GeeGees Image
Uottawa

PREVIEW 2016 ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS men’s basketball championship

Wednesday March 16, 2016
Caleb Agada
Photo: 
David van Slingerland

(with files from CIS)

OTTAWA (CIS) – The Carleton University Ravens hope to move one step closer to one of the most prestigious Canadian university basketball records this week when the ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS men’s championship returns to Vancouver for the first time in over four decades.

The Final Eight tournament, hosted by the University of British Columbia for the first time since 1972 and only the second time in school history, gets under way Thursday at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre and culminates Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (8:30 p.m. Eastern) with the gold-medal final, live on Sportsnet 360. Saturday’s semifinals are also live on Sportsnet 360 (3 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. Pacific) and all 11 games from the competition will be webcast on www.CIS-SIC.tv.

Looking to add to their record collection of 11 W.P. McGee Trophy titles and needing two more triumphs to match Victoria’s streak of seven straight CIS banners (1980-1986), the Ravens earned the second seed for the 2016 tourney behind the Ryerson Rams, who defeated Carleton 73-68 in Saturday’s Wilson Cup final to claim their first-ever OUA pennant and merit the No. 1 seed for the first time in program annals.

Rounding out the draw are the No. 3 Ottawa Gee-Gees (OUA bronze medallists), No. 4 Calgary Dinos (Canada West champs), No. 5 McGill Redmen (RSEQ champs), No. 6 Dalhousie Tigers (AUS champs), No. 7 Thompson Rivers WolfPack (Canada West finalists) and No. 8 UBC Thunderbirds (Canada West bronze medallists).

Thursday’s quarter-final matchups include Thompson Rivers vs. Carleton in the 1 p.m. opener, followed by Dalhousie vs. Ottawa at 3 p.m., McGill vs. Calgary at 6 p.m., as well as UBC vs. Ryerson in the 8 p.m. nightcap.

UBC is the only other program among this week’s contenders to have captured the McGee Trophy in the past, its conquests dating back to 1970 and 1972. Interestingly enough, the only two CIS men’s hoops championships held in British Columbia ended with the host team hoisting the trophy, including the Thunderbirds in 1972 and UVic in 1982.

Speaking of home-court advantage, top-seeded Ryerson claimed a program-best bronze medal a year ago when the tournament was held at the Mattamy Centre in downtown Toronto. Under the leadership of interim mentor Patrick Tatham, the Rams didn’t miss a beat this season, reaching the top of the national rankings for the first time in history in late January after beating powerhouses Carleton and Ottawa on back-to-back nights at the Mattamy.

Led by veteran guards Aaron Best (17.8 points – 7.4 rebounds per game) and Adika Peter-McNeilly (15.1 ppg), Ryerson was the highest-scoring team in the OUA and ranked third in the country in conference play with 89.3 points per contest.

“The team is definitely proud to be going back to nationals for a second consecutive season,” said Tatham, who took over this season while six-year head coach Roy Rana is on sabbatical. “Creating history seems to be in this team’s DNA, so we’ll be locked in one game at a time. We have set a new standard for our program and I’m just thrilled to be upholding and adding to our basketball program’s success. The 2016 Final Eight will hopefully be a special one for this team.”

Despite the loss to graduation of superstars Phil and Thomas Scrubb, who a year ago became just the fourth and fifth players to win five CIS men’s basketball rings, Carleton managed to end the regular season in its familiar spot atop the national rankings after going 16-3 under interim coach Rob Smart, at the helm while his uncle, Dave, is also on sabbatical. New head coach, same philosophy: the Ravens led the nation in defence for the second straight season and for the eighth time in nine years with 60.7 points allowed per game.

“The team is pleased to be returning to the Final Eight tournament this week, but we still have plenty of work to do to reach our goal of winning a national championship,” said Rob Smart. “Our players and the coaching staff look forward to competing against a strong group of contenders in British Columbia. I am excited to see how we respond to the challenge ahead.”

