At this point in the CIS basketball season there are two teams that seem to be leaps and bounds above the rest of the competition in the nation. Both of these teams are highly talented, packed with exciting players, and both also happen to call the same city home.
The Ottawa Gee-Gees and Carleton Ravens are now in their third straight year of sitting atop the national rankings and look to have a guaranteed another bid to the CIS finals, despite being only at the midway point. Both teams sit undefeated at 8-0 in regular season play and will return from the holiday break to finally matchup head-to-head. The date for the “Bytown Battle” is set for Jan. 10th at Montpetit Hall on the campus of the University of Ottawa, before the teams once again meet on Feb. 6th for the Capital Hoops Classic at the Canadian Tire Centre.
This season, the Ravens have taken a slower and more strategic approach to their play where defence is a focus and the offence will do enough to pull away. On the other side, the Gee-Gees are arguably more exciting to watch as they combine being an offensive powerhouse with a defence that shows flashes of being as lockdown as it gets.
To better understand the members of this pack of wild horses, here is a detailed breakdown of who makes up the garnet and grey squad:
PG, 4th-year: Mike L’Africain – Controlling ball handler who is equally as dangerous passing, shooting, and cutting through the lane to the hoop. Easily neutralizes opposing point guards on the defensive end and is vocal in running the floor.
SG, 5th-year: Johnny Berhanemeskel – Undoubtedly the most feared shooter and one of the best overall collegiate players in the nation. “Johnny B” is crafty and consistent on both ends and in transition. He can shoot anyone out of the gym and can begin and end any game.
SF, 3rd-year: Caleb Agada – A budding star with a flair for the dramatic. Talented all-around and is a nightly double-double threat. From shooting threes to rim rattling dunks, to big blocks and steals, Agada has it all.
PF, 4th-year: Vikas Gill – A ‘stretch 4”, consistent and solid on either end with a shooting touch particularly behind the arc.
C, 5th-year: Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue – “Gab” is the team’s most vocal leader and anchor in the paint. A high percentage shooter down low and from the line, defensive power with the ability to close out opposing bigs.
Bench Role Players:
PF, 3rd-year: Matt Plunkett – Once stationed at the end of the bench and now shares duties as the team’s “sixth-man”. When he is hot Plunkett can be one of the best three-point shooters in the nation and score in bunches. Length is a problem for defenders also a skilled passer and solid in setting picks.
G/F, 3rd-year: Moe Ismail – A true swingman with great speed and leaping ability. An outside threat that with more playing time could become a dangerous offensive weapon.
PG/SG, 3rd-year: Medhi Tihani – All-around guard that shares “sixth-man” duties with Plunkett. The former Raven has proved his value for the Gees providing a spark off of the bench.
F, 3rd-year: Matt Nelson – An early season breakout, “Nellie” went from next to no minutes last season to playing solid minutes giving opposition a difficult matchup with a slim build paired with 6’9″ height.
PF, 3rd-year: Noel Jones – A transfer NCAA basketball powerhouse Syracuse University, Jones is slowly becoming more comfortable with the Gee-Gees and is expected to show the potential that earned him a spot on a Div. I roster. A talented big that will be seeing more minutes in the second half of the season.
G/F, 1st-year: Mackenzie Morrison – After attending prep school in Connecticut, Morrison returned to Canada to bring his superb athleticism and strength to Ottawa. Already showing early flashes of how good he can be, Mack will only get better in time.
G/F, 1st-year:: Brandon Robinson – A former first team collegiate all-star while attending CÉGEP at Dawson College in Montréal last year, Robinson is a scoring threat that is great on defence. In limited minutes he has shown some flashes but will form a powerful tandem with Morrison in years to come.
PF, 1st-year: Kiari Gerba – Another Dawson College product with limited playing time, a strong rebounder will provide good power down low.
PF, 1st-year: Andrew DeGroot – With a large frame and good athleticism, the freshman from Toronto could be very solid in the next few years for the Gees.
SF, 5th-year: Alex Ratté – The third leading scorer in the nation last season transferred from Laurentian to his hometown for his Master’s program. Knee problems have kept him sidelined so far but a second half return is possible. Ratté could single handedly push Ottawa to favourites for the championship with his return.
SG, 3rd-year: Zach Traer – A redshirt so there has not been much to see playing wise but Traer is perhaps one of the best personalities on the team playing a valuable role in keeping the team together as a unit.
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