Ravens Triumph to Reach 7 Straight Titles

 

Kaza Kajami-Keane pilots the Ravens to a 7th straight U-Sports title              (photo – Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

#2  Carleton Ravens 78   #1  Ryerson  Rams  69  –  The Ravens win their 7th straight U-Sports National Championship, the 2nd team, after the 1980-’86 Victoria Vikes,  to ever accomplish that amazing feat.  Carleton also have an unprecedented 13 titles in 15 seasons from their 1st championship in 2003.

Prior to the game, Coach Dave Smart was talking up the strength of the opposing Ryerson Rams  and suggesting that his Ravens would be hard-pressed to stay with the 2 -time OUA champions.  But, as they have for so many years, Carleton came out with a purpose, and they flew to an 11 point lead at the half, as the Rams could manage only 30% from the field.

The lead swells to 24 for the defending champs by the mid-point in the 3rd period, despite the rare cold-shooting afternoon from Canadian University Player of the Year, Connor Wood.  A noted 3-point assassin, in his 5th and final season, Wood can only sink 1 of 8 FG attempts, and is 0/7 from outside. 

Ryerson rallies for the next 13 minutes, and their quick hands create some discomfort for the Ravens’ guards. Closing to within 6 points with 1:30 left in the 4th, the Rams are halted by Wood’s lone basket and subsequent and-one free throw at the 20 second mark.

Three Carleton scorers do hit double figures, with 5th year forward Ryan Ejim pacing them with 19 pts/ 9 rebs. 5th year point guard Kaza Kajami-Keane controls play for much of the game, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while 6th man guard, Emmanuel Owootoah, scored all of his 12 points on 4 of 7 from 3 point range.

The Rams just did not shoot the ball well enough to win.  They are 35% from the floor, and 65% from the line.  Their 2nd half rally came from too far back, and they fall short at the finish. Adika Peter-McNeilly is the game’s high scorer with 23 points, and post man Adam Voll contributes 12 points / 9 rebounds.  Ammannuel Diressa fights some early frustration, and chips in with 11 points / 7 boards.

This is an historic win for Coach Smart and the Ravens, who prove once again, that they are the team to beat for the foreseeable future.   Box Score  

 

Tigers use their defense and free throws to win the bronze

 #5 Dalhousie Tigers  69  #3 McGill Redmen 63  –  You shoot 37% from the floor, and the opponent hits 50%. They hit 8 treys, and you only 2 !  Trouble, yes?  Well, not in this case.  Dalhousie forces 21 McGill turnovers, and the Tigers  binge on 27/37 free throws  vs 9/13 for the Redmen.

Quirky scoring summary … 2 Dal starters, Jarred Reid and Ritchie Kanza Mata, count all their points from the foul line. 8 of 9 for Reid and 9/11 from Kanza Mata.  The Tigers get 20 points/ 5 rebs from Sven Stammberger, and Jordan Aquino-Serjue hits 10 points off the bench.

McGill spread the scoring, with 3 in double digits, led by 17 from the dependable Jenning Leung, as he cashes 4 of 6 attempts from 3. Francois Bourque scores 14 and adds 9 boards, while Dale Ogundokun tallies 13 points/ 4 rebs/ 3 assists.

Dal wins the bronze, and were just one shot away from their shot at a championship in Saturday’s semi.  McGill is going home empty-handed, despite some very solid play.        Box Score   

________________________________________________________________________

Overtime –

  • Neil Murphy, a senior researcher for CW Hoops, reminds us that these 2 finalists, Carleton and Ryerson feature a totally home-grown roster.  Unlike most teams in Canada West, neither the Rams nor the Ravens have any import players in their line-up, which is a testimony to the depth of talent in Ontario, we would suggest.
  • The Ravens graduate Wood, Kaza Kajami-Keane, Ryan Ejim, and Joe Rocca.

    Ryan Ejim has been a big force inside for the Ravens.

    Will those losses mean that the Carleton run is at an end?   Probably not … they usually attract top talent every year, and they still have a strong returning group.  Ryerson say good-bye to Adika Peter-McNeilly, while Dalhousie is going to miss Kashrell Lawrence, Ritchie Kanza-Mata, Jarred Reid, and Ryan Stroud. McGill has no 5th year players, but a couple of their 4th years may move on.  Calgary graduates Thomas Cooper, Jasdeep Gill, Dallas Karch, and 4th year, Mitch Ligertwood. Saint Marys loses starters Marquis Clayton, Brian Rouse, Achuil Lual, and Theon Reefer. (There’s a recruiting challenge!). Manitoba has 4 key players departing – A.J Basi, Ilarion Bonhomme, Jonathan Alexander, and Brett Jewell. Alberta graduates their 7-1 post man, Brett Roughead .

