Final 8: A different pair of semis; and a year of upsets continues

To someone not paying full (or any) attention, this year's and last year's semifinals were quite similar: you had UBC beating Calgary and a Carleton buzzer-beater to end the second game.

But, of course, Mike Kenny's three-pointer at the end of today's fourth quarter merely brought the Ravens from within seven to within four as they lost 86-82. And the UBC-Calgary game, last year almost as good as the later Carleton-Western thriller, had a sloppy 2010 edition and featured a 12-point lead for the Thunderbirds with seven to go in the fourth.

Neate Sager, while filing copy on deadline, remarked that it was the most ironic three-point shot ever, given the number of times we had to get out our umbrellas when Saskatchewan's Michael Linklater launched a shot from downtown.

Linklater was the story tonight, and one of the more impressive of the tourney; plug his name into a news search and see what you get. (I can't do his story justice here.)

The crowd was also much less impressive than last year: not a surprise when the opposing fans have to come from Saskatoon rather than London.

Another obvious difference is in the reactions of the winning bench: Carleton's players exploded and fell around Stu Turnbull last year; tonight, without the drama, the Huskie bench merely walked out to greet the rest and everyone shook hands.

SSN did a long post-game show last year and everyone was all hyped up for hours afterwards because of the exciting pair of games. This year? The arena began to empty before Saskatchewan had even won, and was deserted five minutes after the final buzzer.

The Score also carried both games live last year; this year, a smaller subset of people saw the first game on TSN2 and a much smaller subset (read: zero) saw the second one live. (In fact, you might be able to catch the second half if you turn TSN2 on now.)

That doesn't mean these games today weren't exciting, of course; just that we had a lot to live up to as fans, as press-row inhabiters, and as TV viewers. Having these Saskatchewan Huskies in the final tomorrow, at a time when they seem to be playing better than anyone? I'll take it.

There's also an argument to be made how some people are, shall we say, mistaken by assuming the same teams will win every year: so far in 2009-2010, Carleton lost in men's basketball, UNB lost in men's hockey, McGill lost in women's hockey, and Laval lost in football. All #1 or close to it; all pretty much expected to win it all without difficulty.

The only team that everyone knew would win, and did win, were the Simon Fraser Clan in women's basketball, and they're gone, off to NCAA D-2.

So next year, not one defending champion in any of those five sports will be the one that was expected. You can call it parity, you can call it an off-night from the top-ranked teams, and you can say it's nothing compared to March Madness, but if you aren't following at least one of these sports...well, you're just missing out, aren't you?

Good night again, from Scotiabank Place.
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  1. Why is there no bronze medal game?

  2. A Raven Maniac3/21/2010 12:10 am

    Because...who TF wants play in a bronze medal game?
    That's like having a bronze medal game at the NCAA Final 4...who cares?
    BTW, it's not hard to figure out why Carleton lost this game.
    The Huskies shot 40% from 3, including 6/10 from Michael Linklater.
    Carleton, normally a good 3pt shooting team, made just 11% from the arc.
    And it's not like the Ravens weren't getting good looks...they just weren't canning them.

  3. Teams and players sometimes get lucky or on the other hand they have a bad night, that's why when judging one looks at a body of work! CIS should remember this when they hand out their awards! Oh well the CIS basketball is making themselves insignificant with their brilliant decision making! Just ask those who are hyping the Syracuse and Gonzaga game on Sunday as the Canadian game ... how the fact that Canadians are on these teams shows how Canada's players are making an impact ... no mention of CIS! When players like Bakovic and JGB remain in the CIS their not supported as it is players like that who would bring this league up! Oh well, to all those up and coming young players set your sights on the US cause that's the only way to get respect! What else is new ... Canadians love to claim Canadians after they have left and made a name for themselves ... that is true in Sports as it is in the entertainment industry and i'm sure if one looked into other industries that's likely to hold true as well!!!!

  4. You forgot both Laval (#1) and Alberta (#2, defending champ) not even reaching the final in men's volleyball. I'll get you to care about the sport yet!

  5. A Raven Maniac3/21/2010 1:36 am

    Well, so much for home court advantage.
    Carleton loses in its own home city for the second time in three seasons.
    If not for Stu Turnbull's miraculous last second shot in last year's semis,
    the Ravens would have gone 0-3 at SBP despite winning over 90 games in the
    CIS over that time span.
    Apart from those heartbreaking semi final losses, there are other
    reasons to be disappointed with the last three years.
    The choice of SBP to host the tournament really was a disaster.
    Even crowds that would have been considered decent in Halifax's Metro Centre
    were swallowed up by the cavernous venue the Senators call home.
    Instead of growing interest in the tournament, turnout for the games
    peaked in the first year and has seemed to be on the wane ever since.
    Perhaps complacency and poor media coverage are to blame in some part.
    For myself, I am glad the tournament is headed back to Halifax, even though I
    am a native of Ottawa.
    The Metro Centre's size and the proximity of bars and restaurants in downtown Halifax make it the perfect
    place to hold the event.
    The novelty of hosting the Final 8 has long since worn off,
    and the inconvenience of the Kanata location, to say nothing of the obscene
    concession prices charged at SBP, made the experience highly unsatisfying.
    Hopefully, Halifax will embrace the tournament in 2011 with renewed enthusiasm.

  6. Anon 12:46 -

    Frankly, it will take a Canadian hoops team (maybe comprised of CIS players) doing well at a FIBA tournament or the Olympics (meaning causing several upsets of big countries like USA) before the CIS gets any notice or recognition - its the typical way of a Canadian sports fan.

  7. As an Ottawa native, I have to agree with Raven Maniac an all his/her points about the poor choice of SBP for hosting. Even Capital Hoops saw a big decline in attendance this year at SBP.
    If Ottawa is to host final 8 again, or even Capital Hoops, I believe the "Urbandale Centre," formerly known as the Civic Centre, should host. It maxes out at about 10,000 and is located in downtown Ottawa, right on Bank Street. It's a much more accessible location than SBP and is pretty much right in between Carleton and the U of O.

  8. Since Mr. Tannenbaum, the Senators owner, was paying the bills (and absorbing the losses) the event had to be held in his venue. Expect UBC with the new on-campus arena and possibly Hamilton, because of its Pan Am Games status to make future hosting bids.

  9. A Raven Maniac3/21/2010 12:57 pm

    Herr Tannenbaum, eh?
    That's too funny!
    I don't think you'll see the tournament leave Halifax again any time soon.
    For one thing, the CIS brass, being the short sighted greedy pricks they are,
    will expect unrealistic financial guarantees which makes the cost of hosting prohibitive
    for any city/university attempting to outbid Halifax.
    Halifax's bid was basically uncontested for these reasons.
    BTW, my gender is male...women have better things to do than blog on b-ball.

  10. But if there is no competition, why would Halifax offer a decent financial guarantee. I've heard that Halifax is only paying $ 120K to the CIS for the next 2 years, which is well down from what Ottawa promised and what Halifax paid previously. I agree that CIS greed has come back to bite it in the butt, but even AUS Exec. Director Phil Currie admitted that Halifax only made slightly more than break even when the tournament left. Ottawa was a poor choice but don't close the door on other cities where the event could succeed. I know UBC has a new arena but I think the Vancouver market would ignore this event as badly as Toronto ignores CIS sports. Establish a financial baseline and create a rotation between regions and the event will grow. One location isn't the answer.

  11. Ottawa wasn't a poor choice...the venue was a poor choice.

  12. the event was not marketed at all...never heard any radio or tv advertising to create fan interest other than the carleton articles and cis preview the day before the tourney.