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Uottawa

FEATURE PREVIEW: #9 Gee-Gees face off against Northern Ontario foes

Friday January 19, 2018
team lineup
Photo: 
Ellen Bond

On Friday night, a matchup with the Nipissing Lakers promises to be an exciting affair, last season, the Lakers made great strides in the competitiveness of the matchup between teams.

In both meetings last year, the Gee-Gees fought to 16-point wins, while the year before, they cruised to 25 and 42-point victories. As Nipissing enters their fourth season in the OUA, the team is establishing themselves with a tough identity, and with a handful of Ottawa natives on their roster, it is a fun game filled with locally produced talent.

On Saturday, the U SPORTS ninth-ranked Gee-Gees gear up for a marquee meeting with the U SPORTS seventh-ranked Laurentian Voyageurs.

Though their matchups have been lopsided in favour of the Gee-Gees in recent years, there is always an increased level of competition between teams. In their final meeting last season, in the OUA quarterfinal was a competitive 93-81 win for Ottawa.

This season, the Voyageurs have proven to be a dangerous bunch, making light work of their OUA schedule thus far, heading into the weekend with a 12-1 record. Coming off of a win at home against Ryerson, Laurentian will have two more tests on their trip to the Capital for matchups with Carleton and the Gee-Gees.

Ottawa, will be looking to set the record straight among the OUA elite this weekend, with two wins, the Gee-Gees could find themselves back in second place in the OUA East. After splitting last weekend’s road trip to York and Queen’s, the team is trying to get back to the consistency that won them eight consecutive games prior to last Saturday’s loss in Kingston.

Shifting identities has been a theme for the Gee-Gees this year, with injury woes, and the integration of new players, each game is a feeling out process. When the the team clicks, they are as dominant as any, proven by their performance against high-level competition this season.

A core group of four veteran players have been the lifeblood to the Gee-Gees team this season, Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles, Brody Maracle, Sean Stoqua, and Brandon Robinson have all had a key hand in the team’s success this season.

Pierre-Charles, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder with 14.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game has missed the team’s last four games with an ankle injury. In all likelihood returning to the lineup this weekend, Pierre-Charles and Maracle, who played through an illness last weekend, will be back in game action together for the first time since Nov. 10.

In the pair’s only two full regular season games this season, they tallied a combined 68 points and 27 rebounds. As both approach full health, a tandem of dominant forwards paired with the scoring prowess and defence provided by guards Stoqua and Robinson the Gee-Gees could be hitting their stride at the perfect time.

“We spent the week preparing for both teams and getting our guys rested after a tough road trip,” said Gee-Gees lead assistant coach Ryan Barbeau. “Defensively we have to figure out what to do against one of the best offensive players in the country. Even after the Queen’s loss, it’s not a bad thing. We learned a ton of stuff from that game, so we got to work on that during the week and hope to put it in play this weekend.”

Laurentian’s Kadre Gray has established himself as one of the nation’s most dominant players, averaging 26.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game. Guards Nelson Yengue and David Aromolaran round out the Voyageurs’ attack, averaging 15.4 and 14.8 points per game.

Laurentian ranks either first or second in the OUA in 11 statistical categories, but the Gee-Gees understand the strength of their defence, and if they can move the ball effectively on offence, they have the tools to win the game.

“We go in to every game hoping that our defence gets us through and knowing that Laurentian and Nipissing are super athletic teams, we’re going to have to score in a variety of ways. With Brody and those guys back at 100 per cent hopefully we can do that,” said Barbeau.

Tip-off at Montpetit Hall is set for 8 p.m. both nights, with the games streaming live on OUA.tv.