By Joe Friesen
Undaunted by the regal pretension of Kingston, Ont., the men’s basketball team produced a pair of much-needed victories last weekend to keep their championship dreams alive.
The Rams breezed past Royal Military College 64-53 and overthrew Queen’s University 71-57.
Guard Errol Fraser struck a decisive blow for Ryerson’s anti-monarchist campaign, leading the way with 26 points against Queen’s and 13 points against RMC.
Fraser said he didn’t feel any added pressure after recent sub-par performances but was glad to regain his shooting touch.
“The last couple of games, especially against York, I came out laid back so I played a little bit more aggressive, tried to look for my shot and tried to get my teammates involved,” said the 6-foot-2 guard.
Rams assistant coach Patrick Williams said Fraser is still the team’s most dangerous offensive weapon.
“No one puts in enough work to be able to stop Errol,” said Williams. “It’s only Errol that stops Errol.”
Williams and head coach Terry Haggerty have been trying to eliminate the fluctuations in concentration which have contributed to the team’s inconsistency this season.
“They’re struggling with it,” said Williams. “It’s hard to come in focused for every game and have everyone on the same page but we’re battling towards it.”
Williams praised Ryerson’s paragon of consistency, guard Vladimir Matevski, who turned in a typically solid weekend, scoring 15 points and playing nearly the entire game against Queen’s.
“It’s an honour to be associated with [Matevski],” said Williams. “Utmost respect goes out to him for the quality that he puts in.”
Williams said Ryerson’s team defense is flourishing under Matevski’s leadership.
“Overall our team is doing very well defensively. In terms of points allowed we rank third in the OUA east,” said the first-year coach.
The Rams now sit in fourth place and are positioned to land a spot in the postseason.
This weekend, the Rams host the University of Ottawa and Canada’s number-one-ranked squad, Carleton University.
The high-flying Fraser is looking forward to testing himself against the best team in the country.
“It’s going to be a good challenge for us,” he said. “In order for us to go to nationals we have to get by York and Carleton, so this will be good preparation for the playoffs.”
The Ryerson coaching staff plan to spend this week drilling the Rams on their offensive ball movement and shot selection in order to cope with Carleton’s swarming man-to-man defense.
“We can expect that if we are not mentally focused going into the game, we will lose by 40 points,” said Williams. “But if we play the way we’re capable, you will be entertained from start to finish.”
While trying not to look past Ottawa, the Rams have their eyes on Carleton, and they believe this weekend’s match-up will be a preview of the conference championship.
“If we can [win] these games, which I believe we can, it clearly sends a message that the championship is not safe,” said Williams. “The docile Ram is just waiting to go nuts on somebody.”