OTTAWA — They dominated without really being tested, and as the clock ticked down on their third win in three days the Carleton Ravens neither celebrated nor smiled as they left the court victors at their own event.
It was the 12th consecutive House-Laughton tournament championship victory for the CIS powerhouse Carleton men’s basketball team, and, as such, it was business-like, routine.
The Ravens have been here before, sure, and the winners of eight of the last ten national championships aren’t about to celebrate a few preseason victories over teams nowhere near their level of focus and preparedness.
But you’d forgive them a fist-pump, or a small chorus of ‘woo-hoos,’ just to know they’re enjoying their time on top.
If you listen to their thoughts on the tournament, you’d think they had lost.
“Well I think it’s tough,” said Tyson Hinz, Ravens forward and tournament MVP. “There’s a lot of things we need to work on, but in spurts I think we showed what we’re capable of.”
“We rebounded in spurts, we defended in spurts, but we’ve got to put a full game together if we’re going to win in the long run.”
For what is now a decade-long dynasty, the Ravens have been able to bounce back from championship seasons by refusing to rest on their Laurels.
Driven by the insatiable Dave Smart, the Carleton team is a well-oiled machine where each player knows his part and buys into the team system.
“Unfortunately, pretty much what we were, we were,” Smart said of his team’s performance in the tournament.
“I was kind of hoping to see some other things that I didn’t see. I mean, we’re explosive, we’re talented, we’re long, we’re athletic, so we can make some mistakes and get away with it, but unfortunately we did, we made a lot of mistakes.
“We didn’t play as tough as I’d like us to play, we didn’t execute at either end of the floor, especially at the defensive end of the floor. At the offensive end of the floor I just don’t think we had a plan all the time.”
The Carleton players are long, athletic but fundamentally solid, aggressive defenders, brilliant in their fast-breaking defence-to-offence transition, good shooters, better passers, and when a shot goes up, there’s likely five Ravens crashing the boards.
Me-first players simply don’t fit in the Carleton system.
2012 CIS MVP guard Phil Scrubb averaged 16.2 points per contest last year, the most on the team, but only 33rd in the CIS.
He was the only Raven to crack the top 50.
The Ravens leading scorer changes nearly every game, unselfishness leads to wins, and the team is on the verge of an historic number.
Tied at eight total CIS championships with the Victoria Vikes, a dynasty that won seven consecutive titles in the 1980s, the Ravens could become the winningest program in CIS basketball history if they can capture the W.P. McGee Trophy this year.
And, the whipped-cream on top, Ottawa will host the CIS Final 8 this season as the Ravens attempt to capture the record at home.
“We’ve been fortunate eight of the last ten years to have gotten it done and if we stay healthy, do we have the talent to be in the mix at the end? I think so,” said Smart.
“But being in the mix and getting it done are two different things.”
In the meantime, winning preseason tournaments is less important than the big picture.
Each game is a lesson, preparing the team for the final exam coming March 8-10, 2013 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
Then, just maybe, we’ll hear the roars as the team celebrates and smiles, and they’ll be satisfied.
For a little while at least.