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Preview: Carleton Ravens look to continue dominance at 24th Annual House-Laughton tournament

The Carleton Ravens will host the Lakehead Thunderwolves, Bishop’s Gaiters and the Victoria Vikings for the 24th annual House-Laughton pre-season tournament. Not surprisingly, the Ravens have dominated this tournament, and haven’t lost a game since the Vikings edged Carleton 56-55 back in 2004.

While the results will have no bearing on the standings for the upcoming season, the teams will learn a great deal about themselves, and it will help them prepare for the regular season and gives us a greater indication of where these potential CIS Final 8 teams will stand once both the BasketballBuzz Top 25 Preseason Rankings and the CIS Top 10 get released. The following is a preview of the four teams, and what we can expect at the tournament.

Carleton Ravens

If the CIS-NCAA cross-border battle was any indication, the Ravens seem poised to pad their championship record with a 10th W.P. McGee trophy. Leading up to last season’s championship, Carleton had a near-perfect season, losing only their season opener to Windsor, and outscoring their opponents by an average of 30 points per game. While there have certainly been some changes to the roster, they have a solid core returning with 4 starters who know how to score.

Phillip and Thomas Scrubb, Tyson Hinz and Clinton Springer-Williams will surely return as starters, leaving one starting position to fill, and Victor Raso seems poised to fill that role after sitting out last season following his departure from McMaster. Add Victor to the starting line and you have 5 players that have each received CIS accolades as Rookies or Final 8 tournament all-stars. If that weren’t enough, the Ravens have plenty of depth waiting for an opportunity to play bigger roles with the team.

Lakehead University

Detractors will point out that Lakehead were defeated by the largest ever margin of 50 points during last season’s CIS championship, but that isn’t a true reflection of a team that had an impressive 14-7 season, averaging an 11 point edge over their competitors with more than a few 30+ point victories. They earned a bronze at the OUA championships and, let’s not forget, earned a silver medal in the CIS Final 8.

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Returning to the Final 8 may be a challenge this season, having lost 6 players to graduation including Yoosrie Salhia, Ben Johnson and Greg Carter, significant elements of the Thunderwolves’ offence, potentially placing a heavy burden on Ryan Thompson and Dwayne Harvey.

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They will also be playing under Interim Head Coach Matt Erdman while Scott Morrison, takes a leave of absence to work with the Maine Red Claws in the NBA D-league. The Thunderwolves have had a busy off-season adding 7-foot Australian Brent Wallace to the roster and have confirmed four other rookies including OFSAA all-star Nolan Mackenzie. The House-Laughton tournament will be a good test of how well the new puzzle pieces will fit together.

University of Victoria

The Vikings might have taken Canada West gold last season if they hadn’t allowed UBC to outscore them 22-8 in the second quarter of the final game falling by a final score of 72-69. That single quarter probably sealed their fate headed into the Final 8, where seeded 8th meant they had to take on the Carleton Juggernaut in their first game of the tournament and ultimately finished 6th.

The Vikes will surely miss the presence of graduate, Michael Acheampong. In addition to their remaining scoring leaders from last season, Terrel Evans and Chris McLaughlin, the Vikes will be looking to Kyle Peterson for more scoring, and are expecting big things from rookie and Seattle native, Marcus Tibbs.

Bishop’s University

The underdogs coming in to this event, Bishop’s is the only team in the tournament that didn’t participate in the CIS Final 8 last season, missing the finals by a single possession to McGill, with whom they alternated victories throughout the regular season. Finishing the season with a 10-6 record, they did manage to crack the CIS top 10 rankings in Week 8, but were completely dominated in the cross-border battle against the Syracuse Orange and respectable 2-1 record against Queens and Manitoba at the Queens Invitational in Kingston, Ontario.

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The Bishop’s squad, however retains all but one of their core players, losing only Tim Hunter to graduation, who averaged 30.7 minutes and 9.9 points per game. His role on the starting line may be filled by RSEQ Player of the Year, Mike Andrews, who led the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game. With a returning veteran core, Bishop’s could surprise some teams and have solid chance of making it to the Final 8 this season if they can be consistent against McGill.

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While the slate will be wiped clean before the regular season begins, don’t expect teams, or their coaches to take these games lightly. For the players, especially the rookies, this is an opportunity to establish their roles on the team and impress their coaches. Pre-season games may not mean much in the record books, but a poor performance here could effect a player’s chance of ever appearing in them.

The House-Laughton will be played October 18th through October 20th at Carleton University.

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