CIS Top 10 Performers – The CBG Bunch: Final 8 edition

cbg bunchWelcome to the third season of The CBG Bunch, a specialized column dedicated to the CIS season. Every week, CBG parses through the CIS box scores over Sunday brunch while looking for #TheCBGBunch, a group of the top performers of the weekend’s action.

This week in #badpuns, we take a thorough and long look at the 2016 ArcerlorMittal Dofasco CIS Men’s Final 8 and decide to hand out nods. Who wants a nod? You want a nod? You get a nod. (Okay not quite, these are still #studs.)

As we wrote a year ago, aficionado readers know what we mean and can spot a good challenge when they see one. We do intend to create an edition of the #Bunch strictly from the CIS Final 8 games—that is, we intend to find 10 different studs, one from 10 of the 11 games played. There is no time for half-measure, folks. Which is all right, since these are the #NationalChampionships. Let the NCAA have its own version of the #Sadness; this is the real madness. #ThereCanOnlyBe10

Ryan Ejim, Carleton Ravens VS Thompson Rivers WolfPack: 26 points, 14 rebounds, 1 steal ejim

In the opening quarterfinal of the CIS Final 8, the Carleton Ravens and Thompson Rivers WolfPack played mostly neck and neck basketball. The then-quintuple defending CIS champions were ahead at halftime, but only by five points. They’ve tended to pull these kind of games off, sure, but these weren’t your Ravens of old—or were they? Despite the uncertainty, the roster turnover, were these your Ravens of old throughout? Was the joke just on us?

Hindsight gives away the answer to this, but one thing’s for certain: the Ryan Ejim takeover in the second half against Thompson Rivers? That certainly was new. Because, you know, Ejim is a newcomer to Carleton after transferring from York. (Thanks thanks, we’re going on a break, so I have to put these out while I still can.)

Ritchie Kanza Mata, Dalhousie Tigers VS Ottawa Gee-Gees: 24 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals ritchie

The Dalhousie Tigers of this 2015-16 season have been a study of resolve and reliability in close games: they’ve finished 8-3 in close games (i.e. with a final margin of fewer than 10) and “ran through” the AUS playoffs by winning a one-point game and a two-point game. By comparison, this 87-83 win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees felt downright comfortable.

At Dalhousie, they teach you—and aficionado readers will recall this #badpun because we say it every time Ritchie gets a nod—that close does not mata. That if you want to, then you can-za.

And finally, that such attitude will get you ritch-y. (…It’s time for the offseason.)

Dele Ogundokun, McGill Redmen VS Calgary Dinos: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block dele

Alright, hear me out. This may sound mean and silly but in preparing for this edition of the #Bunch, it’s the one #badpun that’s kept coming back over and over and over again. Namely: is Dele Ogundokun the CIS’s Matthew “Delly” Delavedova? Okay we know, we know this isn’t accurate at all: the two don’t play the same position, one is good and likeable while the other is simply riding LeBron James’s coattails. We know that saying that someone is the CIS’s equivalent to the NBA’s dirtiest player, as Delavedova was voted earlier in this NBA season, feels like downright disrespectful and the ultimate backhanded compliment—only, without the complimentary part. We know all that, but it’s all we have.

Let’s brainstorm this one until next season, when Ogundokun will look to lead the  McGill Redmen to yet another CIS Final 8 apparition.

Adika Peter-McNeilly, Ryerson Rams VS UBC Thunderbirds: 25 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals peter-mcneilly

On the margin of these national championships, the CIS held its annual awards banquet and, well, whaddayaknow we have some thoughts about these too. In naming its 2015-16 CIS Men’s basketball All-Canadians, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport selected all-star teams that were representative of the entire CIS. And yet, one player loomed large with his absence. Who? Adika Peter-McNeilly, who oh I don’t know managed a 15/5.5/4.4 line with 42.8/38.9/92.2 shooting percentages while leading the Ryerson Rams to the best record in the school’s history.

Why you mad bro? ‘Cause.

Another way to put it? We at NPH had Dika at No. 3. While he had to wait until the very late stages of the opening day to make his statement, Peter-McNeilly spoke loud and clear. No. 3? He’s at least that.

