2012 Top 40 Alum captures National Champonship
VANCOUVER — While their former star guards, Osvaldo Jeanty and Philip Scrubb, deserve mention as perhaps their two greatest stars, Ottawa’s Carleton Ravens are still the dynasty that has no face.
And they’re OK with that because they’ve always known it’s more important to have a true identity.
In an era of dominance which continued here Sunday with a sixth straight CIS Final 8 national men’s basketball title, the Ravens once again won because of the total sum of their parts.
In a 101-79 victory over the Canada West champion Calgary Dinos, a program playing in its first national final in 50 years and still in search of its first golden moment, the Ravens were at their absolute selfless best with all five of its starters reaching double figures in scoring, including tournament MVP Connor Wood who led the way with 22 points.
Think about it.
Even without a player bearing the surname Jeanty or Scrubb among its roster, they hoisted the W.P. McGee Trophy, emblematic of CIS hoops surpemacy for the 12th time in 14 years.
Heck, they didn’t even have their program’s architect and guru-like guiding force Dave Smart on the bench as they rolled out to a 48-32 halftime lead before 4,450 fans at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Arena
Taking a one-season sabbatical, Smart turned the regins over to his nephew Rob Smart and the winning just continued.
Just as it did over the course of the regular season, one in which seven different players took turns in leading the team in scoring, the Ravens simply lived up to their DNA to win a school-record half-dozen straight titles.
Multiple points of attack. Everyone ready to step up based on evolving matchups. And most importantly, everything stemming from its commitment to team defence.
That much was apparent right off the opening tip with key plays coming from a pair of fifth-year seniors.
Forward Guillaume Payen Boucard twice blocked Dinos’ star guard Thomas Cooper before the game was even a minute old. And guard Gavin Resch twice drew charges in the paint on drives by both David Kapinga and Cooper.
Those hustle plays keyed not only transition points, but efficient half-court ball movement to the degree that Carleton got 10 triples (10-of-23) in the first half from four different players.
Defensively, the game plan was to make Cooper work for his buckets, but even more so, to hold back the rest of the Dinos’ line-up.
With a 48-32 lead at the break, it was a rousing success.
Cooper scored 14 of game-high 25 points by the half, but shot 5-of-13 from the field while the rest of the Calgary team shot 5-of-20. On the game he went 8-of-18. Teammate David Kapinga scored 15.
Energized by their defence, Carleton got eight players into their first-half scoring mix, five of whom scored six or more points.
And with their early success from distance, the Ravens didn’t back down from beyond the arc, hitting at a 43.5 per cent clip (10-for-23).
Resch was huge hitting on four of his eight long-range bombs, with starter Connor Wood and bench player T.J. Lall and Cameron Smythe also knocking down two each.
The Ravens continued to exert their dominance throughout the third quarter, but Calgary’s 8-2 run just past the midway mark of the frame caught coach Smart’s attention and he immediately brought rising star forward Ryan Ejim off the bench.
All Ejim proceeded to do was scored three straight baskets and set the tone for the remainder of the contest.
The Ravens’ balance?
On the game, six Ravens finished in double-figures on offence led by Wood’s 22 points, Gavin Resch with 18 points, Kaza Kajami-Keane with 15, Payen Bocuard with 12 points, Ejim with 12 points.
Carleton’s road to a potential sixth straight title came Saturday over the latter stages of the third quarter as its defence locked down Dalhousie in the half court, generating numerous turnovers that the Ravens used during a 10-2 run en route to a 76-66 win over the Atlantic champion Tigers.
The Ravens, who never surrendered the lead, led by as many 18 points, getting 20 points from Ejim, 18 from Connor Wood and 13 from Payen Boucard.
The Dinos made their way to Sunday’s championship final on the heels of a 98-87 semifinal win Saturday over the OUA champion and No. 1-seeded Ryerson Rams of Toronto.
As a sign of just how ready the Dinos were, they bolted out to a 16-point advantage in the second quarter, a cushion which proved enough to lead wire to wire.
While the focus of the Ryerson defence was rightly on Calgary’s Thomas, who scored a game-high 30 points, the depth of the Dinos shone through.
Calgary’s bench outscored Ryerson’s 33-9, led by Jas Gill who hit four triples and scored 23 points in 25 minutes.