Carleton Reign Supreme – 5th Straight Championship
Carleton 93 Ottawa 46 – As we all watch the Carleton Ravens systematically and emphatically dismantle the Ottawa Gee-Gees, we realize just how thoroughly this Ravens team dominates Canadian University basketball. As a fan of the Gee-Gees, or any other team hoping to compete with and defeat Carleton, you are both dismayed and maybe even disgusted with ‘your boys’.
Your hopes are dashed, your team flailing away ineffectively, with that look in their eyes telling us they know they are not going to escape the avalanche. If you were the Nipissing Lakers, then maybe you’re happy just to be there in the OUA, and rub shoulders with the perennial champions in your League . But, on Sunday, in the National Final, we have the ambitious, ascendant Ottawa team, with the 2015 CIS Player of the Year, Johnny Berhanemeskel, and guided by James Derouin, the Coach of the Year. Ottawa had one of the 2 wins by a CIS team over the Ravens this year, and, in a pre-tournament poll, were favoured by about 60% of respondents to win this Championship, and stop the Carleton string of 4 straight wins.
Well, not so fast, Ottawa ! The Ravens laid waste to Saskatchewan in round 1 – then dispatched Victoria, who were actually within just 9 points in the Semi-final. It was suggested by the announcing crew, among others, that Carleton may not have appreciated the ‘early coronation of the Pretenders’, with the laying – on of hardware to the rival coach and star at Wednesday’s CIS Awards. 5th year Ravens’ guard, Phil Scrubb, who was the POY in the 3 previous seasons, and Dave Smart, the many -time National Coach of the Year had, in concert with the rest of the Carleton team, prepared themselves for this much anticipated all-Ottawa match-up as only they can.
From the outset, it was Carleton on the front foot, first to the ball, making the right pass, hitting the shots, and making life generally unpleasant for Ottawa with their swarming, suffocating defense. Berhanemeskel, who had played so well in similar circumstances last season and this, had no room to operate, and he was 1/7 from the floor late in the opening 20 minutes (1/10 at the end … 8 points). Meanwhile, Phil Scrubb were scoring inside and out, with 16 at the half. It looked bleak for the Ponies and their hopeful but relatively subdued fans.
The seminal moments of this deciding game came in the first 3-4 minutes of the 3rd quarter, with the analysts reaffirming the necessity for Ottawa to stand fast, to mount a come-back, and ‘chip away’ at the Ravens margin. Instead, it was Connor Wood, Victor Raso, and Guillaume Boucard, and then Thomas Scrubb who all poured in shot after shot as the lead swelled to 30 points (57-27) so swiftly that we were stunned by the onslaught. The frustration for a crestfallen Ottawa team boils over as Coach Derouin makes an ignominious exit after a regrettable 2nd technical foul. With his team shooting 25% from the floor, Moe Ismail, in 13 minutes off the bench, is the Gee-Gees high man with 10 points. Box Score
Phil Scrubb scores 28/ 10 assists, Connor Wood, 21, and Thomas Scrubb, 20 pts/ 12 rebs/ 7 assists, with the team at 56% from the floor and 52% from 3 point range! The Ravens celebration looks most familiar, as they raise the W.P. McGee Trophy for the 5th straight March, and the 12th time in the past 15 seasons. They graduate star players again this year, as the Scrubb brothers join former Ravens pillars including Phil Larmand, Osvaldo Jeanty, and Tyson Hinz. The constant, of course, is Dave Smart, surely now the widely acknowledged ‘Greatest Coach Ever’ in the history of Canadian University Basketball. Nobody matches his intensity, fervour, the depth of preparation, and the unabashed conviction of the way he wants his team to play the game.
For now, the Ravens rule the game like no team ever has. Perhaps the question is not why can’t someone else build a program to compete, but maybe, when might Coach Smart be content with this dynasty, and move on to other challenges. (Not that we’re suggesting he should, or certainly that we might even prefer that he do that … the man is a beacon for excellence, and we are fortunate to have seen his genius in our generation.)
It’s not like James Derouin, Craig Beaucamp (UVic), Barry Rawlyk (Saskatchewan), and all the other CIS coaches aren’t trying their utmost. It’s just that Mount Carleton seems so high, and looks, at this point, so unassailable. Hail to the Ravens ! Champions that they are.
Rams Win 3rd Place Over Victoria
Ryerson 82 Victoria 68 – Although the Ryerson Rams fell short in their quest to play for a National title on their home floor, they got some consolation from a solid win over the Victoria Vikes in the 3rd place game on Sunday. Sparking a withering 2nd half assault by the home team, Jahmal Jones comes back to hit the shots he was missing in the semi-final loss, as he scores 25 points/ 6 rebs/ 8 assists, and Adika Peter-McNeilly adds 21 points for the Rams. In his last game for the Vikes, Chris McLaughlin, who is playing this tournament in his native S. Ontario, scores a 22 pt/ 14 rebound double. Box Score.
- We note that UBC is already pumping up the interest for their hosting of next year’s Final 8 Tournament at the new Mitchell Centre on their campus in Vancouver. The T-Birds will get a host’s berth in that tournament, and, you can be sure that Coach Kevin Hanson will be busy ‘reassembling’ his roster for the 2015-16 season, after he loses Tommy Nixon, Brylle Kamen, and Andrew McGuinness to graduation.
- The Calgary Dinos have signed Winnipeg high school player, Torrez McKoy, a 6-0, ‘lead guard’ , from the Mennonite Bretheren Collegiate Institute. McKoy was a 1st team all-star as his Manitoba Provincial Team won the Canadian Juvenile Championship (U17) last summer. Dinos fans will only hope he has nearly the impact on the program than did outgoing All-Canadian, Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, another Winnipeg product.
- The Calgary Herald features an article on basketball in the small ‘Mormon towns’ of S. Alberta – Raymond, Cardston, and Magrath. Don’t we wish they paid any attention to the high school program here in the City of Calgary through the Nov. – March schedule !