Monday, 7 September 2009

Wayne Kondro's article on yesterday's action in our Nation's Capital

Ravens still raw, but show potential: Red Storm 71, Ravens 54

There's nothing quite like a stern preseason test against a tough foe to gauge a team's potential strengths and weaknesses.

Having graduated three key starters, that was particularly true for the Carleton Ravens men's basketball team Sunday as it lined up against the Big East Conference's St. John's Red Storm at the Ravens' Nest.

Would the defending Canadian Interuniversity Sport champs, and winners of five of the last six national titles, look entirely lost? Who would provide the leadership? The toughness? The poise?

The short answer: much work needs to be done, but Ravens coach Dave Smart has plenty to work with.

Although St. John's dusted Carleton 71-54, the Ravens flashed signs that they've the requisite talent to make another title run, although it's currently raw and somewhat undisciplined.

Everyone's still adjusting to new roles and responsibilities, guard Cole Hobin said.

"Guys who are supposed to be leaders, like me, just didn't make others feel comfortable," he said.

The Ravens often looked offensively confused and nervous as St. John's built an early 14-12 lead, but rookie Tyson Hinz came off the bench to nail a three-pointer and a trio of free throws. Carleton soon led 21-16 by gang-rebounding and clogging the paint, forcing St. John's to rely almost entirely on its perimeter game.

Guard Dwight Hardy, though, kept drilling threes as St. John's rallied within 34-30 at the half.

Then the wheels fell off for the Ravens. They began missing open looks and layups, while often coughing up the ball as the Red Storm ripped off a 27-3 run, primarily on transition layups.

Kevin McCleery finally stemmed the bleeding by posting-up for a bucket, but Carleton never recovered from its nine-minute nightmare.

"We speeded up the game. Our defence got better and then we got some easy stuff in transition," Red Storm coach Norm Roberts said.

Smart said the Ravens were plagued by inconsistency.

"The first half, we played the way we're capable at a high level," he said. "The second half, we played the way we're capable at a low level. That's who we are right now.

"We have the talent level to compete with anybody in the country or with St. John's. But right now, we don't have a consistent toughness level."

Hinz paced Carleton with 12 points. McCleery added 10 and Elliot Thompson 10.

D.J. Kennedy led St. John's with 19. Hardy added 18 and Paris Horne 13.

The win was St. John's third in its two-day swing through Canada. It beat the McGill Redmen 90-55 and then smacked the Université du Québec à Montréal Citadins 104-62 on Saturday before venturing to Ottawa.

Later Sunday night, the Red Storm used a similar 20-6 second-half outburst to their advantage as they edged the Ottawa Gee-Gees 74-73 at Montpetit Hall.

Warren Ward paced the Gee-Gees with 22 points. Josh Gibson-Bascombe added 12 and Donnie Gibson 10.

Sean Evans and Paris Horne each scored 14 to lead St. John's.

"I'm happy that we competed and made it a close game," said Gee-Gees coach David DeAveiro.

No comments: