Carleton, Phil Scrubb: still great

This game was a wash early on. The Huskies couldn't defend, Phil Scrubb was en fuego and Carleton was locked in defensively. Carleton won 90-50.

There's not much use digging too deep here, as Sask didn't seem up to task to guard anyone. The Scrubbs shouldered most of the scoring load, combining for 49 points on 19-31 shooting. It should be noted that this game felt more like a 9 a.m. tip-off for the Huskies because of the travel and time difference. That doesn't explain the 40-point disparity.

Carleton's defence was good and forced Mike Scott into tough shots. Scott's selection did not put him in a spot to be successful either, but Carleton shut down their other options, so it is hard to blame the guard for shooting.

Also: this game's stream until the second quarter, apparently. I only tuned in then, so I didn't notice any issues. Gotta hope stream problems get fixed since they will be charging for the semis and finals.

Vic-Dal was a "basketball" "game" at the national championships

I didn't enjoy this at all.

Some were praising the game, but it wasn't great to watch. Missed shots, botched open lay-ups, inconsistent officiating. Vic had their opportunities to blow this open, missing a bunch of shots in the fourth. The McLaughlin-Tibbs pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop was effective in getting players open, but I thought that Tibbs missed McLaughlin in favour of taking his own shots sometimes. McLaughlin is an above-average three-point shooter and even though he struggled, I thought Vic could have done a better job getting him the ball, perhaps using more screens or running alternative looks. Your first-team All-Canadian needs to get more than 10 shots in 30 minutes of play.

Dalhousie gave it everything they had, though. Their defence did make play tough for McLaughlin, but Ritchie Kanza Mata was the standout from my perspective. I thought he might get in the jersey of Tibbs but he surpassed those expectations, giving Tibbs little room to start dribbling or see the court.

But the Tigers lacked shooting and finishing, which, as it turns out, are two very important parts of scoring the ball. They fed Kashrell Lawrence and he played well, but asking him to lead your team to victory when he's matched up with a much taller defender is stacking the deck in your opponent's favour. Lawrence even put Dal up 1 at the end with a put back.

After McLaughlin got wrapped up on a roll to the basket (which would have been an intentional foul at any point but the final possession of the game) and made his free throws. Here's a (dim) screenshot of the McLaughlin foul:

I'd argue there isn't any play on the ball here, and the real-time play suggest this too. McLaughlin made both free throws and gave them the lead.

But Dal had an opportunity to win it. Six seconds left on the game clock is a decent amount of time to run something and get someone open. It ended in a contested three-point attempt from a player who averages 0.6 three-point attempts per game. Suboptimal.

With that missed shot, the Tigers exit the championship-side tournament, and Vic moves on to play Carleton. Vic will need to move past this game immediately if they want to sniff the Ravens.

Ryerson blows out Windsor with big third quarter

On home court, the Rams crushed the Lancers. I was fortunate to be in person for this game and the crowd had their moments, but it wasn't the same advantage you would expect for a home team. It was a nervous optimism for a while, both in the stands and on the court.

Both teams played timid, missing easy looks and making odd passes. Ryerson settled in later in the first quarter. That's a little surprising because they have the home pressure. When they got comfortable running in transition, Windsor wavered and you could feel the Rams's confidence rising.

I speculated in my preview that Adika Peter-McNeilly could provide for the Rams, and provide he did. He rebounded well, made good decisions and showed a lot of poise for someone in their first nationals game.

Windsor tried to crash the glass. They had their fair share of offensive rebounding opportunities because they only shot 36.6% from the floor, but Ryerson locked things down. Peter-McNeilly led the team with ten boards, all on the defensive end.

You could see the result coming after the first quarter, where Windsor only scored 10. They put up a fight, but at the end of the season, with another game under their belt because of playoffs, the team just didn't have the roster depth to keep up. Khalid Abdel-Gabar got in foul trouble and without a lead guard, the Lancers floundered. The team strayed from their offence, playing in emergency-mode for a decent amount of time. Shots were both contested and rushed because of the deficit.

Now, I thought Ryerson wasn't using a ton of on-ball screens. This is key because of Windsor's desire to switch all screens. Instead of pick-and-roll, the Rams relied on off-ball plays to free up a player and allow that player to attack the defender who should be unsettled. It worked well, as the Rams drove to finish at the rim or initiate contact.

I don't think Windsor is as bad as this game showed. However, they were screwed by the dated seeding rules. Yes, you have to beat the great teams to win, but you should be rewarded with an easier opponent if you are the No. 2 seed. This is logical stuff. If you're reading this, it's too late: for all intents and purposes, Windsor's tournament is over and they'll lose two key players (Khalid Abdel-Gabar and Evan Matthews). I'd argue those are their thinnest positions too.

Bishop's provides the potential game of the tournament

It is gutting for me to write about this. I just feel brutal for the Bishop's team, players and fans.

Halfway through the second quarter, as the Gaiters put on a 22-1 run, you could just feel the gym shift. It was a busy crowd, even though the Ryerson locals had left already. Bishop's brought a ton of support. I swear, everyone in Toronto who could find Lennoxville, Que. on a map was in at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. (So, a couple hundred people.)

But the purple-clad fans won the hearts of the casual observers and it pushed the players a bit more. Bishop's pushed up on screens, trying to take the ball out of the dribbler's hands. This isn't a great strategy because of Ottawa's ability to swing the ball to open players, but it worked for a few reasons.

