For the first time ever the Calgary Dinos can call themselves Canadian U sports Men’s Basketball Champions.
In battle of two teams looking for their first title, the No. 2 seeded Calgary Dinos defeated the No. 5 Ryerson Rams in a thrilling 79-77 National Championship game that came down to the last play. With the Rams trailing 77-74 with 16 seconds remaining First Team All-Canadian Guard Manny Diressa capped off a furious comeback burying a clutch three-point shot to tie the score at 77-77 with nine seconds of the clock.
Coaching in his second title game and sixth Usports/CIS Final 8 Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren opted to call a timeout to calm his troops and his veteran team responded by executing his instructions and play-calling to perfection as All-Star Mambi Diarri came off a double baseline screen and smoothly scored the games’ final two points with 2 seconds remaining.
Diarri, a fourth-year, 6’4′ guard from Montreal, Quebec finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists earning Final 8 all-tournament All-Star honors. Point Guard David Kapinga (Calgary, AB), playing in his second championship game in three years wasn’t to be denied after falling short against the Carleton Ravens in 2016. The 5’11’, 175 lbs guard muscled and carried his team to victory with Most Valuable Player (MVP) 25 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 10-of-20 shooting performance.
Calgary got off to a hot start as 6’8″, 210-pound German international import Lars Schueter (18 points, 7/15 shooting) scored his team’s first ten points followed by a three-pointer by Kapinga helped push the Dinos lead to nine points at 13-4, forcing a Ryerson timeout. As expected the Rams responded, largely on the play of Jean Victor-Mukama’s (Hamilton/ON) shooting effort, cutting the lead to three points on multiple occasions but Calgary continued to execute their sets and led 39-30 at half-time.
After a scoreless first-quarter and just six points in the first-half Rams fifth-year senior Manny Diressa took over the game scoring 24 of his game-high 28 points in the second-half. Ryerson closed the deficit within four at 55-51 but another David Kapinga three-pointer game Calgary a 57-51 lead with the last quarter of the season remaining. Determined not to squandered their second consecutive title game the Ryerson Rams ripped off a 8-0 run to open the quarter and grabbed their first lead of the game at 59-57 on a Diressa traditional hoop plus the harm three-point play.
For there the action intensified with both teams exchanging baskets and the lead four times including six ties in the last six minutes. Calgary put the pressure on the Rams with the two key baskets in the last minute for a 76-70 advantage before the late game heroics.
Diressa capped off a stellar three-year career by averaging a tournament best 27 points per game, 5.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and shooting 52.1% from the field and 90.9 from the free-throw line.
The two teams also met in preseason non-conference action back in October 22, 2017 at the Brock Badgers Classic, the Dinos pulled off a tough 87-85 overtime win.
The win is Calgary’s first in 15 championship appearances dating back to 1966. Having reached the National Semi-Finals on three occasions during Vanhooren era they finally were able to get over the hump in a deserving victory that will forever be remembered in Dinos history.
Dave Smart steps down as Carleton men’s head coach after 14 national titles
It’s the end of an era at Carleton.
The school has announced that Dave Smart, who built a dynasty that dominated Canadian university sport for nearly 20 years, has stepped down.
Smart has accepted a new role as the university’s director of basketball operations, Carleton said in a news release.
He will be responsible for “developing the men’s and women’s basketball programs and continuing to build a culture of sport excellence,” the release said.
“Smart will provide operational support, mentorship and technical leadership to the coaching staff of both programs, and he will work with the Department of University Advancement in fundraising and community development.
“He’ll also provide mentorship to other U Sports coaches in Carleton Athletics.”
Taffe Charles, who coached Carleton’s women’s program for 12 years and won a national title in 2017-18 will succeed Smart as men’s team head coach.
“It’s been a great run,’’ said Smart in a statement.
“Coaching is my second love, my first being my wife and children. I am very thankful to the university and I am looking forward to my new role.
“This gives me an opportunity to stay involved in basketball while having more time to spend with my family.”
Smart’s 19-year tenure at Carleton was one of remarkable dominance, with 14 national championships.
He also won a record number of coaching awards and has been active as a coach with Canada Basketball.
“Dave’s success on the court has given Carleton great national visibility and we are sincerely grateful,” said Benoit-Antoine Bacon, president of Carleton University.
“I wish Dave all the best in his new role where he will share his ‘playbook’ with all our Ravens programs.”
Charles played on Carleton’s men’s team from 1990 to 1995 and began his coaching career as an assistant in 1995; he then served as an assistant with the men’s program from 1998 to 2007.
Since returning to the women’s program in 2007, Carleton won four U Sports Final 8 berths, four OUA East titles, and two OUA championships.
Carleton’s women’s national championship in 2018 was the first in school history.
“I am truly honoured to be entrusted as the next head coach of the Carleton University men’s basketball program,’’ said Charles in a statement.
“I look forward to the challenge of continuing the high standard of excellence that has been set by Coach Smart, his coaching staff and the players.’’
Carleton said it has launched a national search for a head coach of its women’s program.
Kadre Gray wins second consecutive U Sports MVP
Laurentian guard Kadre Gray took his game to another level this season.
That’s saying something.
A year ago, Gray was the top Canadian university male athlete in any sport, the first Laurentian student to win the honour.
He led the country in assists, narrowly missed a scoring title, and — perhaps by default — also won the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as men’s basketball player of the year.
“Kadre’s work ethic continues to shine bright,” said Laurentian head coach Shawn Swords in a statement.
“He is always looking for ways to improve and refine all aspects of the game.”
If there was any doubt, Gray stifled it in his junior season.
He averaged 31 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game en route to his second consecutive Moser trophy.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment to do it once,” said Swords.
“And now, to be named MVP twice, is truly a testament to his willingness to learn and improve.
“The Kadre effect has spread throughout our community as well. It is great to see him support our local youth and realize the positive impact he has on everyone.”
Gray received the 2019 Moser trophy Thursday at a gala in Halifax, N.S., ahead of the U Sports Men’s Final 8 tournament.
University of Calgary guard Mambi Diawara, Concordia guard Ricardo Monge and St. Mary’s University guard Kemar Alleyne were also finalists for the award.
Gray was simply a cut above. He posted gaudy stats with notable efficiency, shooting 48.8 per cent from the floor.
He was also a First Team All-Canadian and played with Canada’s national team in FIBA World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers against Venezuela and Brazil.
Gray was the only U Sports player to participate in the qualifiers.
Other award winners:
Rookie of the Year (Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy): Alix Lochard, UQAM.
Ken Shields Award for Student-Athlete Community Service: Tanner Graham, Queen’s.
Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Anderson, Carleton.
Stuart W. Aberdeen Memorial Trophy (Coach of the Year): Dan Vanhooren, Calgary.
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