Home Opening weekend is always exciting, but never before has it taken place at uOttawa with a team ranked no. 1 in the nation. The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team will take to the court at Montpetit Hall on Friday at 8 p.m. to put into action the lessons learned through the past month of exhibition action, which included an 8-1 record against CIS teams and a memorable trip to Indiana to face the Hoosiers.
The team returned to Ottawa early Wednesday morning and will have just one team practice before tipping off the regular season against the Nipissing Lakers on Friday night. Still, much preparation has already been done and the team now has a fuller understanding of how it can look with both transfer players Nathan McCarthy and Brody Maracle in the lineup. Each post player has shown strengths in recent games; McCarthy showed off a soft touch on his jumper and solid back-up post moves against Indiana which will be difficult for OUA competition to keep up with, while Maracle’s athleticism and passing have impressed.
The Gee-Gees missed Vikas Gill on the Indiana trip, and the fifth-year will return this weekend to join Mike L’Africain and Caleb Agada as the established Ottawa starters. Brandon Robinson steps into a starting role in his second season, and is developing his confidence attacking the rim in addition to the smooth shooting stoke which saw him net 40 per cent of his three-point attempts last season during limited minutes.
Fourth-years Mehdi Tihani and Matt Plunkett continue to play key roles, stepping in seamlessly to provide some of the most enviable depth in the CIS. Notably, sophomore forward Mackenzie Morrison will also return to the lineup shortly after suffering a shoulder injury in August against Baylor and undergoing surgery which kept him out of all but one exhibition game thus far.
The Gee-Gees led the CIS in scoring in both 2013-14 and 2014-15 and have shown no signs of slowing down. Ottawa hung an average of 110 points on their upcoming opponents, Nipissing and Laurentian, over a five game span last season.
“We have forty minutes of tape to watch,” said head coach James Derouin after the Indiana loss on Tuesday night. “They expose even the slightest weakness that you have and, as a coach, I love that because now we get to work on that. It’s about getting better for later on.”
The regular season begins Friday at 8 p.m., and tickets are available online. Each ticket is $2 cheaper when purchased in advance at least 2 hours before game time, however in the case of basketball that discount applies to the 6 p.m start time of the women’s game as the ticket is good for both games.
All Gee-Gees home and away games during the regular season will be broadcast on OUA.tv.