1) Ottawa didn't fully move the ball. They would make passes, but it would stick a bit and shots were forced.
2) Ottawa couldn't hit their open shots. This was a trend, as the Gaiters and Ravens were the two teams to really hit from behind the arc. That Bishop's hit well from 3 is a surprise because they shot 27.9% from the land beyond this season. That's 42nd out of 47 teams. 10 made threes was a season-high for the Gaiters.
3) Bishop's had clean rotations. I slammed their defensive rating a bit in the preview, and I stand by what I said, but they did play very well and closed out well. If you're going to play that pick and roll defence, you need smart, quick players. From one game, it looks like Bishop's had it.

Now, Bishop's offence wasn't convincing either. But they crashed the glass hard and bailed out stagnant possessions. For those keeping score, in two of the past three games, Ottawa has been hammered on the glass.

What did the Gaiters in was the fouling out of Kyle Desmarais. Had he stayed in, I think the final two minutes wouldn't have been laden with turnovers and poor passes. But Ottawa attacked him and got him out of the game. His exit led to the key play of the game; a Caleb Agada steal and a crucial block/charge call that put Agada on the line.

That's a tough call to make. There was no sense of control from the Gaiters though. They were hanging on in the final minutes and I don't think a ref would have much confidence this after watching Bishop's come apart.

I do think it was a block. Paused at the 20 second mark, you can see the Gaiter player going down and leaning in to get contact. He also made a play to get the loose ball, so I doubt he was bracing to take a charge and be in position.

So, Agada hit both free throws and the Gaiters ran nothing with 10.5 seconds left. The shot was just a huck, and I think that play is as important as the block/charge. We can question the refs, but Bishop's final play execution, or lack thereof, deserves criticism too. I thought that if the Gaiters didn't make a shot after Agada's free throws, Ottawa would run away in OT. That's exactly what happened.

Ottawa escapes and have a lot of questions that need answers. James Derouin says they'll keep shooting. I agree with that, but I think rebounding is what they need to emphasize.

Bishop's put up a fight and for that, they deserve serious, honest credit. They played well, hit open shots and should have won.

Any kind of discussion about where RSEQ basketball falls in the CIS hierarchy is premature. This is one game. Bishop's put up a fight against Windsor too, but lost. The disparity between Quebec teams and those contending for a national championship may not be as big as we think, but to say it doesn't exist is massive leap given the decade-long CIS tournament drought and this year's weak non-conference play.

Bring on the championship games. Could be one of the best semifinal/final we've seen in a while.
Part two of the previews, just in time for Dal-Vic!


1. Who is Dalhousie's answer for Chris McLaughlin?

Fifth-year Chris McLaughlin is an inside-outside threat that can clean the glass and start fast breaks. At 6-10, he towers over the Dalhousie roster because of an injury that ended 6-8 Devon Steadman's season. Dal isn't good defensively -- they have the worst DRtg in the tournament -- and their best rebounder is Kashrell Lawrence, listed at 6-2. I think Dal will resort to a zone defence to prevent McLaughlin from getting easy touches.

2. How will Marcus Tibbs respond to AUS defensive MVP Ritchie Kanza Mata? 

I'm going to guess that Mata guards Tibbs in this one. Tibbs is the second-leading scorer for the Vikes and averages five assists per game. He's the engine of this offence so slowing him down could force others to make decisions. I doubt the Vikes would want this, as Tibbs is pretty good at breaking down a defence and finding open players if he can't finish the play himself. Mata has been disruptive on defence and when watching those AUS championships, you could see how difficult he makes life for opposing guards. Playing in his hometown, I wouldn't be surprised to see Mata get into the jersey of Tibbs and unsettle him a bit with high-energy play.

3. Dalhousie will have to score a good amount, but can they?

The Tigers went 3-3 in non-conference play and put on a great run to win the AUS championship. But the Vikes are the best team they have played in months. I'm skeptical of Dal's ability to score against the Vikes, especially after watching the Tigers stall out for periods and take bad shots in the playoffs. If Dal executes, they can hang around.

Prediction: Victoria 74, Dalhousie 58



1. Is Bishop's defence as good as their DRtg?

Simple answer: no. The average offensive rating in RSEQ is in the mid-to-low 80s, so of course Bishop's defensive rating will be lower. It's nearly impossible for me to make an accurate assessment of their defence because I do not watch Quebec basketball. But I feel comfortable saying their defence is not as good as the number suggests, but based on non-conference numbers, it is still pretty good. 

In pre-season action, Bishop's held Ottawa to 80 points. That is a great number, considering it's well-below their season average. The problem will be offence. Ottawa is a good, not great, defensive group but the Gaiters aren't a great offensive outfit.

2. Where will Bishop's get their points?

Yeah. An 85.2 ORtg isn't really going to get you that far in this tournament. The Gaiters don't shoot a ton from the arc which is actually a curious trait of RSEQ basketball. I did some research at the holiday break and found 3-point-attempts per game were trending upwards, but the Q doesn't shoot much (yet). So, I figure the Gaiters will attack off the dribble, but Ottawa has the athletes to contain perimeter penetration.

