By Eli Shupak
Ryerson men’s basketball might like to send a thank you card to the Carleton Ravens.
With Carleton’s 75-68 win over the University of Toronto in the nation’s capital last Saturday afternoon, Ryerson clinched a playoff berth and are headed to the post-season for the fifth straight season. Unfortunately, the Rams (10-10) failed to take advantage of an opportunity to finish in third by dropping an 81-65 decision at Ottawa later that evening.
This sets up a one game sudden-death OUA East semi-final Thursday night in Sudbury against the nation’s second-ranked Laurentian Voyageurs. It’s the fourth time in the past five years that the Rams and Voyageurs have met in the playoffs. Laurentian has won two of the previous three meetings, including last year’s 83-74 semi-final win at Varsity Arena.
The Voyageurs won both regular season games against the Rams this year by 15 and 12 points, respectively. Ryerson Coach Terry Haggerty had hoped his team could finish third so that they could avoid facing LAurentian in the opening round with their loud ensemble of banging pots and pans. But after the Rams opened the season at 1-7, they are thankful just to be in the playoffs.
“The bottom line is we went up [to Ottawa] to qualify and the last six weeks we’ve played very well,” said Haggerty, referring to the team’s 9-3 mark to close out the regular season. “For both ourselves and Ottawa [started 2-8] to be in that position, in that game, says we both came a hell of a long way to get there.”
For the Rams to have any kind of success against the Voyageurs, they will have to find a way to contain Laurentian 6’9” centre ted Dongelmans, who led the Vees with 30 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots in an 86-74 win at Ryerson last month. They must also key on 1996’98 All-Canadian Cory Bailey, who chipped in with 22 points and eight boards in that contest.
Ryerson will be led by Carl Harper and Lui Cinello, two veterans whose numbers will be retired after the Rams playoff comes to and end. Harper was honoured prior to the Rams’ final home game on Feb. 20 against Queen’s. But before they go hanging up any numbers, they Rams hope to find a way to overcome a boisterous Sudbury crowd and a very good Laurentian team.