Photo by Valerie Wutti
On March 8, 2020, the Carleton Ravens defeated the Dalhousie Tigers, 74-65, in the championship game of the U SPORTS Final 8 to capture their 15th national title. Fast forward 19 months and the Ravens men’s basketball team will finally begin defending their crown with the OUA and U SPORTS resuming play in 2021-22 after the global pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2020-21 season.SEASON SCHEDULEBUY TICKETS
The No.1 Ravens had a near-perfect season, ending the campaign with a 21-1 record in league play, a 33-1 record overall and a ninth university championship in 10 years. Carleton won two preseason tournaments, including UVic’s Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament and as host of the House-Laughton Tournament. Carleton cruised through the OUA calendar until an end-of-season, one-point defeat to uOttawa in the Capital Hoops Classic.
The Ravens swept through the conference playoffs, defeating the resurgent Western Mustangs 90-68 to win their third consecutive OUA Wilson Cup. At the Final 8 tournament held in Ottawa, the Ravens cruised past Calgary (quarter-final) and Western (semi-final) before overcoming a 13-point halftime deficit against Dalhousie in the final to hoist the W.P. McGee Trophy.
#41 Lloyd Pandi – Forward – Second Year
Lloyd Pandi (Ottawa, Ont.) enjoyed a highly successful debut season at Carleton, becoming just the second Raven to receive the Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy as U SPORTS Rookie of the Year. He joined rare company alongside program legend Philip Scrubb (2010-11) to capture the highly coveted award after averaging a team-high 14.6 points per game in 2019-20. On his way to being named a U SPORTS Second Team All-Canadian and Ravens Men’s Basketball MVP, Pandi led the nation with a 66.3% (126-190 FG) clip from the field. Although it is still early in Pandi’s collegiate career, the 6-foot-4 sophomore will be expected to take on a bigger leadership role this season.
#13 Alain Louis – Guard – Fourth Year
Alain Louis (Montreal, Que.) will look to establish himself as a regular starter and floor general in his fourth season at the Raven’s Nest. During the 2019-20 regular season, Louis averaged 10.2 points per game on a highly efficient 61.7% (71-115 FG) from the floor. Louis recently finished a summer with the CEBL’s Ottawa Blackjacks, where he appeared in a team-leading 15 games, starting eight while averaging 7.2 points and 2.8 assists per game.
#21 Biniam Ghebrekidan – Forward – Third Year
Biniam Ghebrekidan (Gatineau, Que.) will look to build on a strong finish to the 2019-20 campaign where he led the Ravens with 19 points in the championship game victory and named a 2020 U SPORTS Final 8 All-Star. The 6-foot-9 forward made a big statistical leap between his first and second seasons at Carleton and will be counted on for a breakout junior campaign as one of the team’s most experienced forwards.
With a significant number of departures from the program since the end of the 2019-20 season, the Ravens will count on a pair of guards in junior Aiden Warnholtz (Kanata, Ont.) and sophomore Connor Vreeken (Kingston, Ont.) to spread the floor as outside shooting threats. Adding depth at the forward position will be Grant Shephard (Kelowna, B.C.), a fourth-year transfer from UBC, who has a proven track record at the U SPORTS level as the Canada West Rookie of the Year (2017-18) and a Canada West Second Team All-Star (2018-19). Shephard helped guide the Thunderbirds to back-to-back U SPORTS Final 8 tournaments in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Guard Cordell Veira (Toronto, Ont.), a Florida International (NCAA) transfer who saw limited action during the 2019-20 championship season, has been providing the Ravens with a boost off the bench during the preseason and could see a significant increase in playing time in his second year at Carleton.
The talented 2015-16 recruiting class comprised of Marcus Anderson, Yasiin Joseph, Tajinder Lall and Stanley Mayambo leaves Carleton with four gold medals and five national medals overall, a highly impressive haul that puts group in rare company among some of the most decorated players in Canadian university men’s basketball history. Also gone are several key contributors from the past few championship seasons, including Munis Tutu, a two-time OUA conference All-Star, and Isiah Osborne, a former U SPORTS Rookie of the Year and MVP of 2020 U SPORTS Final 8.
Head coach Taffe Charles, who enters his third season (note: 2020-21 season included) at the helm of the men’s basketball program, will guide his team through a shortened, 16-game intra-division schedule against OUA East opposition. Carleton will play traditional regional rivals uOttawa (away Jan. 8, 2022; and home Feb. 18, 2022 during the Capital Hoops Classic) and Queen’s (Home Jan. 28, 2022; Away Jan.29, 2022) twice each and go toe-to-toe with their modern rival Ryerson in a hostile two-game set in Toronto (Feb. 4 & 5, 2022) near the end of the regular season. The Ravens will look to qualify for the U SPORTS Final 8 hosted by the Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton, Alta. from March 10-14, 2022.