PREVIEW ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS men’s basketball championship: Top-ranked Gee-Gees, Ravens look to triumph in front of home fans

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Photo credit Winston Chow

OTTAWA (CIS) – The Ottawa Gee-Gees and Carleton Ravensboth have a golden opportunity to capture a national title in frontof their home fans this weekend as they head into the ArcelorMittalDofasco CIS men’s basketball championship as the top twoseeded teams in the field.

The 2014 Final 8, hosted by Carleton University, gets under wayFriday at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa and culminates Sunday at 2p.m.

with the gold-medal final, live on Sportsnet.

Sportsnet also has live coverage of Saturday’s semifinalsat 6 and 8 p.m., on Sportsnet 360. All 10 games from thecompetition – including televised contests – will be webcast liveon www.CIS-SIC.tv.

In their quest for the W.P. McGee Trophy, the Gee-Gees (OUAchampions) and Ravens (OUA finalists) are joined by thethird-seeded Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West champions), No. 4Victoria Vikes (Canada West finalists), No. 5 McGill Redmen (RSEQchampions), No. 6 Saint Mary’s Huskies (AUS champions), No. 7McMaster Marauders (OUA bronze medallists) and No. 8 SaskatchewanHuskies (Canada West bronze medallists).

In Friday’s quarter-finals, Alberta will battle SaintMary’s in the 12:30 p.m. opener, followed by Carleton vs.McMaster at 2:30 p.m., Victoria vs. McGill at 5:30 p.m., and Ottawavs. Saskatchewan in the 8 p.m. nightcap.

The Ravens, who enter the competition as reigning three-timechampions after claiming their record ninth McGee Trophy overall ayear ago, were ranked No. 1 in the country all season, witharchrival Ottawa following in second place in each of the last 11weekly national polls.

However, the Gee-Gees handed Carleton its first loss of thecampaign in Saturday’s OUA final, erasing a 10-point deficitin the last three minutes of regulation to prevail 78-77. The upsetwin earned Ottawa the top seed heading into the CIS tournament forthe first time in program history.

Despite the No. 2 status, many still consider Carleton to be theteam to beat this weekend. After all, the three times they failedto capture the OUA crown since 2003 (2011, 2007, 2006), the Ravensquickly got back on their feet and won the nationalbanner.

Ottawa makes a strong case as well of course, and after claimingtheir first-ever CIS medal last winter (bronze), this could be theyear the Gee-Gees finally dethrone their neighbours as the top teamin the nation’s capital and, more importantly, in thecountry.

In his fourth campaign at the helm, head coach James Derouin hasled his squad to a sparkling 34-2 overall record versus CIScompetition, with both losses coming against Carleton in leagueplay (94-73 on Nov. 29 / 82-58 on Jan. 21). The top-ranked offencein the nation (96.4 points per game), which dropped 101 points onMcMaster in the OUA semis (101-68), is paced by conferenceall-stars Terry Thomas (22.4), a StFX transfer who helped the X-Mento CIS bronze in 2012, and Johnny Berhanemeskel (20.5), who sankthe game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds left in the OUAfinal.

“Our team confidence is very high right now. We’vebeen playing very well for the last month or two and we are justlooking to keep it going,” says Derouin, whose team is 11-0since its January loss to Carleton, reaching the 100-point plateauin all but three of those wins. “We’re thrilled to beat home for the nationals again. We had some highs and lows at thetournament last year and we are looking to take those experiences,with the twelve guys on our roster who have been part of nationals,and put out a strong performance.”

Prior to the OUA final, the Ravens were enjoying anothersignature Carleton season. Led by former CIS players of the yearPhilip Scrubb (18.6 ppg) and Tyson Hinz (14.6), as well as two-waystandout Thomas Scrubb, the defending champs finished second in thecountry in both points scored (94.2) and against (62.2) in leagueaction. In addition to the two conference wins over Ottawa, theirimpressive 30-1 overall mark versus CIS opponents includesvictories over Final 8-bound Victoria (82-62), Saint Mary’s(90-87) and McMaster (83-72).

“The Final 8 is always extremely competitive and a verydifficult championship to win. It’s three games in three daysand if you want to win you will need a really high competelevel,” says Dave Smart, who has been named CIS coach of theyear a record six times and has an all-time head coaching mark of31-3 in 12 previous appearances at the tournament. “We aretotally focused on our first game against McMaster on Fridayafternoon. Our preparation is for that game, we’re notlooking ahead to Saturday or Sunday.”

