New Ottawa Gee-Gees men's basketball coach James Derouin is coming home to a different hoops landscape than the one he left three years ago.
It seems worth spelling out the task at hand rather and recycling the press release. Derouin, 34, who spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with UBC, was on staff at the apex of the Dave DeAveiro era in 2005-06 and '06-07. In those years, the Gee-Gees won 3-of-4 regular-season games against Carleton before the Ravens went on to win their fourth and fifth CIS titles. The gap between the two teams seems to move an inch a month, like a glacier.
Carleton has won the past 11 games against its city rival. DeAveiro and floor leaders such as the graduated Josh Gibson-Bascombe and Donnie Gibson, along with now third-year swingman extraordinaire Warren Ward, seldom let the Gee-Gees just roll over. There were times, though, when it evoked the era in the late 1980s and early '90s when the Miami Hurricanes had a hold on Florida State. One team thought it could win and one team knew it was going to win.
People have speculated if that was why DeAveiro decided to move out of the OUA to McGill, where he won't have to compete directly against the Dave Smart-coached Ravens, who do a superb job at building a bond with the best recruits who wish to stay home in Ottawa. Some have also wondered if that is why Ottawa director of sports services Luc Gelineau did not get one of the bright basketball minds coaching CIS hoops in the capital. Carleton assistant Rob Smart, along with Taffe Charles and Andy Sparks with the women's hoops Ravens and Gee-Gees, are eminently qualified. Hiring any of the three would have made a bigger splash.
Derouin certainly has earned a chance to head up a CIS team. He has experience of working with two perennial Top 10 teams. He was in the mix for the UNBC job when it was contemplating a move from the CCAA to CIS, so he's certainly wanted this for a while.
His B.C. connection could help Ottawa quite a bit. The upheaval in university athletics in British Columbia -- Simon Fraser joining NCAA Division II, UBC mulling a move south, Premier Gordon Campbell creating a university-college every Monday that turns around and applies for Canada West membership by the following Friday -- has caused a lot of B.C. athletes to seek out OUA schools. That could help alleviate the Gee-Gees being shut out of recruiting the best ballers in their own backyard. Smart, in fact, has already recruited in B.C., signing guards Thomas and Phil Scrubb the past two seasons.
The odds are Derouin should keep Ottawa competitive. His experience with DeAveiro might help foster a semblance of continuity, depending on which assistant coaches return.
The question is always whether it is fair to use the Ravens to set the bar for the bar at beating Carleton. A lot of coaches would probably take it if a goat-legged fellow resembling Ned Flanders appeared in their kitchen and said they could lead a team which is never lower than third in its division and is always close to going to nationals. A lot of schools would love to have Ottawa's record in men's hoops. For most people in Ottawa, though, it's beat Carleton or bust. It's human nature to look at the guy down the street.
Meantime, it will be a changed landscape in the OUA East this fall. It has four coaches, Derouin, York's Tom Olivieri, Ryerson's Roy Rana and Laurentian's Shawn Swords, who have a combined five seasons' experience leading a CIS program. Throw in Toronto and Queen's and it promises to be fun to watch -- if your mind will let you enjoy a race for second place.
Humber College's Darrell Glenn and Brock Badgers assistant coach Brad Rootes were also believed to be on Ottawa's shortlist.
(Two UBC coaches left for OUA schools on the same day. Kevin MacNeill, who was the full-time assistant coach for the football T-Birds, just accepted Guelph's defensive coordinator job. Perry Marchese will be offensive coordinator for the grid Gryphs.)