By Steve Petrick
Ryerson’s men’s basketball team’s card application has been rejected and the announcement has Rams coach Terry Haggerty fuming.
The decision made by a CIAU committee Sunday night rejects Ryerson, which finished with a 24-5 record, from attending the national championship tournament in Halifax next weekend.
The CIAU wild card committee chose the Western Mustangs, 26-2, and Lethbridge Pronghorns, 27-4, to fill the two spots reserved for teams which have stellar regular and exhibition season records but fall in the postseason.
“We are in TOTAL SHOCK that Western has been awarded this wild card,” Haggerty wrote in an E-mail message sent to members of the Ryerson community after the decision was made.
Haggerty though the committee would reward his team for playing a tougher exhibition season than Western.
The Mustangs invited three non-contenders to its Christmas tournament while Ryerson invited and beat Alberta, the team which is now ranked No. 1 in the country in its own.
In the E-mail Haggerty made his displeasure clear and announced he will only invite weak teams to Ryerson biannual Christmas-time Ed DeArmon tournament from now on.
“The format for the DeArmon Memorial will be drastically changed,” he wrote. “We will not schedule or pay to schedule anone of quality ever again in non-conference play, as the system does not reward this commitment to excellence.”
Chairman of the wild chard committee and coach of the University of Regina Cougars men’s basketball team James Hillis was sympathetic towards Ryerson’s situation. But he said selection criteria is based mostly on statistics. The decision to grant Western the spot was a landslide. “We had to abide by the process,” he said.
The committee figures out which two teams are mathematically best by looking at factors such as regular season record and standing, playoff performance, total number of weeks as a top-10 team, record against other conference champions and non-conference results.
Although this year’s members were allowed to make subjective decisions if they felt the figures were skewed because of team’s different schedules, Hillis said it was not necessary because Western outranked Ryerson by far.
“There’s no politicising anywhere,” he said. “Anybody can sit down and do the math.”
But Hillis said there should be more room for subjectivity so team’s like Ryerson which plan tough schedules are rewarded more. “There will be further discussion at meetings about this process,” he said.
But Haggerty, who has coached the Rams for 19 years, has little faith in the CIAU. He believes there is a bias against his team and it gets punished in rankings more severely than others after losses. And because three wild card selection factors revolve around rankings he believes his team was not treated fairly this year.
“We fell in the last ranking four spots,” he said of the team’s drop after losing to Queen’s in the OUA East semifinal. “No one can fall by three spots [after a loss].”