HALIFAX, NS – The St. Francis Xavier University X-Men look dominant going into the AUS Championship with a 17-3 record.
The X-Men came into the 2022-2023 season with a new mindset and mentality. The team has taken the feeling of losing in the AUS semifinal last season into this year and is excited about the tournament, said AUS star and league-leading rebounder David Muenkat.
“You don’t want to forget what happened last year; want to make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes. But at the same time, we’re not the same team, so it’ll be exciting,” said Muenkat.
Muenkat immediately pointed to the X-Men’s defence for the success of the team. StFX has the best defensive efficiency in the AUS, and Muenkat attributed the league’s best defence to buying into AUS Coach of the Year Tyrell Vernon.
“Beginning of training camp, he presented a new defensive identity to us, and everybody was just bought in and communicating; just be vocal and aware; attention to detail,” said the AUS Defensive Player of the Year.
Vernon said last year, the X-Men tried to rely on its offence too much to get them through hard times. StFX finished last year fifth in AUS defensive efficiency.
“I think this year our defence has kind of created separation in games,” said Vernon.
StFX has five double-digit scorers making for a balanced offence. Vernon said the variety of offensive options makes playing help defence on any player tough.
“When you have a ton of talent, you can’t have just one piece of that talent scoring all the points and taking all the shots. Share the ball and focus on that team success and then everybody reaps the benefits of that,” said Vernon.
StFX led the league in rebounds per game and averaged 14.3 offensive rebounds per game. Muenkat, the AUS rebound leader, said it had been part of his identity as a player since he began playing basketball.
“That’s just effort basically. Being able to do that on a night-in and night-out basis will only help us in the long run,” said Muenkat.
The X-Men look for its first AUS title since completing a three-peat in 2006.