Vancouver, BC – Coming into the 2016 CIS Men’s Final 8 there was a great debate over just how the Ottawa Gee-Gees, a wild card team managed to be awarded a No. 3 seed over other conference champions. Notably, one of those teams who felt they deserved a higher seed was the Atlantic University Conference (AUS) champions Dalhousie Tigers who earned their way to back-to-back Final 8 appearances by becoming the first team since 2002 to repeat as AUS conference champions.
Luckily for the No. 6 Dalhousie Tigers, the luck of the draw saw them paired in a Quarter-Finals tilt against a Gee-Gees team that came in limping into the National tournament, setting the stage for a potential upset and their very first quarter-finals win in 7 appearances dating back to 1983.
Much like their AUS championship run, the Dalhousie fell behind early in the first-quarter 17-10, trailed for most of the game and methodically climbed their way back using game changing runs. And when adversity starred them in the eye trailing the Gee-Gees 70-62 with a quarter to play, Dalhousie turned to their conference all-star point guard Rich Kaza Mata who scored 10 of his game-high 24 points to propel his team to the CIS Final 8 their first Semi-Final with gutsy 87-83 win over the Gee-Gees.
Kaza Mata took-over down the stretch scoring eight straight points in the late stages and finished 8-of-12 from the floor including 7-of-8 from the charity line.
Kashrell Lawrence added 14 points, six rebounds and four steals for the AUS champs who forced Ottawa into a season high 24 turnovers, converting them into 31 points. Dalhousie pounded the ball inside for a 50-36 points in the paint advantage and went to the line 24 times compared to 10 attempts by the trigger happy Gee-Gees.
We shot the lights out in the first half and I think that gave us a little bit of a false sense of success despite the fact that our defense was not great. The defense continued to struggle, especially on containment,” opened-up Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin.
“Their pressure defense gave us all kinds of fits. We knew that was coming. We prepared for it, we worked for it. But credit to them, especially Ritchie. He put his shoulder down and jumped into the defense. As aggressive as they played defensively, we shot ten free throws. That’s a sign to me that we weren’t low and we weren’t trying to counter their aggression with aggression. We didn’t handle it like the veteran group that we have and like we should have.”
The stage is now set for the Dalhousie Tigers (27-8) to face No. 2 ranked, eleven-time and six-time defending CIS champions Carleton Ravens, in what should be another high octane, pressure game which the Tigers have shown capable of winning under the tutelage of third-year head coach Rick Plato.
A closer look at the Tigers past three wins reveals a combined 7 points difference, earning wins over St. Marys 75-74 (AUS Semifinal), 87-85 over UPEI (AUS championship) and a slim 87-83 win over a Gee-Gees that was ranked in the top spot for over five weeks.
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.