Meanwhile, third-seed Ottawa had to settle for bronze at the OUA Final Four for the second straight season. On the bright side, the Gee-Gees earned the at-large berth for the national tournament for the second year in a row. The Garnet & Grey, who have reached the last two CIS finals against archrival Carleton, have  plenty of weapons again this year despite the graduation of 2015 CIS player of the year Johnny Berhanemeskel, including OUA MVP Mike L’Africain (20.4 ppg) and conference’s top defender Caleb Agada (15.8 ppg – 8.6 rpg).

“This group has a lot of holdovers from the last two years who are hungry to get to the top, but it’s definitely a different group and we’ve brought a different look this season,” said six-year head coach James Derouin, who took his team to UBC in October for exhibition preparation on the floor of the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. “The OUA Final Four is an advantage on the way to nationals because you get two tough games in a row. Once the ball goes up and the adrenaline starts flowing, everything is up for grabs and we just have to play like we’re capable of playing.”

It was quite the turnaround this season for No. 4 Calgary, which improved from a 12-8 mark and fifth position in the Canada West Pioneer Division a year ago to first place with a 17-3 record, followed by a 4-0 playoff run that was capped by a 91-84 defeat of Thompson Rivers in the conference final. The biggest difference-maker: Tennessee-born guard Thomas Cooper, who led the league with 25.8 points per game and was named Canada West MVP in his first campaign with the Dinos after transferring from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“Our team has found a way to get things done, a result of our depth that has given us a chance each night to have different contributors supporting the consistent scoring effort of Thomas Cooper,” said 16-year sideline boss Dan Vanhooren, whose troops return to the Final Eight for the first time since a semifinal appearance in 2010. “They have done this by staying within themselves whether they are in offensive or defensive roles while our leaders have worked to maintain a culture that supports the flexibility we need in our substitutions.”

McGill entered the season eager to prove that last year’s loss at the hands of Bishop’s in the Quebec final was the exception, not the norm, and the Redmen can say mission accomplished after capturing the third RSEQ banner in four years. The Redmen don’t score much, ranking 31st in the country with 72.9 points per game, but boy can they defend, allowing only 65.7 per contest, good for third in the nation.

“We pride ourselves in our defence and we’ve been effective under the offensive boards, leading the nation in that department. That’s been our bread and butter all year,” said six-year coach David DeAveiro, who is making his sixth appearance at the CIS tourney, the first three as bench boss of the Ottawa Gee-Gees. “So hopefully we can continue that and make some big shots, like we did to win our conference Final Four.”

Sixth-seeded Dalhousie came out on the wrong side of a heartbreaking one-point decision against Victoria in the first round of last year’s CIS championship, but in this year’s AUS playoffs it was the Tigers’ turn to win a pair of thrillers, booking their ticket to Vancouver thanks to a 75-74 semifinal victory over Saint Mary’s followed by an 87-85 defeat of UPEI in the conference gold-medal match. Being involved in close games has become the norm for the AUS champs, who averaged 76.1 points for and 74.1 against in league action this season.

“I am extremely proud of this team. There is absolutely no quit in this team,” said three-year coach Rick Plato, who helped the Tigers return to the Final Eight after a three-year absence last winter. “With the veteran leadership of Ritchie Kanza Mata, Kashrell Lawrence, Jarred Reid and Sven Stammberger, I feel very confident that this team is highly motivated to not only improve on our showing at last year’s CIS tournament, but we are going with the expectation of winning. My goal when I took this job was to build a program of national prominence and win a national championship. I think, we are off to a good start and we all believe that when we get to Vancouver, anything and everything is possible.”

A decade after joining the CIS circuit in 2005-06, the Thompson Rivers WolfPack are set to make their debut at the national tourney. The Canada West Explorer Division first-place finishers and conference finalists are led by the imposing forward duo of 6-foot-10 Josh Wolfram (19.0 points per game) and Ukraine product Volodymyr Iegorov (18.4 ppg), who stands at 6-foot-7.

