HALIFAX, NS – With the 2021-22 AUS women’s basketball season beginning this coming weekend, it is only right to share preseason predictions. Here are our 2021-22 regular-season predictions.
- University of Prince Edward Island
The defending champions, the University of Prince Edward Island, take the top spot to start the list off.
Finishing off the 2019-20 regular season, UPEI finished with an outstanding record of 17-3. UPEI had the league’s best defence, only allowing 61.9 points per game. With an elite defence and the two prolific scorers in the 2019-20 Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year, Jenna Mae Ellsworth and her co-star, Resse Baxendale, this team has all the tools to succeed.
Player to watch: Jenna Mae Ellsworth and Reese Baxendale
2. Acadia University
Acadia University will take the second spot. Acadia has a winning culture, coming off of their 16-4 record in 2019-20 and two-time champions in the past three seasons.
Falling short to UPEI in the finals, Acadia is looking for revenge, but with quite a different team.
Jayda Veinot emerges as the best scorer on Acadia, as in the 2019-20 season, Veinot averaged 17.9 points per game on excellent shooting splits of 51.9/44.4/94.3.
Veinot can take over from Haley McDonald’s scoring as the leading scorer. However, the Axewomen have an extremely dynamic freshman in Samantha Russell. Do not be surprised if Russell quickly develops into a star, as she has the scoring and passing abilities.
A player who has impressed throughout preseason is Elizabeth Beals-Iseyemi. Beals-Iseyemi has an excellent feel for the game, is efficient at driving the basketball and has a mobile defensive presence at 6 feet tall.
Player to watch: Jayda Veinot
3. Saint Mary’s University
Saint Mary’s University is undefeated in preseason, including wins over the Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of New Brunswick, and Cape Breton University.
While this could be considered a hot take as SMU finished sixth in the 2019-20 season, the Huskies look solid in their preseason.
Alaina McMillan, who finished top 10 in AUS scoring and second in total assists, SMU has a dynamic guard at their disposal.
SMU had the best 3-point shooting team in the 2019-20 season, making at least 42 more 3-pointers than other AUS teams. McMillan’s job will be easy to find shooters on the perimeter with a team that can shoot like this.
Player to watch: Alaina McMillan
4. Memorial University of Newfoundland
Although Memorial holds a losing record of 1-2 in the preseason, the quality of teams they have lost against is nothing to be ashamed of.
Losing by three points to Acadia and four points to SMU, Memorial will be in the thick of things this season once again after finishing third in the 2019-20 season.
The reason for Memorial dropping below SMU this season is that they are losing the league’s 2019-20 leading scorer in Haille Nickerson.
Alana Short will be the assumed lead scorer for Memorial this season. After averaging 14.4 points per game, this sharpshooter lights it up from behind the arc shooting 38.1 per cent.
The 2019-20 Coach of the Year, Mark English, can take this team higher in the standings.
Player to watch: Alana Short
5. St. Francis Xavier University
Going 1-2 so far through preseason, StFX has the chance to make the playoffs this season.
Their two preseason losses must be put into context as they were against the league’s powerhouses in UPEI and Acadia.
After a 3-17 record in the 2019-20 regular season, StFX has looked much improved in the preseason. Despite their ranking on this list, do not be surprised if StFX challenge for the third seed.
StFX has a fresh team with eleven players in their first year of eligibility. However, a fresh start may be just what the doctor ordered.
Kimberly Kingsbury can get back to the 2018-19 form, which saw a 14.8 points per game average. This dipped in the 2019-20 season as she only started 13 of the 20 games.
Player to watch: Kimberly Kingsbury
6. Cape Breton University
Losing one of their stars in Monique Calliste, Cape Breton is a tough team to predict.
Going 1-2 in the preseason with two awful losses, Cape Breton is an absolute wild card.
Expect Cape Breton’s leading scorer, MacKenzee Ryan, to lead the team after finishing in the top six in scoring in the 1029-20 season. Hailey Macleod should have an expanded role this season after averaging 11.9 points per game in the 2019-20 season behind the two stars. Macleod has averaged 14 points per game through the preseason and looks to continue this scoring for the season.
Player to watch: MacKenzee Ryan
7. University of New Brunswick
UNB looks like they will struggle to put the ball into the basket again after finishing sixth in points per game as a team in the 2019-20 season. Losing the top scorer, Mikaela Dodig, it is hard to predict who will fill this role.
It will have to be UNB’s defence that gets the job done once again after allowing only 63.5 points per game in the 2019-20 regular season, which was second-best in the league.
Player to watch: Kylee Speedy
8. Dalhousie University
After a disappointing 2019-20 regular season, Dalhousie University will find themselves near the bottom of the standings again.
It has been a disappointing preseason for the Tigers as not only have they lost games, but they have lost these games by a wide margin of points.
Eight of their players are freshmen, which means Dalhousie can try and build for future seasons this year. Interim head coach, Anton Berry, has had great success at the AUS level as an assistant coach for the Dalhousie men’s basketball team. Berry’s five AUS championship titles and two national medals mean he is bringing a lot of experience and a winning culture to the team.
Freshmen such as Katie Crombeen and Andrea Hebert are examples of players who will improve over the season and eventually bring Dalhousie further up the standings.
Player to watch: Katie Crombeen