By Josh Wingrove
The Ryerson women’s basketball team was the victim of a frightening Halloween display of speed, skill, and discipline last weekend.
As the hosts of the Raptors Invitational Tournament, the Rams got their biggest scare from the scoreboard, losing their two games by 50 and 32 points.
Ryerson faced the No. 1-ranked defending champion UBC Thunderbirds in their first game, and the Rams found themselves down 40-7 at halftime. They went on to lose 73-23.
“We played like the game was lost before tip-off,” said third-year point guard Lisa Greig. “We weren’t playing off their defence very well.” The Rams starters didn’t show up early, with Stephanie Nelson and Teaka Grizzle – who returns to the Rams this year after taking a year of basketball – failing to hit a shot from the floor. “We didn’t control the tempo,” said Greig. “We didn’t do what we set out to do.” It was a game marred by mistakes and miscommunication, as the Rams committed 12 more turnovers than UBC-turnovers that UBC often turned into quick baskets.
“They showed us [how to play] for 40 minutes,” said first-year assistant coach Jason Andrade. “It may be a matter of nerves or jitters.” Andrade praised some of the Rams strengths-as much as a 50 point loss can allow. “The effort defensively out of Stephanie Nelson was inspiring,” he said. “Once we can put together 40 minutes, it will be a sight to behold.”
Ryerson has youth to spare this year, and they used the preseason tournament to give younger players valuable minutes against an elite team. “Getting to see these girls every day is definitely an experience,” said Kaitlyn Taylor, a rookie out of Sydney, N.S., whose promising court vision and leadership skills were one of few positives for the Rams.
“Coming out of high school, playing the national champions is a big difference.”
In the second game- an 80-48 loss to Brock University-the Rams were outrun and outworked by a more desperate Brock team.
“Two nights in a row, we came out flat,” said Andrade. “We failed to sustain a commitment to defence early in the first half.” At times, Ryerson played a full court press that successfully slowed the Badgers team.
By allowing rookies playing time, coaches took minutes from the veterans best able to execute their offensive and defensive schemes. “Our conditioning may have been an issue,” said Andrade, “We wanted to [play a] press but we couldn’t get there.” Andrade expressed his disappointment with the results of the tournament.
“It forces you to get a little tougher; it forces individuals to start to get together a little bit more.”
The Rams open their regular season next week in Kingston, Ont., against Queen’s University, and they are looking forward to proving their potential with a win. “It’s not how hard you fall, it’s how fast you get up,” said Greig. “You can’t dwell on it. When you’ve got a young team, there is a big future. It’s going to be phenomenal.”
In a move of confidence reserved only for coaches and parents, Andrade promised that his Rams will “go into games on Friday and unleash the beast.”
It will take quite the unleashed beast to overcome this weekend’s uninspiring performances.