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CAPITAL HOOPS PREVIEW: Gee-Gees in underdog mode

Thursday February 2, 2017
Joueuse de basketball tentant d'aller faire un panier.
Photo: 
Greg Mason

GAME INFO:

Ottawa (10-4) vs Carleton (13-1)
Friday, February 3
6 p.m.
Canadian Tire Centre
Tickets available online
Webcast on OUA.tv (Carleton production)

The uOttawa Gee-Gees women’s basketball team heads to the Canadian Tire Centre on Friday for the eleventh annual Capital Hoops Classic against cross-town rivals, the Carleton Ravens. In the second meeting of the season, uOttawa will look to replicate the strong defence played on January 17 against high-profile Raven Heather Lindsay, and improve on setting screens and transition on offence in order to turn around the 57-50 result.

Kellie Forand will be entering her fourth Classic on Friday and she explains the atmosphere from an player’s perspective. “It's about defending our colours and showing what we're made of. And of course playing in front of 10,000 people makes it fun!”

In the 2016 edition of Capital Hoops, uOttawa fell to the Ravens by a 73-50 score. Head coach Sparks reflects on the game as the Gee-Gees are days away from the next installment, “I don’t want our players to step into this game like we did last year: not focused. We didn’t bring it last year. I don’t think that will happen to us again.”

Carleton have dropped one place in the national rankings, now sitting at no. 5, and are on a thirteen game winning streak. The Ravens recently defeated Windsor 70-59 and Western 78-57, whereas uOttawa had split results. Sparks said, “We are absolutely the underdog there is no question. If Carleton has all of their pieces we will be the underdog in the game, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose the game. It means you have got to do some special things to make it work.”

In the January 17 meeting at Montpetit Hall, Katherine Lemoine’s defensive performance on Lindsay in the post helped the Gee-Gees keep the Ravens below their 69.8 points per game average. In Lemoine’s injury-caused absence, uOttawa will have to adjust in order to defend Carleton offensive power houses, Catherine Traer and Lindsay by doubling down, using zone defense, and rotating players. Although not ideal, the task is not insurmountable for the Gee-Gees who have seen players stepping up throughout the season like the recent offensive performances of Brooklyn McAlear-Fanus, and Jen Crowe.

With all eyes on the premiere event Friday, Sparks keeps his sights on the big picture. “There isn’t really pressure on us right now to say we have to win that Canadian Tire Centre game. That’s not the pressure. The pressure right now is internally from us saying we have to get better and be ready to peak at the end of the season."

Come out to the Capital Hoops Classic to watch uOttawa battle Carleton Ravens at the Canadian Tire Centre with thousands of fans from both universities and the community. Student tickets are sold out on campus, however general public tickets are still available online.

Fans are reminded that the Canadian Tire Centre has strict no bags and no re-entry policies.  As well, those fans who are visibly intoxicated will not be granted admission to the venue.

Since its debut in 2006, the Capital Hoops Classic has generated some of the highest recorded attendance figures in the history of U SPORTS basketball. The inaugural game, which featured only a men's match-up, attracted 9,730 fans. In 2009, a new record was set when the Canadian Tire Centre hosted 10,523 people for the double-header event. That record was broken in 2015 when 10,780 basketball fans took in the action.