Final 8: Day One

Straight up:  it is wonderful to be back in Halifax for this event.  There is something about this City and University basketball that just fits like a glove.  I have been coming here since the early 90’s and it never gets tired.  Had a chance to have dinner with Halifax’s own Bill Robinson last night among others and Bill, who is now the CEO of the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame, was in fine form recounting numerous stories from the past.  Halifax is a national treasure and although I love the job that Cyrill Leeder & Co. did hosting this event in Ottawa, the Final 8 in Halifax simply has an undescribable magic to it.

Many believe that Carleton/Calgary, the first game of the tournament at Noon AT/11 AM Eastern will be a contrast in styles with Dinos wanting to get up and down the floor but Ravens, when at their best, are also pushing the tempo so, shooting percentages in an arena notwithstanding, I am expecting a game in high 70’s, low 80’s.  Clearly how Carleton deals with 6’5″ Thomas Cooper is the pre-game focus but expect the Ravens to work to exploit things inside where it says here they have an under-appreciated advantage.

McGill/Manitoba also shapes up to be a contrast in styles with Bisons smaller lineup wanting to push the tempo while McGill, with their stable of bigs, wanting to keep the game in the 60’s.  Bisons had a rough time getting out of Winnipeg where there was fog and unfortunately had a modern day “Planes, trains and automobiles” travel experience with some players just getting in early yesterday morning.  Two teams laden with fourth and fifth year guys promises to be a splendid inter-conference match.

We hope to have periodic comments throughout the day although the inclination is to focus on watching and catching up with old friends in this great town:  a perfect venue and city for Canadian university basketball.


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