At the outset of the 2018-19 regular season, it's hard to get a clear pulse on where the Gee-Gees men's basketball team is headed this year. Despite flying under the radar to start the season, the team is confident that they will develop drastically as the year goes on.
In pre-season action, the Gee-Gees have shown all sides of what the team is capable of, with three wins and two losses against U SPORTS competition.
At the Naismith Classic Tournament in Waterloo, the Gee-Gees took on three teams that could finish atop their respective conferences this year. Against Bishop's and UBC the team ground out victories, while they let a one-point game slip against Dalhousie.
On a final exhibition trip to Montreal, the teams played a tough UQAM squad to a loss, before blowing the doors off of McGill for a 40-point 112-72 win over the Redmen.
Heading into their OUA schedule, the Gee-Gees are looking to confirm their identity is the team that showed up against UBC and McGill, rather than the one that let close games fall away.
Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin will look for his team to run a high-octane offence, upping the pace seen in prior years. On the whole, the team will use their smaller size to an advantage by spreading the floor and peppering opponents with shooters.
The Gee-Gees' first matchup of the season is a tough one, as they take on Carleton at Montpetit Hall in the Bytown Battle on Oct. 26 (8 p.m.). The Ravens have powered their way through their NCAA and U SPORTS pre-season schedule without a loss, the game will be another early test for the Garnet and Grey.
In the starting lineup, the play of a group of veterans will be essential for the team's success. Brandon Robinson will be the key playmaker for the team in his final year, he is also the team's staunchest on-ball defender who will take on an opponent's best threat. Calvin Epistola will pace the offence using his ability to both get into the paint and shoot from distance to rack up points when needed. Gage Sabean has been a three-point specialist so far in his career, but will look to add more volume scoring from all around the court. Andrew DeGroot, returning from injury will be the lineup's glue in the paint. Providing harassing defence, rebounding, and transition baskets, DeGroot will prove invaluable to the team this season.
Two key rookie additions could emerge as contenders for OUA Rookie of the Year. Experienced pickups out of CEGEP basketball in Montreal will be keys to the future of the team. Guillaume Pépin and Kevin Civil have impressed early and will hope to carry their success over to the regular season.
The team's sparkplug six-man will be experienced forward Mackenzie Morrison. Playing the best basketball of his career through the preseason, Morrison's knock-down shooting, rebounding, and gritty defence will constantly be at the top of mind for opponents.
Two key Gee-Gees will return from injury at some point in the year that will give the team a boost in the second half of the year. Sean Stoqua (12.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.7 APG in 2017) will return from an ACL tear suffered late in the season last year. Olivier Cadieux, who played during the team's NCAA exhibition games will return to action after undergoing surgery. Unfortunately for the Gee-Gees, they will be without the services of Alex Muise this season due to a knee injury.
Save for the Carleton matchup, the Gee-Gees will play only OUA West teams before the exam break. Home matchups against Waterloo, Laurier, McMaster, and Brock will be highlights. Meanwhile, tests on the road will come in long road trips to Windsor, Western, Guelph, and Algoma.
After the exam break, the team will head to Toronto for matchups with the Varsity Blues and Ryerson, before a gauntlet of OUA East opponents through January and February. This season's Capital Hoops Classic against Carleton will take place at the Canadian Tire Centre on Feb. 1.
KEY LINEUP BREAKDOWN:
G – Calvin Epistola (4th year / Toronto, Ont.)
G – Brandon Robinson (5th year / Montreal, Que.)
F – Gage Sabean (3rd year / Port Williams, NS)
F – Guillaume Pépin (1st year / Montreal, Que.)\
C – Andrew DeGroot (4th year / Aurora, Ont.)
F – Mackenzie Morrison (5th year / Barrie, Ont.)
G – Kevin Civil (1st year / Montreal, Que.)
F – Quinton Hamilton (3rd year / Brampton, Ont.) – Transfer from Polk State (JUCO)
G – Borys Minger (2nd year / Cayenne, French Guiana)
F – Josh Stephens (2nd year / Cornwall, Ont.)
G – Luka Lizdek (1st year / Vancouver, BC)
C – Marlon Kordrostami (3rd year / Ottawa, Ont.)
RETURNING FROM INJURY
G – Sean Stoqua (5th year / Stittsville, Ont.)
G – Olivier Cadieux (3rd year / Laval, Que.) – Transfer from Fairfield (NCAA D-I)
G – Alex Muise (2nd year / Hammonds Plains, NS)
G/F – Camille Musuakala (1st year / Ottawa, Ont.)