Neate Sager

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Neate Sager is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports.

  • Carleton has gone 132-3 while winning the last 4 CIS titles (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Dave Smart plans to put it up to 11.

    The 'Carleton should play NCAA Division I' crowd has mostly been shouted down by people who prefer their thinking to be less blue-sky but the question of how long Smart will stay in the CIS ranks pops up after every Ravens' national championship. The big pre-tournament story before the CIS Final 8, after the possibility of a Carleton-Ottawa Gee-Gees final, derived from the Grantland feature on the Ravens where Smart named his terms to entertain an offer to coach south of the border. Following Carleton's 79-67 win over Ottawa for its 10th title in 12 seasons and fourth in a row, Smart stated the quote was all about pricing himself out of the NCAA market.

    "No one's giving me that, no one's giving me a half-million dollars [per season]," Smart said as he held one of his young children during a media scrum. "That was my way of saying that I'm not going anywhere. Even if someone offered me ridiculous money, it would be a family decision. I know I'd go into a situation, coaching- and program-wise, that would be worse. I've got a great situation here professionally. You have to look at your family. But that ain't happening. The point of me saying that was I ain't leaving."

    Read More »from ‘I ain’t leaving’: For Dave Smart and Carleton Ravens, dominating CIS is not getting old
  • Victoria Vikes’ Marcus Tibbs finds safe harbour in CIS basketball

    UVic's Marcus Tibbs left, a Seattle native, pushes the ball during the bronze medal game vs. Alberta (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    From handling parcels to dropping dimes at the CIS Final 8, Victoria Vikes point guard Marcus Tibbs has had quite the hoops journey.

    One could do a lot worse than the Seattle native, who overcame a broken jaw and broken hand within the past 14 months to have a strong tournament for UVic, as a breakout player from the Canadian university basketball championship. The one-time top 10 high school recruit out of Washington state's ease with reading the floor was manifest in the Vikes' valiant rally in a semifinal loss to Ottawa on Saturday, where it rallied from 18 down to within two. Tibbs came away from the tournament feeling fulfilled, if not slaked, even though the Vikes finished the year with successive losses after falling 61-53 to Alberta in a bronze-medal game that tipped off at 7:37 a.m. West Coast time (6:37 if you throw in that Sunday was the first day of daylight saving times).

    "I don't know how to really explain it, I'm blessed to be playing," said Tibbs, 23, who had 15 points and five assists during the Vikes' loss to Ottawa and followed up with nine and four in 19 minutes vs. Alberta. "Really, I got rocked, my jaw was broken. So I'm happy, I'll take this in stride.

    "Overall, I got a good feeling for trte league. Next year's going to be good. I'm happy ... We've seen Carleton before, but seeing Ottawa is where it was different, I should have been more prepared for it. We'll be ready for it next year."

    Read More »from Victoria Vikes’ Marcus Tibbs finds safe harbour in CIS basketball
  • Saginaw Spirit’s Terry Trafford missing since March 3

    Trafford was last seen leaving the Spirit's home rink on March 3 (OHL Images)

    It's heart-in-mouth time throughout junior hockey circles, as Saginaw Spirit centre Terry Trafford's whereabouts are unknown.

    The 20-year-old Toronto native has not been seen for almost a week. According to a news release from the Spirit, he was last seen on Monday, March 3 at 9:30 a.m. The Saginaw News has since spoken with 21-year-old Skye Cieslak, who says she has dated Trafford since 2010.

    "The Saginaw Spirit Franchise and the entire Great Lakes Bay Region are very concerned," said the release, issued on Sunday.

    "We currently have no further comment until the professionals searching for him complete their work. The entire Spirit organization is very concerned for the young man and we hope and pray that he is safe and found soon."

    At least one other OHL team and one former Spirit teammate, Gregg Sutch, are urging people to phone the Saginaw, Mich., police if there is any information on what is happening with Trafford.

    Read More »from Saginaw Spirit’s Terry Trafford missing since March 3
  • Ottawa's Johnny Berhanemeskel and Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)It had to work out this way for Johnny Berhanesmeskel and the Ottawa Gee-Gees, who will tip off vs. the almighty Carleton Ravens on Sunday afternoon.

