Final Thoughts on a tremendous Final 8


In what was a memorable four-day event culminating in an exciting championship game that almost saw one of the most incredible and improbable comebacks in the history of the tournament, once again Carleton Ravens brought home the title with another solid display of preparation and execution.  I’ve talked all week about how hospitable the folks in Halifax are and how this event fits so well in that setting; next season’s event will be hosted by Acadia University as the Athletic Directors conducted a ceremonial hand-off on Sunday.  We trust that Acadia AD Kevin Dickie plans to be as visible and welcoming as Dal’s team led by Tim Maloney & Co. were this past weekend.  One issue that was a hot topic with numerous people I talked or texted with was the lines on the court, most notably the four different three-point stripes that confused many players and fans – I was also advised by some that the arena floor is quite old and in need of replacement.  The television coverage was tremendous as the entire team prepared well for the broadcasts which came across very professionally however the one over-riding improvement area that needs to be addressed is the floor and the lines.  One idea could be to purchase a new floor from the NCAA, which has floors for the Final 4 built specifically for that single event each year – that is, NCAA builds a brand new floor for about $75-100K each year for each event.  The floor apparently can be purchased in the secondary market for usually less than that initial construction price.  A recent article talks to how custom-designed NCAA floors have been re-purposed recently… I thought the officiating was generally strong other than the end of the Dalhousie/Alberta game when an obvious non-travel was called a walk – the first travel called in the entire game ! – which cost Golden Bears a lay-up that would have given them a two-point lead with under a minute to play.  The Bronze medal Dalhousie / McGill game also ended in some controversy as the Redmen bench was assessed a late technical after a series of very questionable calls.  Redmen Coach Dave DeAveiro was adamant that his team’s inability to deal with Tigers full-court defensive pressure – and not the officiating – was the main reason for his side blowing a 10-point lead but the facts somewhat speak for themselves:  McGill was whistled for 30 fouls in the game against just 21 for Dal and Tigers shot 37 free throws against just 13 for McGill… While Dal’s comeback win yesterday was dramatic and clutch, in reality, as pointed out by an observant coach in the field, Tigers displayed an uncanny ability for fourth quarter comebacks in post-season games in the Metro Center beginning with their unbelievable turnaround in the AUS semi-final when Dal was down 6 with under 40 seconds to go and pulled it out vs. Acadia as 6’6″ Sven Stammberger had a dramatic steal and dunk with 15 seconds left to get it to 1 followed by 6’2″ Kash Lawrence hitting the game winning free throws in the waning seconds.  Tigers also came from 14 points down in the AUS championship game vs. Saint Mary’s, rallying to win.  In the Final 8 quarter-final vs. Alberta, trailing by 2 in the final minute, 5’11” Ritchie Kanza Mata tied the game with just 40 seconds remaining and, after the controversial traveling call, RKM drove the lane to find Lawrence for the game-winning bucket with just 1.3 seconds showing on the clock to gut that victory out.  While Tigers could not complete the comeback against Ryerson, it did look like that game would get away in the second half before Dal had a look at the game-winner that just came off and then the aforementioned comeback against McGill in the Bronze medal game when Dal trailed by 10 early in the fourth quarter.  Tigers fifth-year trio of Lawrence, Kanza Mata and 6’3″ Jarred Reid formed as solid a defensive and rebounding group as was in the tournament and coach Rick Plato has much to replace as these three stalwards graduate with the memories of dramatic comebacks that epitomized their great careers… Here are my personal tournament honors selections:  MVP:  6’2″ Kaza Kajami-Keane, Carleton (15.7 ppg/6.3 rpg/6.7 apg).  Tournament All-Star team:  6’3″ Adika Peter-McNeilly, Ryerson (17.7 ppg/6.0 rpg); 6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa, Ryerson (16.7 ppg/5.7 rpg); 6’2″ Kashrell Lawrence, Dalhousie (17.7 ppg/7.3 rpg); 6’4″ Connor Wood, Carleton (14.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.7 apg); 6’2″ Dele Ogundokun, McGill (10.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.7 apg).

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