By Lane Wade
Cohesion, leadership, and a whole lotta teamwork.
These are the characteristics needed for the Ryerson women’s basketball team to get back into playoff form next season.
Although the women failed to make it into March Madness, in the battle of the sexes, they topped their male counterparts, who went on a 22-game losing streak.
This year, the women’s team finished with nine wins and 15 losses, good enough for sixth place overall in the OUA East division, four points behind York Lions and 16 points behind Queen’s Gaels. The first place Ottawa Gee Gees went on to win the division with 34 points, and are now headed to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships on March 11-14 in Winnipeg to face the western division winners Brock Badgers or Laurier Golden Hawks, who play tonight.
Ryerson coach Sandra Pothier, in her 12th consecutive season with the Rams, said that the squad was hampered by the early loss of their star forward, six-foot Amanda Redhead, a first-year public administration student who fractured her forearm in late November. However, the coach was still optimistic about the Rams’ chances even without Redhead.
“She was one of our leading rebounders and brought incredible intensity to our practices — the goal of the team before her injury was to win the league, but afterwards, well, our hope was still to get in the playoffs.”
Team captain Ashley Keohan, a fourth-year accounting student and point guard, said that another reason for the sixth place showing may be due to the overwhelming youth of the team, as 10 out of 13 players were first or second year students.
“It’s hard for girls that have only been in the league for a couple of years to come in and take a leadership position. For them it’s a lot of pressure, especially when they’re getting so much playing time,” said Keohan.
However, she also pointed to several highlights of the year, including a late season win over Ottawa and the courageous performance of second-year nursing student Justine Navarro.
“Justine in particular took on a new role in the team and had a good attitude and confidence in herself. She took on the point guard role even though she was a second-year player so it shows a lot of determination. She’s going to be an excellent player to watch in the next couple years,” said Keohan.
Despite this year’s sense of disappointment, coach Pothier has a positive vibe about the prospects for next year, and mentions that Redhead should be back in action in September.
“She’s worked hard at rehabbing her fractured radius and ulna… in my opinion, she should easily be an all-star in OUA East and she could lead the entire league in rebounds — she’s a double digit scorer.”
Captain Keohan will not be returning, but says that if young players can show more leadership and if the team can capitalize on cohesiveness and unity, then a playoff berth next year is more than just a possibility.
“The girls are very talented — we have a good talent base. If they can come together and play as a unit then they’ll definitely get into the playoffs. But if they continue playing individually , it’s going to be really hard for them to win and achieve.”