Vancouver – In a year where many doubt them and few believed, the Carleton Ravens silenced all critics and reminded everybody of the greatest collegiate basketball dynasty in North America by winning a Canadian University Sport (CIS) record twelve and their sixth CIS Men’s Basketball championships.
After the massive loss of four starters, including First-Team All-Canadian, Scrubb brother tandem, Philip & Thomas and Canadian Basketball Hall-of-Famer Head coach Dave Smart (sabbatical reasons), coupled with the overall growth and parity of the CIS game, it was easy to look past the Carleton Ravens. Most were already looking next door, across the Rideau Canal to Monpetit Hall, others, perhaps to the next city and next potential champion.
But behind a Carleton Raven patent barrage of three-pointers and an overall, all-around offensive and defensive first team effort the No. 2 Carleton Ravens like they have done before, during their dozen-long, strangle-hold of the W.P McGee trophy, convincingly defeated the No. 4 Calgary Dinos 100-79, claiming the 2016 CIS Men’s Championship and thus reminding the 4,415+ crowd at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, and all of us that they’ve been down this graduation, adversity road once or twice since it all begun back in 2003.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Smart.“People called it a rebuilding year, and we kind of figured out halfway that our identity was a little different, and we were going to have to do it by committee. I think every body chipped in. I don’t know – we said it from the start – players were a good fit for our coaches. Neither of us really knew what we were doing, and we kind of stayed with it.”
All five Ravens starters reached double-figures with Carleton’s fourth-year guard Connor Wood (Guelph, ON) making it four-for-four – as in winning four championships, in four seasons by pour in a team-high 22-points on 5-of-12 three-pointers and four assists, four rebounds on his way to being named the 2016 CIS Final 8 Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Fifth year seniors Gavin Resch (18 points, 6-of-12 three-pointers) and forward Guillaume Boucard (12 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) went out with a bang, ending their collegiate careers once again hosting the W.P McGee Trophy.
Point Guard Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, ON) and Forward Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON) both transferred to the Ravens program with the sole purpose of winning a championship title and were both instrumental in adding to the long list of Gold medals, championship banners and hardware collection at the Ravens Nest. Keane who benefited from the new CIS/NCAA transfer rule finished with 15-point, 10-assist double-double while Ejim added 12 points, 6 rebounds and four blocks.
Calgary returned to the title game for the first time in 50 years (1966) and scored the first points of the highly anticipated championship on a made basket by All-Canadian, American Thomas Cooper (Chattanogga, Tenn.) who netted a game-high 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, but never regained the lead as the Ravens buried sixth triples in the first-quarter to grab a commanding 26-14 advantage, cruising to a game-high 24-point lead before settling in for yet another Championship celebration.
The Ravens shot the lights out in the opening half, burying 10-of-20 (50%) three-pointers and added six more to finish the night at 16-of-36 (44%). Carleton got 21 more shots up than Calgary on 40-for-81 (49.4%) shooting from the floor. Calgary managed only 66 attempts, making only 26, for only 39%. Ravens also held the Dinos to 7-of-28 (25%) on threes and won the rebounding war with 47-37 advantage.
The Ravens are now 12-0 in CIS championship games, their only losses have both happened in Ottawa at the National semi-finals stage (2008 vs. Acadia Axemen & 2010 vs. Saskatchewan Huskies). Additionally, the 101 points scored against the Dinos marks the most points Carleton has ever scored in CIS Final 8 game and the most (79) points they’ve allowed during their current twelve championships.
With their sixth straight national title in hand the Ravens move within one of the all-time record held by the 1979-86 Victoria Vikes for most consecutive CIS championships at seven.
With only two fifth-year graduating players expected to leave the Nest and the eminent return of the Dave Smart looming, you can bet the #Questfor7 hashtag will eventually come to life and the preparation for number seven will begin tomorrow and will likely end with Carleton celebrating in Halifax in 2017.
Highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide Return To Canada
The Alabama Crimson Tide led by former NBA Head Coach Avery Johnson, a 16-year veteran and NBA champion point-guard during his playing days will bring his highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide to Canada for series of games against Canada’s top university basketball programs.
The Crimson Tide will visit both Montreal and Ottawa for a three-game exhibition schedule against McGill Redmen (Mon Aug 7), Carleton Ravens (Wed Aug 9) and the Ottawa Gee-Gees (Thu Aug 10).
