In the ninth edition of the MBNA Capital Hoops Classic the uOttawa Gee-Gees will be gunning for their third victory in four years. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. on Friday at the Canadian Tire Centre. Tickets are available at CapitalTickets.ca
A win for uOttawa would guarantee an above .500 season and all but secure the OUA North Division as the Gee-Gees would need to lose their remaining four games and see Carleton win all four of theirs for the division to change hands.
In these teams’ last meeting, the Gee-Gees edged out the Ravens 53-48 in a defensive battle. uOttawa was able to hold all Ravens scorers to single-digits on that January evening. Carleton has struggled since then but broke a three-game losing slide with a 80-34 win over Algoma on Saturday.
This time around the Ravens (7-7) will be without leading scorer Lindsay Shotbolt. Carleton is not a particularly good shooting team at 37 per cent. Their strength is in their rebounding as they are fourth in the country in rebound margin. But without Shotbolt, a starting post, they may not be up to their usual level on the glass.
“I think it will force us to prepare a little bit differently from the perspective of what they’re likely to do defensively, not offensively,” says head coach Andy Sparks. “I think our matchups with Shotbolt were pretty good last time we played them. So from an offensive perspective I don’t think it changes a lot but it does change probably their philosophy of whether they play man-to-man or zone against us.”
“I expect it to be really tough. I expect them to play a big athletic zone, which is what they did last weekend. So I think they’re going to try and match up and guard our perimeter shooters. We’re just going to have to get a few points from our posts.”
If the Gee-Gees are going to make it a perimeter shooting game, they’ll have to be better than last game when they went 1-for-17 from beyond the arc. They’ve taken more than 20 threes in each of their five games since and averaged 30 per cent over that stretch. That’s just below their average which is third best in the OUA. However, shooting in the cavernous Canadian Tire Centre is a different experience than shooting in any OUA gym. Over their three-game losing streak, the Ravens made just four out of 41 three-pointers.
uOttawa is benefitting from a lighter than usual schedule with just one game last weekend - a 77-36 drubbing of Algoma - and one game this weekend. As a result, the Gee-Gees are as fresh as possible coming into Friday night. In a rare bit of good injury news, Jen Crowe will return to the lineup adding a little scoring depth.
With just 10 players left active on a roster that started the season at 18, the Gee-Gees aren’t letting adversity get to them.
“I think right now I’d be very surprised if our team was feeling a lot of pressure to be successful,” comments Sparks. “We’ve lost four of our top seven players probably. I don’t think the pressure is on us because we should be playing free and confidently. I think this team can still do good things.”
The game will be broadcast live on TSN1200 and OUA.tv