The best of OUA men's basketball to compete at the Wilson Cup Final Four

The best of OUA men's basketball to compete at the Wilson Cup Final Four
HAMILTON, Ont. – The best of OUA men’s basketball will descend upon Toronto this weekend as Ryerson University hosts the 2014 Wilson Cup Final Four, presented by Recharge with Milk. The two-day event will take place in the arena bowl of the Mattamy Athletic Centre and will be televised live across the nation on Sportsnet ONE. Action begins on Friday, February 28 at 6 p.m. as the No. 1 Carleton Ravens take on the No. 7 Windsor Lancers. The second semifinal pits the No. 5 McMaster Marauders against the No. 2 Ottawa Gee-Gees for an 8 p.m. tip-off.

The Ravens enter the 2014 Wilson Cup as the two-time defending OUA and three-time defending CIS champions and once again finished atop the OUA East. The Ravens have captured eight of the last 11 Wilson Cup titles. With a national championship berth already locked in as tournament host, another Wilson Cup title would be a feather in the cap of the top-ranked Ravens.

By finishing first in the OUA East, Carleton earned a bye in the opening round of the playoffs and advanced directly to a February 22 meeting with the Laurentian Voyageurs. Looking to advance to the Final Four on a high, the Ravens bounced Laurentian 111-77.

The Ravens strength is depth. The team is led by last year’s OUA and CIS player of the year Philip Scrubb (Richmond, B.C.), but features previous all-stars and award winners at nearly every position; former OUA and CIS player of the year and perennial all-star Tyson Hinz (Ottawa), former CIS rookie of the year Clinton Springer-Williams (London, Ont.), and former OUA East defensive player of the year Thomas Scrubb (Richmond, B.C.) to name a few.

Carleton went 22-0 in the regular season, and haven’t lost to a CIS opponent since November 9, 2012; a span of 48 games including playoffs. The squad is both disciplined and explosive, as evidenced by their CIS-leading 62.2 points allowed and 94.2 points per game scored, both second in the CIS.

The Windsor Lancers enter the Wilson Cup as the number-two seed from the OUA West, finishing the regular season with a 16-6 record. The Lancers earned their second straight berth in the Final Four by dispatching an up-and-coming Laurier Golden Hawks team 91-68 in their sole playoff contest.

Windsor features a three-headed monster of fifth-year players that will play a large role in their quest for a title. Forward Lien Phillip (St. Mark’s, Grenada) and guards Enrico Diloreto (London, Ont.) and Josh Collins (Toronto) have shouldered much of the load for Windsor this season. The trio led the Lancers in rebounds, points and assists respectively.

Phillip is among the best rebounders to set foot on an OUA court. The six-foot-eight forward has led the OUA in rebounds in each of the last four years, topping the CIS three times. Not just a one-trick pony, the veteran can also score. Phillip holds the distinction of averaging a double-double (12.3 PPG, 10.3 RPG) over the course of his five-year career.

The Lancers were on the wrong side of a 95-74 decision against the Ravens on November 1 to open the season. Windsor will be attempting to advance to their first men’s basketball final since 2010. The Lancers-Ravens matchup will open the Wilson Cup Final Four, and will be broadcast live on Sportsnet ONE beginning on Friday at 6 p.m.

The second semifinal pits the West top-seed, McMaster Marauders, against the Ottawa Gee-Gees, the second-seed out of the East.

McMaster last appeared in a Wilson Cup semifinal in 2012. Under third-year head coach Amos Connolly, the Marauders have steadily improved and all signs point to Connolly’s squad becoming a staple in the OUA championship tournament.
                                                                                                                                
The Marauders earned the top seed in the West division on the strength of an 18-4 regular season record which afforded them a bye through the opening round of playoffs. McMaster advanced to the Final Four by knocking off the Western Mustangs 83-49.

The one-two punch of Taylor Black (Stoney Creek, Ont.) and Joe Rocca (Sarnia, Ont.) has been vital to the success of the Marauders in their ascension to the top of the OUA West. Black was a first team all-star last year and finished fifth in the OUA in rebounding this year, while Rocca, a second-teamer a year ago, paced the Marauders and finished in the top 20 in scoring this year, contributing 14.2 points per game.

The Ottawa Gee-Gees are no strangers to big games. As the runner-up for the Wilson Cup and a bronze medalist at the CIS championship last season, the Gee-Gees know what it takes to survive and advance. The team enters the Final Four after a 20-2 regular season, with the only two defeats coming at the hands of crosstown-rival Carleton Ravens. After receiving a bye in the first round of the playoffs, Ottawa booked their ticket to Toronto with a 79-78 win over Ryerson.

Ottawa is the top scoring team in the CIS this year, scoring 96.4 points per game and eclipsing the 100-point mark 11 times. Fourth-year guard Johnny Berhanemeskel (Ottawa) led the team in total points, counting a school-record 451. Terry Thomas (Dartmouth, N.S.) was the top per-game scorer for Ottawa. The St. Francis-Xavier transfer collected 22.4 points in 14 games for the Gee-Gees in his inaugural OUA season.

The last time the Gee-Gees and Marauders met, Ottawa claimed a 100-85 win in Hamilton. Ottawa will have to be just as sharp on Friday. Given McMaster’s proximity to Toronto, the make-up of the crowd for the second semifinal from the Mattamy Athletic Centre has the potential to be pro-Marauder. Tip-off for this game is slated for 8 p.m. and can be seen live on Sportsnet ONE.

Friday’s winners will advance to play for the Wilson Cup on Saturday, March 1 at 6 p.m. while the losers will be relegated to the bronze medal game at 4 p.m. Both Saturday games will be broadcast live on Sportsnet ONE. The two finalists will advance to the CIS Final 8 tournament, and if Carleton is part of the final two, the winner of the bronze medal game will also receive a berth.

Tickets are still available for the Wilson Cup Final Four, presented by Recharge with Milk, and can be purchased at ticketmaster.ca or at any Ticketmaster retail outlet. Tickets can be purchased at the Mattamy Athletic Centre beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, and 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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