The Ravens: basketball at Carleton University

Photo credit: Murray McComb Photography

Peter James is Twitter-obsessed sports fanatic, theatre-lover and journalist living in Ottawa.

Sports fans in Ottawa have their fair share of options, but there is no better value for your entertainment dollar than basketball at Carleton University.

Carleton is home to a Ravens program that has become a dynasty over the past decade with six men’s national championships in the past eight years. Coach Dave Smart has built a legacy of success and in the process has created the premier collegiate basketball program this side of the U.S. border.

The 1,500-seat Ravens’ Nest is ideally suited to college game — it’s big enough so fans can create a genuine atmosphere during the game, but intimate enough that fans still feel that they’re right on top of the action on the floor.

This past Saturday night, the gym was packed as the Ravens took on the University of Toronto in a fast-paced, physical game. Fans in the bleacher seats were doing the wave. Their chants and cheers punctuated key baskets as the Ravens won again.

Photo credit: Murray McComb Photography

Carleton’s style of play lacks flash (you won’t see many high-flying ally-oops and dunks are rare), but is built on hard work at both ends of the court. Their game is focused on exploiting any weaknesses the opposition presents.

This year’s team is once again at the top of the table. After this weekend’s wins over Ryerson and Toronto, the Ravens are 10-0 in league play and 17-0 against Canadian opposition overall. They are the No. 1-ranked team nationally in the coaches’ poll, are first in the RPI index created by The CIS Blog and No. 1 in the CISHoops.ca rankings.

The team is as intense as its coach. Part of the charm of attending a Ravens game is watching Smart patrol the coaching box, constantly working the officials or correcting his players. The Ravens aim to create a family-friendly atmosphere at games by catering to their younger fans. At most home games, there are booths where children can make signs supporting their favourite Ravens and they set up small basketball hoops behind the court so youngsters can run around and blow off some steam.

Photo credit: Murray McComb Photography

For more seasoned fans, the Ravens have also introduced a beer garden at select home games this season.

The men’s team has been at, or near, the top of the heap for the better part of a decade, but the Ravens’ women’s program is also beginning to earn its chops. The Lady Ravens lead the OUA East with an 8-2 conference record this season and are ranked seventh in the country.

Carleton has four regular-season home games remaining at the Ravens’ Nest this year: Jan. 21 versus Laurentian University; Jan. 22 versus York University; Jan. 28 versus Royal Military College and Jan. 29 versus Queen’s University. In addition the Ravens host their cross-town rivals, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, Jan. 26 at Scotiabank Place.

For women’s and men’s doubleheader games at the Ravens’ Nest, tickets range from $5-$8 for youth under 14 and Carleton students, $8-$10 for seniors and non-Carleton students and $10-12 for adults.

Thanks for the great post  Peter…Go Ravens!