  •  The Women’s Finals 8 from Victoria Sunday –   Championship – McGill 66  Laval 55 – the 1st for McGill.            Bronze –      Carleton 53 Queens  43 

Ravens Rebounders, McGill Defense Win Early games

 

 

Offensive boards and 30 point edge off 3s propel Ravens to win

Carleton’s  Connor Wood  makes it a tough shot for the Dinos’ David Kapinga         (photo: Trevor MacMillan)

#2  Carleton 85  #7  Calgary 69 –   The Ravens go up 10 at the half on a run and pitch trey byEmmanuel Owootoah  at the buzzer.  Calgary had played hard at the defensive end, causing 12 turnovers, and slowing-down the Carleton drive, kick, and hit the 3 offense.  Still, the Black Birds were on top having made 7 treys in the opening 20 minutes, and that is deadly for any defense.  With the big rebounding edge for Ravens, Calgary gives up too many extra chances.

Calgary hangs in for much of the 2nd half, and, brings the score within 5 points in both the 3rd and 4th frames.  But, with  about 6 minutes left, the Ravens go on an 11— 0 run to boost it to 16.  There are 5 Carleton players in double figures, as they shoot 47% as a team vs 42% for the Dinos.  The big difference  came from outside shooting, as the Ravens hit 14/35 for 42 pts against UC’s 4/14 for only 12. That’s a tough gap to fill ….

Rebounding by  Carleton did wear down the Dinos, with the final count 48-24, including 17 offensive boards for the defending champs. Carleton had 16 points each from guards Connor Wood, Emmannuel Owootoah, and Kaza Kajami-Keane, with Keane adding 9 assists .  Eddie Eyikor scored 10 plus 7 boards, while big Cameron Smyth cashed 10 and grabbed 9 off the glass.

Thomas Cooper scored 17 for Calgary, plus 6 rebs/ 4 assts, with Mambi Diawara close behind , scoring 15 pts/ 4 asst/ 3 steals.  A brave effort by the Dinos, but the size, rebounding, and shooting of Carleton wins the opener in the 2017 Nationals.   Box Score 

Carleton will play in one semi final vs McGill on Saturday, while Calgary goes Friday at 3 pm Mountain  in the consolation bracket against familiar foe, the Manitoba Bisons.

McGill’s Jenning Leung takes it to the rim against Manitoba      (photo credit: Trevor MacMillan)

#3 McGill  63  #6 Manitoba  53 –  McGill couldn’t have asked for more in terms of the run of play in this offensively-challenged contest .  The Bisons come out looking a little tight, as the McGill defense chokes down Manitoba’s early offensive thrusts.  McGill gets a bigger share of the ball, and convert free throws and a pair of late-on-the-clock treys for a 5 point margin after 20 minutes.

Manitoba picks up their game late in that 2nd quarter, and look more comfortable at the scoring end for a bit. However, the Bisons ball handlers / shooters are ‘off their game’ for the most part. The Redmen win while shooting just 37% from the floor, and 11 for 22 from the foul line!  Just too many sloppy decisions by the Herd.

Manitoba cannot get their break going, and take an uncharacteristically low 8 attempts from 3, and hit just 2.  McGill is only 6/28 from deep, but still come out ahead in that department. Veteran Redmen,  guard Jenning Leung (13 pts) and post work-horse Francois Bourque (13 pts/ 14 rebs/ 4 steals) provide the leadership needed to steer the Reds into the semi-finals.

The Bisons get 13 points apiece from Keith Omoerah (9 rebs/ 4 asst/ 3 steals) and A.J. Basi, who added 3 steals.  Usually productive efforts from other starters were absent, and we can only blame the big stage, and, of course, a rugged McGill defense. Box Score

McGill advance to Saturday’s semi-final against the Carleton Ravens, while Manitoba get to play their Canada West rivals, the Calgary Dinos on Friday at 6 pm Atlantic in the consolation round.

