BIBLE HILL, N.S. – The Dal AC Rams enter this week’s Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball championship with cautious optimism.
The Rams, coming off a tough 4-17 regular season, will host the six-team event at Langille Athletic Centre. Dal AC meets the Crandall Chargers (14-7) in a quarterfinal game on Friday at 3 p.m.
“I think right now we are close to playing our best basketball, which is the goal for every coach at the start of the year, is to play your best basketball at playoff time, so we’ll give it a shot,” said Rams third-year coach Andrew Barnhill.
The UNBSJ Seawolves (9-12) tip off against the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics (14-7) in the other quarter-final at 5 p.m. The top-ranked Holland Hurricanes (20-1) and second-seeded Mount Allison Mounties (15-6) play quarterfinal winners on Saturday.
The Rams got off to a slow start this season and were winless in their first 11 games, while suffering their fair share of lopsided losses. However, they’ve been better during the second half and are thrilled with the opportunity to be playing for a conference title.
“I think they’re excited and I think they’re close to getting prepared,” said Barnhill. “We were there last year, so we have some experience so hopefully for some of the older guys the nerves will be not as bad as they were last year when it was completely unknown.
“What I keep telling them is there’s no pressure,” he added. “You just go out and take your shot and if you win, you win and if you don’t, you weren’t supposed to win anyway, according to everybody else, so there’s really no pressure on you guys as players.”
The Rams lost all three regular-season games to the Chargers, but were competitive in each contest. Barnhill said his team lost composure during second- and third-quarter stages in those games which ultimately cost them a chance to win. Avoiding those same breakdowns will be imperative, he said, to achieving success on Friday.
“I think any game’s winnable,” he said. “Some things are going to have to go our way. We’re going to have to shoot the ball well and your best players have to be your best players in big games.”
The ACAA women’s championship tournament will be played simultaneously at the Bible Hill campus this weekend. Teams competing are King’s, St. Thomas, UNBSJ, Holland, Mount Saint Vincent and Mount Allison.
The CCAA national men’s championship will be played at Montmorency in Laval, Que. The women’s championship will be held at Mount Allison. Both tournaments run March 15 to 17.
UKC vs. STU, 11 a.m.
UNBSJ vs. Holland, 1 p.m.
Dal AC vs. Crandall, 3 p.m.
UNBSJ vs. MSVU, 5 p.m.
QF winner vs. MSVU, 1 p.m.
QF winner vs. Mount Allison, 3 p.m.
QF winner vs. Holland, 6 p.m.
QF winner vs. Mount Allison, 8 p.m.
Women’s final, 1 p.m.
Men’s final, 3:30 p.m.