Third-ranked Alberta came oh-so-close to adding a fourth McGeeTrophy to its collection two years ago in its most recenttournament appearance, falling to Carleton in the championshipgame. The Golden Bears edged Victoria 82-77 in lastSaturday’s Canada West final to improve to 31-3 overall inCIS competition, including an unblemished 7-0 mark against Final 8foes. In his final university campaign, forward Jordan Baker, whowas a key member of the 2012 Bears, earned conference-MVP honoursafter he led the team in both scoring (17.6) and rebounding(8.2).

“We have a very experienced and senior roster. JoelFriesen, Todd Bergen-Henengouwen, Jordan Baker, Sahr Saffa and RobDewar have all played in this tournament before. We have some depthand the ability for a different player to step up on differentnights, which will help in a tournament format,” sayssecond-year U of A bench boss Barnaby Craddock, who previously ledtwo other programs to the Final 8, Brandon in 2007 (silver medal)and Fraser Valley in 2012 (fourth).

“Qualifying for the CIS championship is a tough task and aprivilege. Many good teams have not had a chance to play in thisexciting tournament. We look forward to the tough competition thatit will provide.”

Making their second straight CIS championship appearance, theCanada West finalist Vikes can only do better this time around inthe quarter-finals, after being dominated 83-46 by Carleton in lastyear’s opening round. Victoria can count on the dynamic duoof forward Terrell Evans (18.1) and 6-foot-10 post Chris McLaughlin(14.7) on offence, but defence has been the key to success thisyear for UVic, which allowed a CIS-low 60.2 points per game inleague play. Looking for their first McGee Trophy triumph since1997, the Vikes could tie the Ravens on Sunday with a ninth CIStitle overall.

“We are excited to return to Ottawa this year. We have asolid returning core and we are hoping that our experience lastyear at the nationals will pay dividends this year,” sayshead coach Craig Beaucamp, who led the Vikes to their lastappearance in the CIS final in 2006, a close-fought 73-67 loss toCarleton in Halifax.

McGill returned to the CIS tourney for the first time since 1979a year ago and didn’t look out of place, winning two of threecontests on its way to a fifth-place finish, including an 80-68consolation final victory over Victoria, its first-round opponenton Friday. Boasting the third best defence in the country (62.3),the Redmen completely neutralized Bishop’s in Sunday’sRSEQ final en route to an easy 73-47 win. Their young lineupfeatures nine freshmen, three of them starters.

“The inexperience that we were initially concerned abouthasn’t been an issue as our kids have proven that they canplay in big games. We’re playing our best basketball down thestretch, our kids have proven that we belong here and we’relooking forward to any matchup we face,” says David DeAveiro,in his fourth season patrolling the McGill sidelines after nineyears at the helm of the Ottawa Gee-Gees, which included threetrips to the national tourney. “Our ability to shoot from allover kind of spaces out the floor for us and gives us more options.We led our conference in three-point shooting, which is good goinginto a tournament like this.”

Saint Mary’s is back on the national stage for the firsttime since 2008 under the leadership of second-year head coachJonah Taussig, a former all-Canadian who helped the Huskies capturetheir most recent CIS title – and their fourth overall– in 1999. Led by Theon Reefer (18.8) and Boyd Vassell(16.3), the Huskies posted the fourth best offensive record in thecountry in league play (86.5) and looked very solid at the AUSchampionship, defeating UPEI by 16 in the semis and StFX 81-72 inthe final. Back on Oct. 5, Saint Mary’s gave Carleton all itcould handle in pre-season action and had the lead in the finalminute, before dropping a 90-87 decision.

“We’ll look to play an up-tempo game and try to takeadvantage of our athletes,” Taussig says. “We need toplay a focused game for the full 40 minutes especially on thedefensive end. We have a mix of seniors and younger guys, and Ithink all are excited and ready for the big stage.”

McMaster is another team making a return to the Final 8,qualifying for the first time since 2006. Following a crushing101-68 defeat at the hands of Ottawa in the OUA semis, theMarauders had one more chance to punch their ticket to the CIStournament and they made the most of it, claiming a thrilling 93-89overtime victory against OUA West rival Windsor in the conferencebronze-medal game. The Hamilton program is still looking for itsfirst McGee Trophy triumph despite playing in five national finals,the last one in 1998.

