Halifax N.S- It is the end of week three in AUS basketball, and a lot has happened in AUS women’s basketball. Here are this week’s team rankings.
1. University of Prince Edward Island
To no surprise, the University of Prince Edward Island look to be on pace to defend their title.
With the league’s best offence and defence, UPEI is firing on all cylinders.
To attribute to their offence, UPEI is the best 3-point shooting team in the league. They also have the best 3-point defence, which in turn makes it extremely hard to beat a team that can make it rain from beyond the arc while their opponents are run dry.
Jenna Mae Ellsworth is playing out of her mind. Averaging 23.2 points and eight rebounds, Mae Ellsworth is doing it with supreme efficiency. She is practically unguardable with shooting splits of 56/52.6/87.5 as the 2019-20 MVP is already the front runner for MVP this season.
Lauren Rainford has elevated her game from her rookie season. Currently averaging 20 points per game, Rainford has seen an 11.2 point per game increase. The 5’10 guard is making 42.7 per cent of her 3-pointers, making her a deadly offensive threat.
Expect UPEI to continue their dominance as they remain heavy favourites.
2. Saint Mary’s University
Saint Mary’s University has gotten off to an impressive 5-1 start.
With their first two wins coming against Acadia University, SMU has overtaken Acadia for the second spot.
SMU, to no surprise, has attempted the most 3-pointers so far this season. SMU can also get to the line as they have the third most free throw attempts this season. However, SMU needs to do a better job of converting their free throws as they are currently shooting a lowly 63.9 per cent as a team.
SMU’s defence is elite as they allow the second-least points per game in the league.
Alaina McMillan is the leading scorer for SMU as she is averaging 16.7 points per game which is good for sixth in AUS scoring.
While SMU does not have any other prolific scorers, they are a team that can score by committee.
Do not be surprised if SMU continues their strong start and finishes second and possibly challenge for first this season. While they finished in sixth place in the 2019-20 season, SMU’s strong preseason and hot start should not be a shock.
3. Acadia University
It is no secret that Acadia University’s first two losses were unexpected, but they seem to be back on track.
With some new standouts, perhaps it has taken time to get everything to fall in place for Acadia.
Elizabeth Beals-Iseyemi has been a significant standout. Averaging 17.3 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game, Beals-Iseyemi has been dominant. Add her 3.5 assists per game into the mix; Beals-Iseyemi has an incredible feel for the game.
Jayda Veinot was not playing around when she said she could lead the league in scoring this season. In fact, she is tied for first in scoring with 23.2 points per game. Veinot’s efficiency has been nothing but impressive as she is adjusting to her expanded role. With 47/43.3/72.7 shooting splits, expect this to increase as Veinot takes stride this season.
The versatile Samantha Russell is averaging 9.3 points, six rebounds and four assists. Expect the rookie’s numbers to increase as the season continues while she becomes adjusted to AUS basketball.
Acadia has the third-best defence and is second in rebounds per game. Being dominant defensively and on the glass will continue to be vital for Acadia to control games.
4. Memorial University of Newfoundland
The Memorial University of Newfoundland has the second-ranked offence in the league and currently sit in fourth place as they are in the thick of things.
Rebecka Ekstrom is an elite volume 3-point shooter as she takes 1.7 more 3-pointers per game than any other player. Converting on 34.9 per cent of her 3-pointers, Ekstrom can light it up at any time, making her extremely dangerous.
Alana Short has made important contributions to no surprise, averaging 14 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game.
Memorial finds themselves at the free throw line a lot with 146 attempts this season. Knocking down 75.3 per cent of them has been a crucial part of Memorial’s offence.
Being the best rebounding team in the league, Memorial can control games on the glass.
Expect Memorial to continue to roll as they have an elite offence, elite rebounding and the scorers to take over games.
5. University of New Brunswick
The University of New Brunswick may be a spot under Cape Breton University in the standings, but I believe UNB has been more impressive this season.
UNB’s first win came against St. Francis Xavier University, but their most impressive win was against the powerhouse SMU.
UNB’s fourth-ranked defence will give them the ability to stay in games against the league’s best.
However, their offence is lacklustre, as they have the second-worst offence. If UNB wants to climb the standings, they will need to improve their offence.
UNB’s offence may be struggling due to not having a true offensive weapon as they are two of the eight teams who do not have a top 10 scorer. Look for Katie McAffee to potentially step into this role as she leads the team in scoring. McAffee’s shooting splits are not the hottest at the moment, but it is still early in the season.
6. Cape Breton University
Cape Breton University is currently on a four-game losing streak after winning their games opening weekend against Dalhousie University.
Kiyara Letlow has been nothing but spectacular this season. Averaging 20.3 points per game and 12.5 rebounds per game, Letlow has been an absolute handful for opposing teams. Being third in points per game and second in rebounds per game, Letlow has established herself among the elite this season.
As a team, CBU’s downfall has been their defence. They allow the most points per game at 80.8 points per game. This will need to change as their offence is good enough to win games, especially with Letlow’s output. There is still time in the season, and if CBU can make some adjustments, they can shoot up in the standings.
7. St. Francis Xavier University
St. Francis Xavier University has been subpar this season, but they do have potential.
I initially ranked them fifth in my preseason rankings, but they now fall to seventh.
StFX is currently 1-5, but they have played tough teams. Games against Acadia and SMU are games where StFX is not expected to win. With their one win coming against UNB, StFX has not had a genuine chance to show how good they are.
StFX’s leading scorers, Kimberly Kingsbury and Tahmala Thorpe, are both top 10 in scoring. With two scorers of this calibre, StFX should bring their record up in the coming weeks with 4-point games against CBU and Dalhousie. StFX could very possibly go 2-0 and shoot up the standings.
8. Dalhousie University
Dalhousie University currently sits with an 0-6 record.
Dalhousie has by far the worst offence in the league, with their current points per game average sitting six points per game below any other team.
The Tigers only have one top 20 scorer in rookie Katie Crombeen, averaging 11.3 points per game on 45.6 shooting from the field with plenty of room to grow.
Watch for Crombeen to keep getting better as the season continues as this young team continues to heighten.