3. Is there anyway Ottawa loses this game?

If they don't respect Bishop's like they should, it could be close. I doubt that will happen because Ottawa had a bad weekend in the OUA Final Four and this is the last tournament for major parts of their roster. They will want to prove themselves here, especially after media day was spent answering questions about being second fiddle to Carleton. Also, Bishop's went 0-6 in non-conference play. 

Prediction: Ottawa 91, Bishop's 51.
This is part one of the CIS Final 8 men's basketball preview. I wanted to have all the games in one piece, but Wednesdays and Tuesday are busy days at my student newspaper job and something came up, so I'm just finishing these. I'll be putting the others up tomorrow. I'll also be providing some takes on Saturday and Sunday from the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Note: ORtg, DRtg and NetRtg are numbers from I just found this and it's a great resource.



1. Can Saskatchewan guard the Ravens?

Only a couple teams contained Carleton all year, but they used athleticism to get the job done. I’ve watched the Huskies play and Sask reverted to a 2-3 zone a couple times because their man-to-man defence failed to limit penetration. I’m curious as to who guards Tommy Scrubb. Matt Forbes and Dadrian Collins match-up size-wise, but it is yet to be seen how they can defend the crafty T-Scrubb.

In an interview with OUA Today, head coach Barry Rawlyk said his team plans to take a balanced approach, crediting the variety of weapons the Ravens have. Sask has the second-highest DRtg in the tournament, and Carleton has the second highest ORtg. This one doesn’t look great. 

2. How will Carleton defend?

Sask doesn’t really rely on anyone for scoring, they have five players averaging double-figures. Carleton can choose to eliminate one of them from the game -- they have the personnel to do that -- but the team is balanced enough that others can shoulder the load. That being said, the Huskies like to shoot, ranking in the top ten for 3s made per game. Threes are a classic recipe for tournament upsets, and Sask has been stroking it from the land beyond. In five of their last six games, the No. 8 seed has made 10 or more 3s, and they even had a game where they shot a ridiculous 16-28. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens run Sask of the line and challenge them to beat Tommy Scrubb and the combo of Jean-Emmanuel Pierre-Charles, Guillaume Payen-Boucard and, to a lesser extent, Cam Smythe.

3. What should you watch for??

I just don’t know if Sask can defend Carleton. If Carleton starts out well offensively, the Huskies may go into desperation mode. This past weekend proved that the Ravens can use Connor Wood or Victor Raso as a main weapon and still be damn efficient. Phil Scrubb is as good as he ever was, and I’m not sure about the perimeter defence of Sask, especially after watching the UBC game.

Prediction: Carleton 89, Sask 73



Regular season match-up: Nov. 15 - Ryerson won 95-75

1. Big question for Windsor: How do they score?

The Lancers offensive issues were put in the spotlight in that Carleton game. Sure, the Ravens cracked the century mark, but Windsor only scored 59. Ryerson is no Carleton defensively, but the Lancers problems are a bit internal. Mitch Farrell has struggled recently but maintained his shooting touch. Khalid Abdel-Gabar and Alex Campbell stepped up as Rotimi Osuntola Jr. was effectively eliminated in the Final Four, scoring 13 points total. But the Rams have good rim protectors and long defenders that can be disruptive on the perimeter.

Windsor used leak-outs and transition offence to score against Mac and Ottawa. Ryerson will play up-tempo, but they are comfortable playing a more controlled brand of offence too.

2. Who does Ryerson run their offence through?

Ryerson has options. Jahmal Jones and Aaron Best are solid, but Adika Peter-McNeilly has played well in the playoffs, finishing second in the scoring average. Mike Rocca and Osuntola Jr. lead the perimeter defence, but the most interesting part of the Lancers scheme is their treatment of screens. Windsor switches everything, which would make sense for a team that plays small and has swift frontcourt players. Evan Matthews does not meet that description yet it works. Teams have tried to drag Matthews out in screen-and-roll switches and then attack him in isolation but it has been less effective than you think. McMaster and Ottawa seriously struggled to get good looks because Windsor has good help instincts and a roster with guys that possess above-average closing speed. Ryerson has to figure out where they attack and what player they think will make the best decisions when they see a switch.

3. What should you watch for?

Rebounding. Rebounding. REBOUNDING.

This is the way Windsor makes up for the lack of pure scorers. They crash the boards hard, relying on their athleticism to get them extra possessions. The Lancers can keep a lot of missed shots alive, tipping it up and knocking the basketball loose. Ryerson absolutely must keep guys like Matthews and Osuntola off the offensive glass. If they do this, it will make the road to the championship side of the bracket easier.

Prediction: Ryerson 78, Windsor 69

As "Super Championship Weekend" approaches, you may be getting your ducks in a row to watch take in all of that sweet, (mostly) home-grown #content. If you have Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 360, you'll be fine. If not, there's

But you've been warned: there's a paywall (again) for the semifinals and finals of all the games. Each tournament costs $6.95. Dale Stevens's Canadian University Basketball Discussion List email thread reminded me of the fee and he questioned the logic behind the paywall.

He got me thinking, so I asked the CIS about their policy and, well, their hands are tied. The league confirmed, via email, that Sportsnet says they must charge for the livestream. At first blush, I get it. Sportsnet wants people to subscribe to their channels and they don't want fans going online and getting the content for free. Who is going to buy a cable package for one weekend of CIS sports? No one. But that's an oversimplification; Sportsnet wants to have another feather in their cap for people considering a subscription. They can market it: "NHL! NBA! MLB! CIS! We are your home for sports!" etc.

