The Gee-Gees are trying to break one streak and continue another at this Friday’s MBNA Capital Hoops Classic. Ottawa will try to maintain its undefeated record this season while defeating the Carleton Ravens at the Canadian Tire Centre for the first time since 2007. For the second straight year, the game will feature the no. 1 and no. 2 ranked teams in the nation on the biggest basketball stage in Ottawa.
No player on uOttawa’s current roster has ever won at the MBNA Capital Hoops Classic. “We remember last year’s result pretty well. We want to win and take home the first Capital Hoops win for this group but we will have to put in a much better effort than last year. At this point of the season this game comes down to just bragging rights basically and to bring home the trophy,” said fourth-year Gee-Gees forward Vikas Gill on Tuesday afternoon.
“The key for us is to be able to match our focus to our energy level. Whenever teams play in this game, energy is never an issue. It's whether or not you can play at that intensity and still execute. If we are able to do this better, we have a chance to win the game. We haven't been successful in the past at accomplishing this,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin who won the Ottawa Sports Award for male head coach of the year last week.
Last year’s Capital Hoops ended in a lopsided 82-58 defeat for Ottawa after the team shot just 31.8 per cent from the field. The Gee-Gees will be bringing forth a much different lineup this time around with the emergence of Caleb Agada who is having his best season yet in the CIS, averaging 17.4 points and 8.8 rebounds. Meanwhile, fifth-year shooting guard Johnny Berhanemeskel is ranked third in the country in scoring with 22.6 points per game while dishing out 4.4 assists, leading Ottawa to its perfect 14-0 record.
uOttawa took at close 68-66 victory last time the teams met, following an all-out nail-biting fourth quarter. The Gee-Gees held a 15 point lead heading into the final frame but were unable to ride it out and Carleton came storming back to tie the game up in the dying minutes. Johnny Berhanemeskel played hero once again for the Gee-Gees however, hitting a last minute leaner to give the garnet and grey the two point victory.
“Hopefully the game won’t have to come down to late theatrics, but if our last three games is any indicator there will be tons of emotions on the court. We've had the last month to look over what we did well last time we played them and what we didn’t do so well. Offence will come for us but we will need to play defence to stay in the game,” said Berhanemeskel. “They play really well at the Canadian Tire Centre. We have played our share of games there so we just have to play our style and keep our identity.”
January was a tough month for the Carleton Ravens as their top dog status has been blemished, suffering two losses in two weeks. First it was the Gee-Gees who were able to hold down home court. Perhaps shaken from losing their no.1 national ranking, the Ravens would then drop another close game on the road to the Windsor Lancers. They will be looking to finish the season strong as the playoffs approach.
The game will tip off at 8 p.m., directly after the women’s game, and will be broadcast live on Rogers Cable 23 (French) and on TSN 1200. Rogers Cable 22 will air an English broadcast at 10 p.m. The game will also be webcast live on www.OUA.tv.