    Some questions are best left unanswered, like what might have happened if the cross-town rivals had met in the final of the 2013 CIS Final 8. Ottawa's collapse in the semifinal vs. Lakehead led to an anticlimactic championship Sunday where the Gee-Gees sent graduating star Warren (Worldwide) Ward, now playing pro in Germany, off with a bronze medal and then watched Carleton crush the spent Thunderwolves by a record 50 points in the final. Ottawa's three losses to the Phil Scrubb- and Thomas Scrubb-led Ravens in '12-13 were by a total of a dozen points, but there was a feeling it might have got exposed if there had been a Canal War IV. On Saturday, when it withstood a second-half Victoria Vikes rally to win 79-71, it was clear Ottawa might be as ready as it ever will be to face Carleton in the last game of the season.

    A "remember last year" refrain went up and down the bench as Ottawa's early 18-point lead shrank to a deuce by the early stage of the fourth quarter in front of 5,993 at the Canadian Tire Centre. Then Berhanemeskel — AKA Johnny Berhanemeskel — who'd taken a technical foul in the third quarter ("I thought I just bounced the ball," he said later) came alive with 12 late points to close out the Vikes, finishing with a game-high 24. Ottawa's other big cogs such as rugged centre Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue (15 points) and second-year combo forward Caleb Agada (12 points and 10 boards for the double-double) also showed their maturity.

    "Last year's performance has been haunting us for 365 days, waking up every single morning being reminded of it," said Berhanemeskel, who took over as Ottawa's floor leader following Ward's graduation. "It was such a motivating factor last summer in working hard. Our guys remember that feeling and we don't want to miss that opportunity ever again. So many guys grew into the roles we needed them to take.

    "We took [Carleton] to triple overtime last year and we didn't play as well as we wanted to in the first two games this year [when the Ravens won by 21 and 24 points]," the fourth-year guard added. "We wanted to prove last year was a fluke."

    Read More »from Ottawa Gee-Gees one step deeper, meeting Carleton Ravens to decide CIS basketball title
  • Ottawa's Caleb Agada (centre) had a double-double in Saturday's semifinal (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Two teams from one city hooking up for the W.P. McGee Trophy has never happened before in Canadian university men's basketball annals, meaning sleep is overrated.

    With daylight savings time beginning Saturday night and the CIS Final 8 championship game tipping off at 2 p.m. ET at Sportsnet 360's request, that meant the Ottawa Gee-Gees will only have about 12½ hours of R&R between their 78-70 semifinal win over the Victoria Vikes and a date with destiny vs. the rival Carleton Ravens, who downed Alberta 79-55. Whether the short window is conducive to optimum performance on the parquet at Canadian Tire Centre remains to be seen, but the matchup is without precedent. So no need to make excuses about an early start, even though No. 2 seed Carleton will get a couple extra hours' rest and the pace-pushing top-seeded Gee-Gees had the tighter turnaround.

    "This is what I've been waiting all season for, it's nationals and Ottawa versus Carleton," said Ottawa's sophomore combo forward Caleb Agada, whose 12 points and 10 rebounds helped the Gee-Gees hang in against a Victoria front line that includes 6-foot-10 Chris McLaughlin, who was valiant with 19 points before fouling out late.

    "This is what we've been waiting for. My energy is the highest it could possibly be."

    It's been 36 years — longer than some of the coaches in Sunday's tilt have been alive — since two teams from such close proximity met in the national final. Back in 1978 in Halifax, the hometown Saint Mary's Huskies beat Atlantic conference rival Acadia, from nearly Wolfville, N.S., 99-91. That contest, still remembered vividly down east by fans of a certain vintage, drew more than 11,000 fans.

    Read More »from Carleton-Ottawa cross-town CIS final an unprecedented matchup, but will crowd size and casual-fan support reflect it?
  • Carleton Ravens have unsettled score in CIS hoops final, regardless of opponent

    Phil Scrubb looks for a passing lane as Tyson Hinz gets tangled up with Alberta's Rob Dewar (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Sports)

    When Dave Smart starts buttering up a team, quite often they're about to become someone's lunch.

    When the Carleton Ravens' 55-game CIS hoops win streak was snapped with a last-second loss in the Ontario final seven nights ago, they soaked in every bit of the Ottawa Gee-Gees' euphoria before leaving the floor. Saturday, after sending the Alberta Golden Bears packing with a 79-55 win in the early semifinal at the CIS Final 8, the Ravens politely acknowledged the obvious storyline — "revenge is always nice, but we want the national championship whether it is it Ottawa or UVic," forward Tyson Hinz said before the Gees and Vikes tipped off — even while many had an inkling they really wanted another crack at Ottawa.