But if Sportsnet wants to really push the CIS brand as selling point, then they have to make the whole product accessible because right now, I don't think the CIS is going to fire anyone up and influence their decision. They already cut OUA football and basketball because of viewership numbers.

And if you do have a Sportsnet subscription, why would you go to a livestream? If the paywall is to drive people to TV, I don't think it will work. A game on television is better than a laptop, but are people deciding between the two, or using a livestream out of necessity? Honest question.

Something else to keep in mind, more from a CIS perspective when negotiating the next TV deal: students are frugal with their money, even though they do have disposable income. Cost itself is a barrier -- we just don't want to take out a credit card and pay for stuff. So, a pop-up asking for money will likely turn off prospective viewers. Does anyone benefit from this?

I think the CIS product is good and when I introduce it to people, they agree. The paywall prevents people getting introduced to the product and both parties just spin their tires from a public awareness standpoint. To move the CIS brand forward, Sportsnet's championships paywall should be reevaluated. I'd argue it is in Sportsnet's best interest to open up those games to introduce those who actually want to see the product and hope that people enjoy the games enough to make the CIS a marketable sports entity.
After one of the tighter semifinals I can remember, the bronze and Wilson Cup games ended in anti-climactic fashion.

First, Ottawa finally returned to form against Ryerson, winning 79-66. It took them until the third quarter -- with Johnny Berhanemeskel dragging his team along until then -- for Ottawa to get back to their typical up-tempo, ball-swinging ways that we have seen all season.

The Rams were never really able to make their imprint on this game, I thought. Yes, they got to the line 21 times, but when Ottawa was drifting, Ryerson failed to take over. Credit the Gee-Gees defence  though; Ryerson shot 38% from the floor and 5-17 from three.

Berhanemeskel blew the game open by engaging the Ottawa crowd with 13 straight points in the middle of the third. After that, Montpetit Hall was rocking and the Gee-Gees would start to click.

Ottawa held a 54-46 lead after three and then won the fourth quarter 25-20 to beat Ryerson 79-66.

This means the Gee-Gees are OUA bronze medallists, but more importantly, have a chance at a higher seed. More on that in a bit.

Carleton ends Windsor's Wilson Cup hopes with authority

The Ravens have won their 9th Wilson Cup in the past 13 years, blowing out the Lancers, 103-59.

A monster second quarter from Carleton was the difference. They dropped 39 points in the period by crashing the glass and getting multiple looks on their offensive trips. Down 61-38, Windsor never really had a chance in the second.

Carleton started the second half with an 18-2 run, effectively sealing the championship.

Victor Raso was the stand-out Raven, dropping 21 points on 5-6 shooting from the floor, 4-5 from three, and 7-8 from the line. It's the second night in a row where a non-Scrubb has stepped up in a major way. The idea of putting more offensive responsibility on the non-Scrubb players has looked like a bad one, as Connor Wood and Raso have put up excellent numbers with increased touches.

When Windsor beat Carleton in the regular season, they crushed them on the glass. Carleton flipped that today, out-boarding the Lancers 52-29 (!!!).

I tried to pump the brakes a bit in my preview post about Windsor's rebounding abilities. Yes, Windsor is the number one rebounding team in the conference, but when you look at rebounding percentage, Windsor wasn't much different than Ottawa. Part of that is because Windsor shoots a significantly worse percentage, giving them more opportunities on the offensive glass. As Windsor held opponents to low shooting percentages, the same can be applied to defensive rebounds. This isn't a criticism of them, it's just a fact.

I think Dave Smart's team did a much better job on the glass for a couple of reasons; 1) they were probably just simply better prepared to hit the glass, and you saw better boxing out 2) it was team-wide rebounding instead of two main players. Raso and Guillaume Boucard had nine boards each. In the regular season game, that pair only had four rebounds total.

Let's talk about seeds 

Bold, bold prediction: this is the last year we see the Acadia rule, meaning, conference champs can't get seeded lower than 6.

Why? Because the issue is simply too large to go unaddressed. As Dave Smart points out in Neate Sager's recap from last night that rule is from a different time:

"The [Top 6] rule was put in originally when it was a 10-team tournament and we didn't want conference winners to have to play on Thursday night," added Smart, whose Ravens won the OUA Wilson Cup with a 103-59 win over Windsor on Saturday night at Montpetit Hall in Ottawa. "Then we went back to eight teams and at that point, the seeding should be the seeding, but it stayed in ... now we should just rank the teams 1-8." 
And now, look at the quality of conference champion. Dalhousie is 10-10 in AUS regular season play.  Bishop's was 8-8 in their RSEQ regular season. What makes those .500 teams look worse is when you consider how the conference performed against other leagues.

RSEQ finished 6th of 8 CIS basketball divisions. This treats the OUA and CW divisions as separate groups, which is fair because the sizes are the same. The Quebec conference did not beat a top-ten opponent in non-conference. Bishop's didn't win a game against non-RSEQ competition. Also relevant: RSEQ has not won a first-round Final 8 game since 2005.

From a non-conference perspective, the AUS is no better. They are last in CIS basketball divisions with a winning percentage of 35%. To the conference's credit, there are two wins over Calgary, who were in the CIS Top Ten discussion. Dalhousie fared better than Bishop's in non-conference, going 3-3, with losses to Ryerson, Ottawa and York.

