OUA first half recap: Carleton, the West division, and much more to come

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG & NPH @Northpolehoops

TORONTO, ON-The regular season is interrupted as Christmas is upon us and the calendar turns to 2012. Over the first eight games of the 2011-2012 season, the West division teams played the East division teams, and there are at least three conclusions that can be drawn.

1) There’s Carleton, and then there’s the rest.

The Carleton Ravens are the CIS defending champions and before the season, NPH thought that the team might be even better this season. It’s still very early in the season, but head coach Dave Smart’s team appears to be the class of the OUA, if not of the whole CIS. The team is deep, talented, and has allowed the fewest points out of the 16 OUA teams (i.e. under 51). Offensively, sophomore Philip Scrubb might be named this year’s CIS Male Athlete of the Year like his teammate Tyson Hinz was last season. Eight teams have tried, and failed (i.e. though Lakehead did come close), to take down the Ravens so far. Will there be another perfect regular season at Carleton for Smart, Willy Manigat, Cole Hobin and the other Ravens? It certainly is a possibility.

2) There’s the West division, and then there’s the East.

The West division looks to be the stronger of the two OUA divisions, despite Carleton being part of the East division. The Lakehead Thunderwolves, the Laurier Golden Hawks and the McMaster Marauders are all tied for the first with a record of 7-1. The Ottawa Gee-Gees, second in the East at 4-4, would be tied for seventh in the West division. Not only that, but overall only the Western Mustangs has compiled a record of under .500 while six East teams have. Finally, East division teams have a combined record of 20-44-meaning that the West teams’ record is the opposite of that. Then, you factor in that three teams–the York Lions, the RMC Voyageurs and the Queen’s Gaels–sit at 0-8 in the basement of the East division standings, and it’s not really close.

3) We know that we still don’t know much.

That being said, the OUA remains an intra-division conference where a team’s record within its own division looms larger than how it does against foes of the other division. For now, the fans can only say that McMaster is better than the Brock Badgers, because it beat the Ryerson Rams while Brock didn’t. Once both teams play each other in early January, fans will see where each team stacks up. The next 14 games will determine whether Carleton’s perfect season continues; which of Laurier, McMaster and Lakehead can stay on top of the West division; or whether the Lions, RMC and the Gaels will win a game. From now on until the OUA Final Four, the teams will stay within their division and renew their rivalries. And there’s nowhere else we would rather be than sitting in the stands, watching.

The season starts again on the weekend of the 6th and 7th of January, before the classes start for most students. When students complain that the new semester starts too quickly, they should probably remember that student-athletes have already started their season again, before the new statistics class starts–though playing basketball is much more fun than sitting in a classroom.

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