    Such is the bar the Ravens have set. Winning a 10th national championship after losing their final matchup of the season against Ottawa might leave a slight void.

    "It was kind of a bitter feeling," Ravens guard Thomas Scrubb, who added to his tournament MVP application with 22 points and seven rebounds vs. Alberta, said of watching the Gee-Gees put guard Johnny Berhanemeskel on their shoulders, among other celebrations. "I wasn't surprised they would do that. It's definitely easy motivation if we meet them in the final. We'll be ready to play. We won't let something like that happen again."

    Read More »from Carleton Ravens have unsettled score in CIS hoops final, regardless of opponent
  • Tolchinsky was undrafted in 2013 but was quickly signed by Carolina (OHL Images)

    If you look up anhedonic — lack of pleasure or of the capacity to experience it — there's a picture of someone who didn't enjoy this Sergey Tolchinsky goal.

    On Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes prospect who shines for the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds showed some magic sleight of hand with a between-the-legs goal during a game against Sarnia. The 19-year-old Russian dervish had a clear breakaway to plan what move to try against Sting goalie Taylor Dupuis and did the ol' turn-sideways, put-stick-behind-leg and go-top-cheddar move to astonish the crowd at RBC Centre. It is like there was a need to do something special to celebrate the 'Hounds clinching the West Division title, since the club backed into it on Thursday when it was shut out by London while second-place Windsor also lost.

    Read More »from Carolina Hurricanes pick Sergey Tolchinsky scores sick between-the-legs goal (VIDEO)
  • Terry Thomas (right) paced Ottawa with 24 points on Friday (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Parts of the Saskatchewan-Ottawa boxscore — which ended with the top-seeded Gee-Gees winning 94-73 behind 24 points from Terry Thomas — looked like they were taken together from other games.

    Canadian university basketball teams generally do not sink 14 threes in a CIS Final 8 game at Canadian Tire Center, a notoriously unforgiving shooting environment with what Gee-Gees point guard Mike L'Africain called "tough rims." Nor does any team worth a tournament ticket go 4-for-16 from the free-throw line. Nor does the coach of a team that won by more than 20 surmise that his charges "were just a little bit sluggish" like Ottawa's James Derouin did. Yet that all fit together on Friday when Ottawa did its thing while dispatching the wild-card Huskies. (Ottawa had a tougher time on its home floor with Ryerson, which many believe should have been the wild card, two weeks ago in the OUA East semifinal; but that's neither here nor there.)

    That sets up semifinal Saturday, with No. 3 Alberta and No. 2 Carleton hooking up in the early game (6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT, Sportsnet 360). Ottawa will face No. 4 Victoria and 6-foot-10 centre Chris McLaughlin in an 8 p.m. tilt between the country's highest-scoring team (96.2 points per game) and its stingiest (60.2 against).

    The Gee-Gees and Huskies were even at 50 late in the third quarter, honest. Then Thomas, who had nine rebounds and five steals, scored seven in a row during an 11-0 Ottawa outburst. The hopeful Huskies, with star guard Stephon Lamar harried to no end (5-for-18 shooting with seven turnovers en route to a hollow 15 points and eight assists), came back briefly. Then an 11-2 quarter-bridging run highlighted by forward Vikas Gill's buzzer three settled the issue. Ottawa's starters came out on a high note: a L'Africain-to-Thomas alley-oop capped off the statement win in front of a crowd of 3,545.

    "We found our groove and that separated us," said Thomas, the East Preston, N.S., native. "We're a great three-point shooting team, probably one of the best in the country and once it starts going, it helps our whole game. It limits their transition opportunities.

    "We just take what we've learned from Carleton and apply it to every team."

    In a nutshell, that is what makes Ottawa stand out regardless of how the next days unfold. It borrows principles from the CIS lodestar across town and pours it into a high-tempo game. Carleton has what Dave Smart calls "attack mode," but Ottawa pushes the ball like few else. The Gee-Gees took 76 shots in a 40-minute game and only had nine turnovers.