“I am really happy for the guys,” said head coach Scott Clark, in his sixth campaign at the helm after a 15-year stint with Simon Fraser. “From the start of the season, the players have made sacrifices and bought into the ‘team before individual’ mantra. They have worked hard in the weight room, and in practice and their appearance at Nationals has shown them that hard work does pay off.”

The tournament host UBC Thunderbirds desperately wanted to enter the Final Eight through the front door and they came oh-so-close, falling 72-69 to Thompson Rivers in the conference semis before rebounding to claim Canada West bronze. Don’t count out the T-Birds despite their eighth-seed status however as they have won nine of their last 10 contests heading into the CIS tourney and proved they could compete with the best earlier this season when they split a two-game set against the Canada West champion Dinos in Calgary.

“We are excited to be the host of this tournament and have a chance to play for a national championship in our home building,” said 16-year coach Kevin Hanson, who guided his program to back-to-back trips to the CIS final in 2009 and 2010. “We knew all along we would have to play a top-seeded team to be successful in this tournament. It just so happens it will now be on Thursday night. We will be ready to play.”

NOTES: All Wednesday practices at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre are open to the media, starting at 9 a.m. (detailed schedule below)... The All-Canadian Awards Gala is set for Wednesday evening at the Sheraton Wall Centre.

PARTICIPATING TEAMS

NO. 1 RYERSON RAMS

Team Statistics
Head Coach: Patrick Tatham (1st season - Interim)
Regular season record: 17-2
Regular season standing: 1st OUA East (tied 1st OUA)
Playoff record: 3-0
Playoff finish: OUA champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 24-3
Top 10 final ranking (March 1): No. 3
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (4 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
National ranking (offence): 3rd (89.3)
National ranking (defence): 15th (73.8)

Individual Statistics
Conference award winners: Patrick Tatham (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Aaron Best (G), Adika Peter-McNeilly (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Ammanuel Diressa (G)
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leaders (points per game): Aaron Best (17.8), Adika Peter-McNeilly (15.1)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Aaron Best (7.4)
Season leader (assists per game): Adika Peter-McNeilly (4.4)

CIS Championship History
Appearances (not including Regionals): 4th   
All-time record (not including Regionals): 3-5 (.375)
Best result: Bronze (2015)
Last appearance: 2015 (bronze)
Sequence: 2nd straight appearance
Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 0-0

NO. 2 CARLETON RAVENS
 
Team Statistics
Head Coach: Rob Smart (1st season - Interim)
Regular season record: 16-3
Regular season standing: 2nd OUA North
Playoff record: 2-1
Playoff finish: OUA finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 23-5
Top 10 final ranking (March 1): No. 1
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (3 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
National ranking (offence): 6th (86.2)
National ranking (defence): 1st (60.7)
 
Individual Statistics
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Kaza Kajami-Keane (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Guillaume Payen Boucard (F), Connor Wood (G)
Conference all-rookie team: Marcus Anderson (G), Stanley Mayambo (G)
Season leaders (points per game): Guillaume Payen Boucard (14.6), Kaza Kajami-Keane (14.1)
Season leaders (rebounds per game): Guillaume Payen Boucard (5.5), Mitch Wood (5.5)
Season leader (assists per game): Kaza Kajami-Keane (6.6)

CIS Championship History
Appearances (not including Regionals): 19th
All-time record (not including Regionals): 39-10 (.796)
Best result: 11-time champions (2011-2015, 2009, 2003-2007)
Last appearance: 2015 (champions)
Sequence: 14th straight appearance
Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 0-0

NO. 3 OTTAWA GEE-GEES
 
Team Statistics
Head Coach: James Derouin (6th season)
Regular season record: 17-2
Regular season standing: 1st OUA North (tied 1st OUA)
Playoff record: 2-1
Playoff finish: OUA bronze medallists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 29-5
Top 10 final ranking (March 1): No. 2
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (6 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
National ranking (offence): 5th (86.9)
National ranking (defence): 4th (66.5)
 
