Written by Griffin Porter
Photo by Valerie Wutti
OTTAWA, Ontario – A summer of change for the Ravens Men’s Basketball Team came to an end as a new season began with the Ravens taking on the Valparaiso University Crusaders in the men’s first game of the Can-Am Shootout.
The two teams both came out strong on defence, with both sides struggling to generate high quality chances and convert the chances that they did get. There was a clear effort in the first quarter for new head coach Taffe Charles, who spent the last several seasons as the head coach of the Ravens women’s basketball team, to use his bench early and often, as ten different Ravens players saw the floor in the first quarter alone. Asked after the game about the importance of getting players involved early, Charles pointed out that “you want to keep people motivated, but at the end of the day too, you want to see what they can and can’t do with the opportunities”.
The Ravens struggled shooting the ball in the first quarter, shooting just 27% from the field. Their ability to draw contact and get to the line kept them in the game, as they were down only 4 at the end of the first. The opportunity to take control of the game was there for the Ravens in the second, as they started the quarter on a 9-0 run and looked as though they had discovered the offence that was missing in the first. They hit a wall after the hot start, however, and only shot 6-21 from the field in the second quarter. The Ravens were also out-rebounded by the bigger Valparaiso team. The Crusaders were able to take advantage and they went into halftime down 37-28.
The Ravens that came out for the second half, however, were a different team. They shot over 50% in the third, and out-rebounded the Crusaders heavily. Munis Tutu was especially instrumental in the strong third, driving to the basket and drawing contact from the Crusaders, getting the visitors in foul trouble early and often. Going into the fourth down by just four, the Ravens put the clamps on the Crusaders on the defensive end, holding the American team to just 4-17 shooting and forcing overtime. Asked what spurred the comeback, Charles pointed to the play of his youngsters, as well as the team’s ability to get back to basics and “keep it simple”.
Aa key turnover with only 4 seconds left in overtime set up a truly epic buzzer beater 3 for the Crusaders, but for Coach Charles the result of the exhibition game isn’t as important as the lessons that can be learned from battling a team like the Crusaders. Charles mentioned after the game that the Crusaders “won’t let you be sloppy. They have a lot of talent and they have a lot of size. It changes the situation with how physical they can be and how athletic they are”.