. The V-Reds lost a few key players to graduation including all-star guard Will McFee who averaged 16.1 points a game last season.
“Replacing the guys we lost last year was going to be tough coming into this year and we had a feeling for that,” said Masters. “We have a bunch of new guys that came in so we knew that it was going to take some time to process. Once we get it rolling and figure out chemistry I think we should be fine.”
New recruits this year include Kaleefah Henry, a guard who has been playing for Mount Allison in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association; Tyronn King, a guard out of Toronto; Benjamin Redl, a 6’6” forward out of Yorkton; and fourth year guard, Temer Robinson-Hermelijn.
“It will definitely be up to the returning players, who know what it takes, to step up, in order to put ourselves into the same position as last year,” said fifth year guard Matt Daley. “We’re focusing on the new [season] and style of play we will be using this year.”
Daley is going into his final year of CIS eligibility and will look to help end the men’s basketball 48 year AUS title drought.
“I have been motivated to win every year because I’m just the type of player that hates to lose,” said Daley. “Knowing that this is my last chance in a Reds jersey definitely motivates me every practice and game.”
UNB dropped two of three games in their annual Eric Garland preseason tournament, posting losses to AUS rivals UPEI and Saint Mary’s and a win versus Laval.
Masters, who averaged over 25 points a game last year, put up some gaudy numbers in the tournament, scoring 41 against UPEI, 36 versus Saint Mary’s and 23 on Laval.
Second year guard Jesse Kendall is poised to play a much larger role in the rotation than in his rookie year. He logged at least 20 minutes in all three games and scored an average of 14 points.
The V-Reds will continue their preseason in a final tune-up game against Crandall on Oct. 24 and will begin their AUS season Nov. 6 at Dalhousie.