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Roster Breakdown: Ottawa Gee-Gees

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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:

Starting Lineup:

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.

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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.

 

Future:

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.

 

Injured/ Redshirt: 

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.

 

Follow @SpencerMurdock on Twitter.

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Highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide Return To Canada

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Alabama Crimson Tide Avery Johnson Return To Canada

The Alabama Crimson Tide led by former NBA Head Coach Avery Johnson, a 16-year veteran and NBA champion point-guard during his playing days will bring his highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide to Canada for series of games against Canada’s top university basketball programs.

The Crimson Tide will visit both Montreal and Ottawa for a three-game exhibition schedule against McGill Redmen (Mon Aug 7), Carleton Ravens (Wed Aug 9) and the Ottawa Gee-Gees (Thu Aug 10).

The Tide competed hard last year and took a step in the right direction with a 19-15 record, 10-8 SEC record and have NCAA March Madness tournament aspirations thanks to solid recruiting class which ranks amongst the nations best.

Led by a talented crop of returning guards, Dazon Ingram (10.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG), Riley Norris (9 PPG, 3 RPG), the coaches son Avery Johnson Jr. and forwards Braxton Key the Tide will be a handful for the it’s Canadian opposition.

Key a 6’8″, 220 lbs flirted with the  2017 NBA draft after a stellar freshman season, the Charlotte, NC native led ‘Bama in scoring with 12 point per game and was second in rebounding at 5.7 per game. The Tide will also welcome incoming red-shirt sophomore 6’10”, 240lbs Daniel Giddens to a line-up that returns four starters.

Alabama anchored by current NBA player Alonzo Gee (Denver Nuggets) last visited Canada back in 2007 and finished with a record of 4-1 against the same exact teams, dropping a tight 83-72 decision against the Carleton Ravens who have won seven straight Canadian titles including 13-of the-last-15 championships.

Carleton’s signature win over Alabama was only their second ever against a NCAA division one team after 16-game losing streak from 1999 to 2006. The Ravens current record against NCAA teams in Canada stands at an impressive 26-23 (.531%) record.

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Calgary Dinos Thomas Cooper Senior Highlights

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Calgary Dinos Thomas Cooper Senior Highlights

Calgary Dinos senior guard Thomas Cooper had himself and impressive CIS/Usports career to say the least. The Chattanooga, Tenn. native, a 6-5, 200 lbs guard earned himself two first team All-Canadian awards while leading Dinos back to the championship game for the first time since 1966.

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No. 1 Carleton Ravens 81-40 lock-up rivals No. 2 Ottawa Gee-Gees

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Eddie Ekiyor Carleton Ravens Vs.Ottawa Gee Gees USports Basketball
Photo - Valerie Wutti

Ottawa, ON – The twelve-time defending CIS/USports National Basketball Champions and No.1 Carleton Ravens went into Monpetit Hall and completely dominated the No. 2 ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees, locking up their Bytown rivals with a blistering 81-40 win.

The Ravens, the top defensive unit in the country, allowing an incredible low of only 60 points to opponents, dominated every aspect of the much anticipated game holding Ottawa to four points in the first-quarter and thirteen in the second for a grand total of seventeen first-half points and 35-17 half-time lead.

The first-quarter ended with Ravens leading 11-4 as both teams slugged it out in front of a jam packed standing room only Monpetit Hall which hasn’t seen the Gee-Gees get dismantled like this on their home floor in 32-game OUA conference games – snapping home winning streak which dated back to 2012.

Fifth-year senior Guard Connor Wood caught fire in the second-quarter after a cold start scoring all but 14 of the teams 24 points in the quarter and finished with 16 in the half and game-high 19 points. Starting point guard Kaza Kajami-Keane added 10 points, six rebounds in just 19 minutes.

The Gee-Gees were limited to 6-of-32 (18.8%) shooting, 3-of-17 from the outside in the opening 20 minutes and managed to only connect on 12-56 (21.4%) of their field goal attempts for the entire game and only 6-of-26 from the outside.

Carleton shot 50% in the second-half and finished 31-68 from the floor and 13-of-28 from downtown while turning the ball over 9 times compared to the Gee-Gees 18.

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The 40 points allowed by the Ravens is their lowest against the Gee-Gees since a 74-34 smack-down in January 18th, 2012 at the Sixth Annual Capital Hoops Classic.

Carleton Ravens 6’10” freshman Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, ON) and senior forward Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON) finished one point shy of double-doubles with 9 points and 8 rebounds respectively, and shutdown the Gee-Gees dynamic duo of Caleb Agada (12 points, 4 rebounds) and former Ravens Jean Emmanuel Pierre (7 points, 6 rebounds). Gee-Gees Guard Brandon Robinson had a team-high 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting, 3-of-4 triples.

Carleton’s record  stays unblemished at a perfect 10-0, 16-0 against Canadian competition and 22-2 overall with the only losses coming from two NCAA opponents on the road in Rhode Island – Providence Friars 87-69 and in Philadelphia against LaSalle Explorers 79-73.

Both teams will meet again in just over two weeks (Feb 3rd) at the 2017 Capital Hoops Classic at the ScotiaBank Centre.

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