Caleb Agada, Ottawa Gee-Gees VS Thompson Rivers WolfPack: 24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals 13 October, 2015: 2015-2016 University of Ottawa Gee-Gees

Considering how high the highs were for the Ottawa Gee-Gees this 2015-16 regular season—a clean sweep against Carleton, a No. 1 ranking, oodles of individual awards—the team’s results at these CIS Final 8 (i.e. a 1-2 record and a sixth place finish) will probably feel like a disappointment.

But the Gee-Gees faithful should turn that frown upside down as they look ahead to next season. In 2016-17, Ottawa will be the team of Caleb Agada, a sort of all-encompassing black hole on defence who is also among the most explosive and dynamic athletes in the CIS on offense.

Does the CIS have its own version of Kawhi Leonard, the young veteran who was slowly brought along and then unleashed on opponents with the might of a thousand souls? Yep, Agada is Leonard.

Conor Morgan, UBC Thunderbirds VS Ottawa Gee-Gees: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal Morgan_Conor

Conor—or should we say Captain?—Morgan is a man of the people. The third-year forward of the hometown favourites UBC Thunderbirds made sure that his fellow T-Bird students and #allthefansintheworld would have something to chew on, something to put in their beak—something to cheer for, a final lasting memory to cherish in the consolation final of these CIS Final 8.

People of Beautiful British Columbia, can’t you see? He’s lifted his left leg and bent it at the knee, and put his left hand on his left knee while his right hand rests on his right hip.  He’s then tilted his head and is looking ahead, far, far away. That’s the aura of a confident man, a confident captain. Now follow his lead.

Connor Wood, Carleton Ravens VS Dalhousie Tigers: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal wood

Let’s keep this one short, what do you think? Because why the hell not, right? May we introduce a new term to the current basketball lingo? We promise we’ll take the time to explain this, all the while keeping it short.

You know what they call a missed shot, right? One that bounces off the front rim only to meekly fall off to the ground? This isn’t a trick question: they’re called bricks. While bricks have the benefit of being excellent and reliable house-building material, they’re of no use on the basketball court.

But we’d like to propose calling every made shot “Wood.” You’ll say that wood doesn’t build great homes, but we’ll counter that the Three Little Pigs are overrated. The Carleton Ravens are doing just fine in their wood-made Ravens’ Nest.

David Kapinga, Calgary Dinos VS Ryerson Rams: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals David_Kapinga

Be honest: you expected the Ryerson Rams to win it all at the CIS Final 8, didn’t you? It’s okay too, the team had been established as the favourite after all by the governing body of Canadian Interuniversity Sport. It made sense after a season when Ryerson mostly did win it all: all but two regular season games, also one first-team all-CIS nod, one coach of the year award, one Wilson Cup as OUA champions, and a 4-1 record against the next 5 best teams in Ontario.

So admit it, you expected the Rams to win it all.

You expected the Rams to win it all, then they ran into the Calgary Dinos and David Kapinga. Bazinga!!

Jean-Victor Mukama, Ryerson Rams VS Dalhousie Tigers: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks mukama

With the graduation of Aaron Best, Jean-Victor Mukama will become a vital and key cog of the Ryerson Rams system. He’s been that all of this year, but he was mostly a luxury this season: he’s acted as a sort of super-sub since stepping foot in the university’s downtown campus, but should be able to showcase his immense talent and versatility in his fourth season.

Oh and just as an FYI you can call him JV. Sometimes, you don’t need a #badpun.

Thomas Cooper, Calgary Dinos VS Carleton Ravens: 25 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists Thomas_Cooper

In the end, the Carleton Ravens are once again the CIS national champions, despite all the uncertainty and changes. It’s the sixth season in a row, and the 12th out of 14, where the bunch from Ottawa emerges out of the pack with the W.P. McGee Trophy. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t always pretty, but in the end who cares.

The Calgary Dinos faithful are some who probably cared. All season long, they danced to the tune of the Thomasaurius Cooperianos, this new species of Dinos that was bigger, faster, stronger and—dare we say—flat out better than most who stood in his way.

Heartbreaking loss. Thanking GoD for this ridiculous comeback season I had. Got a team that’s like family to me. And a coach who’s been on my side since I met him two years ago. Thanks everybody for following back home too. Been a special year. Wouldn’t trade it for nothing. – Thomas Cooper

Better than most, yes, but not these Ravens. Don’t cry, Dinos fans. It’s that thing where you have to be happy that it happened, not sad that it’s over.

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

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