Individual Statistics
Conference award winners: Mike L’Africain (MVP), Caleb Agada (defensive MVP)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Mike L’Africain (G), Caleb Agada (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Nathan McCarthy (C)
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leaders (points per game): Mike L’Africain (20.4), Caleb Agada (15.8)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Caleb Agada (8.6)
Season leader (assists per game): Mike L’Africain (5.3)

CIS Championship History
Appearances (not including Regionals): 10th
All-time record (not including Regionals): 14-11 (.560)
Best result: Finalists (2015, 2014)
Last appearance: 2015 (finalists)
Sequence: 4th straight appearance
Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 0-2 (1 appearance)

No. 4 CALGARY DINOS

Team Statistics
Head Coach: Dan Vanhooren (16th season)
Regular season record: 17-3
Regular season standing: 1st Canada West Pioneer Division (1st Canada West)
Playoff record: 4-0
Playoff finish: Canada West champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 28-6
Top 10 final ranking (March 1): No. 4
Top 10 best ranking: No. 4 (4 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
National ranking (offence): 4th (88.6)
National ranking (defence): 25th (77.0)

Individual Statistics
Conference award winners: Thomas Cooper (MVP)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Thomas Cooper (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: None
Conference 3rd team all-stars: Lars Schlueter (F)
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leaders (points per game): Thomas Cooper (25.8), Lars Schlueter (12.5)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Thomas Cooper (7.5)
Season leader (assists per game): Thomas Cooper (3.1)

CIS Championship History
Appearances (not including Regionals): 9th
All-time record (not including Regionals): 6-11 (.353)
Best result: Finalists (1966)
Last appearance: 2010 (semi-finalists)
Sequence: Return after 5-year absence
Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 2-6 (4 appearances)

No. 5 McGILL REDMEN

Team Statistics
Head Coach: David DeAveiro (6th season)
Regular season record: 12-4
Regular season standing: 1st RSEQ
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: RSEQ champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 22-5
Top 10 final ranking (March 1): No. 7
Top 10 best ranking: No. 2 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 13
National ranking (offence): 31st (72.9)
National ranking (defence): 3rd (65.7)

Individual Statistics
Conference award winners: Dele Ogundokun (defensive MVP), David DeAveiro (coach), Vincent Dufort (student-athlete)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Vincent Dufort (G), Dele Ogundokun (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Jenning Leung (PG), Tychon Carter-Newman (G)
Conference all-rookie team: Isaiah Cummins (G)
Season leaders (points per game): Jenning Leung (12.5), Dele Ogundokun (11.3)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Vincent Dufort (8.1)                  
Season leader (assists per game): Dele Ogundokun (3.2)

CIS Championship History
Appearances (not including Regionals): 6th
All-time record (not including Regionals): 3-9 (.250)
Best result: 4th place (1977, 1972)
Last appearance: 2014 (tied 7th place)
Sequence: Return after 1-year absence (3rd appearance in 4 years)
Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 2-4 (3 appearances)

NO. 6 DALHOUSIE TIGERS

Team Statistics
Head Coach: Rick Plato (3rd season)
Regular season record: 13-7
Regular season standing: 1st AUS
Playoff record: 2-0
Playoff finish: AUS champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 19-8
Top 10 final ranking (March 1): No. 10
Top 10 best ranking: No. 8 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 9
National ranking (offence): 25th (76.1)
National ranking (defence): 17th (74.1)

Individual Statistics
Conference award winners: Jordan Aquino-Serjue (rookie), Rick Plato (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Ritchie Kanza Mata (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Kashrell Lawrence (F)
Conference all-rookie team: Jordan Aquino-Serjue (G)
Season leaders (points per game): Kashrell Lawrence (14.8), Sven Stammberger (12.9)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Kashrell Lawrence (6.2)
Season leader (assists per game): Ritchie Kanza Mata (6.9)

