Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Joe Scanlon's thoughts on conference strength

When I unveiled my personal views about the top 10 men’s teams in CIS basketball, I inevitably reflected my view of the relative strength of the various conferences – not necessarily the overall strength of the conference but the strength where it counts, at the top.

In women’s basketball, I find it relatively easy to state with confidence that, “the West has the strongest teams,” or “the OUA West is stronger than the OUA East”.

I find that more difficult when it comes to the men.

One way – in my view – to get a sense the relative strength of the various parts of the country is to look at the results of the last five CIS men’s championships. There is inevitably a slight distortion because three of the last five tournaments were held in Halifax (meaning an extra AUS team) and two were in Ottawa (meaning an extra OUA team). It is also true of course that turnover can change relative strength from season to season.

However here are the results:

OUA East 15-5

OUA West 6-7

AUS 8-10

Quebec 2-5

Canada West 8-12

Obviously those results reflect the fact that Carleton has won four of the last five championships. (Yes I know the Ravens won the previous two as well but I have gone through only the results for the past five seasons.) The Ontario dominance is even more obvious when the OUA East and West are added together since Brock won two years ago when Carleton didn’t. The OUA teams are 21-12 over the past five years.

I have included only games in the championship side of the bracket. That means I have included the games when there were 10 teams but have not included the consolation games.

By the way it’s possible two of the teams I talked about – Ottawa (not ranked) and St. FX (ranked) -- about will meet at the Rod Shoveller tournament January 1-3. Ottawa U plays Acadia and St. FX plays Laurier in the same half of the draw. If Ottawa and St. FX win they will play each other in the second round and the game is to be webcast. (If they both lose they would also meet; but I don’t see that as likely.)

By the way, I sometimes wonder whether the Canada West men’s teams are always facing an uphill battle at the Nationals because of jet lag. That would be especially true in Halifax but also a factor in Ontario, especially for teams from British Columbia. It seems to me it’s about time the tournament moved west, perhaps to Alberta, better still to British Columbia. I look forward to going back to Halifax – the Metro Centre is an excellent downtown location and Halifax is one of my favourite cities – but surely CIS ought to be looking at moving the tournament around the country after Halifax. I have always hoped McMaster would host it – there are so many teams in the area – but it’s long overdue, in my view, for a move west.

I know the CIS is determined to make money out of the Nationals but I still have fond memories of the knowledgeable crowds at Waterloo – a small turnout by today’s standards but a wonderful atmosphere. Because so many wanted to see the game there were even (as I recall) spectators crouched along the sidelines, always just far enough back so they would not interfere with a throw-in.

It was a course a Waterloo tradition that the crowd would stand clapping rhythmically until Waterloo got its first basket. It was that Waterloo custom eventually led to the introduction of the shot clock. I was lucky enough to be there – I had gone there with Bob O’Billovich and the Ottawa U team – when Brian Heaney the coach of St. Mary’s decided he would try to get ball control then have his point guard Mickey Fox stall until the crowd got tired of clapping. When he did that, the spectators kept clapping but as the minutes passed did not know what to do. Eventually they had to give up: the half time score in that game was Waterloo 6, St. Mary’s 2. That was enough for the rule makes: they decided to introduce the 30-second shot clock.

Joe Scanlon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You say you were "lucky" to witness that game, Joe?
I think I would hang myself if I ever saw a game with a 6-2 half time score.