Monday, 16 January 2012

Capital Hoops Classic this Wednesday

In what has become a Capital Region basketball tradition and a fixture on mid-January hoops calendars, cross-town rivals uOttawa Gee-Gees, pushing for a spot in the CIS Top 10, and #1 and defending National champions Carleton Ravens face off at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday night in the 6th Annual MBNA Capital Hoops Classic.  Ticket information  

The Ravens continue to dominate opponents, undefeated at 12-0 on the regular season after a pair of weekend wins over Ryerson and Toronto Varsity Blues in Toronto.  While reigning Moser Award winner 6'6" Tyson Hinz remains the focus of Carleton's offense, many believe that the early favorite for this season's Moser is Carleton's 6'3" combo guard Phil Scrubb, who continues to play with that quiet, expressionless smooth, getting to the rim, knocking down perimeter jumpers or finding open teammates inside or on skips.  6'5" Cole Hobin remains arguably the top lock-down defender of point guards and power forwards alike (and every position in between; although many would place Lakehead's dynamic Greg Carter in the discussion checking guards as well).  All three Ravens were members of Canada's Pan-Am Games team that played in Mexico in October.  Most believe that it is Scrubb who likely has the greatest long-term potential to be an impact player on the Senior Men's National side.  But the Ravens have significant talent beyond their big three, highlighted by 5'11" fifth-year sparkplug Willy Manigat (pictured above), who is playing in his fifth and final Capital Hoops Classic.  It was Manigat, as a member of the uOttawa Gee-Gees who hit two big 3's during his freshman season in the CIS that helped give the Gee-Gees their only victory in the six year history of this event, presently dominated by the Ravens 4 games to 1.

uOttawa Gee-Gees have moved comfortably into second place in the OUA East at 8-4 after a rough start to the season which began in November with a pair of road losses at Brock and at McMaster which in retrospect were both winnable games.  The Gee-Gees only 2 losses since have been to #7 Laurier by 1 on a last second shot by Hawks All-Canadian 6'5" Kale Harrison and at #3 Lakehead.  In addition, the Gee-Gees led #2 St. FX X-Men by 5 with under 2 minutes to play in the first round of the Dalhousie Rod Shoveller Memorial tournament, only to lose in OT - another winnable game.  Ottawa is dealing with the loss for the season of 6'6" Warren Ward, who twisted his knee against Laurentian about 10 days ago but it has since been revealed that his ACL is torn and he is definitely out for the season.  The Gee-Gees have rallied around 6'1" freshman point guard Mike L'Africian and 6'3" sophomore shooting guard Johnny Berhanemeskel to win their first 4 games of the second half including wins in Toronto and at Ryerson over the weekend.  Ottawa has an emerging star in the post in 6'8" Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue, only in his second season but already commanding double downs in the low post, which he saw consistently late in Saturday's Gee-Gees win at Ryerson.  After dominating Ryerson posts one-on-one, especially in the third quarter when Ottawa built a double digit lead, Rams coach Roy Rana wisely forced double teams on Gonthier-Dubue, who has an excellent blend of athleticism, power and now improved finesse around the rim.  Without Ward, expect Gee-Gees Coach James Derouin to shorten his bench and likely try to buy his key players some minutes by dropping into a zone, which Ottawa did on occasion on Saturday night.

We will have plenty more on this game in the coming days including extensive media coverage by Team 1200 all-sports radio, SSN Canada and Rogers Television.

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