Photo by Alex D'Addese

Rams head to nationals in Halifax as No. 3 seed

By U SPORTS

TORONTO – The Calgary Dinos look to defend their first-ever W.P. McGee Trophy in program history when the 2019 U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8 tournament tips off this week.

The Canada West champion Dinos, who completed just the fifth undefeated season in conference history, will open as the No. 2 seed behind the Carleton Ravens, who were named tournament favourites on Sunday. The Ravens will be looking to add to their record collection of 13 national titles since 2002, and eighth banner in nine seasons, after falling in the national semifinals last season.

Meanwhile, the Alberta Golden Bears earned the at-large berth, as the seeding and quarterfinal matchups were announced.

The 2019 U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8, hosted by the Dalhousie Tigers in Halifax, kicks off on Friday at the Scotiabank Centre and concludes next Sunday with the gold-medal final at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT. The semifinals and final will be broadcasted live on Sportsnet 360, TVA Sports and SN NOW. All remaining games livestreamed at USPORTS.LIVE.

No. 1 Carleton Ravens
Playoff finish: OUA champions
Regular season / playoff records: 22-1 / 3-0
Last U SPORTS championship: 2017
Total U SPORTS championships: 13
Team offence: 91.3 points/game, 4th
Team defence: 59.3 points allowed/game, 1st

Team Leaders
Points per game: Eddie Ekiyor, 13.9
Rebounds per game: Eddie Ekiyor, 6.2
Assists per game: Munis Tutu, 4.3

The Carleton Ravens found themselves in a familiar spot at the end of the 2018-19 OUA regular season. They finished at the top of the OUA east division, earning a first-round bye into the quarterfinals in the process. The Ravens willed their way through the OUA competition, finishing the year with a 22-1 record. Their only loss came to rival Ryerson Rams on Jan. 26, a 78-74 decision at the Ravens’ Nest in Ottawa. The successful regular season campaign led to a number of individual awards for the Ravens. Carleton had three players named to the OUA All-Star teams (Eddie Ekiyor, TJ Lall and Munis Tutu). Marcus Anderson was named OUA Defensive Player of the Year for the OUA, his second career defensive POY award. Dave Smart was also awarded the Coach of the Year

No. 2 Calgary Dinos
Playoff finish: Canada West champions
Regular season / playoff records: 20-0 / 5-0
Last U SPORTS championship: 2018
Total U SPORTS championships: 1
Team offence: 88.5 points/game, 5th
Team defence: 66.0 points/game, 3rd

Team Leaders
Points per game: Mambi Diawara, 17.9
Rebounds per game: Brett Layton, 9.4
Assists per game: Mambi Diawara, 3.4

The defending U SPORTS champion Dinos picked up where they left off in 2018 and posted the program’s first undefeated regular season, cruising to a 20-0 record with an average win margin of better than 24 points per game in Canada West. With an outstanding crop of returning veterans, the Dinos added transfer big man Brett Layton who made an immediate impact, finishing second on the team with 16.9 points per game and finishing third in the nation in offensive rebounding and sixth in blocks. Along with Canada West Player of the Year Mambi Diawara and fellow first team all-star David Kapinga, the Dinos also have two more fifth-year seniors in Lars Schlueter and Lucas Mannes, both of whom made significant contributions in the 2018 championship run. Calgary finished in the top five in the country in scoring, rebounding, points per game allowed, and opponents’ field goal percentage and led all U SPORTS teams with an average of better than 11 steals per game.

No. 3 Ryerson Rams
Playoff finish: OUA finalists  
Regular season / playoff records: 21-2 / 2-1
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 86.7 points/game, 9th
Team defence: 63.4 points allowed/game, 2nd

Team Leaders
Points per game: JV Mukama, 18.4
Rebounds per game: JV Mukama, 7.4
Assists per game: Myles Charvis, 4.8

Making their fifth straight appearance at the U SPORTS Final 8 national championship, the Ryerson Rams are looking to bring home their first W.P. McGee Trophy.

The Rams have won medals at each of the last four national championships and have every expectation to extend that streak this year.

Ryerson had a stellar regular season, opening the 2018-19 campaign with a perfect 10-0 record in the fall portion of the schedule. The Rams dropped their first game to the No. 1 ranked Carleton Ravens, but then got revenge on their OUA rival by beating the Ravens in Ottawa later in the season. That win helped the Rams earn the No. 1 national ranking for only the second time in the team’s history.

The Rams went on to finish the season with a 21-2 record and breezed through the OUA quarter-final over Ottawa and semifinal over the Laurier Golden Hawks to set up a rematch for the OUA Wilson Cup with the Ravens.

Ryerson’s offence is led by a stellar back court of JV Mukama and Myles Charvis who finished one-two in team scoring and were both named conference all-stars.

No. 4 UBC Thunderbirds
Playoff finish: Canada West finalists
Regular season: 17-3 / 4-3
Last U SPORTS championship: 1972
Total U SPORTS championships: 2
Team offence: 93.5 points per game, 2nd
Team defence: 74.8 points allowed per game, 9th

Team Leaders
Points per game: Jadon Cohee, 19.3
Rebound per game: Grant Shephard, 8.9
Assists per game: Mason Bourcier, 5.3

For the second-straight season, the UBC men’s basketball team finished 17-3 in Canada West conference play. The entertaining Thunderbirds scored 93.5 points a game, second in all of U SPORTS, and led the nation in rebounding with 49.1 per outing.

