Rams one turnover away from the top

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By Sean Fitz-Gerald

After the buzzer sounded to end the game and after the post-game handshake, men’s basketball coach Terry Haggerty walked calmly into his team’s changeroom.

Students, fans and even visiting players standing in the East Kerr hallway leading to the Ryerson changeroom were near silent last Sunday night as the coach ordered all his players in the room and closed the door.

Ryerson’s men’s basketball team had just lost a close 75-68 match to the cross town rival University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

The Rams had countless opportunities to win the game, but made mistakes near the end that cost them the victory and sole possession of first place in the OUA East division.

Just 24 hours earlier, the Rams beat the Queen’s Golden Gaels 98-94 in a thrilling overtime contest.  The mood outside that same Kerr gym on that night was one of exhilaration and optimism.

However the mood here was tense, and the only sounds in the hall were faint conversations being carried on by friends of the players and several nervous reporters.

The thick door prevented those outside from hearing anything going on within.

When the door was cracked open, the hall was filled with the sound of Haggerty’s frustrated, angry voice.

Less than five minutes after he entered the room, Haggerty left and walked to the stairwell leading up to his office one floor above the changeroom.

“[Haggerty’s] got to be pissed off,” first-year guard Ben Gorham said as the team began to file out of the room.  “I mean, you can’t give away games like that.”

The Rams started the game by scoring four quick field goals and took a very early 8-0 lead.

“We should have killed them in the beginning, and then they wouldn’t have come back,” Gorham said.

The Blues did come back though.  A complete disciplinary breakdown by Ryerson gave U of T its first lead with less than five minutes to go in the first half.

The Rams took bad shots, and used poor judgment when passing the ball, which resulted in many turnovers.

“These guys [U of T] came in, they didn’t think they were going to win,” said Rams captain Brian Smith.  “You could just see it in their faces … we just handed them the game.”

Ryerson almost handed a win to Queen’s the night before.

The Rams let Queen’s get ahead by more than 15 points in some stretches.  Bad passes and poor shots almost buried the Rams.

At halftime, Queen’s led 51-41.

In the second half of that game, the Rams were focused and took advantage of a Queen’s offence that made the same mistakes Ryerson made in the first half.

“It’s such a young team, we do some things well, but other things are really suspect,” Haggerty said after the win.

Near the end of the second half against the Blues, Ryerson had their chances to take the lead.

The Rams came within three points with under a minute left, but a turnover in the U of T end killed any hopes of a second win.

“It was the same as last night,” Haggerty said.  “It’s a young team.  At times they do brilliant things and at other times they do things that drive you crazy.”

The 1-1 Rams are on the road this week.  They will play Bishop’s University on Friday and the University of Laval on Saturday.

The Rams return to Kerr Hall on Friday, Nov. 27 to play against the Concordia University Stingers.

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