________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Overtime –

  • Kirby Schepp, Manitoba Coach, in a wonderful story in the Winnipeg Sun on the Bisons Ilarion Bonhomme , “In my 25 years coaching, I don’t know if there’s anybody ahead of him in terms of the quality of kid and the person he is  …. He treats everyone from the kid wiping the floor, to the secretary, to his teammates with incredible respect. I see the way he is around kids, around my kids, he’s just awesome.”  
  • The All-Canadian Awards ‘Gala’  was night in Halifax, and Connor Wood, a  5th year guard from the Carleton Ravens, was named the 2017 U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Player of the Year.  He is the 8th Carleton player so honoured over the past 17 seasons.  Wood shot over 50% from the floor and from the 3 point line, averaging 19 ppg.
  • Other U SPORTS award winners –   Ottawa wing man, Caleb Agada, is the Defensive Player of the Year, while Laurentian guard, Kadre Gray, accepted the Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy  as Rookie of the Year.  Carleton’s Dave Smart won his 8th Stu Aberdeen Memorial Trophy  as Coach of the Year, and Dalhousie forward Kashrell Lawrence, won the Ken Shields Award for Academics and Community Service. 
  • 2017  All-Canadians –   1st Team –

Connor Wood , Carleton , 5th year, Guelph, ON

Conor Morgan,  UBC,  4th , Victoria, B.C.

Adika Peter-McNeilly ,  Ryerson ,  5th , Scarborough, ON

Kevin Bercy ,  St Francis Xavier,   4th,  Kanata, ON

Thomas Cooper,  Calgary,  5th,  Chattanooga, TN

 2nd Team –

Kaza Kajami-Keane,   Carleton ,5th, Ajax, ON

Dele Ogundokun, McGill , 4th , Hamilton, ON

Javon Masters,  UNB , 4th, Kitchener, Ont.

Caleb Agada,  Ottawa ,  5th,  Burlington, ON

Shane Osayande,  Saskatchewan ,  4th ,  Toronto, ON

 All-Rookie Team         

Kadre Gray                Laurentian       Toronto, ON

Eddie Ekiyor              Carleton           Ottawa, ON

Scott Kellum              Victoria            Issaquah, WA

Jamaal Potopsingh    UNB               Brampton, ON

Kendrick Jolin            McGill              Pte. Claire, PQ

Ryerson and Carleton Aiming for Rematch

 

Ryerson and Carleton favoured to meet in Championship Final

Can any other team de-rail the favoured Rams – Ravens ?

Final 8  – Round 1 Previews – Thursday games (Atlantic Time)

12 Noon …   #2 Carleton Ravens  vs #7 Calgary Dinos 

The Ravens are aiming at winning their 7th straight National title, and they beat Calgary 101-79 last March in that 6th consecutive triumph.  Coach Dave Smart is the master at preparing his team for this 4 day event, and the Ravens, who are 27-1 against U-Sports teams this season are a daunting foe.

Kaza Kajami-Keane is the catalyst for Carleton’s offense. photo – Ottawa Citizen

Carleton are led by the OUA Player of the Year, Connor Wood, a 6-4, 5th year shooting guard, who pulls the trigger on the long ball as well as anyone in this field.  His back-court partner, Kaza Kajami-Keane, is a powerful, quick play-maker, who scores nearly 15 ppg, but is really the floor leader. The Ravens power in the post will be a huge plus again this Final 8 Tournament, with Eddie Ekiyor, a 6-8 rookie, teaming up with 6-7 Ryan Ejim, a 5th year vet who was so strong in the paint in last year’s win. As back-up, CU has 6-11, Cameron Smyth, a 4th year from Charles Tupper in Vancouver.  They are big, and can overwhelm  most teams.

Calgary were 24-5 vs all Canadian universities, are the ‘wildcard’ pick, and the 3rd Canada West team in the 8 team draw. The Dinos are a fast-paced attacking team, with 5th year wing man Thomas Cooper their scoring leader at 23 ppg.  Cooper will hope to have better luck against the Ravens defenders  in this re-match with Carleton, after he and the Dinos were thwarted in the 2016 Final.

UC  have had a run of injuries late in the season, which has depleted their very deep roster.  Lars Schleuter, a 6-7 wing man with a dangerous 3 point shot, has been out with a high-ankle sprain.  Also on the shelf was Dallas Karch, a 5th year, 6-7 forward, whose size and athleticism has been a big boost for UC.  Jasdeep Gill, another 5th year wing with the ability to score, has had ankle / leg issues, and is a ‘possible’ for Thursday’s game.