Jadon Cohee and Grant Shephard were both named Canada West all-stars. Cohee, an NCAA Div. I transfer, was fourth in the conference with an average of 19.3 points per game to gain a place on the first team. Shephard, a 2017 U19 world champion and 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, earned second-team status after finishing with 16.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, while maintaining a .667 field-goal percentage.

Kevin Hanson earned his 300th career conference victory on Jan. 12, 2019 and becoming just the second Canada West men’s coach to reach that mark. With 304 career wins, Hanson trails only Don Horwood’s 313 on the league’s all-time coaching wins list.

No. 5 Dalhousie Tigers
Playoff finish: AUS champions
Regular season / playoff records: 14-6 / 3-0
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 78.8 points/game, 26th
Team defence: 72.1 points allowed/game, 6th

Team Leaders
Points per game: Alex Carson, 14.5
Rebounds per game: Xavier Ochu, 5.7
Assists per game: Keevan Veinot, 5.0

The Tigers went 8-1 in exhibition play to kick off their 2018-19 campaign. They earned another four wins in the first half of the regular season to have a 4-3 record heading into the holiday break. The Tigers had an amazing second half, winning 10 of their final 13 games and went on an eight-game winning streak to close out the regular season with a 14-6 record and third-place in the conference standings.

Ranked as high as fourth in the U SPORTS Top 10, the Tigers defeated the Memorial Sea-Hawks in AUS quarter-final action to face the UNB Reds in the semifinal round. After topping the Reds 81-75, they moved on to the conference championship to face the crosstown rival Saint Mary’s Huskies. The Tigers came out on top, winning 65-55 to win their fourth conference championship in five years.

No. 6 Concordia Stingers
Playoff finish: RSEQ champions 
Regular season / playoff records: 11-5 / 2-0 
Last U SPORTS championship: 1990 
Total U SPORTS championships: 1
Team offence: 80.2 points/game, 20th
Team defence: 75.2 points allowed/game, 11th

Team Leaders
Points per game: Adrian Armstrong, 16.4 
Rebounds per game: Olivier Simon, 6.3 
Assists per game: Ricardo Monge, 5.5 

Under the guidance of RSEQ Coach of the Year Rastko Popovic, the Concordia Stingers won their first regular season championship and berth at the national tournament since 2011-12. The team finished in first place in the Quebec conference with an 11-5 record and spent six weeks ranked in the U SPORTS Top 10, peaking at the No. 8 spot. 

On offence, Popovic’s team averages 80.2 points a game which ranks first in Quebec. Defensively, the Stingers allow 75.2 points a game which is second best in Quebec. 

Concordia relies heavily on RSEQ MVP Ricardo Monge, a fifth-year guard, to control the pace of the game and set up his teammates. His 5.5 assists a game ranks fifth nationally. The Stingers also look to Adrian Armstrong, a fourth-year guard and first team all-star, to give them a strong outside game. He leads the team in scoring with 16.4 points a game and is deadly from three-point range. 

No. 7 Saint Mary’s Huskies
Playoff finish: AUS finalists
Regular season / playoff records: 19-1 / 1-1
Last U SPORTS championship: 1999
Total U SPORTS championships: 4
Team offence: 87.5 points/game, 6th
Team defence: 72.0 points allowed/game, 5th

Team Leaders 
Points per game: Kemar Alleyne, 14.6
Rebounds per game: Nico Brauner, 5.0
Assists per game: Nico Brauner, 3.6

The Huskies finished the regular season with a 19-1 record and first place, scoring the most points in the AUS with 1,749 and their 1,440 points against were the fewest allowed all year.  

The Huskies shot 44.1 per cent from the field and 32.9 per cent from three-point land while leading the AUS in free-throw shooting percentage with 75.7 per cent. SMU averaged 41.3 total rebounds, 15.1 assists and 6.8 steals per game, while topped the AUS with 87.5 points per game. The Huskies blocked 3.4 shots per game and allowed 72.0 points per contest.  

Senior guard Kemar Alleyne paced the Huskies with 14.6 points per game and was named the 2018-19 AUS men’s most valuable player and a first team all-star. Fellow first team all-star Nico Brauner averaged 12.9 points per contest. Other Huskies scoring in double-digits were Johneil Johnson averaging 12.9 points and Nikita Kasongo 12.6 points per game. Brent Martindale averaged 6.7 points. 

In his seventh season, the Huskies head coach Jonah Taussig was named AUS Coach of the Year. 

No. 8 Alberta Golden Bears
Playoff finish: Canada West semifinalists / at-large berth
Regular season / playoff records: 15-5 / 3-3
Last U SPORTS championship: 2002
Total U SPORTS championships: 3
Team offence: 84.8 points/game, 11th
Team defence: 72.5 points allowed/game, 7th

Team Leaders
Points per game: Brody Clarke, 19.8
Rebounds per game: Brody Clarke, 10.9
Assists per game: Tyus Jefferson, 3.9

Championship Schedule

Thursday, Mar. 7
Meet the Teams Media Conference, 10:15 am ET / 7:15 am PT
All-Canadian Awards Gala, 6 pm ET / 3 pm PT

Friday, Mar. 8 (Quarter-finals)
No. 2 Calgary vs. No. 7 Saint Mary's, 11 am ET / 8 am PT
No. 3 Ryerson vs. No. 6 Concordia, 1 pm ET / 10 am PT
No. 1 Carleton vs. No. 8 Alberta, 5 pm ET / 2 pm PT
No. 4 UBC vs. No. 5 Dalhousie, 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT

Full championship schedule available here.

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