The RESQ is trying something unique and new this year instead of having the normal playoff where you have quarterfinals and then semis like the rest of the CIS used; they decided to adopt a final four format. The new format will have the two winners of the two semi-finals games play each other in the finals to see who will represent RESQ in the final eight at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa next weekend.
The RESQ tournament starts Saturday afternoon and ends on Sunday afternoon with the finals. All games will be taking place at Laval University, PEPS center. The schools that have made it to the first annual final four tournament are Concordia, Laval, McGill (defending champs) and Bishops. My only problem with this new format is that it won’t be played at a neutral site like the final four in NCAA. McGill is the odds on favorite to win the RESQ and advance to CIS Final 8.
Concordia Stinger vs. Bishop Gaiters
The first semi-final game has the Concordia Stingers playing the Bishop Gaiters. Concordia had an up and down season, as they struggled at the beginning with 0-3 record. The early struggles were expected as Concordia looks to rebuild this season as they lost two big stars in Kyle Desmarais and Evens Laroche this year. Concordia did have a six game winning streak from late November to mid January. One of their victories during this stretch was a big victory over McGill. The Stingers ended the season, the same way they started it with a two-game losing streak. Concordia‘s losses came from Bishops and then their last home game of the season against McGill. In the game against the Redmen they had the lead for three-quarters but blew it in the fourth-quarter with a couple turnovers and missed shots.
The Gaiters had a great start to the season as they started with a three-game winning streak. Bishops did end the season with a loss to Laval. The Gaiters were success against everyone in the RESQ this year except for McGill. They entered the playoffs with a 9-7 record, good enough for them to be a two seed this year while the Stingers finished with an 8-8 (.500) and locked up the third seed.
The last time these two teams played each other it was a thrilling game that ended-up being a two-point victory for the Gaiters. Stinger forward, Mukiya Post, (former Gaiters) scored 31 points while Gaiters point guard Onex Blackwood scored 19 points. The Gaiters have beaten the Stingers in every dual this season and including last years RESQ playoffs. The Gaiters eliminated the Stingers which stopped a streak of the Stingers winning three straight RESQ championships. Expect Concordia to be extra motivate to win the game on Saturday.
Keys to victory
If the Stingers are going to find a way to win there will have to play smart basketball by not creating turnovers. They also have to find a way to stop to limit the Gaiters ranked offense from getting scoring, Bishops is ranked second in the conference in scoring. My advice is to guard Onex Blackwood and Mike Andrews. Andrews was named first team all-star all conference on Thursday. Stingers also have to get Adam Chmielewski scoring who has been on a cold streak over the last two weeks. Adam was recently named to first team all-star and could be the difference maker. He also finished eighth in scoring. I believe for the Gaiters to win, they will have to find a way to cool down Mukiya Post. The Redmen did end up shutting him down in the last game of the season. Post after two great weeks, lead the RSEQ in scoring.
Bishops will also have to find a way to out-rebound the Stingers as they finished in second place in that category. The Gaiters will have to find a way to stop Zach Brisebois; the Stingers big man who won defensive player of the year honors this week .Brisebois averaged 6.9 rebounds per a game, and could prove to be handful downlow. Concordia’s graduating class which features Brisebois, Taylor Garner and Jean-Andre Moussigniac is one of the most decorated in programs history with three RESQ championships under their belt. Regardless this will be a close game and the Stingers should prevail over the Gaiters.
Laval Rouge et Or vs. Mcgill Redmen
The second semi-final has the number one seed, McGill Redmen hosting the Laval Rouge et Or. McGill have been the best team in the RESQ since the start of the season. They finished with a record of 14 wins and only two losses to Concordia and Laval which were back-to-back defeats.
The Redmen have dominated in every category this year in the RESQ, from scoring to rebounding. They have a balance attack led by this year, RESQ MVP, Vince Durfort who averaged 13 PPG this year. They also had seven rookies who stepped up to the occasion at different points this season. One of those freshmen was this year RESQ rookie of the year, Dele Ogundokun. Ogudokum led the RESQ in steals with 42 while averaging about 2.6 robberies per a game. He also had the highest 3pt FG%. The next key member of this Redmen team is Francois Bourque. Bourque is another member of the great freshman class that was recruited by Head Coach Dave DeaVeiro
He has been the Redmen’s most trusted big big men all year finishing second in RESQ rebounding race with 126 boards, 83 of them coming on defensive rebounds. Bourque has the skill to be a great player in the RESQ with more development and could even win Defensive Player of the year or MVP down the road.
