CALGARY, Alberta — Two games into the season, and the SAIT Trojans are picking up right where they left off a year ago.
The two-time defending ACAC Champions are out to make it three titles in as many years, and advance back to the CCAA National Championships in 2018-19. After going 1-2 in each of the last two seasons at nationals, the Trojans have their sights set on a deeper run and playing for the title this time around.
Over the course of the 2017-18 season, the Trojans averaged better than 90 points per game on the offensive end of the floor. They topped the 100-point mark on seven occasions in league play, winning each of those contests.
SAIT posted a record of 16-5 last season to finish in first-place in the South Division, and with the bulk of their production back from a year ago, they have their sights set on bigger things in 2018-19.
One of the Trojans’ key returnees is fourth-year guard John Smith. The native of Lacey, Washington appeared in just seven games last season, posting an average of 22.9 points per game. After missing the second half of the season last time around, Smith has come out of the gates strong in 2018-19, making up for lost time in the process.
The Trojans opened up the 2018-19 season with a pair of road wins, one each against the Briercrest College Clippers and Lethbridge College Kodiaks, and Smith was at the forefront of the offensive attack both nights out. For his efforts over SAIT’s first two contests, Smith has been selected as CCR Canada’s ACAC Player of the Week for the weekend of October 8-14, 2018.
SAIT opened their ACAC season with a road contest on Friday, October 12th against Briercrest College in Caronport, Saskatchewan. The Trojans took a 25-point lead into the break, highlighted by a 36-point second quarter. In the final frame, the Clippers outscored the Trojans by a 26-17 margin, but SAIT’s halftime lead was too much to overcome.
The Trojans opened their title defense with a commanding 97-76 win over the Clippers.
Despite playing in just 19 minutes on the night, Smith was a key cog for the Trojans on offense. He posted 14 points to go along with five assists and one rebound in the win. Smith was 6-of-16 from the field, but was just 2-of-10 from three-point range. In limited minutes, it was a strong outing for the 6’2” guard.
The next night, the Trojans were in Lethbridge, Alberta to take on the Kodiaks in what would be a tough test for the Trojans on opening weekend. After the first quarter, SAIT held a six-point lead over the Kodiaks, 25-19. As the game progressed, they built on their lead with each passing quarter. When all was said and done, the Trojans posted their first 100-point outing of the season, knocking off Lethbridge College by 19 points, 108-89.
On Saturday night, Smith barely left the floor, playing 37 minutes in the win. He led all scorers in the game with 31 points, shooting 12-of-25 (48.0%) from the floor and 4-of-10 (40.0%) from three-point range. He added seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals for an all-round solid performance in his second game of the season.
Over the two wins for the Trojans, Smith averaged 22.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He shot a combined 18-of-41 (43.9%) from the field, and 6-of-20 (30.0%) from three-point range. He was an impact player on both ends of the floor, and that bodes well for the Trojans moving forwards.
The Trojans have one of the nation’s top back courts with Smith, Ian Tevis, and Charlie Conner in the mix for 2018-19, and all three players have started the 2018-19 season strong. Smith is playing with a ton of confidence through two games to start the season, and he will look to put up big numbers over the course of the year and help the Trojans contend for another CCAA title.
For his efforts over two games to open the 2018-19 ACAC men’s basketball season, SAIT guard John Smith is CCR Canada’s ACAC Player of the Week for the week of October 8-14, 2018.
– T. Bennett