The match-ups are set and fans are gathering as the University of Ottawa prepares to host the OUA Final Four championship at Montpetit Hall. The Gee-Gees earned the right to host after finishing the season as top seed in the OUA. The other teams featured at the Final Four are the Carleton Ravens (2), Ryerson Rams (3) and the Windsor Lancers (5). The Lancers will play the Gee-Gees at 6 p.m. on Friday to tip off the tournament.
The Gee-Gees proved they were ready for the big stage last Saturday went they put an end to the Laurentian Voyageurs season with a big 116-71 victory on home court. Caleb Agada was dynamite for Ottawa; the third-year from Burlington, Ont. stepped up his play as he has done each year in the post season.
Agada reached his peak last weekend however, falling one assist short of a triple-double as he finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. He was named uOttawa’s Male Athlete of the Week for the performance.
“We grind all year long to get ourselves into a good position come playoff time so when we get there I’m unbelievably motivated on and off the court. I just try to go out there and play hard to help my team win,” commented Agada. “It will be important for me to stay out of foul trouble. I don’t think I’ve truly mastered how to do that yet but I just need to be selective with the fouls I give.”
The Lancers proved to everyone that they are a playoff contender this post-season as they as they defeated the Toronto Varsity Blues followed by the McMaster Marauders with both wins coming in decisive fashion. Windsor has been somewhat of a question mark team this season coming up with big wins at key moments but failing to remain consistent at times. As many may remember, Windsor upset the Carleton Ravens 74-71 in the regular season but lost to both Ottawa and Ryerson.
“What makes Windsor so difficult to play is their athleticism, their size and their ability to rebound the ball. We are a bit more of finesse team so we are really going to have to play hard out there to compete,” said uOttawa head coach James Derouin. “If you look at how they have played so far in the playoffs you can see that they won their games with toughness so we have to be ready.”
“We have to try to find a balance and figure out how to take away what they do without sacrificing what we do best. It’s going to be question of who adjusts quickest and how well teams adjust. Whoever can do that will win the game,” added Derouin.
Windsor plays a tough brand of basketball as they averaged 14.7 offensive rebounds per game during the regular season while leading the league in overall rebounding averaging 45.0. Rotimi Osuntola was the major reason for that, leading the country with 11.2 rebounds per game while scoring at a high rate as well averaging 20.2 during the regular season.
uOttawa will look to use its experience to its advantage this weekend as 10 of their players were on last year’s Wilson Cup winning team. The Gee-Gees will also be putting a long lasting home winning streak on the line as they have not suffered a loss at home since a triple-overtime defeat to the Carleton Ravens in 2013, going 27-0 since.
“It’s hard not to overstate how important playing at home is. We love playing at home in front of our fans. Winning in front of them is one of the best feelings as a player and definitely motivates us when we are on the court,” added Agada.
It will be a familiar atmosphere for most teams coming into the tournament as three of the four teams are returning from last year’s Final Four tournament. The lone team not having participated in the event in recent years is Ryerson, who were knocked out of the playoffs by the Gee-Gees in 2013 and 2014.
What made matters worse Ryerson was the fact that they were the host school for the Final Four in both those seasons, before the OUA restructured the playoff format prior to this season. The Rams will without a doubt be looking for revenge this weekend as they will attempt to return the favour. First, the Rams will have to get through the Carleton Ravens – their opponent in Friday’s 8 p.m. semifinal.
Ryerson will be hosting the CIS Final 8 National Championship from March 12-15 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto, earning an automatic bid as the event’s host. The two other highest finishing teams in the OUA will also earn a spot to compete for the W.P McGee Trophy.
The Gee-Gees and Lancers contest will be the first game of the weekend as they are set to tip off shortly after 6:00 p.m. The first block of tickets for Saturday’s final sold out earlier in the week and a second block was released Tuesday, but they are expected to sell out quickly. Tickets for Friday’s semifinals are still available online.
6 p.m. – Ottawa vs. Windsor
8 p.m – Carleton vs. Ryerson
OUA Bronze Medal Game
6 p.m. – TBD
OUA Wilson Cup championship game
8 p.m. – TBD