The Tide competed hard last year and took a step in the right direction with a 19-15 record, 10-8 SEC record and have NCAA March Madness tournament aspirations thanks to solid recruiting class which ranks amongst the nations best.
Led by a talented crop of returning guards, Dazon Ingram (10.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG), Riley Norris (9 PPG, 3 RPG), the coaches son Avery Johnson Jr. and forwards Braxton Key the Tide will be a handful for the it’s Canadian opposition.
Key a 6’8″, 220 lbs flirted with the 2017 NBA draft after a stellar freshman season, the Charlotte, NC native led ‘Bama in scoring with 12 point per game and was second in rebounding at 5.7 per game. The Tide will also welcome incoming red-shirt sophomore 6’10”, 240lbs Daniel Giddens to a line-up that returns four starters.
Alabama anchored by current NBA player Alonzo Gee (Denver Nuggets) last visited Canada back in 2007 and finished with a record of 4-1 against the same exact teams, dropping a tight 83-72 decision against the Carleton Ravens who have won seven straight Canadian titles including 13-of the-last-15 championships.
Carleton’s signature win over Alabama was only their second ever against a NCAA division one team after 16-game losing streak from 1999 to 2006. The Ravens current record against NCAA teams in Canada stands at an impressive 26-23 (.531%) record.
Calgary Dinos Thomas Cooper Senior Highlights
Calgary Dinos senior guard Thomas Cooper had himself and impressive CIS/Usports career to say the least. The Chattanooga, Tenn. native, a 6-5, 200 lbs guard earned himself two first team All-Canadian awards while leading Dinos back to the championship game for the first time since 1966.
No. 1 Carleton Ravens 81-40 lock-up rivals No. 2 Ottawa Gee-Gees
Ottawa, ON – The twelve-time defending CIS/USports National Basketball Champions and No.1 Carleton Ravens went into Monpetit Hall and completely dominated the No. 2 ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees, locking up their Bytown rivals with a blistering 81-40 win.
The Ravens, the top defensive unit in the country, allowing an incredible low of only 60 points to opponents, dominated every aspect of the much anticipated game holding Ottawa to four points in the first-quarter and thirteen in the second for a grand total of seventeen first-half points and 35-17 half-time lead.
The first-quarter ended with Ravens leading 11-4 as both teams slugged it out in front of a jam packed standing room only Monpetit Hall which hasn’t seen the Gee-Gees get dismantled like this on their home floor in 32-game OUA conference games – snapping home winning streak which dated back to 2012.
Fifth-year senior Guard Connor Wood caught fire in the second-quarter after a cold start scoring all but 14 of the teams 24 points in the quarter and finished with 16 in the half and game-high 19 points. Starting point guard Kaza Kajami-Keane added 10 points, six rebounds in just 19 minutes.
The Gee-Gees were limited to 6-of-32 (18.8%) shooting, 3-of-17 from the outside in the opening 20 minutes and managed to only connect on 12-56 (21.4%) of their field goal attempts for the entire game and only 6-of-26 from the outside.
Carleton shot 50% in the second-half and finished 31-68 from the floor and 13-of-28 from downtown while turning the ball over 9 times compared to the Gee-Gees 18.
The 40 points allowed by the Ravens is their lowest against the Gee-Gees since a 74-34 smack-down in January 18th, 2012 at the Sixth Annual Capital Hoops Classic.
Carleton Ravens 6’10” freshman Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, ON) and senior forward Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON) finished one point shy of double-doubles with 9 points and 8 rebounds respectively, and shutdown the Gee-Gees dynamic duo of Caleb Agada (12 points, 4 rebounds) and former Ravens Jean Emmanuel Pierre (7 points, 6 rebounds). Gee-Gees Guard Brandon Robinson had a team-high 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting, 3-of-4 triples.
Carleton’s record stays unblemished at a perfect 10-0, 16-0 against Canadian competition and 22-2 overall with the only losses coming from two NCAA opponents on the road in Rhode Island – Providence Friars 87-69 and in Philadelphia against LaSalle Explorers 79-73.
Both teams will meet again in just over two weeks (Feb 3rd) at the 2017 Capital Hoops Classic at the ScotiaBank Centre.
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