Sunday, 26 July 2009

Summer Musings

BACK OUT OF NOWHERE: Unfortunately, given where things are with my life, putting together any type of meaningful posts has been and will continue to be hit and miss for a long time in the future. The good news for those who care and have been supportive despite the inconsistencies is that something is better than nothing. Hopefully the many coaches, officials and fans who have been loyal to this site in the past will be patient and understand that deep down I wish I could do this every day but the practicalities of life to which I am committed take a higher priority. However, I have fully recognized my addiction to this and am seeking to weave it into my every day life without compromising the other parts. With that "Doctor is In"-like diatrab out of the way, here are some mid-summer musings for your consideration...

NCAA GAMES... From what I understand, this will be the final set of Labour Day weekend games involving NCAA teams. Although NCAA barred these trips earlier this year, there are one final set of trips that have been grandfathered in to the benefit of Canadian university hoop fans. Here in Ottawa, the St. John's Red Storm will visit but unfortunately Scotiabank Place is unavailable due to an Aerosmith concert. Although my vinyl copy of the 1976 smash album "Rocks" is down to the bone from extended plays, the Boston-based band live act was done about 30 years ago (I know because I saw them multiple times in the late 70's) and they are in no shape to upstage a CIS/NCAA basketball game but alas the guys at Scotiabank Place feel Steve Tyler and company will be a better draw than St. John's/Carleton. Chattanooga is in Toronto and Georgia Tech is in Windsor for other Labour Day weekend games that I know of. Also, Towson is in Ottawa on August 17th/18th for a pair of games against Carleton Alumni and then the present day Ravens. Depending upon who shows up for the Alumni, Towson may get a better game from them than the Varsity.

RYERSON COACHING SITUATION... For those who didn't hear earlier in the summer, Ryerson University and Head Coach Glenn Taylor parted ways and Rams new AD Ivan Joseph has been hot on the trail of a new coach. With interviews completed this past week, expect the new coach to be announced shortly and don't be surprised if the Rams are able to pull in a big-name, successful coach as Joseph looks to make an early big splash with what is likely their showcase sport at the University. If my guess is correct, expect one of the bigger rivalries in the CIS to suffer but another great rivalry in downtown Toronto to start. More on this topic hopefully sooner than later.

HARD WORKING ASPIRING YOUNG COACH... A number of people have recently commented to me on the efforts of former Brock All-Canadian and now Badger Assistant Coach Brad Rootes, hard at work virtually every day on the spring/summer circuit of camps, tournaments and recruiting. Rootes, who when healthy usually played every minute of every game as a player for his full five-year career, seems to have translated that work ethic and competitiveness into his aspiring coaching career as he is all over the place. Rootes was a big part of the process in assembling one of Canada's top recruiting classes for the young Badgers, including blue chipper 6'5" Clinton Springer-Williams (London Regina Mundi Catholic), who turned downed Division 1 scholarship offers, 6'9" Brian Nahimana (London Montcalm), 6'6" Andrew Cicuttini (Dundas Parkside), 6'7" Riley Halpin (Halifax Citadel), 5'11" Nathan Samuels (Brantford Assumption), 6'7" Anto Raic (Welland Notre Dame) and 6'4" Alex Reis (Hamilton Cathedral). This huge influx of talent will join last season's CIS Rookie of Year 6'0" Didi Mukendi and flashy 6'1" pg Joel Whitty, both expected to return, to give Brock a deep pool of very young talent. One of the worst-kept secrets in CIS circles is who will replace two-time CIS Nationals champion coach Ken Murray when he decides to move on at Brock; make no mistake about it, Rootes is being groomed for the job and, to the respect of many, he appears to be taking nothing for granted, biding his time and showing the hunger for learning the game from a coach's perspective. He is a young guy and when he finally does take over, he will be competing against an outstanding stable of experienced coaches in the OUA but given his success as a player and what he's done so far in a matter of months on Coach Murray's staff, expect big things in the future from the little guard from Niagara Falls.

