By Maureen Rice
SUDBURY — Fate has not been kind to the men’s basketball team.
The Rams were bounced from the playoffs by the Laurentian Voyageurs for the third time in five years, this time 88-64 last Thursday.
The Rams don’t seem to get any breaks when it comes to the playoffs. To advance to the OUA finals, Ryerson had to upset Laurentian, the second-ranked team in the country. They also had to beat the Voyageurs on their home court in front of hundreds of boisterous Laurentian fans, who were screaming obscenities and banging pots and pans.
Both teams played sloppy in the first quarter, committing many turnovers. But the crowd did not let the Voyageurs get down and Laurentian carried a 10-point lead, 43-44, into half time.
The break did not help Ryerson as Laurentian came out stronger after the half. The Voyageurs 6’10” centre Ted Dongelmans, the tallest player in the OUA East, dominated the Rams, scoring 17 points. Ryerson also couldn’t stop Kevin Gordon, who chipped in with 21.
Despite an excellent game from Rams forward Carl Harper, guard Rob Armstrong and point guard Brian Smith, there was no miraculous comeback for Ryerson, losing 88-64. Harper was the high scorer for the Rams, netting 25 points.
The Rams refused to admit the screaming Voyageurs fans played any role in their playoff defeat. But the fans did not let up on Ryerson all game, yelling comments like “you suck” and waving signs with the words “Ram This!” written on them.
Harper, the Rams captain, thought the fans were not as brutal as in previous years.
“They were irrelevant,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘Is this all you can muster after all the years I’ve been here?’”
Ryerson coach Terry Haggerty believes questionable refereeing played a big role in the Rams loss. Haggerty said the league knows it has a problem with officials. In the women’s league coaches vote for which referees they believe should work in the playoffs. But in the men’s league the referees are hand picked by the OUA.
“You can’t win with a biased ref,” Harper said. “Especially if he’s [from] Sudbury.”
Haggerty said it was a disgrace the six best OUA East refs weren’t officiating. A coaches meeting was held the day after Ryerson’s loss to discuss the problem, but no changes have been decided upon for next year.
Haggerty believes the team can learn from this year’s playoff loss and hopes the lesson will translate into a playoff victory next year. But to accomplish this, fate will have to be a little kinder to the Rams next season and Haggerty must find players to replace graduating players Harper, Smith, and Godfrey Hunte.
The Voyageurs went on to win the OUA final beating the University of Waterloo. Laurentian and Waterloo will represent Ontario in the CIAU championships next weekend in Halifax.