The uOttawa Gee-Gees men’s basketball team will have their work cut out for them this August as they will take in part in three exhibition games versus NCAA Division One teams. The first of the three highly anticipated games will come this Friday at 8 p.m. against the Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs in the confines of Montpetit Hall.
“We are thrilled to be having three NCAA teams coming here and we look forward to playing these games. Having university basketball from two different countries face each other in summer action is exciting and we can’t wait to play,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin.
The Horned Frogs were moved to the Big 12 conference last season, where they struggled as they battled with the NCAA’s elite teams. They posted an 11-21 overall record and finished in 10th position in the Big 12. Despite their record, TCU processes a wealth of talent on a team that is still very young. Moving into the difficult conference gave TCU one of the most difficult schedules in the NCAA and as a result their record did not reflect the team’s true abilities.
TCU will be beginning their second season under head coach Trent Johnson who was the man selected to guide the Horned Frogs into a new era as members of the Big 12 conference. Johnson led TCU to 11 wins in his first season, including four over teams that would end up being playoff contenders.
“We expect them to be a very difficult opponent. We know that their record last season doesn’t reflect the talent on their team,” Derouin said. “We don’t know much about them and they don’t know much about us. That is why we are preparing for this game by concentrating on us and what we want to do rather than focusing on them too much.”
TCU guard Kyan Anderson led the Frogs in scoring last season, averaging 12 points per game and leading the team in minutes with 33.9 minutes per game. TCU’s top recruit Karviar Shepherd will take part in Friday’s game.
The Gee-Gees will be without some of their key off-season additions on Friday; the only new face fans will see on the floor will be hometown rookie Nick Jordan. Highly touted point guard Brody Greig has yet to arrive in Ottawa, Jeff Plunkett is recovering from a concussion, and transfer Terry Thomas will be ineligible to play until late November. Second-year center Ryan Evans will also be unavailable due to knee tendonitis. Despite these absences, Derouin expects all players to be back for the team’s next NCAA matchup on August 22nd versus Wisconsin.
With the absence of Jeff Plunkett and Ryan Evans, fans can expect second year center Matt Nelson to get playing time this Friday. The 6”9 center will see more playing time this season as he battled injuries through most of his rookie season.
With the graduation of Gee-Gees second all-time scorer Warren Ward, fourth-years Johnny Berhanemeskel and Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue will be charged with leading the team. Other returning players like Mike L’Africain and Vikas Gill will also be counted on to contribute offensively for the Gee-Gees.
“These NCAA games are a great opportunity to expose our team’s weaknesses but what we are preaching here is for our players to play the right way fundamentally, regardless of who we are playing. If the effort is put into the game and we play strong defence I will be happy. If we don’t, then I won’t be happy. It doesn’t matter who we are playing,” said Derouin.
The game will tip-off at 8 p.m. on Friday night at in Montpetit Hall. Tickets for Friday’s game and other NCAA exhibition matchups are still available. Purchase your tickets in advance online through Capital Tickets or by phoning the Gee-Gees box office at 613-562-5800 extension 4337. Ottawa will also be facing the Wisconsin Badgers on August 22nd and the Syracuse Orange on August 24th.