Saturday, 10 Jun 2023

Ottawa Gee-Gees hope to take advantage of home court at national basketball championship

Even though the Ottawa Gee-Gees had a guaranteed spot in the national university men’s basketball championship this season, coach James Derouin didn’t change his approach.

For the first time, the men’s and women’s national U Sports championships are being held at the same venue at the same time this week. Ottawa is the men’s Final 8 host while cross-town rival Carleton is hosting the women.

With that, Ottawa received an automatic entry into the tournament.

“Qualifying for the national final in U Sports basketball is one of the toughest things to do in all of sports,” Derouin said.

“When you have that luxury of that automatic bid, how do you treat things differently? I’ve taken a lot of feedback but the most consistent thing I heard, and that goes for this week too, just treat it like you always would.”

Although TD Place Arena at Lansdowne Park is about halfway between Ottawa and Carleton, Derouin feels like there will be a home-court advantage for his team. The seventh-seeded Gee-Gees face the No. 2 Dalhousie Tigers in one of four quarterfinals Thursday.

“Playing in this gym already, there’s a familiarity,” Derouin said of TD Place, which was used for the Capital Hoops Classic last month. Ottawa beat Carleton 68-67 in that game — Carleton’s only loss of the season.

“We had a successful season and we’re excited for the tournament this weekend and showing the country that not only did we get the bid automatically, but we deserve to be here.”

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