Ahead of Semifinal Saturday,* the 'whither' is whether the Rams can avoid their propensity for putting themselves in seemingly manufactured survival challenges, game after game. Kind of like Barney Stinson with his "challenge accepted!", the Rams like to get down early, than just work their way out of it.
Sure, UBC, you can get up 15 in the second quarter, and our fifth-year guard Aaron Best will never be in the flow due to foul trouble and hotter hands. Hey, Carleton, have a 13-point lead halftime lead in the OUA Wilson Cup. Structural flaw, or just a team whose all-eight-cylinders state runs faster than everyone else's in high-leverage situations? It makes the Rams, who draw Calgary for the semifinal, a fun watch. One can go a while without having that vibe in CIS, so ride with it.
Seriously, though, can the Rams get away with it against Calgary and Carleton?
We have two more games for the season so I hope we can get off to quicker stats," Rams coach Patrick Tatham said after the 109-101 outlasting, outwitting and outplaying of UBC on Thursday. "I think our guys kind of feel too many teams out at the start of games. Hopefully against Calgary, which is going to be a tough game, I hope we don't feel them out. I hope we knock first."
Hope, as in, you never know in this strata of basketball. You can only think you know. For instance, Ottawa's vanquishing validated the skin feeling that no one can defeat the Carleton Ravens thrice in succession. The built-in off-day that was introduced last season is likely helping with recovery and rest. It also means that Carleton's wired-in staff have more video time to try to figure out which ways to force Ryerson's guards. And, as well, Ryerson has to show their 'whale' wasn't an OUA Wilson Cup at home.
Dalhousie vs. Carleton:
- How does Connor Wood trend upward after an off shooting day against Thompson Rivers? The 6-4 off-guard could go into Turnbull mode against the smaller but aggressive Tigers guards such as Jarred Reid.
A greater finish to the weekend than his start would be in character for Wood. Shooters just need to get acclimated.
- Similar question, with Kaza Keane's name in place of Wood's, since the point guard was 1-for-15 on Friday?
Also, Ritchie Kanza Mata, will he keep it together for Dal? Kaza vs. Kanza, it's better than watching Kansas.
- How long does Dal maintain? Plato's Republic Of Pressure Defence (patent, pending) can throw teams off, but Carleton keeps their composure very well.
Calgary vs. Ryerson
- There is a reasonable chance this is a prequel to future matchups, but before that, we are guaranteed a new Championship Sunday participant. Calgary is in their fourth semifjnal under Dan Vanhooren and, of course, Ryerson is in their second in a row.
- McGill dee'd up on Thomas Cooper very well, keeping with the métier of a David DeAveiro team. His teams always pressure as much as possible for the full 40. One of these days, they will play on Saturday thanks to that. Ryerson defends slightly differently, using lateral quickness and length, whether it is Kadeem Green at the rim or when Adika Peter-McNeilly and Jean-Victor Mukama are re-routing cutters and drivers out on the wing. Plus there is Diressa at the one, and Calgary has a smart two-way guard in David Kapinga.
Prediction: two teams of human beings survive till Sunday.
(* Probably not something to turn into an acronym.)