The no. 2 ranked uOttawa men’s basketball team is set to get the regular season started this weekend. It was a successful pre-season for the Gee-Gees and they will try to carry that into the regular season when they welcome the no. 4 ranked McMaster Marauders and the Brock Badgers to town for the home opening weekend.
Both games will tip-off at 8 p.m. at Montpetit Hall following the women’s games at 6 p.m. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets online.
All 2014-15 OUA regular season and playoff games will be webcast on OUA.tv.
The Marauders are expected to be an elite force in the OUA this season after welcoming back all their players from last season and introducing important talent in guard David McCulloch and 6-7 forward Connor Gilmore. McMaster made a splash last season, participating in both the OUA Final Four and the CIS Final Eight and is expected to be one of the league’s power houses again this season.
A veteran group of fifth and fourth year players comprise McMaster’s starting line-up and players such Taylor Black, Adam Presutti, Aaron Redpath and Joe Rocca will make up what will be a strong group of veterans for the Hamilton squad. The Gee-Gees who also have veteran group will attempt to shut down them on Friday night to open the season.
“I think they will be one of the best teams in the country this year and have what is probably the deepest roster. They are ready to make their move and this could be their breakthrough year. That just means that we will have to be at our very best on Friday if we are going to take the win,” commented head coach James Derouin.
The Badgers will be in Ottawa for game two of the weekend set to take place on Saturday night. Brock will be looking to rebound from a 107-70 loss to the Gee-Gees at the McGill Redbird classic tournament earlier in the pre-season. In their only meeting last season, uOttawa handed Brock a 90-67 defeat on their home court.
The garnet and grey will be attempting to repeat what was a storied season last year as they took home their first Wilson Cup and OUA tittle since the 1992-93 season while they captured the silver medal at the CIS national championship.
Ottawa has yet to lose on home court since a 111-107 triple overtime loss to the Carleton Ravens on February 16, 2013. They also hold a 43-3 record in their last 46 games played again CIS competition and will be looking to better that record this weekend.
The Gee-Gees have yet to practice with their full squad as they are still missing important pieces such an OUA all-star and the league’s third highest scorer last season, Alex Ratté, who is suffering from a patella injury and is expected to be out 3-4 weeks. Meanwhile starting point guard Mike L’Africain has missed significant time in the pre-season due to a groin injury but will be back on the court this weekend for the season opener.
“Once all the pieces come together we will be a strong team. We are off to a great start but we still have a lot of work to do. We understand that there are a lot of expectations on us here but we don’t let that impact our locker room at all,” added Derouin. “We also have some players that are questionable here and that is why I think that you will see this team rolling around the same time as last year which was towards the final stretch of the season. It’s going to take hard word, discipline and a bit of luck but if all those things come together I think we have another shot at a national championship.”
“I’m feeling a lot better and almost back to one hundred per cent. I am regaining my full form that I had early in the pre-season,” said point guard Mike L’Africain. “Having some time off for this injury and not being able to practice gave me some time to learn a few things about myself as well as the team so that is the silver lining in this situation.”