Predictable offense and shortened bench leave team searching for ways to win
By Joel Wass
The Ryerson’s women’s basketball team began their season near the top of OUA ranks after a 5-2 start. Now they are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and are tied for the last playoff spot in the OUA east division.
“Teams saw us coming, they changed their game plan and we haven’t adjusted yet,” says versatile guard Teaka Grizzle regarding the Rams latest struggles. “We’re really in a slump offensively.”
Ryerson’s ineffective offense was on display during Friday night’s 78-58 loss to the University of Toronto. Then on Sunday, the team finished on the short end of a 62-44 loss to Queen’s University.
The 44-point total was their second lowest of the season and marks the fourth time the Rams have been held under 50 points.
Even more troubling is the fact that Ryerson beat Queen’s and Toronto handily in November.
“We ran things like an effective pick and roll at the beginning of the year, but teams have caught on to it and it’s not working anymore,” Grizzle says.
In addition to being predictable, the Rams offence has become too reliant on leading scorer Tamara Alleyne-Gittens.
“Teams are double- and triple-teaming Tamara and no one is stepping up to help her,” Grizzle says. “It seems that if she doesn’t get her 20 points a game we don’t get the victory.”
The sputtering Rams have scored more than 70 points in a game only once this season and that was back on Nov. 17 against Lakehead University.
Meanwhile division leader Laurentian University has already eclipsed the 70-point barrier on six occasions.
At 6-6, the team is tied with York University for the final playoff position in the OUA east. They were in second heading into the holiday break.
Injuries and absences have left the team with as few as eight players. Most teams have the maximum twelve.
Assistant coach Richard Dean says he recognizes the need for improvement and has addressed the problems in practice.
“We’re going to make some adjustments in our offence,” Dean says. “We’ve been practising what to do when Tamara gets double teams so that she has seen it and is prepared for it in games.”
First year forward Jodie Collins is happy to see the new additions to the Rams thin offensive playbook.
“We hadn’t switched anything on offense since first semester and teams had caught on to what we’re doing, but we’ve talked to the coaches and they’ve put in a few new wrinkles,’ Collins says.
Relocating top sniper Karina Navarro to the perimeter to create more outside shots and establishing Alleyne-Gittens as a threat to drive the lane are among the new looks found in the Rams offense.
Dean is confident the retooling will help, but he says the best medicine for the troubled team is better chemistry.
“There has always been a cohesiveness with this team,” Dean says. “Just as well this happened at mid-season, because we have eight games left to get back. We just need to start playing with our full energy and our full confidence. I’m confident we’ll get it done.”
5-foot-10 guard Stephanie Hart shares her coach’s die-hard attitude.
“Watch out, we’re coming back with a vengeance,” says Hart. “We just [have] to be more consistent.”
Grizzle doesn’t share the same exuberance as her coach and teammate.
“I don’t know. I hope we turn this around, but this is for the paper right? So make [my thoughts on the team] sound better than that.”
The lady Rams host Brock University on Friday night and the University of Guelph on Saturday. Those games are in the Kerr gym and begin at 6 p.m.