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Many unknowns ahead of Friday’s CEBL semi-finals

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Ottawa Blackjacks coach James Delwyn had some fun earlier this week ahead of Friday’s Canadian Elite League basketball semifinal match against the Hamilton Honey Badgers at TD Place.

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Asked about the extended intergame layoffs of 10 days for Ottawa and 11 days for the Honey Badgers, Deruane said, looking to Hamilton coach Ryan Schmidt, “We’re fully committed to offense and defense. changed to,” he said.

It was a joke (we think so), but with so much off time, who can expect a clash between teams avoiding playdown games altogether and going straight to a championship weekend? I don’t even know.

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The Scarborough Shooting Stars and Niagara River Lions, who face off in Friday’s other semi-final, needed to win last weekend’s set-up game.

“It’s like rust versus rest (question),” said Schmidt, whose team won the regular season title with a 14-6 record despite losing three of its last four games.

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“At the same time how much time I’m giving[the players]when they start practicing I don’t want to do too much because I want to keep them fresh and healthy. I’m just trying to find that balance.”

In the process, Schmidt kept the players out of the gym completely for three days.

After an eventful season with three straight wins to close out 8-12 years, the Blackjacks may have wanted to keep playing to stay hot.

Derouin said there was a rush among players to get back to the action of the game.

“They are starting to get annoyed and annoyed with each other and are excited to go[to the semi-finals],” he said. “So it’s very difficult to manage. But the good thing is that you’re playing against a team that’s going through the same thing. I asked Ryan and he said he feels exactly the same way.” think.”

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Given the circumstances, Schmidt said that whatever happened in the regular season, including the Blackjacks’ 104-95 victory on July 25, the team’s splitting up of the two meetings was virtually meaningless. say.

“I’m looking at their records, but it’s a new roster[from the beginning of the year]so we can throw that record out,” he said of former University of Ottawa star Jonny Verhanemeskel and Carleton University star. “They have veteran players coming in and doing what they’ve done anywhere in the world. Tommy and Johnny and if you look at what they’re doing… Wherever they go, they win.”

The BlackJacks have taken a break by participating in the championship weekend as the host team, but Schmidt doesn’t take them lightly.

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“Looking at them pound for pound, what they’ve done in the last three games and the names on the roster, we know Friday is going to be a terrible game and our job is me. It’s been truncated for us.”

Another factor that may come into play is home court advantage. Rather disadvantageous.

Are there additional pressures and expectations to prove that Blackjack is the host team?

From a coaching perspective, Derouin says he’s been through something similar before.

Derouin, who doubles as Gee-Gees’ head coach, admits that the college took on an extra burden when it hosted the USports Final 8 basketball tournament in 2020.

“I didn’t think we were doing our best,” he said. “It was a great game to lose to (Dalhousie), but I learned a lot from the experience of hosting and the pressures leading up to it.”

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So the BlackJacks coaching staff has addressed all of the above.

“I feel lucky to have experienced it and have spoken to staff about it,” he said.

The big difference is that the BlackJacks line-up has a lot of professional players with a lot of experience over the years.

Delane suggests that perhaps the pressure to host the championship and be a top team was a contributing factor to the club’s slow start to the season.

“I try to preach that to everyone,” Derouin said. It was to take some of that pressure off.”

It will also be interesting to see how Ottawa embraces CEBL Championship Week with a series of concerts at TD Place, basketball clinics and award ceremonies.

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The Blackjacks, who battle the Redblacks, Atlético and Titans in the summer professional sports market, had spotty attendance throughout the season.

Schmidt, who served as an assistant coach for the Raptors 905 (a G-League affiliate of the Toronto Raptors) before becoming Niagara’s head coach in 2020, said basketball growth in Canada has been impressive and he is embracing a weekend format for the championship. There is

“I think it’s big,” said Schmidt, an Oregon native. “I’ve had the opportunity to see the growth of this league. It’s been incredible. It’s cool to see and having everyone here is helping the game grow nationally. I think that 2019 Raptors We were part of the championship, we had two million people in the streets and the talent in this league just keeps getting better every year.”

kwarren@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Citizenkwarren

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Many unknowns ahead of Friday’s CEBL semi-finals

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