Laval did not have a great season as they finished with a record of 4-9 but made the tournament because they had two more wins than UQAM, they enter the Final Four with two straight wins to end the season beating UQAM and Bishops. The Rouge et Or have two great players in Boris Hadzimuratovic, a fourth-year player and a native of Bosnia Herzegovina who finished fourth in rebounding and seventh in scoring. Sophomore Karl Demers-Bélangerr was one of the few highlights for Rouge et Or this year as he led the RESQ in assists with 86 helpers, good for 5.4 average per a game. He also finished 6th in scoring and was named first team all-star in the RESQ, he could be a key factor once he develops further eventually becoming a contender for conference MVP in the upcoming years.
In their last meeting, McGill won the battle, 79-53 as the Redme’s Thomas Lacy came off the bench and scored 30 points in the victory. Bourque had ten rebounds in the win. Laval’s secret weapon,Thibaud Dezutter had a double-double scoring 22 points combined with 12 rebounds.
Keys to victory
For Laval to have a remote chance of an upset, they will have to force McGill to committed turnovers. In their win over the Redmen January, McGill committed 20 turnovers in the loss. They will also have to figure out how to stop the balance attack of Dufort and Ogudokum. Laval’s last step for victory is to beat McGill at the rebounding game by stopping Bourque on the glass. McGill on the other hand will have to just to play their game, rebound and keep their balance attack going which will confuse the Rouge et Or as to whom to cover.
The RESQ finals will be Concordia vs. McGill. with the Redmen wining back-to-back championship. McGill, Concordia and Bishops all have chance a to win the championship but McGill has been the dominant team all year and are riding a nine game winning streak into the Final Four.
Ottawa Gee-Gees halt Ravens perfect season with classical Capital Hoops win
Ottawa, ON — (BasketballBuzz) — When it comes to Canadian university basketball there is simply no better rivalry then Carleton Ravens vs. Ottawa Gee-Gees on the scoreboard.
In yet another memorable chapter in the 56 year history of Canada’s most fierce collegiate basketball rivalry series — the No. 6 Ottawa Gee-Gees put an end to the No. 1 Carleton Ravens’ perfect season with a classical 68-67 win in front of 8,100 passionate fans at TD Place in Centretown Ottawa.
Fifth-year senior point guard Calvin Epistola (Toronto, Ont.) knocked down two crucial free-throws with 4.2 seconds remaining to put Ottawa ahead for good in a thrilling affair that featured multiple lead changes in the final minute. The Gee-Gees defense held firm in the dying seconds despite multiple clean looks by the Ravens within four-feet of the basket to win the 14th edition of the Capital Hoops Classic.
Riding an eight-game losing streak to the Ravens’ and falling to make a dent in the Ravens’ supremacy since eeking out two wins in a indelible three-week stretch in early 2016. The Gee-Gees’ made sure to start the new decade victorious over the U Sports basketball machine that has programmed it’s ways to a record 14 national championships and nearly swept the previous 10 years with eight (8) title banners.
“I just know that all 18 guys and the coaching staff believe in me, and I believe in myself. I know I didn’t play well, I just had to got out there and be a leader. That might be not scoring, that might be playing defense. But the two free-throws, that’s leadership.” commented a confident and poignant Epistola outside the Gee-Gees locker-room during post-game.
Since it’s inception in 2007, the Capital Hoops Classic series has been traditionally played at the home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators in Kanata, Ontario. The Canadian Tire Centre (CTC), formerly known as the ScotiaBank Centre — it hosted the first 13 games of the Bytown battle and registered the largest attendance record for a Canadian university game with 10, 780 fans flooding the gates in 2015.
Guillaume Pépin (Montreal, Que) led three Gee-Gees players in double-figures with 15 points, 6 rebounds. Epistola scored 6 of his 14 points in the fourth-quarter and was clutch down the stretch adding 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals. Ottawa’s 6-foot-10 centre Marlon Kordrostami was big with 12 points and a game-high 8 rebounds. The fourth-year finance came-up with a calculated block on Isiah Osborne and made difficult for Carleton get anything inside.