“Our mindset has to be that we are coming into thetournament to win it and not just win one game. There is no easypath if we are going to win a national championship, because weknow we have to play teams like Carleton, Ottawa, andAlberta,” says bench boss Amos Connolly, whose troops arefacing the daunting task of stopping Carleton in the opening round.“Our path potentially leads through the top three seeds, butI think our guys are excited about thechallenge.”

Thanks to the at-large berth (wildcard) they were awarded onSunday night, the Saskatchewan Huskies get to return to the venuewhere they captured the lone CIS banner in program history, in2010, when they upset then top-seeded Carleton in the semis enroute to the title. It has been an up-and-down year for theSaskatoon squad, which ended conference play with a 15-7 record andlost to Alberta for the third time in as many duels this season,before rebounding against Fraser Valley in the Canada Westbronze-medal contest. Saskatchewan is one of many high-scoringteams at this week’s tourney (83.5 ppg), thanks in large partto San Diego product Stephon Lamar (19.0).

“We are honoured to be selected to receive the at-largeberth. It is a real testament to the overall strength of the CanadaWest conference this season,” says head coach Barry Rawlyk.“We have a relatively young team with no players everparticipating in a Final 8 before, so we are very excited at theprospect of competing against the best teams from across Canada.The strength of our team lies in our versatility, as our scoringhas been shared by a number of players over the course of theseason. This will be critical to our success in the Final8.”

TEAMPROFILES

No. 1 Ottawa Gee-Gees

Media Guide (PDF 1.14 MB)

Head Coach: James Derouin (4th season)
Regular season record: 20-2
Regular season standing: 2nd OUA East
Playoff record: 3-0
Playoff finish: OUA champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 34-2
Overall record vs. Final 8 teams: 4-2 (1-2 vs. Carleton, 1-0McGill, 2-0 McMaster)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 25): No. 2
Top 10 best ranking: No. 2 (last 11 polls)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 14
Conference award winners (OUA East): None
Conference 1st team all-stars (OUA East): Johnny Berhanemeskel(G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars (OUA East): Terry Thomas (F)
Conference all-rookie team (OUA East): None
Season leaders (points per game): Terry Thomas (22.4), JohnnyBerhanemeskel (20.5)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Caleb Agada (7.1)
Season leader (assists per game): Mike L’Africain (4.5)
Team national ranking (offence): 1st (96.4)
Team national ranking (defence): 27th (78.2)
CIS championship appearances (not including Regionals): 8th
CIS championship all-time record (not including Regionals): 10-9(.526)
CIS championship best result: Bronze medallists (2013)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (bronze)
CIS championship sequence: 2nd straight appearance
CIS Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 0-2 (1 appearance)

No. 2 Carleton Ravens

Media Guide (PDF 3.64 MB)

Head Coach: Dave Smart (15th season)
Regular season record: 22-0
Regular season standing: 1st OUA East
Playoff record: 2-1
Playoff finish: OUA finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 30-1
Overall record vs. Final 8 teams: 5-1 (2-1 vs. Ottawa, 1-0Victoria, 1-0 SMU, 1-0 McMaster)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 25): No. 1
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (all 14 polls)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 14
Conference award winners (OUA East): Philip Scrubb (MVP), ThomasScrubb (defensive MVP), Dave Smart (coach), Kevin Churchill(student athlete & community service)
Conference 1st team all-stars (OUA East): Philip Scrubb (G), TysonHinz (F), Thomas Scrubb (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars (OUA East): None
Conference all-rookie team (OUA East): None
Season leaders (points per game): Philip Scrubb (18.6), Tyson Hinz(14.6)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Thomas Scrubb (8.4)
Season leader (assists per game): Philip Scrubb (4.9)
Team national ranking (offence): 2nd (94.2)
Team national ranking (defence): 2nd (62.2)
CIS championship appearances (not including Regionals): 17th
CIS championship all-time record (not including Regionals): 33-10(.767)
CIS championship best result: 9-time champions (2013, 2012, 2011,2009, 2003 to 2007)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (champions)
CIS championship sequence: 12th straight appearance
CIS Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 0-0

No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears

Media Guide (PDF 376 KB)

