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2013-2014 BasketballBuzz CIS men’s basketball previews: Carleton Ravens

2012-13 Record: OUA 19-1, CIS 31-1
2012-13 Postseason: OUA Champions, CIS Champions
Head Coach: Dave Smart Coach
Record: 281-23 at Carleton, 555-87 overall

Conspiracy: (kənˈspirəsi) 1. An agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future. 2. A group of ravens.

Carleton University launched a “Fear the Conspiracy” campaign to promote their return to CIS football. The slogan, however, is probably more applicable to their Men’s Basketball team. With 8 OUA championships and 9 CIS championships in the last 11 years, they are the standard by which all other CIS teams are measured.

Summary of Last Season

Coming out of last year’s pre-season, the Ravens seemed ready to dominate, having defeated all CIS opponents and two of five NCAA opponents (Northeastern and Buffalo). Their season opener against Windsor, however, showed that Carleton could be beaten.

Windsor overcame a 23 point third quarter deficit and outscoring the Ravens 18-6 in the fourth to win the game 71-67. Carleton would bounce back quickly, however, defeating Western and Brock by 40 and 39 points, respectively.

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The loss to Windsor would be their only one of the season, as they averaged 91 points per game and only allowing an average of 61.6 points. The Ravens entered the playoffs with an impressive 19-1 record.

Carleton’s dominance continued into the OUA playoffs, which they kicked-off with a 20 point semi-final win over Laurentian and a 21 point victory over Lakehead to put them in the finals against Ottawa University.

Probably the last team Carleton wanted to play, Ottawa had come close to beating them twice, forcing the Ravens to come from behind. This time, however, it would be Ottawa mounting a comeback, eventually losing 72-69 as Carleton claimed another OUA title.

At the CIS finals, Carleton made short work of the Victoria Vikings, outscoring them 23-3 in the second quarter, a deficit from which the Vikes would never recover. Acadia would come closer, staying within 2 at the half, but the Ravens would steadily build on their lead to win 84-69. To close out the season, the Ravens would post the largest ever margin of victory in a CIS championship game with a 50 point rout over Lakehead.

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Who is Out

Carleton will return this season with the core of their roster largely unchanged. Most notable absences will be Kewyn Blain, Kyle Smendziuk. Kewyn played only one season with the Ravens after transferring from Odessa College in Texas, averaging 21.9 minutes and 8.9 points.

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A veteran starter, Kyle averaged 8.7 minutes and 1.5 points per game in his final season with the Ravens. Kewyn’s departure will have the most impact on the stat sheet, however Kyle’s leadership will be missed in the locker room.

Who is In

Returning for another season, and expected to lead the team are four starters and Carleton’s most productive players, Phil Scrubb, Thomas Scrubb, Tyson Hinz and Clinton Springer-Williams who scored a combined 56.2 points per game. Five-year veteran Kevin Churchill will likely fill the fifth starting position, but Carleton is expecting contributions from the bench, according to Dave Smart.

“Jean Pierre-Charles has really taken a major step forward from last year, which is perfect for us. We need Connor Wood to do the same thing. Gavin Resch was probably one of our top two players against St. Mary’s.”

The most anticipated addition, Victor Raso, will join the Ravens after sitting out the 2012-2013 season following his transfer from McMaster where he played an average of 27 minutes, scoring an average of 13.8 points per game.

“I think Victor Raso is going to be an impact player this year. He will have to be an impact guy for us to win a national championship this season” says Dave Smart.

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Carleton also added rookies Cameron Smythe and Brody Maracle to the lineup. Cameron, a 6’11” forward, holds several provincial records in British Columbia for blocked shots, scoring and rebounding. He will bring some size to the roster, while Brody is expected to bring some toughness that has been lacking for the Ravens.

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“I think Brody is also capable of being an impact guy. Cam Smythe is well ahead of where we expected him to be. He was going to be a red shirt, but he’s earned a spot in our top 12, maybe even top 10 if he keeps working.” added Smart.

Expectations

The Ravens’ players that dominated the scoresheet last season are all returning, along with some players that are capable of playing larger roles. Their returning players continue to improve and appear to be even stronger than last season. They have added some size and toughness to their roster, and it will be interesting to see how these rookies integrate into Carleton’s system.

As the hosts of the 2014 CIS Final 8, the Ravens are assured a spot in the championship tournament. With a strong showing in the cross-border battle, most notably taking the Syracuse Orange to overtime, there’s no reason to believe that Carleton won’t be as dominant this season and likely won’t need to rely on their host status to earn a spot in the CIS Final 8.

Carleton is unquestionably a powerhouse, but the question is, have other teams improved enough to compete? Dave believes some have. “Alberta and 5 Ontario teams will be at the top: (Carleton), Ottawa, Ryerson Windsor and maybe McMaster. Victoria and St. Mary’s could be up there, but they’ve been more inconsistent.” Although St. Mary’s came close, no CIS teams were able to defeat Carleton in the pre-season.

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The Ravens will host Windsor, the only CIS team to defeat them last season, on November 1st for their season opener. You can be certain that both teams haven’t forgotten and will draw inspiration from their meeting last season.

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