“It took a lot of hard work and a really good week of practice.” discussed Pépin amidst the chaos — as the Gee-Gees fans rushed the floor following the win. Our defensive rotations were really good, there was always someone on the kick-outs.
The Ravens rod the hand of Osborne’s game-high 21 points and team-high 5 rebounds. The Windsor native shot 7-of-14 for the game and knocked down 2-of-3 triples — including a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Fifth-year senior guard Yasiin Joseph (Ottawa, Ont) scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth-quarter as the Ravens’ rallied from an 55-46, 11-point hole to take a 65-62 lead with 1:28 remaining.
Coming into the highly anticipated rematch both teams occupied top 10 spots nationally for three-pointers made, but playing in a new atmosphere that featured a freshly laid hardwood and a new set rims contributed to both teams poor shooting efficiency.
The two teams combined for 12-of-36 from the outside as the Gee-Gees limited the Ravens to a rare 5-of-19 (26.3%) three-point shooting night. Ottawa shot just 13-of-24 (54%) from the charity stripe.
“In an environment like this and with both rims freshly out of the box, you can even brake those things. Getting closer to the basket and easier looks at the rim was an emphasis for both teams,” discussed Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin after the post game mayhem.
Now in his 10th season, Derouin, the second longest tenured Gee-Gees head coach has seen his fair share of big victories and although the win reclaims some bragging rights, he is quick to pinpoint that, “It could’ve gone either way, I mean they missed two, three really good looks within three-feet of our basket.”
In 25 games played since taking over the helm in 2010 from player (2001-2002), turned assistant coach (2002-2008) to now one of brightest head coaching minds in Canada — Derouin’s teams’ hold the top distinction, alongside the Ryerson Rams’ as the school(s) with the most wins over the Carleton Ravens.
A whooping 5-20 win-loss record, and all but one of the five victories by two points or less during that stretch isn’t exactly much to buzz about — but it’s fitting enough to tell the narrative about Derouin’s successful coaching career.
Gee-Gees wins over Carleton during James Derouin Era
|February 7, 2020||Ottawa 68 – Carleton 67||Conference/Capital Hoops Classic|
|February 5, 2016||Ottawa 78 – Carleton 72||Conference/Capital Hoops Classic|
|January 16, 2016||Ottawa 75 – Carleton 73||Conference/League/Regular Season|
|January 10, 2015||Ottawa 68 – Carleton 66||Conference/League/Regular Season|
|March 1, 2014||Ottawa 78 – Carleton 67||OUA Conference Championship|
The latest victory over the Ravens’ pushes the Gee-Gees’ winning streak to four with two home games remaining before the OUA conference playoffs begin.
Ottawa will host the 2020 U Sports Final 8 Championships, the Gee-Gees were awarded the hosting rights for the men’s national tournament from which will take place March 7-9 at TD Place.
A guaranteed return to the big stage for the first time since four straight appearances from 2013-2016 will certainly easy the post-season pressure. But lingering memories of two straight championship game appearances only to be denied by Carleton in the Gold medal game — still haunt the Gee-Gees program — losing in Ottawa 79-67 in 2014 and subsequently the following year, 93-46 in Toronto.
History and numbers are great and the Gee-Gees have shown the country that they can beat Carleton during the regular season and in the post-season. As the untold chapters unfold — nothing would be better for Gee-Gees Nation and for Canada’s best collegiate basketball event then the ultimate glory — a victory over their arch rivals in the championship game in three-weeks time.
Lucky for them, and if the stars align they will have a chance to eekout the programs’ first national basketball title.
Omar Shiddo: Soft-spoken assassin
It’s around 8:30 p.m. on a frigid Wednesday in the dead of winter, and Omar Shiddo is having one of his worst games of the season.
The fourth-year Western Mustangs guard, who has drawn comparisons to Damian Lillard for his clutch shooting, has just five points in the first half of a tight game against the Guelph Gryphons.
In the second half his game marginally improves, but there are a series of missteps — layups that don’t go down, jump shots that rim out and an occasional lack of motion without the ball.
Shiddo also gets hit with a technical foul after a physical bucket he felt should have resulted in an and-one, clapping back at two Guelph players who allegedly chirped at him during the play.