Head Coach: Barnaby Craddock (2nd season)
Regular season record: 20-2
Regular season standing: 1st Canada West Prairie
Playoff record: 4-1
Playoff finish: Canada West champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 31-3
Overall record vs. Final 8 teams: 7-0 (2-0 vs. Victoria, 1-0McGill, 1-0 McMaster, 3-0 Sask)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 25): No. 3
Top 10 best ranking: No. 2 (first 3 polls)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 14
Conference award winners: Jordan Baker (MVP), Mamadou Gueye(rookie)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Jordan Baker (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Kenneth Otieno (G)
Conference all-rookie team: Mamadou Gueye (F)
Season leaders (points per game): Jordan Baker (17.6), Joel Friesen(13.7)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Jordan Baker (8.2)
Season leader (assists per game): Youssef Ouahrig (4.0)
Team national ranking (offence): 8th (83.1)
Team national ranking (defence): 5th (67.5)
CIS championship appearances (not including Regionals): 17th
CIS championship all-time record (not including Regionals): 19-21(.475)
CIS championship best result: 3-time champions (2002, 1995,1994)
CIS championship last appearance: 2012 (finalists)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 1-year absence
CIS Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 2-2 (2 appearances)

No. 4 Victoria Vikes

Media Guide (PDF 2.69 MB)

Head Coach: Craig Beaucamp (11th season)
Regular season record: 19-3
Regular season standing: 1st Canada West Pacific
Playoff record: 3-2
Playoff finish: Canada West finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 26-6
Overall record vs. Final 8 teams: 1-3 (0-1 vs. Carleton, 0-2Alberta, 1-0 Saskatchewan)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 25): No. 4
Top 10 best ranking: No. 3 (5 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 14
Conference award winners: Reiner Theil (defensive MVP), CraigBeaucamp (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Terrell Evans (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Chris McLaughlin (P)
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leaders (points per game): Terrell Evans (18.1), ChrisMcLaughlin (14.7)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Chris McLaughlin (8.2)
Season leader (assists per game): Marcus Tibbs (4.6)
Team national ranking (offence): 20th (75.9)
Team national ranking (defence): 1st (60.2)
CIS championship appearances (not including Regionals): 23rd
CIS championship all-time record (not including Regionals): 37-19(.661)
CIS championship best result: 8-time champions (1997, 1980 to1986)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (6th place)
CIS championship sequence: 2nd straight appearance
CIS Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 8-0 (4 appearances)

No. 5 McGill Redmen

Media Guide (PDF 609 KB)

Head Coach: David DeAveiro (4th season)
Regular season record: 14-2
Regular season standing: 1st RSEQ
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: RSEQ champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 20-5
Overall record vs. Final 8 teams: 0-2 (0-1 vs. Ottawa, 0-1Alberta)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 25): No. 6
Top 10 best ranking: No. 6 (5 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 14
Conference award winners: Vincent Dufort (MVP), Dele Ogundokun(rookie), David DeAveiro (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Vincent Dufort (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Dele Ogundokun (G), Simon Bibeau(G)
Conference all-rookie team: Dele Ogundokun (G), FrançoisBourque (F)
Season leaders (points per game): Vincent Dufort (12.5), DeleOgundokun (11.8)
Season leader (rebounds per game): François Bourque(7.6)
Season leader (assists per game): Vincent Dufort (3.3)
Team national ranking (offence): 26th (73.2)
Team national ranking (defence): 3rd (62.3)
CIS championship appearances (not including Regionals): 5th
CIS championship all-time record (not including Regionals): 3-7(.300)
CIS championship best result: 4th place (1977, 1972)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (5th place)
CIS championship sequence: 2nd straight appearance
CIS Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 2-4 (3 appearances)

No. 6 Saint Mary’s Huskies

Media Guide (PDF 2.36 MB)

Head Coach: Jonah Taussig (2nd season)
Regular season record: 14-6
Regular season standing: 2nd AUS
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: AUS champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 23-10
Overall record vs. Final 8 teams: 0-1 (0-1 vs. Carleton)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 26): Unranked
Top 10 best ranking: No. 8 (2 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 5
Conference award winners: Harry Ezenibe (student-athlete &community service)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Theon Reefer (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Boyd Vassell (G)
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leaders (points per game): Theon Reefer (18.8), Boyd Vassell(16.3)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Harry Ezenibe (7.7)
Season leader (assists per game): Marquis Clayton (4.9)
Team national ranking (offence): 4th (86.5)
Team national ranking (defence): 26th (78.1)
CIS championship appearances (not including Regionals):23rd
CIS championship all-time record (not including Regionals): 31-26(.544)
CIS championship best result: 4-time champions (1999, 1979, 1978,1973)
CIS championship last appearance: 2008 (tied 7th place)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 5-year absence
CIS Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 2-0 (1 appearance)

