Back in December, if you would have told third-year guard Warren Ward, London, Ont., that he and the Gee-Gees would be playing in this weekend’s OUA Final Four with an opportunity to qualify for national championships, chances are he would have just brushed you off with a chuckle.
“I won’t lie, after the one and six start probably not. I mean, I had a lot of mixed feelings. I pictured the season going completely differently after my first two years here. It’s been a battle, but I’m actually happier it turned out this way because we’re peaking at the right time,” said Warren in response to his team playing in the OUA Final Four.
Back then, the team was 2-6 with Warren averaging only 12 points per game while battling a hamstring injury. Yet, in the months of January and February we witnessed the Warren of old, finishing top ten in OUA league scoring for a second straight year. In his last five games of the season Warren was now averaging 23.2 points a game, one where he scored a career-high 41 points at Toronto on February 12, 2011. Fortunately, Warren continues to carry that momentum into the playoffs averaging 24.5 points in their first two games.
“I think it’s a combination of things, our work ethic in practice and ‘buying in’, I think we’ve all done that. Especially myself, I have bought into what (James Derouin) is doing and to what the team needs from me. But I am just playing basketball and having fun while I’m playing, and so I feel I can credit that to why I’m playing so well right now,” added Ward.
Surely there was a turning point for this group midway through the season, and Warren feels as though Capital Hoops was when it really started to materialize into something real.
“As a team, the more we started to win games, the more we began to see how successful we could be, especially after the Carleton game at Capital Hoops, after the first half how close we were to the No.1 ranked team; no one really gave us a chance to do anything this year. So I think after that game we all got the idea that we are for real and we’re that close to winning it all even though no one else believes it except for the players and coaches on this team.”
Heading into this weekend’s OUA Final Four semi-final with Lakehead, Warren described the atmosphere right now in the Gee-Gees locker room: “There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of nerves because no one wants our season to be done. But I think everyone has a lot of confidence right now, a lot of quiet confidence. Everyone is riding a high off of what we’ve been doing. I think the team is ready to compete, and ready to give it all. We don’t want to lose, and we want to show the country that we are legit.”
Make sure to catch Warren and the Gee-Gees as they take on Lakehead in the OUA Final Four semi-final this Friday, March 4, 2011 live on The Score at 6 p.m.