The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team will host two of its preseason opponents this weekend, facing Queen’s and York with OUA seeding on the line this time. Ottawa defeated both of these teams in October and should be looked on as the favourites again. However, Queen’s has built a steady 7-3 record while York, at 3-7, has a history of registering upsets.
Back home after splitting a weekend in Toronto, Ottawa is ranked no. 2 in the country with a 9-1 regular season record. Last week was the first time this season that the team was without the services of all-star Caleb Agada and head coach James Derouin is looking for his younger players to step up again this weekend to fill the gap. While not a younger player, Medhi Tihani had another quality weekend in Toronto, extending his recent period of standout play.
The fourth-year guard has always been noted for his defensive abilities, but Derouin notes that his offensive game has been at an all-time high this season. “He’s playing very well and he’s not forcing it,” describes the coach. In his last four games the Gloucester, Ont., product has poured in 52 points on 17-26 shooting. At Ryerson Tihani picked a season-high up six assists and he has committed just 10 turnovers this season. He is shooting 44 per cent from three-point range on the year, ranked fifth in the OUA. Tihani also had a 17-point performance against York in the preseason.
Sukhpreet Singh will likely draw Tihani as his defensive matchup on Friday night. Singh is leading the Gaels with 20.9 points per game in a breakout fourth season. The elusive guard gets to the free throw line frequently and has been taking more three-pointers this year but still relies mostly on shorter range scoring. Derouin notes that Queen’s has also benefitted from the return of fourth-year point guard Mark Paclibar since the teams met in preseason. Paclibar provides another complementary option to the impressive inside presence the Gaels have in the form of Ryall Stroud, Mike Shoveller, and Tanner Graham. Stroud in particular has come on strong lately, scoring 25 points at Ryerson two weeks ago.
York presents an athletic team which runs quickly through its bench while mixing defences to keep the pressure on. Veteran point guard Shane Reader and third-year Nathan Culbreath are the major threats for the Lions.
Notably for Ottawa, with nine games remaining in the regular season Mike L’Africain is 40 assists away from pulling ahead of Josh Gibson-Bascombe in the Gee-Gees all time record books. He notched his season-high of nine last week at Toronto.
Tickets are available online and each ticket is $2 cheaper when purchased at least 2 hours before game time. Each basketball ticket includes access to the women’s game at 6 p.m., and the men’s game at 8 p.m., so in order to save you must purchase before 4 p.m.
Every Gee-Gees regular season game, home and away, will be broadcast on OUA.tv.