The Carleton Ravens are used to being the top-ranked team in Canadian university men’s basketball.
The Ravens have won the U-Sport national championship 14 times in the last 16 years.
Dave Smart is still in charge of basketball operations, but stepped down as head coach to take a consulting job with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
Taffe Charles has taken over the coaching reigns from Smart and the Ravens haven’t missed a beat. They opened the season with convincing victories over Laurier and Waterloo and once again find themselves on top of the U-Sport national rankings.
This Friday, the Ravens travel to Kingston to play the 3-1 Queen’s Gaels.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for our young team,” said Gaels guard Quinton Gray.
The fourth-year economics student from Richmond Hill looks forward to the challenge of playing the best team in the country.
“It’s something you have to embrace,” continued Gray, the team’s leading scorer.
“We know we have to play near-perfect basketball to beat them. It’s not something were going to shy away from. We respect them but we’re not afraid of them.
“We have a game plan and hopefully we can stick to it.”
Harry Range is another fourth-year Gael who looks forward to the challenge of playing the Ravens.
“You can’t treat them differently than any other squad in the OUA,” said Range, a six-foot-six-inch forward from Carp, Ont.
“It’s no secret that rebounding is the key to success on Friday,” added Range.
“If we can out-rebound them, we will give ourselves a chance. As Quinton mentioned, we can’t be afraid of them. We will lose the game before it even starts if we come out scared against them.
“Our coach, Stefan Barrie, won’t let that happen and neither will we. We have to play to the best of our ability for 40 minutes. If we do that, we believe we can beat any team in the country.”
It’s a double-header on Friday at the Queen’s Athletic Centre. The ladies play the Ravens at 6 p.m. and the men’s game will follow.