    "We're going-going-going, but we know how we're going, the different reads made at fast speeds," said L'Africain, who had 10 points with a 7-to-2 assist-to-turnover ratio. "We've done it so many times. Tonight we probably had our 15th lob between Terry and I and he only played half the season [while sitting out until Nov. 29 after transferring from St. Francis Xavier]. That all goes back to the summer. We spent so many hours in the gym learning how each of us plays."

    "Our defence turns into our offence. When you get a play like that on offence you want to get back on defence as fast as you can."

    Read More »from Ottawa Gee-Gees have method to their madcap style, making them able to challenge Carleton Ravens
  • Thomas Scrubb hooped 20 and hauled down 14 in Carleton's ouster of McMaster (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Back in the day of Dean Smith there was the de facto Anybody but Carolina banner. It would be only understandable if ABC stood for Anybody But Carleton in the realm of Canadian university hoops.

    Feelings toward the indomitable Ravens, in the unfamiliar position of being seeded No. 2 at the CIS Final 8, are not quite like that — "it's all about respect; they're at the pinnacle that we're all trying to reach," is how long-time Concordia Stingers skipper John Dore put it on behalf of the coaching fraternity. This time around, the question revolves more around the possibility of any team spoiling a potential all-Ottawa showdown on a championship Sunday at the Canadian Tire Centre. That meant No. 3 seed Alberta, which was paced by fifth-year star Jordan Baker's 17-point, nine-rebound, five-assist effort in its 72-62 win over Saint Mary's, was under more of a microscope than anyone else during Friday's quarter-finals. Carleton pulled away from McMaster to win 82-64, with Phil Scrubb (21 points and five assists) and Thomas Scrubb (20 points, 14 rebounds) counting for half the Ravens' total.

    The Golden Bears didn't go ahead for good until the third quarter, when Baker, their Swiss army knife of an all-Canadian forward, started driving and dishing. An eight-minute drought also did in the No. 8 Huskies, setting up one-half of an Alberta-Carleton semifinal matchup. It will be a rematch of the 2012 final. Four players on each side were around for that one.

    "It's good — we owe them for two years ago," said Baker, who played for Carleton coach Dave Smart (and with Ravens star Phil Scrubb) for Canada at the 2011 Pan-Am Games. "We're going to have to play a lot better if we're going to be able to knock off the next team in the semifinals. It'll be a steeper challenge."

    Read More »from Alberta Golden Bears advance at CIS Final 8; can they challenge Carleton on Semifinal Saturday?
  • Koekkoek dinged up for Spits, Knights discipline Domi: the coast-to-coast

    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    While Tim Bozon battles Neisseria meningitis in a Saskatoon hospital, the Kootenay Ice play Friday for the first time since losing their standout forward. (Cranbrook Daily Townsman, CBC, CTV Saskatoon, Medicine Hat News)

    Aside from Bozon, there has been only one confirmed case of meningitis in Saskatchewan this winter. (Metro, News Talk 650, Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    So what is going on with this game of franchises playing musical cities? (The Pipeline Show)

    Winning Jets second-rounder Eric Comrie needs 75 saves to set a Tri-City single-season club record. Don't get smart ask if he'll get all tonight, since the Americans face Everett. Annie Fowler tracked down record holder Aaron Baker, who kicked out 1,751 shots for a 17-win Ams team 16 winters ago. Quoth Baker: "There are a few other stats I have from that season that I don’t want. That was a rough season." (Tri-City Herald)

    Goalie Daniel Wapple is not on the Regina Pats road trip due to a foot injury, making Dawson MacAuley the man in net for two big games in the Eastern Division race. The Pats will have a reunion game Friday with their old buddy Teagan Sacher in Lethbridge. (Regina Leader-Post, The Pipeline Show)

    Kelowna's magic number for clinching first overall is down to two. (Kelowna Capital News)


    Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder Slater Koekkoek nearly got through the season unscathed, but the Windsor Spitfires captain is now "day to day" after injuring an arm in a fight during a loss to Saginaw. (Windsor Star)

    What would an all-star team of first-time draft-eligible players look like? (

    Max Domi was benched for the entire first period, but London shut out Sault Ste. Marie to earn two critical points. (London Free Press)

    Aaron Ekblad set the Barrie Colts record for goals in a season by a defenceman during a comeback win over Owen Sound, but the fifth-place Colts are running out of track with only four games left. (The Barrie Examiner)

    Read More »from Koekkoek dinged up for Spits, Knights discipline Domi: the coast-to-coast


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