Carleton:Willy Manigat Ryerson: Ryan McNeilly
Pts: 24, Reb: 6, Ast: 4, Stl: 2, Min: 31 Pts: 20, Reb: 4, Ast: 0, 3FG 4-10, Min: 31
OTTAWA,ON-In their final home appearance, Carleton proved this season’s undefeated record was no fluke. Controlling the game early, they wore down the Ryerson Rams en route to a 97-73 win. The Ravens will now move on to face the lowest ranked seed advancing between (3rd seed) Laurier, (5) Western, or (2) Windsor when they travel to Hamilton, Ontario for the OUA finals on March 4-5.
For the Ravens the season is far from over. After the Wilson Cup determines an Ontario champion in Hamilton on March 4th and 5th, teams prepare for nationals just one week later. Carleton will not be satisfied without another national championship banner, which would be their seventh in the last nine years.
Freshman Phil Scrubb finished the game with 20 points and five assists in just 21 minutes of action. He has looked at this season as a learning experience but still expects big things this postseason against tougher competition; “Every game is a chance to get better, even if the teams we play in the future are more talented or more aggressive, we’re prepared. If we take these games as serious as we take most games, then we’ll compete with those teams.”
Scrubb wants to win “pretty badly.” He says “I’ve never won anything in my life. After a couple of tough losses in provincial championships [in BC], this’ll be my first chance to really win something big.” For senior guard Elliot Thompson, winning a CIS title is “top priority on everyone’s list, we lost last year so I think everyone’s hungrier than ever to get back there.”
Carleton settled into an early lead with strong plays from Tyson Hinz on offense to start the game and stingy team defense. After the first quarter, Carleton led 25 – 16.
In the second, Carleton controlled the offense and were solid on defense. Where the Ravens avoided mistakes, they were often able to force a youthful Ryerson team to commit turnovers or miss open layups. Tyson Hinz stayed consistent in the paint and finished around the basket with post footwork and using all the angles for 14 points and seven rebounds. After Willy Manigat’s hustle resulted in a steal, his teammates rewarded him with the pass on offense, which he buried for three points and a 31-22 lead. Phil Scrubb stretched it beyond ten points with a three-pointer of his own and Ryerson never again brought it within single-digits.
The disparity in defensive effectiveness was evident when Carleton was able to easily break the pressure defense of Ryerson, following a Jelane Pryce drive to the basket off a well-executed play the Rams dubbed “flex.” Pryce also had a crowd-quieting block on Aaron Chapman later in the game. When back on defense, the Ravens promptly forced Ryerson into a shot-clock violation. Carleton’s offense and spacing translated into smart shot election, while recording 20 total team assists compared to seven for Ryerson.
Carleton has time and again found success through consistency and good coaching. They have a system and they run it well. Moving forward, and facing tough opponents from the west coast like Sasketchewan, Trinity Western and UBC, and Cape Breton in the east, the Ravens don’t intend to shake up the game plan.
“We’ve done what we have to do. These teams are very well coached and talented, some of them are very young. We’ll see when we get there,” says Carleton Coach and guiding force, Dave Smart
“We haven’t seen a lot of these teams except in tape and it’s hard to get a real feel until you see them in person.”
Some minor adjustments undoubtedly will have to be made as Phil Scrubb describes, “For each team we prepare a bit differently to match up with their personnel, I think offensively we’ll stay the same and look for the best match-ups”
Elliot Thompson reinforces, “We’ve just got to stick to our game plan, we don’t have many practices left so we can’t take anything lightly. It doesn’t matter who we face and we have to be ready for the road and hopefully nationals in two weekends. We just have to go out there and make each other better.”
Carleton built on their 16-point halftime lead, and continued to make the smart passes, while taking advantage of their young inside-outside talent with Tyson Hinz providing a spark and Willy Manigat finding his range with four three-pointers, the last of them putting the game solidly out of reach 90 – 63.
Mike Kenny connected on three from deep in his final home game as a Raven. Scrubb also made three long distance shots and was able to penetrate.
This team will likely keep its head of steam and continue their nearly spotless play throughout the playoffs. In the final quarter, Carleton narrowly outscores Ryerson 24 – 23, something Coach Smart is not pleased with, as he knows consistent effort for an entire game is what separates the great teams from the rest.
Smart says winning a national championship never gets old; “Every year it’s a new year, if you don’t win it one year you come back and try the next. People take it way too seriously when it’s not important, then when it is important, they don’t. We’ll play and we’ll try to win, and if we don’t we’ll be back again.”
Nobody takes every game as seriously as Dave Smart does, and if everything goes his way, Carleton will win a national championship this year and be back again for more the next year, and the next and the next.