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Notable Gee-Gees alumni return to Montpetit Hall

Maclaine Chadwick | Fulcrum Staff

Photo courtesy of the University of Ottawa Archives

Saturday night’s basketball game against the Ryerson University Rams marked much more than just a win on the Gee-Gees’ record—it also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Ontario University Athletics Association (OUAA, now the OUA) championship, during which the Wilson Cup was awarded to the 1992-1993 University of Ottawa men’s basketball team.

Prior to their game against the Rams, the current Gee-Gees team got a visit from their champion predecessors.

“I actually gave them a little pre-game speech, so hopefully it works out alright,” said Chris Lemcke, who played centre for the Gees from 1988–1993.

The speech must have worked, because the Gee-Gees overcame the Rams 70-63. The final shot, a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Johnny Berhanemeskel, gave the Gees the necessary seven-point win to move ahead in the standings.

It’s a great feeling to get this win for our program and for the guys who did so much for our program 20 years ago,” said Berhanemeskel after the game. “They did so much for this team’s culture and history.”

A handful of members from the banner-year squad were present at the game.

“When we played, we weren’t the most talented team by far,” said Lemcke. “We didn’t rank very high, we just kind of came out of nowhere and then we destroyed Western in the finals.”

The 1992–93 team hit a mid-season slump in their record, going 2-10 and sitting at fifth place in the OUAA rankings before a seven-game winning streak secured them a spot in the playoffs.

“The biggest thing was that we came together in the end and played like we had love for everyone—we played for each other and the team,” said Lemcke. “We didn’t play for the coach, we didn’t play for anyone other than ourselves, and it worked out because we were a true team and we played best together.”

Two former players on the team—Clarence Porter and Carlos “Bobby” Brown—maintained involvement with the U of O’s basketball program. Porter is currently the assistant coach of the men’s team, and Brown was the head coach of the women’s team. Despite not having played together for two decades, Lemcke says the teammates are as close as ever.

“When you win something, it keeps you close because you’ve got something to celebrate,” said Lemcke. “But like I said, the biggest thing for us was that we had a great bunch of guys and we all got along. It didn’t matter where we came from—whether it was Toronto or me coming from a small town in Ontario—we loved each other and we played for each other.”

Even though the bonds of their brotherhood have stood the test of time, Lemcke pointed out one aspect of the game that has changed over the years.

“The coaching is far better than it was when we started playing, especially at younger levels,” he said. “It’s so much better than what we had, so the game is a lot better than when we played.”

The Gee-Gees will play their final regular-season home game against the Carleton University Ravens on Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. at Montpetit Hall.