After barely missing the post-season last year, the Tommies men’s basketball team is aiming for strong running, a solid transition game and heavy defense to reach the playoffs.

Tommies head coach Scott MacLeod is also stressing the need for a balanced attack in which multiple players are scoring in the double digits consistently in order to be successful.

“It’s a very competitive league, which sounds like we’re making excuses, and we don’t want to go there,” MacLeod said as he enters his second season behind the St. Thomas University bench.

“We need multiple shots to maintain our shooting percentage and get opportunities and maybe a win.”

The Tommies finished second-last in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association standings last year with a 6-15 record.

STU also was on the outside looking in during playoffs last year, as the Tommies placed two points short of a trip to the ACAA championship tournament after the final buzzer sounded on the 2015-16 season.

“We can put ourselves in a similar situation this year,” MacLeod said about the Tommies’ playoff goals.

“We need to win consistently, and there are some strong teams at the crest of this league, so we have to knock off some lower teams and make that playoff run.”

STU has three fifth-year students in the lineup this year, along with two fourth-years and third-years, respectively.

There are five second-year players on this year’s Tommies team and one first-year.

“We have some maturity coming in and some raw talent,” said MacLeod.

Point guard Tariq Thomas, a recent high school grad, is among the Tommies’ rookies this year.

Thomas is joined in the recruiting class by guard Justin Grant – a second-year player who spent last year with Fleming College in Ontario – and forward Marcus Dolliver – who played two years at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Both the fresh and familiar faces saw pre-season action at the Ken Gould Invitational Tournament from Oct. 14 to 16, in Fredericton.

STU beat the Dalhousie Agricultural College Rams 66-61 and fell to the Mount Allison University Mounties 85-61 before edging the University of New Brunswick Saint John Seawolves 83-82 in overtime.

But foul trouble almost cost the Tommies the game Oct. 16, against the Seawolves.

The Tommies had five guys left to play, and two of them had amassed four fouls, so the team risked being disqualified if one of those players fouled again.

“We held out against every possible adversity, then took it to overtime and got a win,” said MacLeod.

STU also took part in the 22nd annual Can-Am Tournament last weekend in Lewiston, Maine.

The Tommies open their regular season Saturday, Oct. 29, against MtA at 4 p.m. in Sackville.

STU’s home opener goes Saturday, Nov. 5, against the University of Kings College Blue Devils. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. at the Lady Beaverbrook Gym.

The Tommies will then host the Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2:30 p.m. in Fredericton.

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