For an 11th consecutive season the uOttawa Gee-Gees will compete against division one NCAA basketball teams to kick start their pre-season. This year Ottawa has four teams on the schedule, including three home games and one short to trip to Montreal.
The Gee-Gees will begin against Indiana University in Montreal on Sunday August 10, followed by home games against the University of Vermont on August 11 and the University of Illinois at Chicago on August 13. The following weekend the Memphis Tigers will come to Montpetit Hall on August 17. Each team will be eligible to bring returning players from last year's program and each of their five freshmen recruits will also be able to play.
“These games are a great opportunity for us to get a look at our young players. It puts them in a situation where they are playing against high calibre players so it gives them the chance to get out there and show what they can do. In the past we have had rookies that were able to have big games against NCAA teams so we are hoping to see that again this year,” said head coach James Derouin. “Whenever you play against good competition it makes your team better so that's what this is all about.”
The highly touted meeting with the Indiana University Hoosiers will take place at Champlain College in Montreal. Leading scorer Yogi Ferrell will headline the group heading north having led the squad with 17.3 points per game as part of the team’s 17-15 overall record. The Hoosiers exited the Big Ten tournament in the first round, falling to Illinois. 6-foot-10 forward Noah Vonleh will be doubtful for the match-up against the Gee-Gees as he is expected to go early in this year’s NBA draft. He averaged 11.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for Indiana last season.
On the following night, Montpetit Hall will see its first action of the season when the Vermont Catamounts come to town. Vermont held a record of 21-11 last season and 15-1 in their conference but wound up suffering a first round playoff exit against the Georgia Bulldogs. Seniors Clancy Rugg and Sandro Carissimo were the offensive catalysts for the Catamounts last season, averaging 13 and 12.5 points per game respectively, so the squad will be looking for new leaders to step up.
uOttawa's next test will be against the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Flames finished last season with a 6-25 record, playing out of the Horizon League. Their season came to a halt when they were defeated in the first round of the playoffs against Valparaiso. The Flames roster will feature three seniors alongside a rookie class which includes a member of the Spanish national team program, and 6-foot-10 junior Kaylen Shane.
The final and the most anticipated game of the series will be against the University of Memphis. The Tigers had a successful season last year making it out of the AAC division with a 24-10 overall record. Known for their ball distribution abilities, the Tigers will be a true test to uOttawa’s defence as they averaged 17.4 assists per game which was good for third in the U.S. last season.
Memphis extended their season into March Madness last season, defeating the George Washington Colonials in the first round but falling to the top ranked Virginia Cavaliers in the ensuing round. Memphis will be graduating two of their top players this summer in their leader scorer Joe Jackson and AAC conference sixth man of the year Michael Dixon Jr. uOttawa will still have their hands full however as they will look to avoid being burned by the AAC Rookie of the Year Austin Nichols who had a breakout season for Memphis, averaging 9.3 points and 4.3 rebounds as a freshman. The Gee-Gees will also be faced with task of shutting down 6-foot-9 forward Shaq Goodwin who was third on the team in scoring last season, averaging 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Memphis will be the toughest test for the Gee-Gees but still a game that the coaching staff is highly anticipating. “These games are great for team development. When you struggle in any way against teams like this it really exposes your weaknesses because they will run over you for making too many mistakes. With that said, I feel like we have an experienced group here that will definitely compete and hopefully we can get some wins,” commented Derouin.
For ticket information for to the games at Montpetit Hall, please consult the NCAA Exhibition page. Tickets to the games at Montpetit are included for Garnet Season Pass holders.
2014 NCAA Exhibition Schedule:
Sunday August 10 vs Indiana, 3 p.m. at Champlain College, Montreal
Monday August 11 vs Vermont, 8 p.m. at Montpetit Hall
Wednesday August 13 vs Illinois-Chicago, 8 p.m. at Montpetit Hall
Sunday August 17 vs Memphis, 7 p.m. at Montpetit Hall