Started from the bottom

The return of CIS basketball is imminent, but the who's who of teams are a relative unknown compared to previous years.
The elite tier of teams — meaning those with serious contention for the national championship — is a thin group. Unlike years past, the gap between those contenders as the rest of the league is not as large. Definitely ranking the teams this early in the season is an exercise in futility, but it is worth the time to provide a baseline for who we should be paying attention to in the first part of the season.
Top five
1.     Carleton
2.     Ottawa
3.     McMaster
4.     Ryerson
5.     Cape Breton
Yeah, this is an OUA-heavy top-five, but bear with me.

Carleton gets the number one spot until they prove to be beatable. The obvious question mark is who takes Tyson Hinz’s minutes, but Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles is capable of sliding in and filling the gap. There are other key losses: Clinton Springer-Williams and Kevin Churchill are both gone. Head coach Dave Smart used a variety of guards and any regression from the guard spot should only be brief. They will miss Churchill’s passing from the post, which was an overlooked aspect of the Ravens potent three-point shooting. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Ottawa to usurp them in the rankings, but Carleton has the legacy to separate them.

Ottawa is a curious case. They’re going to be good, we know that. But the book is out on them: shoot tons of threes and play at a crazy-high tempo. Teams will be able to adjust to them, and some squads have built themselves in a similar model. The only notable major turnover Ottawa is experiencing is Terry Thomas, who went pro after the season. He has been replaced with Alex Ratte, a pure scorer out of Laurentian.

Ratte is a transfer after graduating from the Sudbury, Ont. university. He has two years of eligibility remaining and should provide head coach James Derouin with some interesting options. Suiting up for the Gee-Gees will be a welcome change for Ratte, as the number of offensive options is a 180 from his time at Laurentian. This team is a national contender, but have teams figured out how to beat them?


McMaster sits third, but an upset over Carleton or Ottawa (or, possibly but unlikely, both) in the opening weekend of the season would vault them into the top two. Mac is easily the deepest squad in the OUA, and more importantly, continuity. Depending on how the coaching staff allocates minutes, they will have added one or two major pieces - David McCulloch and Troy Joseph. The benefits of continuity are showing already, as McMaster has rolled their preseason opponents. On paper, Mac deserves the third spot. We will not have to wait long to see if their on-court production justifies the ranking.


And now, we move to Ryerson, one of the more intriguing teams in the league. The Rams made the Final 8 by upsetting Lakehead in the 2012 OUA Final Four. Since then, well, there has not been many positives. Ryerson will be back in the national championship, hosting the tournament at the fantastic Mattamy Athletic Centre. How much noise they make there? Well, that is tough.

Roy Rana’s roster is laden with veterans. The guard core of Jordan Gauthier, Jahmal Jones and Aaron Best play at a high tempo and love to shoot. But … they are known entities. You can’t dance around this fact. That group is solid and not the problem.

The forward crop is thin. Kadeem Green, Bjorn Michaelsen, and Juwon Grannum are the main front court players from last year, but they do not offer the same level of contribution as bigs on elite teams. Green’s 23.5 minutes per game lead the team - not a good sign considering the options behind him are not good.

Cape Breton

Cape Breton’s preseason has given them a bit of steam heading into the first poll. They have beaten St. FX (twice), UNB, Dalhousie, UPEI, UQAM and Calgary. Their only loss came against McMaster in the final of the Cape Breton exhibition tournament, but they dropped 90 points on a team that will be in the Final 8 conversation.

The Capers were 9-11 in AUS play last year, but they return all of their main roster pieces. Young players like Seth Amoah have stepped up, showing improvement you would expect from a guard entering his third year. He earned an All-Star spot in the CBU tournament.

Scoring was their issue last year, finishing 40th of 45 teams in points per game. There were some RSEQ squads and Algoma below them, which is a damning sign.

Their preseason numbers suggest they have shored up the offensive woes. Through eight preseason games, they have averaged 89 points per game.

Cape Breton deserves some top-ten recognition and there’s a ton of transition around the league. I expect them to land at fifth due to a combination of a) OUA voter fatigue (Windsor has a claim to the fifth-spot, but an all-OUA top five is unlikely) b) consistent preseason work c) no serious competition from any other conferences (yet).

The season opens on Oct. 31, with a slate of Canada West games tipping off on Halloween. More so than in recent years, the league is up for grabs. Enjoy.


Ed. note: I will be attempting to create a Google Doc sheet with offensive and defensive ratings for teams. It’s a better metric for judging teams. The reality is, points scored and points against are antiquated measurements and we want to push conversations forward.

I’m hoping that other student newspapers or CIS hoops outlets can use this info. If you have other metrics that you would really like me to crunch, please let me know at scott1hastie at gmail dot com.
CIS football is in a bit of danger.