RAVENS RETOOL... With several different senior classes leading the way during the 6-CIS-titles-in-7 years run, Carleton Head Coach Dave Smart has consistently been able to overcome the loss of experienced, veteran leadership during this incredible run. After Carleton's first title in 2002-03, the whispers were that losing All-Canadians Jafeth Maseruka and Robbie Smart would make it difficult to repeat. A couple of championships later, the losses of Mike Smart, Paul Larmand and Josh Poirier signalled an opportunity to opponents to stop Carleton's streak. Two years later, Oswaldo Jeanty hoisted his 5th consecutive McGee Trophy. This season, Coach Smart must replace three seniors in Stuart Turnbull, Aaron Doornekamp and Rob Saunders - two All-Canadians and the CIS Defensive Player-of-the-Year, who collectively made 80-90% of the offensive decisions on the floor, were probably the three hardest-playing and toughest practice players on the roster and led the Ravens to another championship with big-time plays in the biggest spots. Further, with the graduation of Doornekamp this past year and Jeanty two seasons prior, this marks the first season since the reign began that Carleton is without a five-year starter and consensus All-Canadian on the floor. Maybe most importantly, this may be the youngest, least-experienced Carleton group under Coach Smart, with only two players who are rotation-likely in their fourth year or higher. Nonetheless, the mantle has now handed to a pair of local Ottawa kids who were high school teammates at Sir Robert Borden in Nepean, 6'8" fifth-year forward Kevin McCleery and 5'11" fourth-year guard Mike Kenny. The Ravens became much more comfortable dumping the ball down into the post to McCleery last season and he generally delivered albeit not as consistently as he probably can. McCleery also showed that, in tandem with Doornekamp, he can make good decisions from both the low and high post but unless another big man begins to demand defensive respect, expect McCleery to have to deal with double and triple teams much more frequently whereever he lines up offensively this season, highlighting the need to showcase his improving passing skills. Kenny, who may be the best pure standstill shooter in the Smart coaching era at Carleton, deferred to Turnbull and Doornekamp in the quarter-court much of the time the past two seasons and he must now accept responsibility for making key decisions for 40 or 50 possessions instead of 10 or 20. Other less obvious candidates for feature time include 6'3" Elliott Thompson, who made several big shots at the Nationals and was thought of so much by the staff that he was on the floor for the final possession of the dramatic Nationals semi-final victory over Western and the athletic 6'4" Cole Hobin who can dazzle in spots and continues to seek the mental and physical consistency to be handed the reigns for large parts of games. In previous years, the Ravens showed they could overcome heavy losses of key seniors; last season, Smart proved he could win a title without the great Jeanty; this season's challenges however could be even more daunting, which for the ultra-competitive and challenge-inviting Smart is just fine. CIS fans get their first look at this group on Tuesday, August 18th when Towson, an NCAA Division 1 team from Towson, MD and the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) visit the Raven's Nest in Ottawa.


Anonymous said... glad to see you back in business, more or less.
Your blog was sorely missed during most of the past season.
I have to ask you about the Ryerson coaching position.
A blogger on CHT hoop talk said a short list of potential candidates for the head coaching job included U of Ottawa coach Dave DeAveiro.
I was, shocked to see his name.
Is it possible that Dave will leave Ottawa to coach Ryerson?
If I was a Gee-Gee fan...I'm a Raven fan, actually...I'd have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach over this.
Dave has been nothing but great for local university basketball since he took over the head coaching reins eight years ago.
Not only did he transform a program that was in total disarray into one of the finest in the country, he rekindled the Ottawa-Carleton rivalry to the point where it has never been as heated or relevant.
If Ryerson lands him, its a coup for them but a terrible blow for not only Ottawa U, but area basketball in general.
Please tell me I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

The CIS Mens Basketball community may not be huge, but this window provides us with more info than we could get anywhere else.

Jason Cormier said...

Hi Mark, it's great to see you blogging again.

Now that the Aerosmith concert has been cancelled ( is there any chance the Carleton-St. John's game will be moved to Scotiabank Place?

Anonymous said...

Great idea, last year was amazing at Scotiabank Place.