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TORONTO, ON-The calendar year might say 2012, but the narrative stays the same for the Carleton Ravens. Head coach Dave Smart’s team won its 11 game in as many tries this season, this time defeating the host Ryerson Rams by the score of 87-56.
Smart was adamant in saying that this win was as important as any of his team’s previous 10, because “Ryerson just might be the second best team” in the East division.
In the first quarter, Ryerson traded baskets with the current NPH No. 1-ranked CIS team and trailed only 17-15 by the end of the first 10 minutes of play. Fans packed in the Kerr Hall Gym might have thought they were in for a nail-biter-not quite, as the second quarter proved.
Ryerson head coach Roy Rana, despite the resounding 31-point margin of defeat, remained optimistic. “After that (second) quarter, we competed with them fairly well,” he said. “If we can say that we competed with the No. 1 team in the country for three quarters, it’s a positive… It could have gotten ugly and we could have given up, but we didn’t.”
Depth was the difference in second quarter for Carleton as the Ravens piled on their lead. They opened the quarter on a 12-2 run after a three-point shot from fifth-year Cole Hobin, yet the Rams countered with a 5-0 run of their own. With the score 29-22 at the 5-minute mark, Carleton closed the half on a 14-2 run-and at 43-24 that was all she wrote, really.
That was the difference in the eyes of Rams point guard Jahmal Jones. “That was the game,” he said. “The second quarter really killed us.”
Jones has been the little engine that’s pushed Ryerson so far this season, and this isn’t lost on Smart. Before the season, he saw up close how great the young point guard is at the Pan Am Games. “There aren’t a lot of things that I don’t like in his game,” he said. “We want to make him work and make it tough on him.”
For this game, his team’s tactic was to deny Jones the ball and limit his efficiency. With Jones closely guarded, it was up to players such as rookie Aaron Best, fourth-year Ola Adegboruwa, or third-year Afeworki Gebrekerestos to set the offense. “At times (Jones) is going to have to trust his teammates,” Rana said, “and he did a good job of that.”
Jones spoke with NPH after the game, and explained how this tactic changes his role within the team. “It’s tough, because I have to play a position that I don’t play often off the ball” he said. “But sometimes it’s better to be off the ball, because there’s less attention toward me.”
During the second half, Carleton slowly increased its lead, one basket at a time. “They’re a machine right now,” Rana said. “Our youth and lack of physicality really hurt us.”
The Ravens led 66-42 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and by then it was only a matter of playing the game out.
In the first half of the season, the theme for Ryerson had been injuries as second-year Bjorn Michaelsen, Best and newcomer Greg Osawe all suffered serious injuries. While Michaelsen and Best are back in the Rams lineup, Rana’s team still can’t catch a break. Second-year forward Jelane Pryce is the latest to fall-and Rana said that, “It looks like it could be six weeks (off).”
Smart is as intense as any CIS coach in the CIS and explained his role to NPH after the game. “I think that my intensity level drops based on (my players) taking ownership of the intensity level in the game,” he said.
Offensively, Ryerson struggled throughout the game and shot the ball poorly (i.e. 34 per cent). Only second-year players Jordon Gauthier (12) and Jones (10) scored in double figures for the Rams, but they needed 27 combined shots to score these 22 points. Michaelsen (9) and Best (8) helped, but the Ravens’ depth was too much to overcome.
Still, Smart praised the Rams. “That’s a very good basketball team,” he said. He says that Ryerson will fight for second place with Ottawa and Toronto and that, “They’re all capable of beating us.”
The Ravens usually go 8-to-10 deep on their bench-and Smart says that, “The talent on our bench wears other teams down.”
No doubt after this game.
Carleton’s offensive effort was a balanced one, as third-year Kevin Churchill (14), fifth-year Elliot Thompson (12), second-year Thomas (12) and Philip (9) Scrubb, fifth-year Cole Hobin (8), fifth-year Willy Manigat (8) and fourth-year Kyle Smendziuk (8) each scored between eight and 14 points.
Ryerson will look to bounce back with a home game against the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Saturday night, who will be without Warren Ward-a Rams win would tie the two teams for the second rank in the OUA East division. That same night, Carleton looks to make it 12 in a row as they battle the Toronto Varsity Blues. Both contests are scheduled for 8 p.m.
For Carleton, 11 wins simply means that the team is at the midway point of the season. “Every season is a new season,” he said. “We’re going to try our best to win game by game.”