NPH CIS Team Preview: Carleton Ravens
Head Coach: Dave Smart
Assistant Coaches: Rob Smart Jr., Dean Petridis, Manny Furtado
Key returning players: Phil Scrubb, Thomas Scrubb, Tyson Hinz, Clinton Springer-Williams
- Brody Maracle, 6-7 F, Napanee Ont.
- Josh Millar, 6-6 F, Ottawa Ont.
- Cole Penman, 6-4 G, Vancouver B.C.
- Cameron Smythe, 6-11 F, Vancouver B.C.
- Brett Stockton, 6-1 G, Bay City MI.
Departures: Dan Penner, Kyle Smendziuk, Kewyn Blain
The day after Halloween, Carleton exercised some hardwood demons that had been haunting them for the past year.
Yes, even though the Ravens finished last season in what seemed typical dominating fashion with a 92-42 drumming of Lakehead to win their third consecutive CIS Basketball title, these players still remembered the opening-night loss that shocked the country.
One year ago Carleton was similarly named the number-one ranked team in the CIS and were dreaming of another perfect season, only to be awakened in Windsor by a 71-67 loss to the Lancers.
“We’ve wanted the rematch against Windsor for a while now and it should be fun,” all-star forward Tyson Hinz told NPH, prior to the match up.
This time around, in the Raven’s Nest, Carleton took control from the tip and beat those Lancers 95-74.
Losing the opener last year refocused the Ravens and they didn’t lose again, rattling off 19 straight wins and another national title. The veterans remember, and the lessons learned from those mistakes don’t have to be learned again for a team with as large a target as Carleton has on their backs.
“Everyone wants to beat us,” Hinz continued. “It’s a pretty big incentive for teams if they can take down Carleton and we don’t want that to happen, we don’t want to give another team that satisfaction. Every team wants to beat us so we get the best of every team and it’s exciting to have that challenge every game.”
Though they finished the season with a 50-point lead (easily the most lop-sided W.P. McGee title-clinching victory of all-time) and any doubt left far out of mind, Hinz and the rest of the Ravens remember some close calls along the way including the triple-overtime thriller against their cross-town rival Ottawa to finish the season, a tough Gee-Gees squad who also challenged Carleton for the OUA title.
This season, the Ravens return for a chance at history. Having already won a CIS-record ninth championship in 2013, a title in 2014 would give Carleton their fourth straight, a feat achieved only twice before – by Osvaldo Jeanty’s Ravens teams of the early Aughts, and the legendary Victoria Vikes teams of the 1980s.
However, the Ravens face the challenge without the toughness of Dan Penner and Kyle Smendziuk, a key ingredient to their success last year.
“Those are two senior leaders and two of our toughest guys,” said current team leader and leading scorer Phil Scrubb. “We also lost Kewyn Blain, I think he might be taking the year off so that’s our quickness gone right there.”
Forward Clinton Springer-Williams who shined in last years’ playoffs has battled a bad back and high scoring red-shirt freshman American import Brett Stockton has been kept off the court with a calf injury.
No need to panic. The Ravens remain a team stocked with length and size at every position; Kevin Churchill is back to fill his last year of eligibility, and former MVPs Tyson Hinz, Phil Scrubb and Thomas Scrubb are back and better than ever.
Which is good news because they’ll be relied on more than ever.
“I think we’ve improved in some areas and our talent level is pretty good but I think we lost some toughness and some rebounding,” Scrubb continued. “We’ve got to make that up with a few more guys and hopefully some guys will step up.”
Phil and Thomas Scrubb competed with Canada Basketball’s Development team that went 15-2 in China and Russia, and Phil spent time with Canada Basketball’s Senior Men’s National Team, training and experiencing basketball at the highest level with a camp full of NBA veterans and draft picks, under the watchful eye of Dave Smart, who served as a national team assistant, and fellow B.C. point guard Steve Nash.
“[The Summer] just gave me some more experience with different levels of competition and styles of play in Europe and in China so I can bring some of that experience back here,” said Scrubb. “I’ll try to bring that back to the team and try to raise our level of play.”
With a better start already under their belt, Hinz looking physically bigger than we have ever seen him, Phil’s increasingly veteran game, and Thomas’ award-winning performance in the Final 8, the team will make another run with their core intact but with more pressure on them to carry the team.
Preseason is behind them and it’s winning time for the Ravens. Know they won’t take any of it for granted and be careful not to get stepped on the rest of the way as this juggernaut rolls towards the record books, again.