David Kapinga, the speedy 3rd year UC point man, can shoot the 3, and put pressure on opposing ball-handlers.  Jhony Verrone, a muscular 6-0, 4th year combo guard from Montreal is proving his worth as a versatile defender.  Mitch Ligertwood is a 6-6, hard-nosed, 4th year  post man, who should be the key guy inside in this smaller Dinos line-up.

Anytime Carleton plays, they are the favourites.  Eastern experts suggest this could be their best team yet. That says a lot about anyone else’s chances, but their lone loss did take place last Saturday.  Calgary a distinct long-shot in this Tournament opener.     Watch on U-Sports TV 1     9 am Mountain

 

2:00 pm  … #3 McGill Redmen   vs  #6  Manitoba Bisons

The Redmen have been dominant in the 5 member RSEQ in recent seasons, as they return to the Nationals for the 5th straight time.  Coached by Quebec Coach of the Year, David DeAveiro, the Redmen are a solid defensive club, with an experienced line-up, even without any 5th year seniors. 

McGill’s  top scorers are guards Jenning Leung (14.5 ppg) , a 6-4, 4th year shooter, who is a native of the Philippines, and 6-2, 4th year, Dale Ogundokun (12.7 ppg/ 7 rebs/ 3.5 assists).  Ogundokun, a Hamilton, ON high school star, was honoured as the Quebec Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

Up front the Redmen have 3rd year, 6-8 Noah Daoust, and 6-6 Michael Peterkin, but may be missing their top big man, 4th year, Francois Bourque, a rugged rebounder/scorer/defender who has missed 3 games with an undisclosed injury.

Manitoba have reached this National Tournament for the 1st time in over 30 years, and their seniors are ‘jacked’ with the prospect of competing on this ‘big stage’. Says 4th year  shooting guard , A.J. Basi “Our goal was to get to Halifax at first.  This is like our last week together so we want to make the most of it and we’re all focused on that first game on Thursday against McGill.” (From Global News – Russ Hobson).

Manitoba’s high scoring guard, Justus Alleyn photo – UM Athletics

Basi (13.6 ppg) is one of their key scorers, with his 3 point acumen, and he can be a ball-hawk on defense.  The Herd has a powerful leader in 6-5, 4th year Keith Omoerah, who scores 13.2 ppg, grabs 8.7 rebs and can defend inside and out. Ilarion Bonhomme, a quick, 5-10 import (Washington, DC) point man triggers the Bisons break, and 6-3 Justus Alleyn, is their top scorer at 17.5 ppg, and shooting over 40% from 3 point range.

The Bisons and Redmen should make for a fascinating match-up … McGill with their defense, and Manitoba a quick-strike offense.  This may go down to the wire, if UM can get the hot shooting in a big arena .    (12 noon Central time) 

 

6:00 pm  …   #1  Ryerson Rams  vs  #8  Saint Marys Huskies –  On the surface, this 1-8 match-up suggests a Ryerson win, but the ‘home team’ Huskies will want to have a say before we fill in our semi-final bracket !

Adika Peter- McNeilly is a force for the OUA champion , Ryerson      photo – Rams Athletics

For the 2nd straight season, the Rams are champions of the OUA, having beaten Carleton (86-79) on the Ravens’ home court this time around.  Coach Roy Rana has a team ‘on a roll’, having won 7 of their last 8 and are 22-4 vs U-Sports teams this season.  Ryerson has a pressing, running, and 3 point shooting attack, paced by Adika Peter-McNeilly, a 6-3, 5th year guard, who is the high scorer, but also a quick and headsy defender.  His ‘right-hand man’ is 6-5, 4th year wing, Ammanuel Diressa, who is the #1 disruptor on the defensive end, but also scores in bunches.

The Rams are deep in talent, with 6-8 Adam Voll a big body inside, and 6-6 , Juwon Grannum, a 5th year rebounder, who contributes as well to the 40% + 3 point shooting for the team. Guards Myles Charvis, a former rookie sensation at Waterloo, and quick point man, Roshane Roberts, keep the pressure  coming on defense.

Saint Marys have a history in this National Tournament, having 4 titles to their credit, and have a knack for answering the bell at the Atlantic Tournament, making many Nationals Final 8s.  This year’s squad had a 23-10 U-Sports record, but had limited play outside the Maritimes.

