By Noah Love
The men’s basketball team’s playoff game was almost as painful to play as it was to watch.
With players ridden with injuries and illnesses, the Rams dropped their OUA East Division semifinal game 69-59 to their crosstown rivals, the York Yeomen, at the University of Ottawa last Thursday.
The Rams allowed the Yeomen to jump to a 10-0 lead before they netted their first points of the day. York held the scoring lead for the entire game since the Rams were in poor shape after practicing shorthanded all week.
“Between the flu and a couple of physical injuries we didn’t have a five-on-five practice until the day before we left for Ottawa,” head coach Terry Haggerty said during the bus ride back to Toronto on Friday.
The team may have expected too much out of their star forward Bill Browdis, who was named to the OUA East first all-star team last Wednesday.
WIth York leading a 46-42, and 14 minutes left in the game, Crowdis was poked in the eye and forced to leave the game for medical treatment. Although he returned a few minutes later, his production dwindled. In his last game as a Ram, Crowdis registered 12 points and had nine rebounds. Both figures were below his season averages.
Despite all their problems, the Rams played a competitive game.
Offensively, Ryerson was led by third-year guard Jan-Michael Nation, who had a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds.
With Crowdis on the bench, Ryerson narrowed York’s lead to 46-45 with 12 minutes to go. But the Yeomen went on a quick 9-1 run. With less than three minutes remaining the Rams cut the score to 62-58, but first-year guards Tom Cory and Sandy Brar, who were two of the team’s most consistent perimeter shooters all year, missed some key three-point attempts.
“We had some good looks in the second half,” Haggerty said. “UNfortunately Sandy and Tom had unusually bad shooting games ad nobody else came up with the answer we needed.”
The Rams rarely came up with the answer to York this season. Largely because of the size forwards Paul Nixon, Adam Miller and Tom Romas bring to the York roster—all are 6 foot 8 or taller—the Yeomen won four of the five meetings between the teams this year.
One victim of York’s skill and size was Ryerson’s 5-foot-3 rookie point guard Karlo Villanueva. On Wednesday, Villanueva was named to the OUA East all-rookie team, but the next day he had three shots blocked and found it nearly impossible to move into York’s crowded post position.
“I’m still adjusting to play at this level,” said Villanueva, who had been suffering from the flu all week. “I’ll definitely have to work on improving aspects of my game this summer.”
The Yeomen went on to lose 62-57 in the division final to the top-seeded Carleton Ravens last Friday. The Ravens, who with the win earned a trip to the national championship tournament in Halifax March 16-18, will play Western in the provincial championship this weekend.