There are obvious problems here. From a competitive standpoint, it hurts the product. From a marketing standpoint, it hurts the product. From an on-court talent perspective, it hurts the product. I just can't see the CIS repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot with this rule, especially when there is media noise from the most respected coaches in the league.

So, with those rules in mind, here is my final seeding prediction.

  1. Carleton
  2. Windsor (Have to respect regional playoffs, Windsor beat Ottawa, can't see the committee tossing that game aside)
  3. Ottawa (at-large berth)
  4. Victoria
  5. Dalhousie (For reasons outlined above, Dal gets the 5)
  6. Bishop's
  7. Ryerson (Yes, this means all-OUA match-up, but a match-up we haven't seen since November. Keep in mind, the committee put Mac against Carleton in the 2-7 game last year and those teams had not played since November. There's precedent for my guess.)
  8. Saskatchewan
Some spare thoughts
  • Ryerson beat Saskatchewan by 20 (in October, to be fair) so I can't see Ryerson being seeded 8 to replay Carleton
  • I had the CanWest winner at 3 with Ottawa at the 4 yesterday, but a friend pointed out that Ottawa would then meet Carleton in the second round. Doubt the committee wants that.
  • I hope the 3-6 and 4-5 games are during the day because I've got class and would hate to miss the more competitive 1-8, 2-7 games. (That sentence alone should cause seeding rule changes)
Here's the caveat to all of my CIS seeding speculation: I haven't followed CIS hoops as long as most of you reading this. I don't know the tendencies of the committees and what they value, I'm just looking at the criteria and guessing from that.

Seeds for the Final 8 come out at 3 p.m. today. Enjoy!

We've got a ton of games going on this weekend. The CIS Super Championship weekend has forced conferences to putting all of the big games in a tight window. It is suboptimal (at best) but we're playing the hand we're dealt.

The best way to recap all of it is linking to outside work. If I missed something (which is likely!) please comment or send me an email and I can put it in. I'm trying to stick to media outlet links rather than sports info posts because more clicks for a media outlet means a greater chance the CIS gets more coverage.

OUA Men's Final Four

The National Post's Eric Koreen takes a look at Ryerson's rise to contention. Dave Smart's quotes about kids going Division-1 give something to chew on.

CIS Blog alum Neate Sager's gamers talk about seeding, four OUA teams at nationals and more. Windsor-Ottawa. Carleton-Ryerson.

The Ottawa Sun's Tim Baines with gamers and quotes from both games. I liked his description of Carleton at the end of his Ravens-Rams piece. Also, Ottawa's head coach, James Derouin, had an interesting perspective on hosting the Final Four. That quote falls two-thirds of the way into this recap of Windsor-Ottawa.

Ryerson's student paper, The Eyeopener, has a Rye-heavy perspective with an awesome Phil Scrubb photo.

Got more? Let me know. @Scott1Hastie

OUA Women's Final Four 

I couldn't have watched all four games at once and done a good job covering it. Windsor thrashed Lakehead because of a Jylisa Williams injury. The Lancers, in the post-Clemencon+Langlois era, qualify for nationals.

Queen's saw their season come to an end at the hands of the Ryerson Rams. From what I gather, the Ryerson women's basketball program has never won an OUA championship and their 69-60 win gives them that opportunity.

Here's the TBNewsWatch perspective on the end of Lakehead's season and the Jylisa Williams's career. Quotes from Lakehead coach Jon Kreiner in there too.

Meanwhile, Bob Duff at the Windsor Star talks with Lancer players about the blowout win and where they go from here. There's a video interview at the top too! Check out that print media evolution.

Claude Scilley has a quick write-up about the Gaels loss.

Here's The Eyeopener again with their inside look at how the Rams are feeling. Loved the variety of perspectives here - quotes from Carly Clarke, Keneca Pingue-Giles and Annie Sokoloff.

CanWest Men's Final Four has game briefs on the CW semifinals.

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix's Darren Zary provides a gamer on Sask's qualification win. (This was a good game down the stretch, but broadcast quality was lacking, as noted by CanWestHoops.)

UVic's win over UFV garners coverage in the Times-Colonist.

CanWest Women's Final Four 

I couldn't find anything about the CW women's games. The games weren't particularly close though; Saskatchewan beat Victoria 77-61, UBC handled Alberta 72-59. Of note: Sask head coach Lisa Thomaidis said this is the best Huskie team she has had.

CanWest men's hockey championship

The Edmonton Sun's Brian Swane (who does exceptional work covering Canadian basketball, specifically the women's national team) the takes a look at Alberta's win over Calgary.

CanWest women's hockey 

Nothing media wise here either. Here's the CanWest write-up. Alberta takes game one 4-0.

RSEQ women's basketball

Concordia's season came to an end, as UQAM beat the Stingers 54-47. Check out The Link's gamer.

McGill and UQAM meet in the RSEQ finals today.

RSEQ men's basketball Final Four

Not much to dig up here either. McGill will play Bishop's for a CIS Final 8 berth.

With a high seed on the line, Ryerson gave Carleton three quarters of solid basketball, but a pressing defence and lack of ball movement buried the Rams.

Before the game, Roy Rana told OUA Today that his team would have to be nearly perfect to beat the Ravens. For large stretches of this game, they were, but a slow fourth quarter was their undoing.

