Record crowd expected at MBNA Capital Hoops Classic in Ottawa

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Gee Gees mens basketball team

The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team (11-1) will take to the court at Canadian Tire Centre on Friday for the tenth anniversary edition of the MBNA Capital Hoops Classic. The Garnet and Grey earned a victory in the first meeting of the season with the Carleton Ravens (10-2), and are now looking to deliver their first win at the Classic since that first event back in 2007.

 A CIS record crowd of 10,780 took in last year’s Classic which saw the Gee-Gees stage a thrilling third quarter before going cold in the fourth, ultimately falling 79-66.

The early foul trouble of Caleb Agada made for a tricky start to the 2015 contest for Ottawa and the big question heading into Friday will be the health of the fourth-year all-star. After amassing 23 points and 10 rebounds at the Ravens Nest on January 16, Agada was helped off the court in obvious pain due to a rolled ankle. He has sat out the last four games.

A crucial stat to keep an eye on will be the rebounding totals; the Gee-Gees won the boards 43-32 with big contributions from Matt Plunkett and Nathan McCarthy in the round one victory.

“When you play at Capital Hoops there is so much adrenaline in your body from being in that atmosphere,” says Plunkett. “So when you get into a physical game you have to control yourself. We’re working on being physical with each other in practice. We have to block out the outside noise and play in the same square we were at Carleton.”

“Even though I’m not the biggest guy or the best at it, I put it on myself to lead by example and get in there for some rebounds because coach has made that a focus,” says Mike L’Africain.

Ottawa will be looking to L’Africain to continue his recent scoring; the fifth-year point guard notched 30 and 31 points last weekend and contributed 17 to the win on January 16. Notably, the majority of those points came from inside the three-point line.

“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling comfortable. I want to keep playing hard and building on those games. You don’t have to force anything against Carleton – you just have to be smart and play the right way,” explains L’Africain.

Carleton, ranked no. 3, is also coming into the game with something to prove. While Ottawa was tied with Ryerson heading into the final minute two weeks ago, the Ravens lagged behind the Rams throughout their matchup, losing 79-61.

The x-factors for Ottawa will be second-years Mackenzie Morrison and Brandon Robinson. “They’ve played at Indiana and they’ve played in some big games recently. We’ll throw them into the fire a little bit at Capital Hoops and see what happens – they both have the skills to make an impact,” says head coach James Derouin. “Every Capital Hoops game is a new challenge and we’ve seen some of the best players in the country struggle there while others step up. At the very least I hope that the experience allows them to contribute down the road.”

Friday’s MBNA Capital Hoops Classic will also be a Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) “Mental Health Matchup.” These are varsity or club events held across the country that work to raise awareness of mental health and illness in sport, while connecting student-athletes with locally available mental health resources.

The game will be broadcast live on TSN1200, Rogers Cable 22, and OUA.tv. Tip-off is set for 8:07 p.m. on Friday.

BASKETBALL (W): MBNA Capital Hoops Classic Preview: uOttawa going for third straight trophy

 

The tenth annual MBNA Capital Hoops Classic will see the no. 8 ranked University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s basketball team take on the Carleton Ravens this Friday night at the Canadian Tire Centre with numerous winning streaks on the line.  The Gee-Gees (11-1) will look to capture the Capital Hoops trophy for the third straight season while also extending a winning streak against Carleton to five games with the last loss coming in 2014. Ottawa heads into the contest on an eight-game winning streak overall which includes its 69-56 victory over the Ravens (8-4) on January 16.

 

Retribution for last year’s defeat seems a daunting task for the Ravens as the Gee-Gees sit atop the OUA North Division Standings with best overall record in the OUA. The Ravens shouldn’t be overlooked however as Carleton is coming off a hot-handed weekend with a 20-point divide in last weekend’s big win over the then no. 10 ranked Queen’s (9-3).

The rivals’ most recent encounter saw Carleton hacking away at Ottawa’s lead. The Ravens were strong contenders on the court for the first three quarters until late in the fourth as Gee-Gees began to pull away with the help of Julia Soriano, drilling a jumper from the baseline side in the corner, giving Ottawa a 14-point edge. Soriano broke the game wide open connecting from deep going 6-10, helping the Gee-Gees achieve an impressive 42.9 per cent from beyond the arc.

Ottawa was able to hold top scorer Heather Lindsay to just eight points, almost half her average scoring per game at 15.3 points. But other players are ready and able to overcome the low block drought just as Lindsey Suprunchuk, a six-foot-one forward, came off the bench for Carleton and dropped a double-double with 14-points and 10 rebounds in the contest.

To stave off defeat in the upcoming contest, offensively Ottawa will look to play high-tempo basketball to create open looks in their favour. On the defensive end, “controlling [Carleton’s] high-low game and putting good ball pressure on the perimeter will be a major part of our focus,” said head coach Andy Sparks.

The Gee-Gees may also look to capitalize on turnovers – Carleton ranks 31st in the country with an average of 19.2 per game while the steady-handed garnet and grey rank ninth at 15.8. Ottawa also has a big advantage in the offensive rebounding department, ranking fourth in the nation with 16.3 per game. With shooting percentages typically suffering in Canadian Tire Centre, those extra possessions could loom large.

Friday’s MBNA Capital Hoops Classic will also be a Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) “Mental Health Matchup.” These are varsity or club events held across the country that work to raise awareness of mental health and illness in sport, while connecting student-athletes with locally available mental health resources.

The game will be broadcast live on TSN1200 and OUA.tv.

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