Canada’s Atlantic University Sport season cancelled


Tribune Sports Reporter

SEVERAL Bahamian basketball student athletes that compete in Canada’s Atlantic University Sport learned yesterday that their 2020-21 season has been cancelled.

The AUS announced yesterday that it will not host conference-sanctioned regular seasons or postseasons for the remainder of the 2020-21 winter sports season and will not host any conference championships.

The organisation cited the resurgence of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout Atlantic Canada.

Shamar Burrows of the Dalhousie Tigers, Azaro Roker of the St Francis Xavier X-Men, along with Qyemah Gibson and assistant coach Ollen Smith of the St Mary’s Huskies all compete in the AUS for their respective universities. The conference also announced that it will allow “member-driven competition,” which means schools may decide their own level of competition based on their comfort level and with other programmes in close geographical vicinity.

“We had hoped to be able to get to a place where we could see some semblance of a regular season and postseason take place for our winter sport student-athletes. Unfortunately given the current realities in many of our regions, and evolving public health directives, this won’t be possible,” said AUS executive director Phil Currie.

“What we are encouraged by is the decision of our board of directors to continue to allow member-driven competition in the new year if public health guidelines allow. The safety of our student-athletes, campuses and surrounding communities is the top priority. But we are also in the business of delivering sport opportunities to young people. And our member universities intend to provide those opportunities so long as the experts deem it safe to do so at that time.”

UNB director of athletics and AUS president John Richard, who served as chair of the AUS Return-to-Play Committee, said the interest of the student athletes were paramount in the process.

“With guidance and input from public health and building on a lot of the groundwork already laid regarding safe practices on our respective campuses, we were able to create a very thorough plan in a short window of time,” he said.

“As a group that is extremely passionate about sport, we are disappointed for our student-athletes and stakeholders that regular seasons and championships won’t be possible this winter. But we acknowledge and respect the current realities and the steps being taken by those in leadership positions to keep everyone safe.

“We’re still hopeful there will be a pathway for meaningful competition for many of our student-athletes this winter and we’re grateful the board has afforded us that opportunity.”

Roker returns to the X-Men for his final year of eligibility as one of the top players in the AUS last season.

He earned a series of postseason accolades, including a U Sports All-Canadian Second Team selection, an AUS conference tournament All-Star nod and AUS First Team selection.

He was one of only three players in the league to average a double double. He led the conference in rebounding at 13.2 per game and was second in scoring at 17.2 points per game.

The X-Men were eliminated in the AUS conference title game, one game shy of a national tournament berth.

Burrows is one of several players returning to a Dalhousie team that made programme history last season.

The Tigers ended just short of their ultimate goal, but finished as the second ranked team in all of Canadian collegiate basketball. They finished with the silver medal at the 2020 U SPORTS Final 8 Basketball Championships, the best finish in programme history.

Burrows finished with nine points, five rebounds and four assists in the final.

In his second season with the Tigers, he appeared in 20 games with six starts.

He averaged 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line.

Dalhousie finished the season at 23-2.

Former junior national team standout and Empower Sports Network founder Ollen Smith serves as an assistant coach on the St Mary’s Huskies staff while Qyemah Gibson emerged as a leader in his second year with the programme.

Gibson was named an AUS Second Team All- Star after he increased his numbers across the board throughout all statistical categories from year one.

He led the team in scoring and was seventh in the league in scoring at 15.4 points per game and eighth in rebounding at 6.5 rebounds per game.