After earning the wild card to the 2015 ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS men’s basketball championship in Toronto next weekend the uOttawa Gee-Gees (3) are eager to hit the floor at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. It will be uOttawa’s third consecutive trip to the national tournament, taking home bronze in 2013 followed by silver in 2014.
Ottawa’s first opponent will be the Bishop’s University Gaiters (6) who won the RSEQ and will be the sole Quebec based team taking part in the event. uOttawa and Bishops are set to tip off on Thursday at 8 p.m.
The eight-team competition, which is being staged in Toronto for the first time, culminates Sunday at 3 p.m. with the gold-medal final, live on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet ONE.
Let there be no mistake, the Gaiters have worked their way to the tournament, upsetting both Laval and McGill in the process. After finishing the regular season at 8-8 the Gaiters have been looked upon as underdogs in the national championship but will be looking to prove the doubters wrong when they face the Gee-Gees on Thursday.
The Gaiters could hurt the Gee-Gees with their rebounding as they finished eighth in the country in rebounding with 49.1 boards per game while being ranked seventh in offensive rebounds with 13.9. uOttawa will be paying close attention to these numbers after being upset by Windsor last weekend who was also one of the country’s best rebounding teams.
“We definitely learned our lesson last weekend against Windsor. This time around we will make no mistake by being disciplined, rebounding, boxing out our opponent and overall just playing good defence,” said Gee-Gees starting centre Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue. “If I said we didn’t want our revenge against Windsor I would be lying. With that said I think it’s really important that we focus on one matchup at a time.”
Kyle Desmarais has been the Gaiters offensive catalyst all season as he averaged 14.4 points, 2.6 steals and 3.1 assists per game during the regular season. He was named a first team RSEQ all-star while teammate Matt McLean was named to the second team.
“Kyle is one of the country’s best guards. His slashing style and ability to attack the rim in transition will be a big test for our defence,” said head coach James Derouin. ”With that said, our confidence seems to be right where it should be. The team bounced back well from a tough loss and hopefully that carries over to this weekend.”
The two teams met in October for the Jack Donohue tournament, an annual event held by Ottawa every pre-season. Gee-Gees Caleb Agada and Johnny Berhanemeskel led the offensive charge in that game with 23 and 22 points respectively, to take the 80-66 victory. The Gaiters were without two of their most important post players in that game however.
Bishop’s will attempt to put a stop Gee-Gees star Johnny Berhanemeskel on Thursday, something very few CIS teams have been able to do this season. Berhanemeskel is coming off a big 39 point performance versus the Ryerson Rams which included a 15 point third quarter by the guard.
“There’s not really much pressure for me to perform. Anyone on this team can have a big night and that’s what makes us the dangerous team that we are. We need to feed of each other, and more so, we just have to keep our defensive intensity high and close out every possession with good rebounding to have a good chance to win,” said Berhanemeskel.
For full schedule, team rankings, game times and more please visit CIS-SIC.ca. The gold-medal final will be live on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet ONE. Saturday’s semifinals are also live on Sportsnet 360 (6 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.), while all other games from the competition are set to air on Rogers TV, Rogers TV Sports + and Super Sports Pak. All 11 contests will also be webcast on CIS-SIC.tv.