Record: 6-0 conference (2nd, AUS), 11-1 overall, +5.0 SRS (13th in CIS)
Offensive/Defensive Efficiency (CIS Rank): 98.7 ORtg (21st), 72.8 DRtg (1st)
First half highlights:
- An unblemished conference record and a solid showing in non-conference play.
- Two wins over Memorial by a combined 71 points.
What makes them good: So far, it's been tough to score against the Axemen. Their opponents' 72.8 points per 100 possessions is absolutely miniscule, and more than nine points fewer than no. 2 Ryerson, and teams playing Acadia have shot just 30% on two-pointers, a ridiculously low number. One reason the Axemen are so good at protecting their bucket is that they don't hit the offensive glass much (26% offensive rebounding rate despite having Owen Klassen, one of the premier rebounders in the country), letting the 'D' get set up off misses. Given that the Axemen play the fourth-fastest pace in the country (83.6 possessions per game), the need for solid transition defence is huge. Jonathan Tull (26.0 PER, 64 TS%) has been superb, while All-Canadian Owen Klassen (16.3 points per game, 10.3 rebounds) has put up great numbers despite shouldering much of the load so far (26.7% usage rate, 32 MPG). The Axemen should also receive a boost when sharpshooter Anthony Sears returns to the lineup, joining fellow bomber Anthony Ashe (62 TS%) on the perimeter.
What they need to improve on: Resilience in the face of the injury bug, among other things. Klassen is going to miss the next four to six weeks with an ankle injury, a huge blow to a team that will play several huge divisional games over that time period. He is also facing a February court date, "charged with assault and assault causing bodily harm in connection with two incidents last winter involving a woman." Klassen's combination of basketball skills is perhaps unmatched nationwide, and his ability to make up for teammates' defensive mistakes will be missed on the court — the Axemen struggled without him in a bad loss to Dalhousie at the Rod Shoveller tournament, shooting just 32%. Sears, who has returned to practice but isn't cleared to play, will provide a boost on offence when he comes back, but it remains to be seen whether Acadia can weather this storm.
Goals/Outlooks/Scenarios: If Klassen can return and Sears can help on offence, it should be a pretty good battle for the AUS title between Acadia and Cape Breton (who have injury problems of their own, it should be noted). If not, however, it could be a long winter in Wolfville.