Within the 2014 season, two programs have considered shutting down. Originally reported by, the University of Waterloo told players and administration that there was a “strong possibility” that the program would fold after this season. This was denied by the university, but athletic director Roly Webster said, "If we can't justify our investment, I'd say (folding the team) is absolutely a consideration. I'd be lying if I said it's not."

Now, the details of St. Francis Xavier’s Presidential Task Force report have surfaced. The football program has been deemed “unsustainable” by the university — the administration’s worst category for ranking programs at the university. In a screen capture from the PDF, the comments do not provide much room for optimism.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.12.56 PM.png

For reference, the university’s definition of unsustainable can be found in this screen capture from the St. FX report slideshow.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.16.34 PM.png

Two programs discussing shutting down is newsworthy. Even if they do not actually follow through, the consideration means this is not likely to be an isolated issue. Programs are feeling the financial pinch as the cost of competing has ramped up. I wrote about the issue of funding for my school newspaper, and the issue isn’t going away.

Which brings me to a Newsweek piece about Laval, and the angle that isn’t addressed in the article. The author speaks glowingly of the Laval football experience, saying it rivals (and even bests) the NCAA environment. Inaccuracies aside, it’s a good read. 

Laval has changed the game for CIS football. They have a rabid fanbase, a dedicated alumni benefactor group and a really damn good team, year-after-year. The standard for excellence has been raised, and that is important. Carleton University’s adoption of the mega-funding model has them sitting in a really good position for a second-year program.

But we’re now seeing the fallout that comes with this. Teams are realizing they cannot compete on a national scale, and that attempting to do so is a waste of resources. The financial barrier to success is lower in other sports and athletic departments may see that to be a more efficient use of a limited pool money.

The landscape of CIS football changed nearly 20 years ago, but we’re seeing the real ramifications now. If a couple of teams drop out, could we see others follow suit?

The season has barely begun in CIS men’s hockey, and already we have one coach going off on an opposing coach through the media. And is not about anything that happened on the ice, and they don’t even play in the same conference. If you guessed UNB Hockey might be involved, well then you have a pretty good sense of one of the main sources (targets?) for drama in the CIS.

The subject of the tension is Francis Beauvillier, a sixth round draft of Florida in 2012, who played for four different teams in the QMJHL. After he didn’t get an AHL contract this autumn, the speedy forward from Sorel-Tracey, Quebec decided rather than play down a level in the minors in the ECHL it might better to attend university. We know this because he announced it on Twitter, and he also stated he was going to be a Varsity Red (even before UNB announced his recruitment). He arrived in Fredericton last week and was in the V-Reds line-up on the weekend in their home games versus Dalhousie and StFX. Beuvillier picked up two points in the two games, including his first goal, and doesn’t look at all out of place in the UNB attacking style of play.

Marc-Étienne Hubert, head coach of the UQTR Patriotes, reacted very angrily and very publicly to the news that UNB had landed a prized student-athlete that he thought he had successfully recruited. In the local Trois-Rivières paper Le Nouvelliste Hubert accused UNB of “contourner les règles” (bending the rules) and he said UNB “offre des cadeaux, possiblement de l'argent” (offered gifts, possibly money) to convince Beauvillier to spur Trois-Rivières for Fredericton.

Hubert offers some details. “On a des informations privilégiées, des preuves. Lors de certaines discussions avec les joueurs, le message a changé et on comprend que UNB a contourné les règles. Ce n'est pas les mêmes règles pour tout le monde et c'est frustrant. On s'aperçoit que c'est David contre Goliath.” (“We have inside information, evidence. In some discussions with players, the message has changed and it is understood that UNB bends the rules. It is not the same rules for everyone and it is frustrating. We see that it is David versus Goliath.”)

It gets better (or worse). Hubert goes on to accuse all the AUS hockey schools in the Maritimes of breaking the rules, and comes off sounding very parochial (or regionally biased) in the process.

“Lorsque j'ai rencontré les entraîneurs de la conférence des Sports universitaires de l'Ontario, ils étaient tous, particulièrement ceux de la région de Toronto, vraiment outrés par la situation et par la quantité de joueurs qui, pour la même qualité de programme et d'enseignement, vont choisir une université dans les Maritimes. Si ces universités suivent le règlement et ne donnent pas d'argent à ces joueurs, ça leur coûtera très cher d'aller dans les Maritimes plutôt que de rester chez papa et maman. Si j'ai besoin de lait, je vais au dépanneur à côté de chez moi, je ne fais pas 25 km pour aller le chercher à Shawinigan.”

