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Ryerson Rams “Capital Sweep” claims CIS Basketball supremacy

Khristel Stecher

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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.

Ryerson-Rams-vs-Carleton-January-22-2016

Coca-Cola Court home of Ryerson Rams Basketball Team

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.

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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.

Men

Highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide Return To Canada

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Alabama Crimson Tide Avery Johnson Return To Canada

The Alabama Crimson Tide led by former NBA Head Coach Avery Johnson, a 16-year veteran and NBA champion point-guard during his playing days will bring his highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide to Canada for series of games against Canada’s top university basketball programs.

The Crimson Tide will visit both Montreal and Ottawa for a three-game exhibition schedule against McGill Redmen (Mon Aug 7), Carleton Ravens (Wed Aug 9) and the Ottawa Gee-Gees (Thu Aug 10).

The Tide competed hard last year and took a step in the right direction with a 19-15 record, 10-8 SEC record and have NCAA March Madness tournament aspirations thanks to solid recruiting class which ranks amongst the nations best.

Led by a talented crop of returning guards, Dazon Ingram (10.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG), Riley Norris (9 PPG, 3 RPG), the coaches son Avery Johnson Jr. and forwards Braxton Key the Tide will be a handful for the it’s Canadian opposition.

Key a 6’8″, 220 lbs flirted with the  2017 NBA draft after a stellar freshman season, the Charlotte, NC native led ‘Bama in scoring with 12 point per game and was second in rebounding at 5.7 per game. The Tide will also welcome incoming red-shirt sophomore 6’10”, 240lbs Daniel Giddens to a line-up that returns four starters.

Alabama anchored by current NBA player Alonzo Gee (Denver Nuggets) last visited Canada back in 2007 and finished with a record of 4-1 against the same exact teams, dropping a tight 83-72 decision against the Carleton Ravens who have won seven straight Canadian titles including 13-of the-last-15 championships.

Carleton’s signature win over Alabama was only their second ever against a NCAA division one team after 16-game losing streak from 1999 to 2006. The Ravens current record against NCAA teams in Canada stands at an impressive 26-23 (.531%) record.

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Men

Calgary Dinos Thomas Cooper Senior Highlights

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Calgary Dinos Thomas Cooper Senior Highlights

Calgary Dinos senior guard Thomas Cooper had himself and impressive CIS/Usports career to say the least. The Chattanooga, Tenn. native, a 6-5, 200 lbs guard earned himself two first team All-Canadian awards while leading Dinos back to the championship game for the first time since 1966.

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Men

No. 1 Carleton Ravens 81-40 lock-up rivals No. 2 Ottawa Gee-Gees

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Eddie Ekiyor Carleton Ravens Vs.Ottawa Gee Gees USports Basketball
Photo - Valerie Wutti

Ottawa, ON – The twelve-time defending CIS/USports National Basketball Champions and No.1 Carleton Ravens went into Monpetit Hall and completely dominated the No. 2 ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees, locking up their Bytown rivals with a blistering 81-40 win.

The Ravens, the top defensive unit in the country, allowing an incredible low of only 60 points to opponents, dominated every aspect of the much anticipated game holding Ottawa to four points in the first-quarter and thirteen in the second for a grand total of seventeen first-half points and 35-17 half-time lead.

The first-quarter ended with Ravens leading 11-4 as both teams slugged it out in front of a jam packed standing room only Monpetit Hall which hasn’t seen the Gee-Gees get dismantled like this on their home floor in 32-game OUA conference games – snapping home winning streak which dated back to 2012.

Fifth-year senior Guard Connor Wood caught fire in the second-quarter after a cold start scoring all but 14 of the teams 24 points in the quarter and finished with 16 in the half and game-high 19 points. Starting point guard Kaza Kajami-Keane added 10 points, six rebounds in just 19 minutes.

The Gee-Gees were limited to 6-of-32 (18.8%) shooting, 3-of-17 from the outside in the opening 20 minutes and managed to only connect on 12-56 (21.4%) of their field goal attempts for the entire game and only 6-of-26 from the outside.

Carleton shot 50% in the second-half and finished 31-68 from the floor and 13-of-28 from downtown while turning the ball over 9 times compared to the Gee-Gees 18.

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The 40 points allowed by the Ravens is their lowest against the Gee-Gees since a 74-34 smack-down in January 18th, 2012 at the Sixth Annual Capital Hoops Classic.

Carleton Ravens 6’10” freshman Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, ON) and senior forward Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON) finished one point shy of double-doubles with 9 points and 8 rebounds respectively, and shutdown the Gee-Gees dynamic duo of Caleb Agada (12 points, 4 rebounds) and former Ravens Jean Emmanuel Pierre (7 points, 6 rebounds). Gee-Gees Guard Brandon Robinson had a team-high 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting, 3-of-4 triples.

Carleton’s record  stays unblemished at a perfect 10-0, 16-0 against Canadian competition and 22-2 overall with the only losses coming from two NCAA opponents on the road in Rhode Island – Providence Friars 87-69 and in Philadelphia against LaSalle Explorers 79-73.

Both teams will meet again in just over two weeks (Feb 3rd) at the 2017 Capital Hoops Classic at the ScotiaBank Centre.

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