Carleton Ravens are set to face Ryerson, but will the Rams be up to the challenge?
By Stephen Petrick
The Ryerson men’s basketball Rams seem to be a middle-of-the pack team in a middle-of-the-pack conference. They don’t possess a national top-ten ranking, a surefire first-team all-star, yet they have players who swear they have a legitimate shot at a national title.
And that’s why Saturday night’s tilt with the fourth-ranked and defending conference champion Carleton Ravens is so important.
“We just want to get respect,” said Jon Reid, the Rams’ six-foot-nine forward. “I’m sure other teams respect us, but we want to be looked at as a contender.”
This weekend the Rams have the perfect opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the OUA east division.
They’re fresh off a victory against the rival York Yeomen in the third-place game of the Ed DeArmon Memorial tournament, which is held every second year over the holidays in Kerr gym.
Although the win didn’t count in the standings, the team is viewing it as a moral victory and a sign they’re the second best team in the conference. The Yeomen, who lost on Saturday at Laurentian are now 6-3 and just half a game ahead of Ryerson which is 5-3. If the Rams avoid upset defeats when they face Seneca College in Tuesday’s exhibition game and from 3-5 University of Ottawa Gee Gees on Friday in Kerr gym, they’ll carry a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s game. A fourth victory against the 7-1 Ravens could put them one game out of first place and give them a CIS top-ten ranking.
“If we beat Seneca and Ottawa, Carleton would be the most important game of the season,” said rookie guard Errol Fraser. “It will set the tone for the rest of the season and the playoffs. It would show everyone in Canada that we’re for real.”
Rams’ Centre Dwight Chambers didn’t play the final game of the DeArmon tournament due to a foot injury. He’s expected to play this weekend, even if he’s not fully healthy, Haggerty said. Meanwhile, Ryerson’s top scorer, JanMichael Nation, missed Monday’s practice because he was suffering the flu, causing Haggerty to worry if Nation will be ready for Friday.
And while the Ravens expect to have their lineup in tact on Saturday, coach David Smart said some of his players will be playing injured and not at their peak.
“It’s just the dog days of the season,” he said. “Since six teams make the playoffs, our regular season doesn’t mean a lot. As much as I’d love to say our guys will be motivated, the only games that really count are in March.”
“It’s a big game because Ryerson’s playing well right now, but you have to be careful how big you take it,” he said.
The Rams, a team with less playoff success in recent years, have more on the line.
“To finish one or two in the conference means a bye in the playoffs’ first round,” Haggerty said. “To take Carleton out isn’t just for a shot at first, but it’s a win that someone else didn’t get.”
The men face Carleton at 8 p.m. in the Ker gym on Saturday. On Friday they play Ottawa. The women preceed both games at 6 p.m. on both nights.