By Jon Roe
The Dinos men’s basketball team is back at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 tournament and will be looking to improve on their semi-final loss from last year. The Final 8 again takes place at Scotiabank Place just outside of Ottawa, hosted by the Carleton University Ravens. The Ravens have won this tournament, and the McGee trophy, six of the last seven years.
This is the first time the Dinos have returned to the tournament in back-to-back years since 1979-80. They’ll have a much more difficult road to face than last year though, after losing in the Canada West final the Dinos find themselves ranked seventh heading into the tournament and face the second-ranked Cape Breton University Capers in their quarterfinal match-up 12:30 p.m. EST Friday. Last year the Dinos were ranked second heading into the tournament.
This is the Capers fourth appearance in the Final 8. They have never won the CIS championship, twice making it as far as the semi-finals. This edition of the Capers are high scoring, finishing tops overall in the CIS with 95 points per game. Guard Jimmy Dorsey led the way with 16.1 ppg during the regular season. Overall, the Capers had five scorers averaging double digits: guards Dorsey, Paris Carter (12.9 ppg) and Tremaine Fraser (12.1 ppg) and forwards Phillip Nkrumah (11.7 ppg) and Scott Jaspers-Fayer (11.2 ppg).
The Dinos offence largely runs through their two fifth-year big men, Ross Bekkering and Robbie Sihota. The pair averaged 19.0 ppg and 18.7 ppg respectively, while Tyler Fidler was the team’s third leading scorer with 13.8 ppg during the CW regular season. Rookie point guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson was the only other Dino to average double-digits, with 10.3 ppg.
Capers coach Jim Charters took advantage of a deep bench during the regular season, giving double-digit minutes to 11 different players. However, he shortened it significantly during the Atlantic University Sport playoffs, Carter, Nkrumah and Dorsey played 39 of 40 minutes in the final against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men, and Fraser and Jaspers-Fayer both played over 30 minutes.
The Dinos also heavily relied on their starters for the playoffs, four of five played more than 30 minutes in their CW semi-final against the Simon Fraser University Clan: Ogungbemi-Jackson, Jamie McLeod, Fidler and Sihota. Only Bekkering saw less than 30 minutes after picking up some fouls. So far in the playoffs, only Dustin Reding has seen significant time off the bench. Andrew McGuinness saw some action against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, but played only 10 minutes during the CW final four. Terrence Blake played 18 minutes during the CW final four after no time during the Pronghorns series.
The Dinos and the Capers had similar rebounding averages throughout the season. The Dinos were third best in the CIS with 41.8 per game; the Capers 41.4 per game, sixth in the country. Bekkering led the way for the U of C, with 8.9 rebounds per game; Nkrumah for the Capers with 8.1 per game.
If the Dinos get past the Capers on Friday, they’ll possibly face their archrival University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the semi-final. Last year the Dinos lost a thrilling semi-final game 79-74. The T-Birds, who made the Final 8 in the wild card spot after losing in the CW semi-final, host the Lakehead University Thunderwolves in the second quarterfinal 2:30 p.m. EST.
If the Dinos win, they’ll play in a semi-final Saturday at 5 p.m. EST. The final goes Sunday at 6:30 p.m. EST. The semi-finals and the championship will be broadcast on TSN2.