Carleton jumped out to an early 11-2 advantage with Ryerson settling for jumpers. But the Rams would steady quickly, employing the athleticism of Jahmal Jones and Aaron Best to attack the rim and get lay-ups. Teams would exchange runs, but Ryerson held an 18-17 advantage.

They would extend their lead by-way of an inconsistent Ravens defence. Carleton's Dave Smart was switching most screens but his team struggled to contain the ball handlers. They weren't getting much on offence either, with Rana rolling through his near-endless amount of lengthy players to stymy the Carleton sets. Phil Scrubb struggled to find his shots and the rest of the roster was asked to pick up the slack. Ryerson dropped 44 to Carleton's 38, making the OUA Final Four double-upset a real possibility.

But the third Q saw Ryerson waver and the cracks in their foundation began to show. Carleton began to move the ball a lot better in the third, finding players all around the court for good looks. To their credit, Ryerson continued to score but when Carleton's clicking, it takes an exceptional offence to keep pace. The Rams saw their lead slip to only one with one quarter left.

The fourth was owned by Carleton, with an assist from Ryerson. The Rams were playing well and scoring easily because they attacked from a variety of spots and shifted Carleton's defenders. In the back-end of the fourth, multiple possessions saw the ball stick with Jahmal Jones and ask him to essentially create one-on-one. Jones played so well in this game, but asking anyone to single-handedly beat the Ravens is simply too much of a task. 

There was also the fourth-quarter Scrubb show. The Phil-Tommy pick-and-pop had been bottled up until the fourth. It broke open in what would be the final stanza, with Phil making great decisions when driving. Tommy drew so much attention because of his solid offensive night. His methodical post play gave the smaller Rams line-ups fits and turned out to be the main offensive avenue in the second half.

The night was capped with one of the best plays I've ever seen Phil Scrubb make. In the final three minutes or so, Phil drove from the left wing on Adika Peter-McNeilly. The defender didn't provide much resistance and Phil rose up to attack the basket ... and attack he did. The fifth-year threw down a massive dunk on the retreating Ram to push Carleton up seven. The dunk wound up being the lowering of a casket containing Ryerson's Wilson Cup hopes.

Now, Carleton got the win and their ticket to nationals, but this doesn't mean this was all positive for them. Phil played all 40 minutes and only shot 5-21, including 0-6 from three. Tommy shot 13-23 (!), finishing with 31 points and 12 rebounds. His minute total ended up at 39. Smart has pushed these guys to similar minute totals in previous tournament runs though, and Phil's dunk came when you think he would be most exhausted so ... this may not be a storyline.

Connor Wood played a big role in this win too, keeping the Carleton afloat and picking up key rebounds. The three-point shooter turned all-around swing player dropped 20 points while finishing with six rebounds.

Ryerson's Jahmal Jones played well tonight, especially when you account for the bad shots he was asked to take when the team was in desperation mode. His 11-25 shooting for 28 points exposed Carleton's perimeter defence and it will be interesting to see how teams attack the Ravens at the Final 8.

Carleton plays Windsor in the 8 p.m. Wilson Cup final while Ottawa plays Ryerson for bronze. A win for Ottawa would eliminate the little-doubt about their at-large worthiness.

Speaking of the Final 8 ...

Let's look at the rest of the country!

Victoria beat Fraser Valley in a blowout, 86-61. I couldn't watch this one so I don't have much to say. Sorry. I will link to a CanWestHoops piece (and other articles I can find) on @TheCISBlog in the morning.

Sask and UBC played a tighter affair, with Sask pulling away in a back-and-forth final quarter. The Huskies make it to nationals with their 81-75 victory. I watched that fourth quarter and I'm curious of how often Vic or Sask (or CanWest at large)use zone defence. If you're reading this and know about the defensive tendencies, I'd love to talk.

RSEQ's final is between Bishop's and McGill. Winner will get the 5 or 6 seed. Which brings us to bracket talk.

Bracketology or, Windsor ruined everything

Okay. Here's a screen-shot of the (illogical) CIS seeding criteria.

Based off this, here's my guess at the seeding.

1. OUA champ
2. OUA runner-up
3. CW champ
4. Ottawa (at-large)
5. Dalhousie
6. RSEQ champ
7. Ryerson
8. CW runner-up

Full disclosure: I feel like an idiot even writing this out. It would be optimal to get zero OUA match-ups but I don't think it's possible with the Acadia rule. I could be wrong, so please let me know! Bullet-point explanation:
  • Ottawa is pretty high there, but putting them at 7 would mean we would see them play either Windsor or Carleton in the first round. 
  • I considered putting the CanWest champ at 2, but figured that's dishonest to how they were ranked all year, playoff performance, strength of schedule and head-to-head (so, most of the criteria)
  • The Gee-Gees loss gives them an arguably easier game in the first round of nationals, which ... well, yeah this is really looking good for the CIS! Great job!
  • 7 and 8 can be flipped to avoid a rematch from the OUA Final Four, depending on the Wilson Cup result.
Okay, that's all I have from tonight. If you think you can build a better bracket ... A) you're probably right B) Throw it up in the comments or Twitter and I'll gather them tomorrow.

I'd also love to hear some thoughts on CanWest's hopes at nationals. I've been out-of-touch with that league outside of pouring over box scores.

