Dalhousie Tigers ready to roar and score at CIS Men's Basketball Final 8
The Dalhousie Tigers tip off against the Ottawa Gee-Gees in quarter-final action Thursday in Vancouver; the tournament concludes Sunday with medal games.
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Dalhousie Tigers head coach Rick Plato sums up how his basketball squad feels heading into this weekend's national championship with two simple words: "they're ready."
That was his message Wednesday for Halifax hoops fans watching from afar, as his Tigers hit the court Thursday in Vancouver for their quarter-final against the Ottawa Gee-Gees at the 2016 CIS Men's Basketball Final 8 Championship.
The Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship peaks Sunday with medal games at the Doug Mitchell Sports Centre on the University of British Columbia campus.
"They've worked hard, they've worked to improve and all year long our goal was to get back and do better than we did last year," Plato said by phone from out west, of this being Dalhousie's second straight appearance at the CIS championship.
Last year, the Tigers were edged out 57-56 by the University of Victoria Vikes in quarter-finals at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, where the Ryerson Rams hosted the 2015 CIS Final 8 event.
"It wasn't without a struggle," Plato said of the year since, which included a 13-7 regular-season record to put the Tigers atop Atlantic University Sport standings, in addition to an intense and hard-fought 87-85 overtime victory over the UPEI Panthers for the 2016 AUS championship banner.
"These guys have worked really hard and they believe in what we're doing and they believe in one another and they believe in themselves."
If the Tigers claw their way into national semifinals, they'll be making Dalhousie basketball history, Plato said.
"I think there is redemption on their part," he said of his players. "Knowing how close they were to ... for the first time ever, getting Dal to a national semifinal."
But that means first overcoming the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Tip-off on Thursday's quarter-final is at 3 p.m. Pacific Time, 7 p.m. Atlantic Time.
Plato is confident that his Tigers have a strong game plan in place, which includes staying strong defensively, stepping up offensively, playing every possession and focusing "on doing the little things."
"I believe in these guys," Plato said. "They're not the biggest, they're not the fastest, they're not the quickest, but as a group - they're a pretty special team."
Simply put, Plato said, "if we play our game, we're going to win."
Visit http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mbkb/index for more on men's basketball nationals.
Local ladies also leading in national basketball
In national women's basketball action, the CIS handed out awards and all-star honours Wednesday night, which included Kennisha-Shanice Luberisse of the Saint Mary's Huskies being named defensive MVP, Ainsley MacIntyre of the Dalhousie Tigers receiving the Sylvia Sweeney Award for her contributions on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
Also from Nova Scotia schools, Paloma Anderson of the Acadia Axewomen made the first all-star team and Alison Keough of the Cape Breton Capers made the second all-star team.
The CIS Women's Basketball Final 8 also runs Thursday through Sunday, at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, with four-time AUS champions the Saint Mary's Huskies taking on the Alberta Pandas in quarter-final action Thursday.
Check out http://en.cis-sic.ca/championships/wbkb/index for more.