The uOttawa Gee-Gees men’s basketball team has enjoyed two weeks of home action to open the new year and continue its 20-game winning streak. The no. 1 ranked team in the nation will now be tested on the road; the team is now slated to play their next six games away from Montpetit Hall.
The road swing starts this weekend when the garnet and grey make their way to Western University followed by a Top Ten matchup with the no. 5 ranked Windsor Lancers on Saturday night. Both teams have performed well as of late - the Mustangs are currently riding a four-game winning streak while Windsor has managed to stay within the top ten throughout the season thanks to solid play from a young group.
Windsor will be the first time this season that the Gee-Gees meet a ranked opponent on the road. The Lancers have a 7-3 record with losses against no. 3 Ryerson and no. 4 McMaster, as well as a surprise overtime loss to Western on the opening game of 2015.
“This is definitely our toughest weekend of the season. Windsor and Western on the road is without question the toughest road trip we face. Two quality opponents at home on a back-to-back is always challenging. The key for us will again be our energy and our focus. We saw the difference in those two areas this weekend and how important they can be for our team,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin.
Western’s Greg Morrow will be uOttawa’s major point of focus on Friday as the fourth-year has been on a tear for the Mustangs, averaging 20.5 points per game and 7.2 rebounds. Morrow is averaging 24.5 points over his last four games and as a player who can play any position on the court, the Gee-Gees will have to throw all their defensive weapons at him this weekend.
Saturday night will be no easier for the squad as they will be facing Rotimi Osuntola and the Windsor Lancers for a highly touted Top Ten matchup. Osuntola is averaging a dominating 20.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game so far this season and will be looking to put in the same type of performance this weekend. Windsor has an excellent inside game as they are ranked near the top of the league in field goals made per game while they are second in the country in free throws made with 19.1.
“Both Windsor and Western present some difficult matchups with their unique lineups. Western has Greg Morrow who basically plays the centre for them as well as point guard. They have a small quick lineup that plays extremely hard and will definitely test us in ways that we don't see very often,” said Derouin. “Windsor does the same with Osuntolo, who is in the top ten in both rebounding and scoring in the OUA and plays both the post and guard positions. We are going to have our hands full with both of these players and if we aren't ready, we could be in trouble.”
The Gee-Gees will look for continued strong play from Mehdi Tihani who has stepped into the starting lineup for injured starting point guard Mike L’Africain. Moe Ismail has also been strong in L’Africain’s absence, averaging 9.0 points and 3.0 rebounds off the bench last weekend while shooting 5-11 from downtown.
“My goal each night when I check into the game is just to focus defensively. I try to bring as much energy as I can and communicate on that end of the floor. Offensively I look to bring a scoring touch off the bench by taking good shots and stretching out the floor for our guys who attack and find. This road trip is going to be a great test for this team with a top five matchup,” said Ismail.
“There’s been a lot of excitement around the team since our big win over Carleton. The challenge has been to stay focused and keep the same work ethic as before that win,” added the third-year. “Heading into this weekend our focus will be on the glass and making sure the ball keeps moving without Mike [L’Africain]. We have to share the ball and get into our running game.”
Both games are set for the regular 8 p.m. tip-off time and will be available for online streaming on OUA.tv