The 2013-2014 season promises to be exciting for Ottawa basketball fans. The introduction of professional basketball with the Ottawa SkyHawks, the return of the CIS Final 8 and Carleton University seeking their 10th CIS championship will all draw attention to basketball in Ottawa.
The Canadian Tire Centre’s newest tenant and NBL Canada’s newest franchise, the Ottawa SkyHawks have promised to deliver “a championship-calibre team to the nation’s capital and doing so with a strong Canadian presence”. Their first step towards delivering on that commitment, going all-Canadian in the draft, was to select Toronto-native Alex “Superman” Johnson first overall and followed-up by drafting two Ottawa natives, Manock Lual and Eric Kibi. In total 6 of the 12 players confirmed to attend the training camp is Canadian, all with NCAA division 1 or professional experience. Having delivered on the Canadian presence, the SkyHawks journey towards delivering a championship-calibre team will begin with their home and season opener against the Windsor Express on November 2nd in a city that is used to championship basketball.
The Carleton Ravens have built a legacy of high-calibre basketball in the nation’s capital. The 9-time national champions appear set to make it an even ten and made a clear statement in the pre-season defeating three Division 1 NCAA opponents, Towson, Texas Christian and Wisconsin. They fell just short of sweeping the series in a nail-biting overtime loss to the third ranked Syracuse Orange proving they’re ready to go toe-to-toe with the best.
The Ravens biggest challenge in obtaining their 10th title may come from their cross-town rivals the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Gee-Gees were ranked third going into last season’s CIS finals, and took their first ever CIS medal winning the Bronze in an overtime thriller over the Acadia Axemen. If the team can build on last-season’s success, we could be looking at an all-Ottawa fight for CIS gold.
If the cross-town rivals do find themselves competing for the gold, they will do so at home at the Canadian Tire Centre that, once again, will host the CIS Men’s Final 8. The Gee-Gees and Ravens won’t be the only ones with their eyes on the championship. While Carleton is guaranteed a berth in the final 8 as the host team, Ottawa will need to earn their spot. Even if they do, 6 other teams will be competing to dethrone Carleton and claim the championship.
The CIS excitement doesn’t end there, as Carleton University and Ottawa University women’s teams earned Silver and Bronze respectively during last season’s OUA playoffs, earning both teams a trip to their CIS Final 8. Both teams faltered during the quarter-finals. The women at both schools will be looking to improve on those performances and earn medals of their own.
If professional basketball and CIS aren’t enough to feed your basketball cravings, youth basketball is alive and well in the capital with local clubs playing in the EOBA and OBA. High school basketball will be returning to full capacity after last season’s work action shutdown many basketball programs. Rounding out the youth basketball offerings, the Ottawa Guardsmen and Ottawa Youth Basketball Academy will participate in the Canadian Youth Basketball League’s inaugural season and Ottawa will host the CYBL championships in June.
As the Carleton Ravens thrive to assert their CIS dominance, the Ottawa SkyHawks will have to battle to win games and earn the fan following they will need to survive. With all these options, Ottawa basketball fans shouldn’t have any difficulty keeping themselves busy this season.
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.