The Ottawa BlackJacks have heightened expectations, this season, as they host the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s Championship Weekend in August, and after an 0-3 start to the season, they have made the decision to fire head coach, Charles Dubé-Brais. In his place, the team has announced that University of Ottawa Gee-Gees basketball coach, James Derouin has been given the interim head coach tag, effective immediately.
Dubé-Brais’ tenure in Ottawa saw the BlackJacks make it to the semi-finals with a team made up of almost entirely replacement players in 2021, after many of the team’s starters caught COVID-19 just before their playoffs were scheduled to begin. Outside of that, losses came in bunches, and he finishes his BlackJacks tenure with a 4-13 regular-season record.
“After a disappointing start to our season, I felt it was necessary to make a personnel change,” said BlackJacks general manager and vice president of basketball operations, Jevohn Shepherd. “This team should be performing better, and I believe a fresh outlook will help turn things around.”
“Charles (Dubé-Brais) is a very good coach and I appreciate his commitment with the BlackJacks over the past two seasons,” he said.
Derouin isn’t new to basketball in the nation’s capital or the CEBL, serving as both the head coach of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and working as the director of basketball strategy and analytics for the BlackJacks since January of 2021, Shepherd feels this is the natural move to make.
“As our current director of basketball strategy and analytics, James (Derouin) knows this league and its players very well,” Shepherd said. “I look forward to seeing him taking over on the sidelines and move this team in a positive direction. We have a lot of work to do in Ottawa, but I’m confident we will make our fans proud.”
With an automatic berth into Championship Weekend by virtue of being the host city, the BlackJacks will have a chance to play for the championship at the end of the season. So far in 2022, they haven’t been a championship calibre team, dropping two close games before being blown out by the Scarborough Shooting Stars on Thursday night in front of a record crowd.
During that game, there were numerous heated conversations between Dubé-Brais and his players, particularly Chad Posthumus, the BlackJacks’ top rebounder this season by quite some margin. The team’s struggles clearly ruffled some feathers around the team, and it resulted in a change.
Derouin comes to the BlackJacks as the winningest coach in the history of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, and in 2014-15, he was named the U Sports coach of the year after the Gee-Gees finished their season with a record of 18-1, and the number one ranked team in U Sports.
“It is never easy to join a team this way, however, I am excited about helping lead the BlackJacks to success,” said Derouin. “Being provided my first professional coaching assignment in my hometown is an honour.”
“Having been a part of the BlackJacks organization for the past two seasons, I feel like I understand this league,” said Derouin. “I am also grateful to the University of Ottawa for allowing me to take this opportunity to coach professionally in the CEBL while maintaining my university coaching career.”
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