Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Ottawa Gee-Gees Preview

For the first time in a decade, the uOttawa Gee-Gees will have a new head man patrolling the sidelines after the departure to McGill of Dave DeAveiro, the winningest coach in uOttawa history.  Former Gee-Gees and UBC Thunderbirds assistant James Derouin takes over, bringing with him to Ottawa a growing reputation as a coach who preaches defense and rebounding as the foundations of winning.  With the graduations of All-Canadian Josh Gibson-Bascombe and five-year stalward Donnie Gibson, the young Gee-Gees will have to keep the games low scoring and rely on one of Canada's most talented scorers 6'6" Warren Ward to make another run at the Nationals.

The Gee-Gees become Ward's team and the high-scoring third-year wing/forward is poised to shoulder much of the offensive load.  With the focus of most team's defensive game plans turning brightly on Ward, his decision-making skills will likely be tested much more.  Ward is long and athletic getting to the rim, has range beyond the three point line and is very difficult to contain in transition.  In a half court game, his ability to draw help and have teammates play off him is key to a multi-dimensional Ottawa offense. 

6'7" fifth-year post Louis Gauthier will likely be a top offensive option for Ottawa and he is coming off a solid season in '09-'10, the recipient of numerous Gibson-Bascombe looks off penetration.  With the graduation of such stalwards OUA East posts as Kevin McCleery and Mitch Leger, Gauthier becomes one of the more experienced paint area players in the league and earning defensive respect will help diversify Ottawa's offense.

In 6'2" Jacob Gibson-Bascombe, Josh's younger brother who sat out last season to improve his academics, the Gee-Gees have an experienced lead guard who can make shots, create for others and gives Derouin some flexibility defensively.  The younger Gibson-Bascombe saw significant minutes in his first two seasons and should be prepared to shoulder a 30-35 minute per game load on most nights at the point.

The Cincinnati game over Labour Day showed a glimpse of the kind of offensive talent 6'0" freshman Johnny Berhane (Ottawa Lester B. Pearson) can become.  Berhane has range beyond the 3 point line and is very adept at reading screens and getting himself available for open looks.  He represents Ottawa best likely rookie-of-the-year candidate.  The fifth spot in the starting lineup is likely to go to either 6'3" 200 pound sophomore Ryan Malcolm-Campbell, an all-OUA East rookie team selection last season or another sophomore 6'4" Akeem Gardner who has improved his body significantly over the summer with added strength with less weight.  Gardner is a thick banger who can defend and rebound while continuing to work on his offensive game.  Of the three touted freshmen from last season, Malcolm-Campbell had the most mature overall game compared to Gardner and 6'3" Kamish Edwards, who will sit out this season to improve academics.

Another promising freshman 6'5" Gabe Gonthier-Dubue, should be the first four man off the bench in the rotation and he has a strong set of offensive skills.  His time should increase as his ability to defend in the team setting becomes more visible.  A somewhat-forgotten element of past strong Ottawa teams is 6'7" fifth-year forward Nemanja Baletic, who is likely to get a more defined role focused on playing the five spot in and around the paint and who has the ability to guard bigs inside and on the perimeter.  6'3" Chris Anderson, another freshman who is currently battling the symptoms of a concussion, will get minutes when healthy as a defensive specialist and his time will go up as he gains more offensive skills.

Algonquin transfer Luke Minani, a big 6'3" guard looks to push for time backing up the point and should see more minutes with the last-minute loss due to academics of promising 6'2" Serge Grenon, a freshman who will sit out this season but is expected to be ready for 2011-12.  Another transfer 6'0" Jimmy Seymour, who comes back home to Ottawa after some time with the Guelph Gryphons, is a veteran who understands CIS defensive systems and should contribute time off the bench.

With three veterans in Ward, Jacob G-B and Gauthier who should see the bulk of the minutes (30-35 mpg each) supported by several young players, expect Ottawa to rely on stopping teams, keeping games in the 50's and 60's and relying on Ward scoring and creating to push to near the top of the OUA East.

Ottawa kicks off the CIS portion of their pre-season schedule tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 6 PM (not 8 PM as originally scheduled) at Montpetit Hall as the Bishop's Gaiters begin their three-day tour of Eastern Ontario which includes games at Carleton on Thursday at 7 PM and at Queen's in Kingston on Friday night.

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