#1 Carleton (15-0, 9-0) at #2 Ottawa (18-1, 9-0)... The first of what many believe will be 3 or 4 meetings this season between the top two teams in the country happens tonight at Montpetit Hall in what is expected to be another jammed, sell-out crowd. For the first time in recent memory, much of the focus of both teams is likely to be on the big guys inside. Certainly the expected match-up between 6’9″ Carleton transfer Jean Pierre-Charles and touted 6’10” freshman Eddie Ekiyor could be where the game is decided. Ravens historically have doubled down on most post catches and so it will be interesting to see whether or not Carleton allows Ekiyor and 6’7″ Ryan Ejim (who is likely to check 6’7″ Brody Maracle) to deal with their checks one-on-one or otherwise. How each team handles post catches defensively will be an interesting early element to watch for.
Defensively on the perimeter, Gee-Gees have been switching all ball screens for virtually the entire season ostensibly because they feel Pierre-Charles especially has the athleticism and length to guard any position – watch for the Ravens on the offensive glass during these scenarios which pull away Ottawa’s bigs from the glass. Gee-Gees National Defensive Player-of-the-Year Caleb Agada is likely to start on Carleton’s leading scorer 6’4″ Connor Wood defensively and hopes to stay out of foul trouble which has plagued Agada in these games and periodically throughout his career.
A pair of McMaster transfers playing in their very first “Bytown Battle”, Ravens 6’4″ Joe Rocca and Gee-Gees 6’2″ Adam Presutti, are likely to have a bearing on the outcome, especially if double downs or dribble penetration creates defensive rotations – both are knock down shooters and it will be interesting to see how both respond to what is a very different atmosphere to any other regular season game. Presutti may end up checking 6’2″ Kaza Keene, who has been very good recently as a facilitator getting into the lane – Keene had 7 assists in the first half alone on Saturday against Laurentian.
Carleton’s best and most versatile defender 6’5″ Mitch Wood missed this past weekend’s games and his status for this evening is uncertain – if available, one would expect him to check Agada, who is the defacto creator for the Gee-Gees. Ottawa hopes to get quality minutes from improving 5’11” point guard Calvin Epistola who will likely see his first major minutes of his career against Carleton in this game. Gee-Gees have defended as well as any time during the James Derouin area, cleaning up an element of their play that hurt them down the stretch last season.
Ravens can go 10-11 deep with their talented roster while Ottawa, which has battled debilitating illness to at least 4 players on their roster in the last week or so, can get to their 8th or 9th guy however in the case of Epistola and 6’5″ Mackenzie Morrison, tonight will potentially be their first real experiences in this big game.
Hoping for an exciting game that in the end is decided by the players.