Public Enemy once implored the world: “Don’t believe the hype.”
Front man Chuck D and his trusty clock-wearing sidekick Flava Flav obviously weren’t Lakehead Thunderwolves basketball fans.
All eyes have been on this weekend since the OUA basketball schedule was announced, with the usually tough Ottawa Gee Gees and No. 1-ranked Carleton Ravens hitting the Thunderdome floor on Friday and Saturday night, respectively, both teams with revenge squarely on their minds.
The hype is real.
It’s going to be epic.
Defensive whiz Greg Carter knows it, and also knows it’s a chance for the No. 3 Thunderwolves to put a stamp on their claim to OUA supremacy, knocking off a pair of traditional powerhouses, teams that hate to lose.
Both squads have placed targets on the blue and gold, Carter said.
“They’re both great teams and they’re both going to come out hard looking for revenge from the OUA finals last year,” said Carter, the Ottawa-area product who leads the league in steals for the undefeated Wolves (4-0).
Lakehead wasn’t perfect last weekend, at least not Friday against Toronto, when they needed a fourth-quarter comeback to avoid being upset in front of the Thunderdome faithful. But that’s what the week of preparation is for.
“We’re trying to put both our offensive and defensive plays together and start executing better as a team and it’s all coming together,” Carter said.
Perspective is important, he added, buying into the hype, but not being overwhelmed by it.
“We can’t look too far ahead, even if we do win these two games,” the Ottawa native said. “There’s still a lot of the season to play and there’s still a lot of teams in the West and East that are looking to play hard for the OUA final and whatnot, trying to get to the OUA final.”
LU coach Scott Morrison expects no less than 100 per cent from his two East Division rivals – more if it were mathematically possible.
“It’s going to be a tough battle and we have to be locked in mentally and ready to play physically,” Morrison said Tuesday morning after practice.
“Essentially it’s the same weekend we had last March – the same two teams, the same order. The only difference is we’re home and not at a neutral site. I think we’re eager to prove that we belong to the respect we’re getting right now. And obviously those two teams are looking to show that last season was an aberration for them.”
The Gee Gees bring Warren Ward to the court, one of the OUA’s top scorer’s year in and year out. Containing him will be the key to winning on Friday. Carleton presents a much more difficult task, with Phillip Scrubbs (19.5 points per game), Willy Mangiat (16.7) and Elliott Thompson (15.0) leading the charge offensively.
Add to that the skill-set of all-Canadian guard Tyson Hinz, the reigning Canadian Interuniversity Sport player of the year, and the defending national champion Ravens don’t look like they’ve lost a step since last they tangled with the Wolves.
“Carleton’s got three guys who played on national teams this summer. Their point guard Scrubbs is only in his second year, but he’s probably one of the better players in the CIS. Hinz was the player of the year last year and Cole Hobin is one of the top defenders every year,” Morrison said.
“On the bright side, we know the Carleton match-up and we know what they do. I’m sure the same could be said by them about us, but we’re looking forward to throwing the ball up and seeing who’s ready to go.”
Count pivot Yoosrie Salhia in.
“Obviously there’s a lot of hype about this weekend. But in the bigger picture it’s just another weekend in the year. We’ve just got to get these two wins just like any other one,” Salhia said. “We’re definitely hyped up for this weekend. If we said we weren’t, we’re lying to ourselves. But we still have to keep level-headed and keep to our game plan.”
Game time both nights is 8 p.m., following the women’s game, which are slated for 6 p.m.
Beyond the arc: Rookie forward Alex Robichaud will not suit up for the Wolves this season. Told he’d only get a few minutes of sporadic playing time, the former Superior Collegiate star decided to red-shirt this season, meaning he can practice with the team, but not dress. Robichaud was sidelined earlier in the year with a viral infection.
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