With the regular season opener now just a little more than a month away, the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team will spend much of October taking part in CIS exhibition tournaments to put the final touches on a new-look squad. First up will be a big trip to Vancouver to participate in the UBC Invitational from October 2-4.
In addition to the host Thunderbirds, who went 14-6 last regular season and finished the season ranked no. 9, Ottawa will also face the Alberta Golden Bears and UNBC Timberwolves on the trip. Alberta also finished with a 14-6 record and was ranked no. 10, while UNBC finished second in the Canada West Explorer Division with a 12-8 record. It will be an important early test for the Gee-Gees, all on the floor which will host the 2016 CIS Final 8.
For Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin, who admits that venue familiarity could be a bonus for his team looking to qualify for nationals for the fourth straight season, the trip is another experience for his team which enjoyed a visit to South Korea over the summer.
This one is more personal for the coach, who was shaped in many ways by the time he lived in Vancouver as a student and a developing coach. Before coming to Ottawa to put on the Garnet and Grey, the coach played three seasons at Vancouver’s Langara College, winning the national championship in 1999. He also served as an assistant coach with the Thunderbirds for two seasons.
“I have very strong ties to Vancouver with a lot of family and friends, so I am thrilled to be able to finally bring the team there,” says Derouin, who enters his sixth season as head coach.
The Garnet and Grey recently travelled to Belleville, Ont., to get their game legs going in a 119-71 win over the Loyalist College Lancers. Mehdi Tihani, playing from the wing more than the point, scored twenty points and the team sank 20 three-pointers. Brody Maracle continues to impress Derouin with his inside presence, but Gee-Gees fans will have to wait until the Jack Donohue Tip-off Tournament on October 30 to see the second half of Ottawa’s post-man duo; Nathan McCarthy will make his debut then.
“The team has really come together since the NCAA games,” says Derouin, referring to the four games played in August. “This is a very different team from a year ago, and we have spent the last month getting the new guys up to speed and also adjusting to new leadership in the locker room and on the floor. It’s going to take a lot of work, but when all the pieces are in place, I think we can be a very good team.”
Gee-Gees Upcoming Exhibition Schedule:
October 2 5 p.m. vs. Alberta at UBC
October 3 7 p.m. vs. UBC at UBC
October 4 11:30 a.m. vs. UNBC at UBC
October 16 4 p.m. vs. UQAM at Queen’s
October 17 4 p.m. vs. Cape Breton at Queen’s
October 18 4 p.m. vs. Queen’s at Queen’s
October 30 6 p.m. vs. York at Montpetit Hall
October 31 8 p.m. vs. UNB at Montpetit Hall
November 1 2 p.m. vs. McGill at Montpetit Hall