Their core group are led by 5-9 point man, Marquis Clayton, one of 6 Huskies in their 5th year.  Clayton scores 19 ppg, and keys their defense. Theon Reefer, a 6-6, 5th year swing-man, has the quickness to make an impact at both ends, and Brian Rouse, a 6-4 guard, is a tough match-up with his size and scoring touch.  The Huskies have size and experience with 6-8, 5th year post, Achuil Lual, and 6-6, 3rd year, Kingston, ON product, Brent Martindale.

A close 2nd (60-63) to the AUS champs, Dalhousie, Saint Marys pose a threat to Ryerson if they can get their offense on track against the Rams’ press.  This game will be at a very high pace, and turnovers could kill that Huskies attack. Ryerson should prevail, but Saint Marys know this court very well.

 

8:00 pm …   #4 Alberta Golden Bears  vs #5 Dalhousie Tigers –  Two League champions tip-off in the feature game of the night on Thursday, and aggressive defense is a calling card for both teams.

Alberta’s Mamadou Gueye has been a play-off stand-out for the Bears this season.

The Bears are playing their best basketball of the season at just the right time, with an impressive weekend of play in capturing their 12th Canada West  title with convincing wins over Saskatchewan 83-70, and Manitoba 92-73.  They are among the League leaders in points allowed at 74 ppg, and they shoot a CW best 40.6% from 3 point range.

Their forward combo of 4th year Mamadou Gueye, a 6-6 Quebec native, and 2nd year Brody Clarke, a 6-7  Toronto product gives them inside scoring and leads a strong rebounding team effort.  Clarke, the son of former Canada national team star, Norm Clarke ,  will require extra attention from Dal defenders in the paint.  Gueye saved his best games for the Canada West Final 4, and he is a threat from anywhere with his offensive explosiveness.

Austin Waddoups, a 6-2 import guard (Utah)  has been a major addition, and he controls the pace as a point man, but also hits the timely trey on a regular basis. Coach Barnaby Craddock utilizes guards Dwan Williams (6-2, 2nd year, Toronto)   and  6-5 , 4th year, import shooter, Geoff Pippus as complimentary weapons, and both can score when needed.  7-1 Brett Roughead is in his 5th year, and can make things tough on the interior.

Dalhousie will have big local support, and count on their veteran core of senior vets Kashrell Lawrence, Richie Kanza Mata, and Sven Stammberger to lead the way.  The Tigers return to this Final 8 for the 2nd straight season, with a 25-10 record, and wins over Ryerson and Brock earlier this year.

Lawrence,  a 5th year, and only 6-2, is a muscular dynamo up front, and galvanizes teammates and Dal fans with his rugged play on the boards, and in scoring against bigger opponents. Kanza Mata was voted the AUS Defensive Player of the Year, but he can also score from an offense that led the Atlantic League in FG% at almost 47%.

Last season’s U-Sports Rookie of the Year, 6-0 Jordan Aquino-Serjue, is a valuable 6th man off the bench, and 5th year guard, 6-3 Jared Reid, is a solid wing man with a nice offensive game.  In reserve, the Tigers have a pair of big posts in 6-7 Ryall Stroud (tsf Queen’s), and 6-10 import, Sascha Kappos (Miami, FL) .

This promises to be an entertaining finale for Thursday’s card, and picking a winner here may be tough.  Both teams will aim to make life difficult with physical defense, and the ability of the scorers on both squads to break free will be paramount.   This is a 5 pm Mountain tip-off.

Remember, you can   Watch on U-Sports TV 1

________________________________________________________________________

 

Overtime –

Dave Smart, Carleton, is Canada’s winningest coach

  • Coaching records (U-Sports overall) for the 8 Head coaches in this tournament –    Dave Smart, Carleton – 520-46 (.919) … Roy Rana, Ryerson – 139-69 (.668)  … Dave De Aveiro, Ottawa / McGill – 341-183 (.651) … Jonah Taussig, Saint Marys – 99-67 (.596) … Barnaby Craddock – Brandon, UFV, Alberta – 221-151 (.594) … Rick Plato, Dalhousie – 76-53 (.589) … Dan Vanhooren, Calgary – 304-213 (.588) … Kirby Schepp, Manitoba – 112-124 (.475)
  • This National Championship Final 8 Tournament returns to Halifax for the first time since 2012.  The event will have been played in this venue a total of 30 times in the 44 years since competition began back in 1963.