This year was supposed to be Ottawa, Carleton and then everyone else. The University of Windsor Lancers have disrupted that narrative, beating the No. 1 Ottawa Gee-Gees 85-80. That win puts them in the Wilson Cup final but more importantly, puts them into the CIS Final 8.

Ottawa never got into their offensive rhythm but couldn't slow down the Lancers balanced attack either. As far as an game-plan execution goes, Windsor was perfect.

The entire game was back-and-forth, but the first quarter was won by Ottawa. Windsor switches every ball-screen and Ottawa tried to attack that with one-on-one drives. The results were mixed; the Gee-Gees picked up a few offensive fouls but in the final couple of minutes, Ottawa made their open shots. Even though Windsor stuck around, they did so by connecting on some heavily-contested looks. Ottawa was up 26-20 and it seemed like the Lancer boat was taking on water.

That momentum disappeared quickly, as the Gee-Gees fell back into step-backs and one-pass-one-shot trips. Ottawa loves to play quick and while I have no problem with their overall pace, their attempts tonight didn't feel natural. Windsor clawed back into it through dribble penetration and good inside passing. 

After the sleepy first half, you thought Ottawa would come out of the break with a more concentrated attack. It wasn't a surprise that the Lancers were switching all screens and the way they reacted to it was probably talked about in the locker room. Yet, it was hard to see any real changes. If you are a Raptor fan, think of the offensive style you hate; no movement, one screen, somewhat aimless dribbling, attack, jump shot. This is what the Gee-Gees did and exactly what Chris Oliver's Lancers wanted.

Windsor still needed to figure things out offensively, though. Rotimi Osuntola Jr. had been quiet in the first half, only scoring a couple of buckets (at most). Evan Matthews was relied on heavily, a strategy that paid dividends as he used his size advantage over Ottawa Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue to establish post position. In the second half, the Lancers shot an inexplicable 56% and they picked up a decent number of offensive boards. Alex Campbell, a college transfer, played a big role in that, hitting jumpers and finishing at the rim. His 20 points were a game-high.

In the fourth quarter, Ottawa couldn't slow the Lancers down. Windsor dropped 24 points to the Gee-Gees 18, with a 6-0 run around the three-minute mark giving them the winning space they needed. Ottawa forced the issue and took a fair number of contested looks.

The key to this game was Windsor and their defensive plan. Their screen and roll coverage took Ottawa out of their playing style, which is not unlike the story last week's game against McMaster. Ottawa takes 41% of their shots from three; tonight they took 35%, or 27 of their 74 field goal attempts. They didn't connect on a lot either, only making 8. The 8-27 mark is their second-lowest of the season. Their game against UofT was the only conference game they shot worse in. This isn't live/die by the three, Ottawa wasn't getting the three point looks they wanted. 

Rebounds were pretty close - Windsor 42, Ottawa 41. The Lancers hit 9 3s on 22 attempts. 

Johnny Berhanemeskel lead the Gee-Gees with 19 points on 8-16 shooting.

Thanks to Marshall Ferguson (@Marsh2Fergs) for sending me a box score. The OUA/CIS didn't have one online when I wrote this.

Here's his interview with Chris Oliver, post-game.


CIS Final 8 seeding will be ... interesting

We'll take a look at a prospective bracket after tonight's games, but it is fair to assume Ottawa will be the at-large team. 
Post by Ankur Kumar

With the University Cup playoffs looming, the CIS-ranked 7th place McGill Redmen and 10th place Windsor Lancers have eerily close similarities heading into the OUA bronze medal game. After both teams were ousted by last season’s eventual University Cup finalists, Le Rouge et Blanc and the Blue & Gold have taken mirroring journeys to the very moment that will define individual careers and team legacies.

A trip to the 52nd University Cup playoffs, hosted by the St. Mary’s Huskies in Halifax, is the biggest goal of all. The winner of this Saturday’s OUA bronze medal matchup will join seven other teams from the CIS to contend for the highest trophy in Canadian collegiate puck.

The Lancers are chasing a second consecutive ticket after returning to the University Cup last season for the first time in 15 seasons. The Redmen are hunting for their eighth reservation since 2006. Both teams are trying to return to the tournament and improve upon their exits from the semi-finals last year and the appetite has increased, especially after falling short of their own expectations to return to the Queen’s Cup.

After going 4-1 through the first and second playoff series, the OUA’s two top divisional seeds were swept in the third round. The Lancers fell under the spell of the magical Guelph Gryphons and the Redmen produced just two goals during their back-to-back wallop from the UQTR Patriotes.

The second playoff interaction in OUA history between the Lancers and the Redmen follows their showdown at the 103rd Queen’s Cup last season.

Despite the third-place contest for the bronze medal and the last OUA ticket to the University Cup, the OUA’s announcement earlier this week naming the major award winners in men’s hockey has catapulted the game to another level.

The Guards at the Gates: Parker Van Buskirk VS. Jacob Gervais-Chouinard

Last year’s Queen’s Cup would not have been a frequent reference throughout this season without recalling the performance by netminders Windsor’s Parker Van Buskirk and McGill’s Jacob Gervais-Chouinard. Van Buskirk stopped 50 of 52 shots to earn MVP honours, especially during his fantastic display in the fading minutes of the game when the Redmen narrowed the score by one goal.

Van Buskirk furthered the success of last season, posting an OUA- and CIS-best 18-4-1 through 24 starts. Van Buskirk was named the OUA West’s goaltender of the year after leading the conference and the entire Canadian Interuniversity Sport with 18 wins.

