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Gee-Gees host annual Jack Donohue tournament

Maclaine Chadwick | Fulcrum Staff

THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA held its 38th annual Jack Donohue basketball tournament last weekend, hosting the Université du Quebec à Montréal Citadins, the Bishop’s University Gaiters, and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

The tournament is played in honor of Jack Donohue, a legendary basketball coach who was inducted into four halls of fame, including the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, after coaching the Canadian Olympic men’s basketball team for 17 years. Donohue was also the recipient of the Coach Mac award in 2003 before passing away at the age of 71 later that year.

The 2012 pre-season tournament marks the return of U of O team captain Warren Ward, who hasn’t played a game with the team since sustaining a knee injury last January. Despite missing some summer pre-season games, Ward was on the court with the Gees for the first time in ten months after being cleared to play in September.

Game one: Gees vs. Gaiters

The first game of the tournament against Bishops University ended in favour of the visiting Gaiters. A technical foul by Gee-Gees rookie guard Mehdi Tihani led to two points on a free throw by Bishops, bringing the final score to 64-63 in the last seconds of the game.

Even though the scoreboard reported a loss, the Gees had a strong start to the game and were leading by 17 points at the half. By the end of the match, third-year guard Johnny Berhanemeskel and second-year forward Vikas Gill led the scoreboard, each contributing 12 points.

Ward, who now wears a knee brace when playing for precautionary measures, is excited to be back in the game.

“My knee feels pretty good…I’m not scared to play,” said Ward. “I’m still trying to find my rhythm and fit in with the team, and that’s the most important thing.”

 

Game two: Gees vs. Citadins

Round two of the tournament proved more successful for the Gees, who had built up a comfortable 28-point lead when the buzzer rang for halftime.

This lead allowed coach James Derouin to employ some of his rookie players during the second half, giving the new recruits some in-game experience before the regular season starts.

“We are just trying to get used to playing with each other,” explained Derouin. “It’s hard to practice when you don’t have all the players there. [This tournament] was really just about trying to get that chemistry… That’s really what we were trying to accomplish this weekend.”

The final score of the game against the Citadins was 95-60 for the Gees, with Berhanemeskel leading the scoreboard with 17 points, and first-years Matt Plunkett and Moe Ismail contributing 14 points each to the final score.

 

Game three: Gees vs. Varisty Blues

The Gee-Gees final game of the tournament was played against a team they will face in the regular season, the University of  Toronto Varsity Blues.

The Sunday afternoon game, which didn’t bring out a large crowd, ended up being another blowout game in favour of the Gees, who won 88-57.

For the third night in a row, Berhanemeskel led the scoreboard with a weekend high of 21 points. Warren Ward, who sat out during the previous night’s game against Bishop’s, put up 15 points and three assists as he eased himself back onto the court.

The win against the Blues gave the Gee-Gees an overall record of 2-1 for the tournament.

“It got better throughout the weekend,” said coach Derouin, referring to the Gee’s team chemistry. “With our team this year, we’ve got veterans and we’ve got rookies and there is a gap in between. We need our rookies to play well for us to be good this year.”

Caleb Agada, a first year guard, is one of the many rookies who saw a lot of playing time over the weekend, and who Derouin credits as “giving the team a lot of energy.”

“[It’s about] confidence, and coming together as a team,” explained Agada, when asked about what it takes to fit in with the veteran players. “Just being confident at all times, and having trust in each other.”

The regular season for Gee-Gees men’s basketball starts on the road against Western on November 9th. The first home game of the regular season is on November 16th at 8 p.m. against the McMaster University Marauders at Montpetit Hall.