CIS/CSI Toronto: The Birds! (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?)

This is a Crime Scene Investigation. Forensics experts are still dusting for box score prints, still freeze-framing the game tape for clues about how the championship match of the Canadian Interuniversity Sports men’s basketball championship could have gone so right for the Ravens, so wrong for the Gee-Gees. Five minutes into the game, it looked like Alfred Hitchcock was directing Carleton’s birds. It looked bad for Ottawa’s horses, in a dance marathon where they suddenly didn’t know the steps, couldn’t endure the exhausting pace, and had to keep dancing long after they felt dead. Five minutes into the third quarter, any doubts were dispelled. CSI Howdy’s first report was here, then came some sort of consolation, the Final Four, and then this Apparently Inevitable Denouement:

Well, that didn’t even make sense.

Even my sports/TV/Movie mashup title is more logical than a result that sees the Ottawa Gee-Gees, the consensus No. 2 team in the country — and which claimed the top ranking for a time after defeating the Carleton Ravens in January — being so thoroughly whipped. 93-46. Ninety-three to forty-six. 46?! UOttawa is the highest scoring team in the country, with one of the nation’s top scorers in “Johnny Basketball” Berhanemeskel and a collection of other gunners.

That's the venerable Mr. McGee, front and centre, with a flock of happy Ravens behind.

That’s the venerable Mr. McGee, front and centre, with a flock of happy Ravens behind. Smart is second-row left, though he often flees the flashbulbs. (photo by Chris Roussakis,

It was an AWESOME performance, a great and dynastic team playing near-perfect basketball for extended periods. It was surgical, clinical, a beating that was almost worse because there was no taunting or showboating or visible glee. The Ravens don’t bother with distractions like that. They’re All Business. This isn’t personal, Ottawa. We’re just doing our jobs. We’ve never seen anything like this. Well, hmm, come to think, except when Carleton did almost exactly the same thing to the Lakehead Thunderwolves in the 2013 final, where they won by 50. “But this wasn’t Lakehead!” exclaimed a wide-eyed basketball man and Ravens admirer. “Them being in the finals was a bit of a fluke, but Ottawa is really good!

Not Sunday. The Gee-Gees were devastated. I couldn’t get the lost look on fifth-year post Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue’s face out of my mind; Johnny B wore a haunting mask of stunned sorrow. (And they had to stand there for soooooo long! Celebration, a zillion photos, interviews, all this before the formal announcements of the Players of the Game, the tournament MVP and All-Stars, before the GGs bowed their heads to receive a silver medal that they won’t appreciate for years, and before they watched the Carleton Ravens, for the second straight year, accept the gold that they seem to win so routinely now. 11 W.P. McGee trophies in 13 years constitutes a habit, and for the rest of the Canadian university basketball hopefuls, it’s become an utterly intimidating one. Don’t forget, they lost narrowly in the national semis in those other two years! Meanwhile, UOttawa has never won gold. And they had to stand at least 15 minutes and watch Those Guys.) They stood there SO LONG.

It’s too much to ask. (Maybe, too, it’s too much to ask of you to keep reading. This thing hits nearly 3000 words — also more photos to come! — but count me fascinated. And you? )

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Somebody Won: NCAA Basketball, UConn & Me(aning)

Shed that dolorous duvet of despair! The world is your oyster! said the Dread Voice of Unrelenting Pomposity. I’ve heard that voice before.

Me: Umm. What. Where’s the. What? I don’t even, like, like oysters.

Dread Voice: It’s a metaphor. Rise from thy couch, o scribe of the never-ending playground.

Me: I have a bad feeling about this.

DVUP: It is The Tuesday After. Evening has fallen in a hemisphere hungry for wisdom. Awake! Toll the bell! Ease their pain! And so on.

Me: Okay. Go on. I think I know what you’re going to say.

DVUP: The Madness has ended. The light is fading on the many Shining Moments. They need your strength and your vision and many, many words.

Me: How about a thousand? And while you’re here, why do they still call it March Madness when the Final Four is in April?

DVUP: Marketing. “April Antics” doesn’t scan. But enough of your irreverent frippery and procrastinative verbal flatulence, o bleary exile of the hardcourt heavens! Speak, for by Wednesday the Final Four is a dead letter. Speak, for the Madness cannot be said to have ended, truly, without your closing pronouncements. Speak, for the roundball world cannot rest easily, absent the soothing balm of your counsel and insight. And yes, 1000 of your words will nearly give them a picture. Go forth and type-ify.

Me: Dread Voice, I think you’re making fun of me again. Alright. I’m going. Do I have to use all those big words?

DVUP: Whatever. Get at it, worm.

The Dread Voice is always so encouraging.


For those of you keeping score, I picked none of the Final Four, but neither did you. I only got one right after the NCAA men’s basketball tourney got down to sixteen teams, and then went oh-fer again in picking the semifinal winners. I had Wisconsin, whom I’d configured as the Purehearted Badgers of the Right Student-Athlete Way, slaying the Evil Wildcats, they of the temporary study-vacation in Lexington, Kentucky and by the way what in the world were they majoring in, anyway? Billy Donovan, whom I’m old enough to remember as the dogged, over-achieving, once-was-chubby, sweaty Providence College whippet in an early VHS coaching video by Rick Pitino – c’mon Billy, that’s right, Billy, quickquickquickBilly, attaboyBilly! – was going to lead a plucky crew of talented (but not disgustingly so) Florida Gators over the 10%-graduating, barred-from-the-2013-tournament-due-to-academic-under-achieving, beat-my-Blue-Devils-in-the-’99-title-game Connecticut Huskies. Wrong again, and usually.

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