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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEW: OPENING SEASON AT BROCK AND MCMASTER

Thursday November 10, 2011

Women’s Basketball (0-0 OUA)

At Brock (0-0 OUA) on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 6:00 p.m.

At McMaster (0-0 OUA) on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 6:00 p.m.

The Gee-Gees will officially debut their 2011-2012 team this weekend as they travel to Brock and McMaster to open their season.

The Gee-Gees finished third in the OUA East last year with a 14-8 record. The Gee-Gees missed the CIS championships, losing the OUA fifth-place game to Western 60-44.

The Gee-Gees finished this pre-season with a 3-3 record and are ranked tenth in the pre-season CIS top ten, behind Windsor (2) and Carleton (3).

The Gee-Gees brought in strong experience and leadership as well as talented young rookies after a strong off-season recruiting campaign. Head coach Andy Sparks attributes this successful recruitment on multiple factors, “People look at us as a place they want to play. They see the success of our program; we’ve been to nationals two of the last three years. And Ottawa is an attractive city to come to.”

The Gee-Gees signed first-year national team point guard Kellie Ring (Ottawa, Ont.) late last year already, which Sparks also credits with the success of recruiting, as a skilled point guard is a strong pull for other players to come. Sparks notes Ring as “a very nice addition for us; she’s physically strong and ready to play at the CIS level. She was probably the top recruit in Canada this year.”

The Gee-Gees added experience with fifth-years Elizabeth Lennox (Ottawa, Ont.) and Teddi Firmi-Kuehn (Kitchener, Ont.), who are both completing their Master’s at uOttawa. Lennox was a first-team all-Canadian post player and team captain of Western last season. Point guard Firmi-Kuehn comes from Queen’s and was named the 2008 OUA East defensive player of the year. Both players bring strong leadership skills to the Gee-Gees.

As for the seven new rookies Sparks added this year, “They’re all doing well, but it’s going to be a progression for the first years.” In addition to Ring, guard Maddie Stephen (Toronto, Ont.) is another one of the top recruits in the country. Ariane Lachance-Scantland (Gatineau, Qué.) and Emilie Vachon (Ottawa, Ont.) should also be making regular appearances on the court for the Gee-Gees, though not until possibly after Christmas for Vachon due to injury.

And the returning front looks just as promising for the Gee-Gees with OUA East player of the year and first team all-star fifth-year centre Hannah Sunley-Paisley (Toronto, Ont.) and second team all-star fourth-year centre Jenna Gilbert (Ottawa, Ont.) returning, both who led the Gee-Gees in scoring last season.

Taking on the title of captain for the Gee-Gees is Firmi-Kuehn, Lennox and Gilbert. “We’re coming from the perspective we control our own destiny this year,” said Sparks, “Whatever happens with us, this group, if they come together and all the pieces work together, we can compete with anyone in the country.”

“The last three years, we’ve not been quite as solid as we are this year,” said Sparks, “We’ve been competitive but we haven’t been able to get over the top. Hopefully everything comes together and we’ll see what happens.”

It’s going to be an exciting season for the Gee-Gees, and be sure to stay tuned to www.geegees.ca for full coverage. The Gee-Gees home opener will be November 18 at 6:00 p.m. against Windsor at Montpetit Hall.