No. 7 McMaster Marauders

Media Guide (PDF 650 KB)

Head Coach: Amos Connolly (4th season)
Regular season record: 18-4
Regular season standing: 1st OUA West
Playoff record: 2-1
Playoff finish: OUA bronze medallists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 24-8
Overall record vs. Final 8 teams: 0-4 (0-2 vs. Ottawa, 0-1Carleton, 0-1 Alberta)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 25): No. 5
Top 10 best ranking: No. 5 (3 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 10
Conference award winners (OUA West): Amos Connolly (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars (OUA West): Taylor Black (P), JoeRocca (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars (OUA West): None
Conference all-rookie team (OUA West): None
Season leaders (points per game): Joe Rocca (14.1), Taylor Black(13.9)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Taylor Black (7.9)
Season leader (assists per game): Adam Presutti (3.6)
Team national ranking (offence): 5th (85.5)
Team national ranking (defence): 9th (69.1)
CIS championship appearances (not including Regionals):15th
CIS championship all-time record (not including Regionals): 17-18(.486)
CIS championship best result: Finalists (1998, 1997, 1994, 1993,1970)
CIS championship last appearance: 2006 (5th place)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 7-year absence
CIS Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 1-1 (1 appearance)

No. 8 Saskatchewan Huskies

Media Guide (PDF 8.51 MB)

Head Coach: Barry Rawlyk (4th season)
Regular season record: 15-7
Regular season standing: 2nd Canada West Prairie
Playoff record: 3-1
Playoff finish: Canada West bronze medallists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 24-9
Overall record vs. Final 8 teams: 0-4 (0-3 vs. Alberta, 0-1Victoria)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 25): No. 10
Top 10 best ranking: No. 5 (3 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (14 polls): 13
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Stephon Lamar (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: None
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leaders (points per game): Stephon Lamar (19.0), DadrianCollins (15.9)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Ben Baker (10.2)
Season leader (assists per game): Stephon Lamar (5.3)
Team national ranking (offence): 7th (83.5)
Team national ranking (defence): 22th (76.9)
CIS championship appearances (not including Regionals):7th
CIS championship all-time record (not including Regionals): 8-9(.471)
CIS championship best result: 1-time champions (2010)
CIS championship last appearance: 2011 (4th place)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 2-year absence
CIS Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 2-2 (2 appearances)

CHAMPIONSHIPSCHEDULE (all times EASTERN TIME)

Thursday, March 6 (55-minute practices at Canadian TireCentre)
9:00 Saint Mary’s
10:00 Alberta
11:00 McMaster
12:00 Carleton
13:00 Victoria
14:00 McGill
15:00 Saskatchewan
16:00 Ottawa

Friday, March 7
12:30 Quarter-final 1: No. 6 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 3 Alberta(www.CIS-SIC.tv)
14:30 Quarter-final 2: No. 7 McMaster vs. No. 2 Carleton (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
17:30 Quarter-final 3: No. 5 McGill vs. No. 4 Victoria (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
20:00 Quarter-final 4: No. 8 Saskatchewan vs. No. 1 Ottawa (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Saturday, March 8
12:30 Consolation 1: Loser QF 1 vs. Loser QF 2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
14:30 Consolation 2: Loser QF 3 vs. Loser QF 4 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
18:00 Semifinal 1: Winner QF 1 vs. Winner QF 2 (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv *)
20:00 Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4 (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv *)

Sunday, March 9
10:30 Bronze (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
14:00 Final (Sportsnet / www.CIS-SIC.tv *)

* The webcast of all 3 televised games (semifinals & final)will be on pay-per-view basis.

About Canadian Interuniversity Sport

Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body ofuniversity sport in Canada. Every year, 11,000 student-athletes and700 coaches from 55 universities and four regional associations viefor 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS alsoprovides high performance international opportunities for Canadianstudent-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well asnumerous world university championships. For further information,visit www.cis-sic.ca or followus on:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CIS_SIC
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cissports
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/universitysport

-CIS-

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