By Amit Shilton
New year, different teams, same results. For the Ryerson men’s and women’s basketball teams, the numbers on the scoreboard last weekend were all too familiar after both squads tipped off against Wilfred Laurier and Waterloo University.
On the men’s side, the Rams failed to produce a win last Friday night, Jan 6., falling 89-77 to the Waterloo Warriors. The Warriors led by a wide margin throughout, but Ryerson was able to shrink the lead to 12 points late in the second half.
The Rams’ problems came on defense, as a lack of communication allowed the Warriors to drive the basket or shoot from behind the three-point line. “We can’t beat teams unless we have a full team effort,” said Rams’ head coach Glenn Taylor. “Right now we have to play almost perfect to beat almost anybody.” Igor Bakovic led the Rams and finished the game with a team-high 19 points and a season-high 18 rebounds.
Bakovic was double-teamed for most of the game and was fighting a fever. “We weren’t talking on defense,” Bakovic said. “We didn’t play hard as a team and I didn’t put up my best effort.” The following night, Jan. 7, the men looked to rebound when they took on the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks (2-7) in what proved to be a physical matchup that came down to the buzzer. Igor Bakovic hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 63.
Then, with 14.5 seconds left in the game, Laurier guard Wade Currie drove to the basket then passed the ball to forward Corey McLaren, who layed it in. A long pass by Rams’ guard Geoff Proctor came up short as the buzzer sounded. The final score was 65-63.
The referees kept their whistles in their mouths, calling a total of 47 fouls in a game that was ultimately decided on free throws. At the end of the first half, both Ryerson big men Igor Bakovic and Joey Imbrogno picked up three fouls. “Igor and Joey getting three fouls really put us in a hole,” Taylor said.
Another key to the Rams’ loss was the team’s failure to capture the lead in the game. In both halves the Rams mounted come-backs but could never take the outright lead and run with it. “We just lose our focus, that comes with a lack of experience as a group together,” Taylor said.
“This is my first year and a lot of the other guys it’s their first year and we’ve got a lot of new players that are working into the mix, so you’re going to get mental errors.”
The Rams were once again led by centre Igor Bakovic, who earned 20 points and 13 rebounds. He also picked up five blocks in the first half alone. The Ryerson women’s team began their weekend on a low note Friday night, Jan. 6.
The women struggled early against the Waterloo Warriors (1-9) and ended up losing 49-43 in a game they were expected to win. “This is a very important game for us,” said Rams’ head coach Sandra Pothier after the game. “It’s very disappointing that we lost to a team we should have flat-out beaten.” The Warriors set the tone early on, opening the game with 12 straight points. The Rams’ leading scorer Amanda Redhead and veteran Justine Navarro started the game on the bench; both were battling illness.
Once on the court, Navarro led the team with 14 points and Redhead finished with 10; both grabbed six rebounds. Navarro and Redhead’s consistent play helped keep the game close. “We just played like we were tired,” Pothier said. “If we just had more mental focus we would have done well.”
A more rested and relaxed Rams squad took to the court last Saturday night, Jan. 7, as the team faced off against the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks (5-5). The Rams played with more urgency and aggressiveness, but still lost 64-56 and dropping their record to 3-8. “I think overall I was pleased with their performance, I think we did some good things tonight,” Pothier said. “I think if we played like this Friday night we would have beat Waterloo by 20 odd points.”
The Rams were led again by the duo of Amanda Redhead and Justine Navarro and each finished with 17 points. Navarro and guard Lisa Greig picked up seven rebounds each. “All we need to do is play exactly like this with intensity and fine tune it a little bit,” said Redhead. The Rams showed siginificant improvements in the game, doing a better job of applying their pressure defense and hustling down the court, keeping the Hawks’ transition offense in check.
“I am very proud of everyone,” said Greig, who finished with nine points. “This isn’t the perfect game, this isn’t a game that I would want to end the season off with but I can’t ask for anything else to build from than this game.”