CIS Championship History
Appearances (not including Regionals): 5th
All-time record (not including Regionals): 1-8 (.111)
Best result: 6th place (2011)
Last appearance: 2015 (tied 7th place)
Sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance
Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 0-6 (3 appearances)

NO. 7 THOMPSON RIVERS WOLFPACK

Team Statistics
Head Coach: Scott Clark (6th season)
Regular season record: 16-4
Regular season standing: 1st Canada West Explorer Division
Playoff record: 4-1
Playoff finish: Canada West finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 20-6
Top 10 final ranking (March 1): Unranked
Top 10 best ranking: No. 8 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 7
National ranking (offence): 16th (80.9)
National ranking (defence): 6th (70.7)

Individual Statistics
Conference award winners: Scott Clark (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Josh Wolfram (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: None
Conference 3rd team all-stars: Volodymyr Iegorov (F), Reese Pribilsky (G)
Conference all-rookie team: Jeff Tubbs (G)
Season leaders (points per game): Josh Wolfram (19.0), Volodymyr Iegorov (18.4)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Josh Wolfram (9.6)
Season leader (assists per game): Reese Pribilsky (6.2)

CIS Championship History
Appearances (not including Regionals): 1st  
All-time record (not including Regionals): 0-0
Best result: First appearance
Last appearance: First appearance
Sequence: First appearance
Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 0-0

NO. 8 UBC THUNDERBIRDS

Team Statistics
Head Coach: Kevin Hanson (16th season)
Regular season record: 16-4
Regular season standing: 2nd Canada West Pioneer Division
Playoff record: 3-1
Playoff finish: Canada West bronze medallists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 22-6
Top 10 final ranking (March 1): No. 6
Top 10 best ranking: No. 6 (3 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (13 polls): 11
National ranking (offence): 11th (83.6)
National ranking (defence): 7th (71.0)

Individual Statistics
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Jordan Jensen-Whyte (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Conor Morgan (F)
Conference 3rd team all-stars: None
Conference all-rookie team: Taylor Browne (G)
Season leaders (points per game): Jordan Jensen-Whyte (15.0), Conor Morgan (14.8)
Season leader (rebounds per game): Conor Morgan (7.3)
Season leader (assists per game): Jordan Jensen-Whyte (3.1)

CIS Championship History
Appearances (not including Regionals): 21st
All-time record (not including Regionals): 25-24 (.510)
Best result: 2-time champions (1972, 1970)
Last appearance: 2013 (tied 7th place)
Sequence: Return after 2-year absence
Regionals record (1983 to 1986): 0-0

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (all times PACIFIC)

Wednesday, March 16 (practices at Doug Mitchell T-Bird Centre: OPEN TO MEDIA)
9:00 Thompson Rivers
10:00 Carleton
11:00 Ottawa
12:00 Dalhousie
13:00 Calgary
14:00 McGill
15:00 Ryerson
16:00 UBC
18:30 All-Canadian Awards Gala (Sheraton Wall Centre)

Thursday, March 17
13:00 Quarter-final 1: No. 7 Thompson Rivers vs. No. 2 Carleton (www.CIS-SIC.tv)   
15:00 Quarter-final 2: No. 6 Dalhousie vs. No. 3 Ottawa (www.CIS-SIC.tv)   
18:00 Quarter-final 3: No. 5 McGill vs. No. 4 Calgary (www.CIS-SIC.tv)   
20:00 Quarter-final 4: No. 8 UBC vs. No. 1 Ryerson (www.CIS-SIC.tv)   

Friday, March 18
17:00 Consolation 1: Loser QF 1 vs. Loser QF 2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)   
19:00 Consolation 2: Loser QF 3 vs. Loser QF 4 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)   

Saturday, March 19
12:00 5th-place game (www.CIS-SIC.tv)  
15:00 Semifinal 1: Winner QF 1 vs. Winner QF 2 (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *  
17:30 Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4 (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *

Sunday, March 20
14:00 Bronze (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
17:30 Final (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *   

* Webcast of the semifinals & final are on pay-per-view basis.