Dalhousie Tigers are going back to the CIS Men’s Basketball Final 8 after defeating the UPEI Panthers 87-85 in one of the greatest Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Championship games of all-time and becoming the first team to win back-to-back AUS conference titles since 2006.
It’s never easy defending championships and the cool, calm Dalhousie Tigers did just that, fighting-off a 16-point first-quarter deficit after a Panther like 20-4 opening game run by UPEI, in the first six minutes. For there the game turned into a classic as the champs finally settled down, holding the red hot Panthers scoreless for over four minutes between quarters eventually tying and taking a 36-33 lead late in the second-quarter before couple of Panther layups kept them ahead 37-36 at half-time.
UPEI’s All-Star Tyler Scott closed out his brilliant university career by scoring 23-points for the Panthers and drilled three out of his five triples in the opening minutes of the third-quarter to help push the Panthers lead to 50-44. Dalhousie immediately responded with pin-point execution, working the ball down low to tournament MVP Kashrell Lawrence (14 points, 7 rebounds) taking a 61-57 advantage to the fourth and final ten minutes.
With nothing to lose and everything to gain and the conferences only automatic bid to the national championships at stake both teams gave their absolute effort with five out the games ten ties coming in the last quarter (65-65, 76-76, 79-79, 81-81, 83-83). The last one being the key turning point as Dalhousie Tigers fourth-year, 5’11 first-team all-star point guard Richie Kaza Mata (Toronto, Ont.) went the length of the court in less than three seconds and bullied his way to an improbable, tough, And1 basket putting them up for good at 84-83 with just 31 seconds left on the clock. Kaza Mata finished with a game-high 21 points and eight assists on 7-of-19 shooting to lead all five starters in double-figures. Cedric Sanogo 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, Sven Stammberger 13 points, 4 rebounds and AUS Rookie of the Year Jordan Aquino-Serjue (Montreal, Que.) knocked in some key buckets on his way to 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Four UPEI players reached double-figures, Milorad Sedlarevic (Slovenia) scored 10 of his 17 in the fourth quarter, Bradley States added 15 points, 8 rebounds including a nasty one-hander that swung momentum in the late stages, conference All-Rookie team Amin Suleman 12 points, five assists and Dut Dut game-high 14 rebounds. The Panthers held a slim 38-36 edge on the glass but failed to capitalize on their early lead largely due to their 22 turnovers – resulting in 27 points scored for the savy Dalhousie Tigers who get nearly a week and half off to prepare and march on for another shot at the schools first ever CIS Men’s basketball National Championship.
A few days after being named AUS Coach of the Year, third-year head coach Rick Plato will now make his second straight nationals appearance and with the Cinderella run the previous year behind them, that saw the fifth-ranked Tigers come-up one point short, (57-56 QF loss, Victoria Vikes) of a national semi-final appearance at the 2015 CIS Final 8 the Tigers will be looking to roar a little louder this time around.
2016 AUS Basketball Championships All-Stars & MVP
MVP Kashrell Lawrence – Dalhousie Tigers
Richie Kanza Mata – Dalhousie Tigers
Tyler Scott – UPEI Panthers
Osman Barrie – Saint Mary Huskies
Bradly States – UPEI Panthers
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.