Excuse me if my translation isn’t perfect, as I did come up through a school system in the Maritimes:

“When I met with other coaches in the OUA conference, they all, and particularly in the Toronto region, are truly outraged by the situation and the quality of players who, despite the same quality of instructional programs here, chose to go to university in the Maritimes.  If these universities follow the rules and do not give money to the players, it would be a lot more expensive to go to the Maritimes rather than stay home with Dad and Mom. If I need milk, I go to the convenience store close by; I don’t go 25 km and look for it in Shawinigan.”

Well, you can imagine that didn’t go over very well chez UNB. In the same news article, V-Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall is quoted as saying “C'est un grand manque de professionnalisme de sa part, lance-t-il. Nous avons le plus bel aréna et de grosses foules. Tout les profits sont retournés à l'équipe. C'est ce qui fait que nous avons le meilleur programme et que les joueurs se joignent à nous.” (“It is a great lack of professionalism on his part. We have the finest arena with big crowds. All the profits go to the team. This is so that we have the best program and that players want to play with us.”)

The Shawinigan newspaper, L’Hebdo du St-Maurice, also had a story last week on the former Cataractes player and his decision to play for UNB. Beauvillier says that once the Florida organization decided to send him down to the ECHL he reflected that it might be better to go to school now, rather than start when he was 28 years old. He’s always liked marketing and wants to get a business degree.

He said he came close to choosing UQTR over UNB, but ever since he was 16 he’s wanted to become bilingual and that made the difference. He wants to read, speak and work in English. “Ça a été une décision très difficile. J'ai changé à plusieurs reprises. J'hésitais entre l'UQTR et l'UNB, mais le fait que je désire devenir bilingue depuis que j'ai 16 ans a fait pencher la balance. Je vais lire, écouter et travailler en anglais. Ça va m'aider encore plus.”

It is probably comes as no surprise that both UNB and the AUS have responded to Hubert’s comments through a series of phone calls and official letters of complaint to UQTR and the RESQ and OUA conferences. The CIS has also been apprised of UNB’s dissatisfaction with Hubert’s comments and aspersions. So far I have not heard about any consequences for the UQTR coach, but I know for a fact that such comments within the AUS would certainly earn you a suspension.

In today’s Daily Gleaner (pay-walled), Athletic Director John Richard made it clear that UNB is pretty peeved with the published comments and are seeking a public apology and some sort of discipline imposed on Hubert.

"Any time you work 23 hours a day, seven days a week like he (Gardiner MacDougall) does on one program, and someone takes a run at your program, you're going to get defensive," Richard said. "And he should. From the second I saw the comments, I thought they were way over the line. And everyone I've talked to from our conference with whom I've had this conversation agrees with me. It's way over the line. It's not grey.

"We feel this AUS conference is the best hockey conference in Canada. The tough part to swallow all the time is all the accusations coming from the rest of the country toward this conference."

Richard strongly backs his hockey coach.

"I've talked to Gardiner, and more importantly, I've talked to the student-athlete too. These are young men who have been making decisions since they were 15, 16 years old about where they're going to play hockey and what they're going to do. These guys aren't kids. They're men making decisions with their best interests in mind.

"I know our coach is really aggressive in recruiting," Richard said. "But I've never seen him drive to some other town, lock the kid up in his trunk and bring him to Fredericton and kidnap the kid. The guys that are here want to be here and I don't think he's (Bouvillier) any different."

Coincidentally the AUS AD’s had arranged some time ago to meet last week at Mount Allison University to discuss a variety of hockey related topics. No doubt this had to do with the AUS trying to be proactive after the CIS quietly announced this August the results of their investigation of the Dalhousie men’s hockey program, including the fact that Dal was to be sanctioned for two years, including last season. 

AD’s discussed hiring an employee or an independent firm to audit the hockey programs for compliance with CIS regulations, but there has been no firm movement yet. UNB’s Richard is in full support of the idea and said “I will be one of the schools to put my hand in the air and volunteer that we go first. I'll be at the front of the line." The AD’s also discussed the idea of a “letter of intent” to keep competing coaches from poaching potential recruits.

This is news in itself -- that the AUS AD’s can come up with recruiting improvements for men’s hockey other than the “UNB rule” that now limits roster sizes to 22 skaters. Now that they have to deal with the fallout from the Hubert accusations, maybe the AD’s can find the common ground to accelerate their desire to dial back the recruiting wars within the AUS.

UPDATE: In his weekly sports column in the Oct. 31 issue of The Daily Gleaner, Bill Hunt reported that UNB has yet to receive so much as an apology from UQTR and have elevated the issue to the CIS.
"If we received something like 'We apologize. We know that doesn't happen. We've spoken to our coach and it won't happen again,' we probably would have moved on," said (UNB Athletic Director John) Richard. "That's not what we received. Not even close."
CIS director of operations and development Tom Huisman is offering no comment:
"A condition of launching any complaint or appeal is that everyone involved agrees to a total media ban," he said. "If there is such a complaint run through the system, the final result will be made public."
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