This is a far cry from the kinds of performance Shiddo is known for, and light years away from the 35-point outburst he had four days earlier in an 84-79 win over rival McMaster.
It doesn’t matter — not even remotely.
Western clamps down on defence in the second half and several teammates make big shots. Shiddo helps neutralize Guelph guard Malcolm Glanville, who had 11 first-half points and showed signs of catching fire.
Shiddo finishes with 12 points on 4-15 shooting, his second-lowest total of the year. Five other Mustang players players score in double-digits, including 27 points from sharp-shooting guard Eriq Jenkins.
Western pulls away and cruises to a 94-73 victory that’s as ugly as it is decisive.
“That’s a win, boys!” someone shouts emphatically as the team gathers for a post-game huddle in the cavernous, mostly-empty Alumni Hall in London, Ont. — Western’s home court.
“Guys on my team stepped up,” said Shiddo minutes later in an interview, his soft-spoken analysis tumbling out as quickly as he jukes opponents, like water over Niagara Falls.
“The second half was more of other guys doing their thing and me not having to do as much scoring, which I love to do. It’s all about team … we got a big win.”
Shiddo is unquestionably a leader — and on most nights, the most effective offensive weapon — on a Western team loaded with potential.
In his tenure, the Mustangs have been as good as they have been in a decade, with a legitimate chance to challenge for a berth in the U Sports Final 8 — Canada’s version of March Madness — in Ottawa.
“That’s our goal from the beginning of the year — trying to get to nationals,” said Shiddo, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., a hotbed that has produced several NBA players, including Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett.
“We think we’re a top-five team in the country,” said Shiddo. “We’ve just need to continue to play like it.”
Western is ranked outside the Top 10 nationally, but has the second-best record in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA), four points behind the Carleton Ravens.
They’re also first in the OUA West division, with a roster that skews relatively young: Seven of the 12 players are freshmen or sophomores.
Nikola Farkic, a 6-foot point guard from Waterloo, is team captain and Jenkins (Windsor, Ont.) is arguably its most reliable three-point threat. Veteran forward Julian Walker (Barrie, Ont.) anchors a front court with considerable promise, thanks in large part to lean, athletic second-year players Aaron Tennant (London, Ont.) and Ukasha Khan (Brampton, Ont.).
“A lot of stuff goes unnoticed on the stat sheet,” said Shiddo. “But we’ve got a full team and we’re 10 deep. Everybody plays their role. We’re not a team where it’s one guy.”
He’s right. This win over Guelph is proof enough of that. And yet in crunch time, Shiddo has a penchant for taking over games, Lillard-style, and making big shots.
It has become part of Western lore.
When Lillard puts a team on his back and wills it to victory in the fourth quarter, fans and media call it Dame Time. When Shiddo does this, it’s #Omellytime.
Shiddo showed hints of his #Omelly mentality early against Guelph. After Western fell behind 10-2 in the first quarter, his demeanor shifted from deferential to aggressive, pushing the ball up the floor and calmly making a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to six.
Minutes later, he drilled a three-pointer to make it 12-7, and attacked the basket for a layup that lingered on the rim but didn’t fall. His teammates took their cue and soon Western had its first lead of the game.
At the end of the first quarter the score was 28-28. At halftime Western led 47-46, and they never looked back.
“I’m not the rah rah type of — football type of leader,” said Shiddo. “I try to lead by example.
“Say what has to be said, and other than that just lead by example. It’s not how much you say, it’s about what you say.”
In U Sports, most teams are at the mercy of a Carleton dynasty that has won 14 of the last 17 national championships.
Western is a long shot to come anywhere near the title game this season, and Carleton is favoured to win it. When the teams meet for a regular-season tilt at Alumni Hall on Jan. 31, it will likely be for the last time.
Shiddo is nobody’s fool. He knows the odds are stacked against his team, even if he’s at his best and #Omellytime is in full effect.
His confidence is tempered with realism, but it’s still there.
“Against a team like that we’re not going to be up by one at half — we’ll probably be down by 20,” he said. “We have to play our perfect game.”
They will almost certainly not be perfect. They will almost certainly lose. And yet Omar Shiddo, the soft-spoken assassin, has a question for you.
“Why not shock the country,” he said, “and beat the No. 1 team?”