Halifax, NS- As they approach their U SPORTS Final 8 semifinal game against the rival Carleton Ravens, one of the things the Ottawa Gee-Gees are looking to do is play disciplined and locked in throughout.
They’ve shown it against the Winnipeg Wesmen in the U SPORTS Final 8 quarterfinals. Ottawa went out to a 23-11 lead after one quarter, and it continued to grow – leading to a 91-70 victory.
The Gee-Gees were led by Guillaume Pepin, who finished with 22 points. Kevin Otoo added 15, while Cole Newton also scored 15. Cole’s brother Brock had 12 points and six rebounds. Guard Dragan Stajic led them with eight rebounds.
“Our star players performed extremely well tonight,” Derouin noted. “I thought they were locked in. We got off to a slow start shooting the ball, but I thought we came around a little bit from three.”
Ottawa finished the game shooting 53. 6 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from deep. While the Gee-Gees are known for being a high-volume three-point shooting team, they made their impact inside as well. They won the rebounding battle 35-30 and had 24 points in the paint to Winnipeg’s 18.
Their depth against the Wesmen is perhaps symbolic of the identity of this year’s team. Derouin and Pepin talked about the leadership within the team. The multiple leaders. “I think it shows tonight with five or six guys in double figures,” he said. “Guillaume’s a great player, but this is a great team.”
Their collective focus was tested against Winnipeg as everyone in the arena was evacuated midway through warmups due to the fire alarm going off. Derouin saw their energy in the first warmup. “We were burning the mesh up,” he said. The delay had an impact, according to him, but it was something both teams had to deal with.
“In situations like that, the only focus I have is to not let that affect you,” he said. Once the game finally got underway, the Gee-Gees went on to an early lead and stayed ahead from there.
Now, they are two wins away from a national title. It would be their first-ever. Their next foe is a familiar one: the Carleton Ravens. Once again, it comes back to being disciplined and focused consistently. It’s something the Ravens are known for, Derouin noted.
Derouin said Carleton will be very good tomorrow and will be extra locked in and motivated – coming off their Wilson Cup defeat. As for his team’s level of being locked in consistently, that could determine their fate.
Derouin said they’ve wavered off their game plan during the season for four or five-minute stretches “that end up costing us the game.” Against Carleton, in the Wilson Cup finals though, that wasn’t the case. The head coach pointed out how they were locked in throughout.
How does a team reach that level of discipline? It’s a process spanning the whole season, according to him. One forged through the moments, games and battles over months. One forged through the teaching points those situations bring.
“To move closer and closer to a level where they’re able to handle any situation,” he said. It can arrive in the form of an opposing team’s run, a cold shooting night for their team or the opponent throwing a look at them they didn’t expect and more.
“I don’t think it’s anything we would do today,” Derouin added. “You hope the six, eight, seven months that we’re together and all the battles that we’ve been through, get us to the point where we’re ready to lock in for 40 minutes.”
Maybe one moment of them reaching that point – months of work coming to fruition – was the Wilson Cup finals. They are facing a rematch of that, against a team known for their discipline.
“Certainly I’m not expecting a game like that one but in terms of sticking to the game plan and staying disciplined and locked in, that’s the key to beating them,” Derouin said. “They’re not going to waver so we have to match that.”
Featured Image: Trevor MacMillan/Dalhousie Athletics/U SPORTS