The road to Ontario University Basketball supremacy has been firmly cemented through the Carleton University Ravens.
The Canadian basketball powerhouse has continuously dominated the toughest conference in the country year-in, year out, earning eleven (11) conference titles in Dave Smart’s 19 seasons as head coach.
Recently, the Ryerson Rams have threaten to end the Ravens dominance, earning the first non Carleton Ravens’ back-to-back (2016, 2017) conference titles since Joe Raso and the McMaster Marauders pulled it off in 1996 and 1997. Furthermore, despite the Ravens dominance of the Rams, they have managed to beat Carleton and win meaningfully games in March.
Ryerson, playing in their fourth straight Ontario University Association (OUA) conference championship game — a feat that not even the Ravens have accomplished, were looking for their third conference title in four years, having cut down the mesh at the Ravens’ Nest to win their second straight conference banner two years ago.
Add to the fact that Ryerson ended the Ravens hopes of a perfect season, pulling off a 78-74 road win less than five weeks ago and we once again had the ingredients for another great game.
“Coming into game we put a lot of focus in practice on limiting their key players and making it tough for them.” discussed Ravens’ point guard Yasiin Joseph after the Ravens executed their game-plan to perfection, beating the Ryerson Rams 81-61 to reclaiming Wilson Cup supremacy with their second straight conference title.
Carleton ripped off 12-0 run and held the Rams scoreless for over four minutes to grab 25-18 lead after one quarter. Ravens starting back-court of Yasiin Joseph (20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Munis Tutu (16 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds) both played outstanding, controlling the offense and were great on the boards.
“Ryerson is a tough team and you have to be prepared. We made some adjustments from the previous game that helped us come on top.” Also commented Tutu, a Windsor, Ontario native who is looking for his first national title with the Ravens after falling short to the Rams in the national semi-final game.
Now three games away from potentially tasting national glory, Tutu understands the importance of staying focused and trusting the plan. “It’s going to be difficult, we are going to put in a tough week of practice, and prepare for our next opponent and try to bring the championship back to Ottawa.”
Eddie Ekiyor continued his All-Canadian campaign with 16 points and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes. TJ Lall returned from his one game suspension and almost had a perfect game with 10 points, 7 rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting.
Both teams shot poorly from the three-point line going a combined 8-of-49 (16%). Carleton limited the Rams offense to just seven assists and had fairly comfortable +17 (43-26) advantage on the glass.
6’11” Tanor Ngom continued to showcase his upside leading Ryerson in scoring with 15 points and four rebounds including a few exciting dunks for the standing room only, capacity crowd. JV Mukama was largely held in check and finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds including 0-7 from three-point shooting. Myles Charvis started off hot, but cooled down considerably, scoring 8 of his 10 points in the first quarter in 34 minutes.
Carleton won their first OUA conference basketball title of the Dave Smart era in his fourth year and they went on to three-peat on two occasions, from 2003-2005 and again from 2008-2010. They also took home top honors in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2018 and now once again 2019.
The only years the Ravens have failed to win the national title as conference champions were in 2008 when they lost to the Acadia Axemen, 2010 against Saskatchewan and recently against Ryerson in 2018.
The Ravens are now the odds on favorites to earn the top seed at next weeks Final 8 National Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia — a place where they have won 8 of their record 13 national titles.
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.
2019 OUA men’s playoff preview: Round One
It’s that time again.
The OUA men’s basketball playoffs begin tomorrow (Feb. 20), with four first-round games that will decide who advances to the quarter-finals.
Here’s our preview.
Carleton Ravens (first place, 22-1) and Ryerson Rams (second place, 21-2) receive a bye.
Queen’s Golden Gals (fifth place, 12-11) at Laurentian Voyageurs (fourth place, 13-10)
Season series: 1-1
Queen’s 87-80 win on Jan. 4
Laurentian 85-72 win on Jan. 26
Who to watch
Queen’s: Jaz Bains
Bains, a fifth-year guard from Brampton, leads the Golden Gaels in scoring this season with 19.3 points per game.
He was an OUA Third-Team All-Star last season after three seasons with the St. Lawrence College Vikings, where he was an All-Canadian, OCCA player of the year in 2015-16 and OCAA rookie of the year in 2014-15.
Laurentian: Kadre Gray
Gray has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Huskies, averaging 31 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game.
The 6-foot-1 guard from Toronto is the OUA’s leading scorer by a mile, and the reigning U Sports player of the year.
York Lions (sixth place, 8-15) at Ottawa Gee-Gees (third place, 15-8)
Season series 1-1
Ottawa 92-58 win on Jan. 18
York 78-67 win on Feb. 9
Who to watch
Ottawa: Guillaume Pepin and Gage Sabean
Pepin, a freshman 6-foot-6 forward from Montreal and Sabean, a 6-foot-5 junior guard from Port Williams, N.S., lead a balanced attack for the Gee Gees.
Both averaged about 15 points per game during the regular season.
York Lions: Chevon Brown an DeAndrae Pierre
Brown and Pierre have shouldered much of the scoring load for the Lions this season, forming a potent backcourt with a mix of youth and experience.
Pierre has 13 ppg as a freshman combo guard, starting 18 games this season. Brown has 14.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists as a senior in his fourth year of eligibility.
Brown, a 6-foot-1 guard from Toronto, spent two seasons at ASA College, a junior college in Brooklyn, N.Y., before joining York in 2017-18.
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (first place, 18-6) and Western Mustangs (second place, 16-8) have a first-round bye.
Lakehead Thunderwolves (sixth place, 10-14) at Brock Badgers (third place, 16-8)
Season series: 1-1
Lakehead 94-74 win on Feb. 15
Brock 73-72 win on Feb. 16
Who to watch
Brock: Cassidy Ryan and Johneil Simpson
Ryan, a 6-foot-7 forward from Mississauga, Ont., had 20 points and nine rebounds in Brock’s victory over Lakehead.
He also had 20 points, five rebounds and a steal in a loss to Lakehead the previous evening.
Simpson, a 6-foot-5 guard from Toronto, is Brock’s second all-time leading scorer and fourth in the OUA this season with 20.5 points per game.
Thunderwolves: Lock Lam and Isaiah Traylor
Lam, a 6-foot-9 forward from Ottawa, is the Thunderwolves’ defensive anchor.
He had 19 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and a steal in the loss to Brock on Feb. 16, after an 18/6/5 performance the previous day.
Traylor, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Tupelo, Miss., played NCAA Division I before joining Lakehead, and is the Thunderwolves’ leading scorer this season.
Guelph Gryphons (fifth place, 11-13) at McMaster Marauders (sixth place, 11-13)
Season series: 1-1
McMaster 97-80 win on Jan. 11
Guelph 77-75 win on Feb. 13
Who to watch
Guelph: Tommy Yanchus and Malcolm Glanville
Yanchus (senior guard from Guelph) and Glanville (sophomore guard from Toronto) have been an effective one-two punch for the Gryphons, both averaging roughly 17 points per game during the regular season.
McMaster: Connor Gilmore and David McCulloch
Gilmore, a senior forward from Etobicoke, Ont., has been remarkably consistent this season, averaging 16.4 points and eight rebounds per game.
McCullough is a crafty fifth-year guard who moves well with and without the ball. Good spot-up shooter who can create his own shot off the dribble. He averaged 15.4 points and 3.3 assists during the regular season.