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Men’s Basketball Season Preview: All the pieces coming together

Friday October 19, 2012

There is sense of renewal this season for the Gee-Gees as they welcome a total of seven new comers and will see star forward Warren Ward return to the court. The Gee-Gees are confident that their tight-knit a mix of youth and returning players will be the key to success in their 2012-2013 season. 

Any basketball fan who followed the Gee-Gees last season knows that a series of injuries to key players, specifically to star, Warren Ward led to the team falling short of the OUA final four. After being out of the game for over 10 months, Ward is only one week away from suiting up for the garnet and grey. Ward’s ability to spread the floor and dominate games has been a weapon that the team greatly missed last season and will be important heading into the season.

This season, Ward will be surrounded by a talented cast of recruits as well as Gee-Gee team mates from last season; players who stepped up for the team and performed. One of those players was point guard Mike L’African, who was named Rookie of the Year in the OUA East last season and was among the best three point shooters in the league. L’Africain will team up with Johnny Berhanemeskel, Vikas Gill, and some of the Gee-Gee rookies to form what is expected to be a deadly barrage of outside shooting.

Third year forward Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue was also key last season, especially down the stretch and heading into playoffs where he performed exceptionally well. “This season I expect to see him really establish himself as an all-star in this league and to see his development continue to grow,” said head coach James Derouin.

The Gee-Gees will be welcoming a total of seven new rookies this season, which include 6 foot 11 center Ryan Evans, guards Caleb Agada and Moe Ismail, and forwards Matt Nelson, Matt Plunkett, Mehdi Tihani and Zachary Traer, although Traer is expected to red-shirt the season. Gee-Gee veterans such as Dimitrios Seymour and Warren Ward will be counted on to guide this rookie class which is considered to be one of the best in the country.

Given their talent level, the Gee-Gee rookies are expected to see plenty of court time, playing important roles now, rather than later in the season. “By the time playoffs roll around our young guys will have had enough experience that we won’t consider them rookies anymore and that will give us an advantage down the stretch,” said Derouin.

This weekend the University of Ottawa will be travelling to the McGill University for an exhibition tournament along with Trinity Western, McGill and St. Mary’s. A few players will be out due to injury, notably fifth year veteran point-guard, Dimitrios Seymour and rookie Matt Nelson who tore ligaments in his thumb in pre-season game. Still, all signs point towards these players being ready for the start of league play.

“Our ability to fight through adversity will be a major test for us this season,” stated Derouin “We feel that if we can stay healthy and everything goes well we have a shot at getting to our goal, which is playing in the nationals in front of our home crowd.”

The Gee-Gees will play their home-opener November 16 versus the McMaster at 8 p.m. at Monpetit Hall.