X factor for Ottawa: Lead guard Josh Gibson-Bascombe has Josh Wright to divert defenders' attention out on the wing. Gibson-Bascombe was nails in Ottawa's regular-season wins in '06-07, but the Ravens have treated him to some long nights since: Two-for-15 in the '08 OUA East final; 3-of-11 in the 2007 Final 8 semi and 5-of-16 in the OUA East final that season.
Rob Saunders is Carleton's best perimeter defender and fifth-year wing Stu Turnbull can play physically. One matchup question for Carleton is who takes 6-foot-5 Gee-Gees freshman forward Warren Ward (10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who's quick off the bounce and can shoot the three. He's the type of player whom the since-graduated Manny Jean-Marie used to take.
X factor for Carleton: When they're going to make their run, enough said. It usually comes in the second or third quarter. A couple turnovers on defence, some tic-tac-toe ball movement to get them a look at a three, and they're off.
It goes without saying that Ottawa's best big, Dax Dessureault, can't afford foul trouble; he's the only one strong and savvy enough to stay with Aaron Doornekamp. He picked up two early in last year's Classic and Carleton went on a game-turning 19-5 run, with Doornekamp tallying 20 points and 10 rebounds on the night.
Ottawa's bench: Ottawa will work in 6-foot-3 guard Donnie Gibson, a 47% three-point shooter. Nemanja Baletic (7.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who's a bit of 'tweener at either the 4 or 5 spot, gives them good minutes. He'll be on standby, since power forward David Labentowicz tweaked his back and was held out of the last two games.
Carleton's bench: Coach Dave Smart's first two options off the bench are 6-foot-6 Cole Hobin and 6-foot-4 Elliott Thompson, both in their second season. In Smart's system, players tend to be brought along slowly until one day they just blossom.
So ... prediction? Gut says Carleton by five points.
Here's the recent history of the rivalry:
- March 1, 2008: Carleton 75, Ottawa 56 (OUA East final) — The Ravens wrote the story of this one in the third quarter, putting together 10-0 and 10-3 runs to stretch out a one-point halftime lead. Doornekamp had 19 for Carleton,
- Feb. 16, 2008: Carleton 75, Ottawa 73 — Gee-Gees coach Dave DeAveiro probably did one of his best coaching jobs getting a young, nicked-up team to within a game of the CIS Final 8 last season, where it lost to Brock in the play-in game (and now you know the rest of the story).
Ottawa was written off, but with four players accounting for virtually all their offence, including Gibson with 15 points (three threes among them), they hung in. Turnbull went off for a 27-point, 12-rebound, six-steal night, as Gibson-Bascombe sat out with a knee injury.
- Jan. 27, 2008: Carleton 70, Ottawa 66 (Capital Hoops Classic) — Ottawa started well, but Dessureault and Labentowicz each got in foul trouble, and Carleton got control of the game.
- March 3, 2007: Carleton 65, Ottawa 63 (OUA East final) — Both teams shot in the mid-30s, as it was a grind all night. Carleton, which has always been good at getting to the foul line, took 32 free throws to Ottawa's 12, which made the difference on a night when every basket was hard-won.
- Feb. 18, 2007: Ottawa 77, Carleton 71 — The Gee-Gees led almost wire-to-wire, with Gibson-Bascombe scoring 19 points as Ottawa put up an effective field-goal percentage of 54.6 and held off Carleton in the final minutes. The current Ottawa team has a good sixth man in Gibson; on that night, their sixth man, Curtis Shakespeare, had 21 points.
- Jan. 23, 2007: Ottawa 64, Carleton 62 — The first Capital Hoops Classic cemented JGB as the go-to Gee-Gee. The then-sophomore, who missed both '05-06 regular-season games vs. Carleton due to a wrist injury, hit a game-winning jumper from the elbow with less than five seconds to go. The shot mooted a great comeback by Carleton, who were down 12 with 16 minutes to play and by six with two minutes left.
Gibson-Bascombe was man of the match for Ottawa. It's less remembered that Turnbull had one of his first great games and helped bring Carleton back in the closing minutes. He also played with fire, coming up with a big steal when he was playing with four fouls during Carleton's 6-0 run that prefaced Gibson-Bascombe's late heroics.
Someone will step up like that tonight.
- Carleton, under second-year coach Taffe Charles, seems to have been made over in the image of the men's team: Defence, rebounding and three-point shootings.
The Ravens lead the CIS in scoring (52.0 ppg) and field-goal (32.5%) defence. They are the only team in the OUA to have made at least 100 threes (wing Kelly Killoran, with 34, has accounted for exactly one-third of their total). They do the new math, trying to score by threes instead of ones and twos.
Ines Jelic and Tanya Perry tend to be everywhere on the floor. Carleton is undersized, with no regular taller than 5-foot-11, but usually come out ahead on the boards thanks to two Eastern Ontario products, Kendall McLeod and Ashleigh Cleary.
- Ottawa goes nine deep, with three second-year players, guard Emilie Morasse and 6-footers Courtney Berquist and Hannah Sunley-Paisley in the frontcourt, playing major roles. They have four fourth- or fifth-year players with Kaitlin Long, Katie Laurie and Kyrie Love and guard Allison Forbes.
Like Charles, first-year Ottawa coach Andy Sparks makes his teams all about defence, although Ottawa's more likely to put up a total in the 70s.
- Carleton is coming off a last-second loss to Queen's on an extremely weird play. It does no good to speculate how or even if that affects them tonight. They'll have the answer by 7:45 p.m.
- The OUA East will be decided the Feb. 6-7 weekend when Carleton and Ottawa visit Toronto. Even the loser tonight will still be alive if they run the table and get the split with U of T, or if the Blues get upset (mostly likely by Queen's).