After an 8-0 start to the regular season and a sixth straight exhibition tournament win, the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team now shifts its focus to the biggest challenge of the campaign to date. The rivalry between the Carleton Ravens and the uOttawa Gee-Gees will be renewed this Saturday when the Ravens make their way to Montpetit Hall for a 7 p.m. start.
Tickets are on sale online and are expected to sell out.
The rivalry between the two schools has been nothing short of spectacular in past years, growing last season when the Gee-Gees defeated the Ravens at the OUA Championship with a breathtaking come from behind victory thanks to a last minute jumper by Johnny Berhanemeskel. The Ravens got the last word however as they took out the Gee-Gees in the CIS Final Eight championship in Ottawa last March.
Ranked first and second in the nation, the two teams have been dominant, building a combined record of 100-4 over the last two seasons against CIS competition. All four losses have come against each other.
“This is the type of game that I don’t have to say a word to the guys in terms of motivation. We know too well who ended our season last year,” said head coach James Derouin. “I’m expecting a big game because there is so much emotion and passion involved in these games that anything can happen. With that said we feel good heading into this one. We have played them a lot in past years and we are looking to use what we have learned this weekend.”
Carleton’s league best points allowed per game (57.2) and the Gee-Gees’ league leading offence averaging 99.8 points per game is a combination that will surely result in another nail biting contest between the squads. uOttawa’s Johnny Berhanemeskel will look to continue his torrid pace as he is averaging 23.1 points per game and 4.8 assists in what will be his final season with the garnet and grey.
The fifth-year knows too well what kind of rivalry exists between the two schools and will be looking to hold down home court versus the Ravens for possibly the final time. “I think all of us wish we could play them on home court at least once every year, so taking advantage of our home court will be important,” said Berhanemeskel. “We haven’t played them in a while, team dynamics have changed on both sides so it will be key to prepare for those changes while maintaining our style.”
The Ravens are without three important pieces from a year ago, losing Tyson Hinz, Kevin Churchill and Clinton Springer-Williams over the off-season. Connor Wood and J.E. Pierre-Charles have taken their spots in the starting five and performed well for the no. 1 ranked Ravens.
“I have the utmost respect for what they do at Carleton. They have managed to fill big shoes and continue to produce at the highest level. There is a chance that we will meet them again in the post-season so we are excited about having them here and being able to play a game on home court,” added Derouin.
The Gee-Gees and Ravens are at a deadlock atop the OUA north division standings with 8-0 records as both teams have plowed through their competition this season. The winner of Saturday’s contest will take over the top spot in the standings and take an undeniable edge into the Capital Hoops Classic which is right around the corner and could be the decisive factor as to which team will finish the season with the better playoff position.
“It’s an important game because the winning team could take an edge into the playoffs. In this type of game it’s important for us to work hard in practice during the week and be prepared for the test. There is no doubt that last year’s result at the Final Eight championship is still in our minds and we will use it as motivation,” said fifth-year centre Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue.
The last time the Ravens travelled across the city, uOttawa fans witnessed an epic triple overtime loss in which Carleton’s Scrubb brothers combined for 62 points and 25 rebounds. If recent history is any indicator in what is to come this weekend, it will be a game that university basketball fans across the country will be paying close attention to.
The game will be webcast on OUA.tv and presented live on Rogers Cable 22.