After finishing the regular season as top dog in the OUA the Gee-Gees are now set to begin their quest for a second consecutive Wilson Cup, starting this Saturday when they host the Laurentian Voyageurs (9) at Montpetit Hall. uOttawa finished the regular season with a 18-1 record with the lone loss coming at the hands of the Carleton Ravens.
The Gee-Gees, along with the Carleton, Ryerson and McMaster were given a bye ahead of the first round of the playoffs and will be in action this weekend. The Gee-Gees will play Laurentian who defeated the York Lions 87-84 on Wednesday night to extend their season. Ryan Bennett came up big for Laurentian notching 30 points and five boards in the contest.
Laurentian fell short by a large margin when they faced Ottawa in the regular season, suffering a 112-73 loss on the road. Johnny Berhanemeskel had a big night for the men in garnet and grey posting 24 points and five assists on 4-9 shooting from long distance.
"Luckily we have just played them recently so most of the preparation was already done. Had we gotten a team we might not have seen since November, it could have been much more difficult," said head coach James Derouin on Wednesday.
"Laurentian is a tough team to match up with, they have some really versatile players that cause us some problems."
"We try to use our speed and our ability to shoot the three to space those bigger teams out and open up driving lanes for us. At times we can put up to five forty per cent shooters on the floor. We feel like if we compete on the glass then we can neutralize the size advantage with our shooting and transition game," added Derouin.
The Gee-Gees will be looking to Johnny Berhanemeskel to lead the offence in what will be his last couple of weeks in a Gee-Gees uniform. Another Gee-Gee taking his last chance at a national championship will be Gatineau native Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue. The 6-foot-6 centre has had a solid season, averaging 10.7 points per game and 4.9 boards. His most impressive numbers however would have to be his OUA leading 58.3 field goal percentage.
“We have to remind ourselves of what brought us here and what our identity is. We like to get up and down the floor, the ball is flying and we need to use all of our weapons because that's when we’re dangerous,” said Berhanemeskel ahead of Saturday's matchup. “I think that the key to being a championship team is just giving everything you got, the hours of practice, video, team bonding. Those are all things we have used in our past playoff runs. We want to play for each other more than ever in the next couple of weeks.”
The garnet and grey have had some solid playoff runs in past years, making it to the CIS Final Eight Championships for the past two seasons while capturing a bronze and silver medal along the way. Last year’s loss to the Ravens in the championship final is not something the Gee-Gees have forgotten however as it is still very much in the back of every players mind.
“Finishing my career with a national championship win would really be a great accomplishment. The cherry on top of the sundae as the expression goes. We have worked so hard to get this kind of championship pedigree here so it would really be my biggest feat,” said Gonthier-Dubue. “What motivates me most is finishing my career on top with a group of players that really deserve to have all of their efforts pay off.”
If the Gee-Gees are able to come out with a victory on Saturday they will host this year’s OUA Final Four championship. The Gee-Gees defeated the Carleton Ravens 78-77 in last year’s Wilson Cup, capturing their first Wilson Cup since the 1992-93 season.
Saturday’s game will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. and will be available for online viewing on OUA.tv. For a full schedule of the 2015 playoffs and other information visit oua.ca.