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How the Tornado became the foundation

Wednesday January 1, 2014

 “There are things that you’re looking for in a post player and clearly from a physical standpoint he had everything you need,” explains head coach James Derouin, recounting the evaluation of his 2010 recruit. Three years later, Derouin and Gee-Gees fans have discovered that the 6-foot-4 Gatineau native coming to Montpetit Hall by way of CEGEP l'Outaouais was a little bit more than that.

Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue averaged 12.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in his third season, carrying the bulk of the load inside the paint while his team mates set the program record for three-pointers made in a season. His evolution into the central piece in the Gee-Gees frontcourt has been quiet and steady, but it didn’t come easy.

 “We called him a tornado in first year – he was just a ball of muscle running all over and fouling and rushing and trying to dunk everything,” laughs Derouin. “But it’s so difficult to find post players that want to be physical and do the things that really take a team to having balance inside and on the perimeter. We knew he had the tools to become really great.”

Reflecting on his growth since his rookie season, it’s clear that Gonthier-Dubue takes a cerebral approach to his physical tasks. “I’ve learned about the game of university basketball and how it’s important to master the fundamental skills,” he says. “I’m more mature as a player and as a person, and I am more of a leader now.”

Those fundamental skills shine through on a weekly basis.  The footwork on an increasingly quick and lethal left-handed scoop, the post-up stance which allows him to corral a bounce pass which had in the past skipped past him, and so on; all skills acquired in practice sessions which the fourth-year soaks up like a sponge.

 “Gab’s best quality is probably that you only have to tell him something once and he does it,” says a slightly awed Derouin. “Once the coaching staff [Clarence Porter and Kris Dale] realized that you could show him a move on Wednesday and he’d be doing it in a game on Friday, we were able to start filling him with information.”

 “CP knows a lot of stuff about the post game,” says Gonthier-Dubue of his mentor. “I learned a lot from them because I do the little things that can increase performance. We like to joke around too, so learning in practice is fun.”

Heading into his fourth year, Gonthier-Dubue is now truly the senior post player and knows it. “In practice, I tell the guys to always go 100 per cent and I try to lead by example. After last year’s playoff experience I understood the importance of playing every single minute of a game at 100 per cent. In playoff it’s do or die, so you need to give everything you have to succeed. It comes to be the same thing at school and in life sometimes.”

Derouin knows the value of Gonthier-Dubue’s outlook for his younger crop of developing posts. “They all just have such respect for Gab because they’ve seen what he can do and they’ve seen him do it in big games. He’s a leader by example and seeing him get better and get more and more credit, you’d be crazy not to look at that as something to follow.  He should be inspiring for any young post player that comes here.”

That inspiration doesn’t stop within the confines of the sport, as Gonthier-Dubue earned an AGPA of 8.4 in his Faculty of Science Human Kinetics program during the 2012-13 school year, qualifying him as an Academic All-Canadian. “I'm very proud of myself. It means that hard work pays off and you can apply that to anything in life you want to succeed at.”

 “He just does everything that you would ask for in a player and an athlete and a leader,” sums up Derouin.  “He exemplifies what a student-athlete is supposed to represent, especially here at the University of Ottawa.”

Come see Gabriel and his Gee-Gees teammates take on the Ravens during this year’s Capital Hoops classic on January 21st 2014.  It’s a showdown you aren’t going to want to miss!  Tickets can be purchased at the client service desks at Montpetit and at Minto Sports Complex for the early bird price of just $10 per ticket until January 14th.  This price includes bus transportation there and back! Wear your garnet and grey and get decked out in fan gear to have a chance at winning the biggest fan prize!