By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
CANADA's U Sports Basketball season opened with several matchups between Bahamian players with their respective programmes.
Jordan Wilson and Shamar Burrows are in their second year with the Dalhousie Tigers, the No.2 ranked team in the country. Dalhousie is out to a 3-0 start to the year and won the first game of a home-and-home series against the Saint Mary's Huskies, 91-65 Wednesday night.
The Huskies feature second year forward Qyemah Gibson, incoming transfer Sebastian Gray and Ollen Smith on the sidelines as an assistant coach.
Wilson finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists in just 18 minutes while Burrows also finished with a career high 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.
For the Huskies, Gibson finished with 10 points and five rebounds, while Gray scored just two in 12 foul plagued minutes.
The second game of the series between the two will be tomorrow at 8pm.
Last season, the Tigers finished the regular season 14-5, won the AUS Conference Championship (the fourth in five years) and finished fourth overall in the U Sports Final Eight.
This season, with expectations looming large, they finished the preseason undefeated.
Head coach Rick Plato is pleased with his team's performance thus far and has modest goals for the group.
"Going 10-0 all on the road is not an easy feat so I'm very pleased with our pre-season play," he said in the Tigers' preseason preview.
"I know expectations are high for us after debuting at No. 2 in the U SPORTS ranking, but my only goal at this point is that we be the hardest working team in Canada and improve each day."
Dalhousie opened the season November 2 against another Bahamian player, Azaro Roker and the St Francis Xavier X-Men.
The Tigers emerged with a 94-61 win and limited the X-Men to just over 35 per cent shooting from the field.
Wilson finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals. Burrows finished with three points, three steals and two rebounds.
Roker finished with four points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
The veteran forward looks to step up in a bigger role with the St Francis Xavier X-Men in the final year of longtime head coach Steven Konchalski at the programme.
"Obviously I would like to finish my career at StFX on a championship note, and I believe that this year's recruiting class added to our returning nucleus will put us on that path," said Konchalski.
Last season he averaged 10 points and was a conference leader with 10 rebounds and two blocked shots per game.
The X-Men were the No.5 seed in the AUS tournament, but were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
The Huskies look to follow up on a record setting season, but have struggled thus far at a 1-3 start. They opened the year on the road with a 71-68 loss to the UPEI Panthers.
Gray had 13 points and 11 rebounds in his Huskies debut while Gibson added 10 points and five boards.They rebounded for a 92-87 win in game two behind 15 points and six rebounds from Gibson. Gray finished with seven points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Last season, St Mary's finished one game shy of an undefeated regular season and suffered the only blemish on their record in the finale - an 88-76 loss to UNB Reds. They concluded the season at 19-1 and finished in first place in the AUS standings.
In the conference finals the Huskies were the subject of the biggest upset of the season when they lost to the Tigers.
The Huskies advanced to the U Sports Men's Basketball Final Eight last season and finished sixth overall at the tournament hosted at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Following the home-and-home with Dalhousie, the Huskies will face the X-Men in next week's series, all set for November 13 and 16.