As the Lancers conquered the West division, Jacob Gervais-Chouinard backstopped the Redmen towards a 21-5-0 accomplishment. Gervais-Chouinard managed his goals against average at 1.74 and a .944 save percentage to go along with that. Those figures warranted Gervais-Chouinard as the OUA East’s goaltender of the year.

During their first encounter on January 31st, 2014, Van Buskirk outplayed the rookie Gervais-Chouinard and led the Lancers to a 4-3 win. Gervais-Chouinard and the Redmen retaliated with a 6-2 crush of the Lancers the next night, settling the season series at one win each.

The sparring netminders were central to the 103rd Queen’s Cup last March. The Lancers were one win away from their first conference title in 16 seasons and the Redmen attempted to make the best of their seventh appearance in nine seasons. Evan Stibbard’s goal for the Lancers 17 seconds into the game was a highlight, but at the end of regulation, everyone praised Parker Van Buskirk’s 50 saves on 52 shots, earning him Most Valuable Player at the 103rd Queen’s Cup along with the 3-2 win.

The Lancers and the Redmen reacquainted eight months later on November 14th. The Lancers put their 11 straight wins on the line during the best start to a men’s hockey season at the University of Windsor, but the Redmen denied the Lancers any chance of building upon the epic streak. Gervais-Chouinard stopped 31 of the 32 shots launched his way and more importantly for him, he evened the score with PVB.

With two wins against each other, this fifth and final meeting between Gervais-Chouinard and Van Buskirk will be a testament to both hockey teams.

The Lancers have risen to national attention unlike ever before during the 50 seasons of hockey that have occurred at the University of Windsor. In his best season as a Lancer, nothing would satisfy the senior Van Buskirk more than continuing the playoff run beyond the rinks of the OUA, for the rest of the CIS to witness.

The 11th Hour: Spencer Pommells VS. Cedric McNicoll
As Spencer Pommells messed with the West and raked in 50 points, Cedric McNicoll rounded out the top five in conference scoring with 34 points. Pommells strode exponentially ahead of the competition through 27 games in his last regular season with the Blue & Gold.

The MVPs of the OUA East and the OUA West each have 12 points and are tied for the playoff scoring lead. Pommells leads the goals category with six, while McNicoll and fellow McGill teammate Jonathan Brunelle lead all skaters with nine assists through seven playoff games. In their last head-to-head match of their CIS careers, both Pommells and McNicoll have been comparably resourceful for their teams.

Nearly a year to the date of their last playoff meeting, Pommells and McNicoll continue to set the scoring race ablaze. The results of each team’s offence will rely on how well Pommells and McNicoll produce points. Each individual is a serious catalyst for the team’s success on the score sheet and at the final hour, it wil be time to prove that exact trait.

It will be the offensive match of the night, especially at the risk of the game being the last collegiate performance for one of the two senior players. It’s now or never in the last stand between the OUA’s most valuable players.

When they meet for the face off, all the focus will be zoomed in on that number 11 on both sides of the ice for the Blue & Gold and Le Rouge et Blanc.

The Defensive Duel: Kenny Bradford VS. Sam Labrecque
Just as McGill and Windsor represented the best goaltenders and forwards of the season, the triple threat by both division leaders was complete when Sam Labrecque and Kenny Bradford were named as defencemen of the year for the East and West divisions, respectively.

Labrecque led the entire Redmen squad during the regular season with 13 goals and finished first among the team’s defence with 22 points. After contributing only one assist in seven games, Labrecque had seven goals in the final five regular season games — an impressive streak started by a hat trick against the Queen’s Gaels. Along with seven game winning goals during his freshman season, Labrecque took the overall goals scoring lead among defencemen in Canada.

It was the best segway for Sam Labrecque and the Redmen into the postseason. Labrecque is in second place to Pommells with five goals and leads all OUA skaters with four power play goals in the playoffs. The Redmen currently boast a 34.8 per cent success rate on the powerplay, more than doubling the Lancers who have gone 5 for 29 through seven playoff games and are graded by a 17.2 per cent so far.

Now more than ever the Lancers need the success Bradford created in the regular season. Bradford is the last variable to the equation of success for the Lancers.

Six of Bradford’s eight regular season goals were on the power play, just one shy of Labrecque’s lead among defenseman in the whole OUA. So far in the playoffs, Bradford has recorded three assists, but he must find the net and remind everyone he is the number one defenceman for the Windsor Lancers.

Neither competitor has contributed points since the first round. Without offensive production from reputable defenceman such as Labrecque or Bradford, securing the last OUA ticket to the University Cup will be impossible.

Bradford scored the game winning goal in last season’s Queen’s Cup championship win. Without Evan Stibbard and Mac McDonnell, Bradford will be looked upon to set the tone for what will feel like a head-to-head championship instead of a consolatory third place game.

Here We Go: Windsor Lancers VS. McGill Redmen
Those six players are the factors that will determine which team moves ahead to the University Cup in Halifax. They are the difference makers and now, more than ever, they are relied upon to lead the change. With history in the making and tremendous pride on the line, these teams remind us why we love sport.

The Lancers and the Redmen will meet for the fifth time in 14 months and for the third straight occasion at South Windsor Arena. Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m. EST, this Saturday, live on OUA TV.
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