The Ryerson University Men’s Basketball program has arrived!
Seven years in the making since taking over head coaching duties, and ironically exactly 16 years to the date, Patrick Tatham, Roy Rana and the entire Ryerson University made a very, very loud national statement, earning historic wins against two of the countries traditional powerhouses for the first-ever number one ranking in school history, in any sport.
The fifth-ranked Ryerson Rams pulled off, what has become a nearly impossible feat during the unimaginable, amazing and dominant Carleton Ravens decade long strangle hold of Canadian university basketball by convincingly knocking-off the number-two ranked Ravens 79-61 and number-one ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees, completing the rare Ottawa basketball Capital Sweep.
The win over Carleton ended a 16-year, 33-game losing streak and handed the Ravens their first back-to-back Ontario Univerisity Conference (OUA) losses (Guelph Gryphons, Toronto Varsity Blues) since the 2001-2002 season. To put it in perspective, Dave Smart was just in his third-year and current interim coach Rob Smart was running the back-court show as the lead point guard.
The Rams followed up their dominate showing the previous night by taking full advantage of a short-handed Gee-Gees squad who was without the services of Caleb Agada (ankle injury) by snapping an a eight-game losing skid to the Gee-Gees – a team who has also historically dominated the Rams with a combined record of 26-8 that goes as far back as November 2003.
Toronto Junior Guard Ammanuel Diressa (Tennessee Tech/Eastern Commerce) put on a show in what has surely become one of the more hostile environments in the country. The former Eastern Commerce standout and NCAA DI to CIS transfer was unconscious putting up game-highs off the bench, 21 points in 22 minutes against Carleton and 29 points versus the Gee-Gees.
Both victories are early signs that CIS basketball supremacy is slowly re-structuring itself and shifting west, down highway 401 from Ottawa to Toronto.
A traditionally bottom of the standings OUA team during the late 90’s and early 2000’s Ryerson’s athletic department decided it was time to change the overall image of it’s sport programs embarking on an ambitious plan which included the hiring Roy Rana on August 14, 2009. Rana led arguably the most successful Toronto high school basketball program, the Eastern Commerce Saints to four straight provincial titles.
Beyond the scoreboard, it’s impossible not to recognize Ryerson’s overall commitment to becoming a national powerhouse in the mecca of Canadian basketball. The re-opening and re-transformation of the old Maple Leafs Garden to the Mattamy Athletic Centre into a state-of-the-art, 21st century sports and entertainment facility not only gave current and prospective student athletes home court advantage, it gave Rana & Co. a recruiting surplus around the country.
With Toronto producing and sending the most NCAA basketball talent in the country including a key decision by the CIS board to allow Canadian NCAA basketball transfers to return back home without being forced to sit-out a year and it’s easy to start seeing how Rana’s plan to bring a CIS parade down Carlton and Yonge street is not as far fetched as we may believe.
Fitly it took a veteran roster with a mixture of players like Diressa and Aaron Best, two former Eastern Commerce Saints, the first a NCAA transfer and the latter, part of the first recruiting class opting to play for Rana, rather than go down south. Both players as well as key additions like 6-9 forward Kadeem Green (Missouri Tigers/Ohio University) and Adika Peter-McNeilly have helped Ryerson finished what guys like Jahmal Jones, Jordon Gauthier and others started, finally ending Ottawa’s dominance atop of the CIS national rankings.
With the first-ever number one national ranking now firmly in place the Rams are in prime position return to the CIS Final 8 where once again, they will look capture their first-ever National Championship after earning a bronze medal and a third-place finish just a year-ago as successfully hosts.
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.