HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The 2018-19 marks the 10th year that the Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) Mystics have hosted the Dyrick McDermott Invitational, and the focus remains the same as always.
The event was established in memory and honour of Dyrick McDermott, the former head coach of the Mystics’ women’s basketball team. Over his tenure that stretched from 2001 through to 2009, McDermott guided the Mystics to an impressive 160-17 record. He helped the Mystics secure a silver medal at the 2008 CCAA Women’s Basketball National Championships.
McDermott’s vision for the event was to attract top-level talent that would provide fans with the best competition possible. This year’s field is no different, as six teams will take to the court over the three-day event to cap off the 2018 calendar year and ring in 2019.
Along with the Mystics, two teams from the ACAA will come to Halifax while two teams from the AUS and a team of ACAA all-stars round out the six-team field. Joining the Mystics from the ACAA will be the St. Thomas Tommies and UKC Blue Devils, while both the Dalhousie Tigers and St. FX X-Women add some U Sports flare to the field.
Over the three days, the teams from the ACAA will not play one another. Each team from the ACAA will play the remaining teams in the event.
Here’s a brief look at all six teams who will take part in the 10th Annual Dyrick McDermott Invitational.
We’ll start things off with the host Mystics who are one of the top teams in Canada. At the end of the first semester, the Mystics ranked third in the CCAA Top 15 rankings, trailing just the Dawson Blues (RSEQ) and Fanshawe Falcons (OCAA) for the top spot. At 8-0, the Mystics sit in first-place in the ACAA, two points clear of second place with one game in-hand.
Through their first eight games of the season, the Mystics have been firing on all cylinders on both ends of the court. They are averaging 88.5 points per game on offense while holding their opponents to an average of 47.3 points per game on the defensive end. Eleven players for MSVU are averaging at least 4.5 points per game, and their depth and scoring balance have been big reasons for their high-octane offense.
Leading the way are a pair of veterans in Maria Carroll and Nikki Arsenault. Carroll, a fifth-year student-athlete, and Arsenault, who is in her second year, lead the team in scoring while putting forth strong two-way efforts each time out. Carroll leads the Mystics with an average of 18.0 points per game to go along with her 3.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 3.3 steals. Not to be outdone, Arsenault is averaging 16.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 4.4 steals per game. Both players are shooting above 47% from the floor and 40% from three-point range this season.
With Carroll and Arsenault leading the way, the Mystics will be looking to maintain their momentum from the regular season and keep their winning ways going over the holiday season.
In the ACAA standings, the St. Thomas Tommies trail the Mystics by just two points at the break. The Tommies closed out the first half of regular season play ranked 9th in the latest CCAA rankings with a 7-2 record to their name this season. At 14 points, the Tommies look like the biggest threat to the Mystics in league play this season, and they will be looking to put forth a strong showing at the Dyrick McDermott Invitational to help sustain their positive momentum.
Like MSVU, St. Thomas University has some depth on the offensive end of the floor. The Tommies have seven players who are averaging at least 5.1 points per game this season. They have one of the top back courts in the CCAA, let alone the ACAA, with Bridget Frazee and Lainy Dow leading the way. Frazee leads the team with an average of 14.4 points to go along with 2.6 rebounds per game, while Dow is averaging 12.2 points and 3.7 assists per contest.
Despite starting just once over nine games this season, Alana Dowling has given the Tommies a big spark off the bench. Dowling ranks third on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg), but is one of the team’s top rebounders. She is averaging 7.0 rebounds per contest despite playing as a guard. Her ability to impact the game on both ends of the court in limited action bodes well for the Tommies in the second half.
Rounding out the group of three teams from the ACAA are the UKC Blue Devils. At 4-4 on the year, the Blue Devils find themselves in fourth-place in the eight-team conference. Entering the break, UKC is riding a small wave of momentum, having won their last two outings to get back to .500 to cap off the first semester on a high note. In the event, they will look to build off their strong finish to the first half and carry their momentum into the New Year.
The Blue Devils don’t score a whole lot on offense (54.8 ppg), but they are one of the top defensive teams in the conference. They have held their opponents under 60 points on five occasions this season, and only the Holland Hurricanes have topped 70 points against the Blue Devils this season.
On offense, it’s been the starting five that have done the most damage for the Blue Devils. All five of the regular starters for UKC are averaging at least 8.3 points per contest. Atop the list is Chloe Oxner who is the only player averaging double-digit points per game this season for the Blue Devils (10.1 ppg). Up front, Jessica Simm (9.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Heather Wall (9.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) give the Blue Devils a heavy presence on both ends of the court.
The Blue Devils will look to use their defense to carry them to some wins over the three-day event.
Riding a wave of momentum into the holiday break, the Dalhousie Tigers will be looking for positive results in Halifax ahead of the second portion of AUS play in January. The Tigers are riding a three-game winning streak into the break, and they sit at 3-4 through the first semester of league play.
Dalhousie will have their hands full against three of the top four teams from the ACAA throughout the Dyrick McDermott Invitational, but they have the talent to pick up some confidence-boosting wins as they look to continue climbing the AUS standings in the second half. Despite the loss of leading scorer Michele Tchiakoua since the second week of November, the Tigers are a team who can cause some disruption in the league.
Leading the way will be the tandem of Roberta Charles and Sophie Gaube, the top two scorers for the Tigers after Tchiakoua. Up front, Charles is averaging 12.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 44.0% from the floor. On the back-end, Gaube is averaging 10.0 points on 40.5% shooting from three-point range. Charles and Gaube make up one of the stronger inside-out duos in the AUS, and the fact that they could both be back in 2019-20 bodes well for the future of the Tigers’ program.
The second team from the AUS will be looking for any sort of momentum over the course of the three-day event in Halifax. The St. FX X-Women come into the Dyrick McDermott Invitational with an 0-6 record in AUS play, and they have just three wins to their name from exhibition play prior to the season. The X-Women are familiar with the ACAA this season, as two of their exhibition wins came against Holland and they have a 23-point loss to the Mystics to their name.
Defense has let St. FX down this season in league play. The X-Women have allowed an average of 80.0 points per game over their six games, and when you include exhibition play, all 10 of their losses have come by double-figures. While the three games in Halifax won’t count towards their record, they will provide St. FX with a great opportunity to iron out the kinks before the second half of AUS play gets underway on January 4th.
Leading the way for the X-Women has been the pair of Kimberly Kingsbury and Brianna Gottschall. In the back court, Kingsbury has averaged team-highs with 14.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest. Gottschall has posted an average of 12.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. The shooting ability of Gottschall (42.5% FG, 33.3% 3PT), who is a first-year forward, has added some versatility to the lineup for the X-Women.
The X-Women will look for any sort of positive momentum over the event.
Rounding out the six-team field is the team of ACAA All-Stars. Comprised of recently-graduated athletes from the ACAA, they will be a veteran team that will surely challenge all three teams from the conference over the course of the event. Some names on the all-stars roster include Kate Gallant, Maddy Hiscock, and Madisen Jennex.
The 10th Annual Dyrick McDermott Invitational will provide some unique match-ups for each team involved in what will be a highly competitive event. Action gets underway in Halifax on December 30th, 2018 and will conclude on January 1st, 2019.
Check back with us for a post-tournament recap of all the action.
– T. Bennett