OTTAWA — Ibid., see the game from 364 days ago. Only this time it was not nearly as close as Carleton doubled the previous record for greatest margin of victory in a CIS final.
You might think the score was whatever the Carleton Ravens beat Lakehead by, but you'd be wrong. It is really Carleton 9, J.K. Rowling 7 since the Ravens of Dave Smart are like the Harry Potter franchise in its day, unstoppable, only Smart hasn't run out of books. To put it in fluent nerd, playing the Ravens with Phil Scrubb, Thomas Scrubb, Clinton Springer-Williams and Tyson Hinz is like showing up a Hogwarts for a Quidditch match after forgetting the brooms. Would it be be nosy to reach up and flick Hinz's bangs back to check for the lightning bolt scar? Oh, and Victor Raso is waiting in the wings as a transfer.
Even Ravens of recent vintage are fairly agog at how simple it seems for the current bunch who put in the hard work to make it look easy. They are 99-2 in CIS play during Phil Scrubb's three seasons. One loss in a season opener this year at Windsor and one against Lakehead in the OUA Wilson Cup in 2011 after a No. 1 seed at the Final 8 was already tucked away. That's it. Their three-year average winning margin is 30 points against everyone in Canada, but it jumps to 32 if you factor out contests vs. their two gamest foes, the Lakehead Thunderwolves and Ottawa Gee-Gees, who took the silver and bronze to give Ontario University Athletics a podium sweep.
There is no team which is such a confluence of caring so much and capability. As long as someone named Smart is associated with Carleton, there is no chance of the Ravens ending up in sports history's remainder bin like the Edmonton Varsity Grads, the world-beating team of the pre-World War II era that eventually gave it up when they ran out of competition. Dave Smart makes sure his teams internalize the notion that the scoreboard resets at zero when the world turns.
The big take-homes today? Carleton, whose core four is coming back last season, set a record (and then some) for the biggest winning margin in a CIS final with its 50-point win. Lakehead, which is graduating a half-dozen from the Great Group of Dudes, set the mark for fewest points scored with 42. In last year's final, Carleton kept Alberta under an effective-field goal percentage of 40%; in this one, they pushed Lakehead under 30% and made a serious game look almost comical.
There is something epochal, at least within the small world of Canadian university basketball, unfolding at the Ravens' Nest. The gap between Carleton and the Rest of Canada wasn't like this before the Scrubb boys headed east. Carleton did not lead the country in SRS in 2008-09 when it won its sixth title; runner-up UBC did.
The Ravens have also finished at least 10 points ahead of anyone else in SRS in successive seasons. Please keep in mind that, this season at least, they did so against the stronger half of the country's most competitive conference, the OUA, where teams get stress-tested twice a week for three months. If the Final 8 didn't have assigned berths for conference runners-up, either Roy Rana's Ryerson Rams or Chris Oliver's Windsor Lancers could have filled in for 8 seed Victoria without causing any drop-off in the depth of the field.
Point being, Carleton faced the toughest opponents the country has to offer this year and it still needs to play a more competitive schedule. One also wonders whether this can become catalytic for getting university hoops more on the nation's sports radar as basketball continues to increase in overall popularity across the country. Bringing three NCAA teams, including a name-brand team such as Syracuse, in for a December tournament might do it.
The announced crowd Sunday was 5,397, but you're left feeling more people need to see this.