By Charles Vanegas
Ryerson hosted the OUA Final Four last weekend at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC), with the Carleton Ravens being named Wilson Cup Champions for the eighth time in 11 years after a tense 72-69 nail-biter against the Ottawa Gee Gees.
While all four participating teams brought fans, attendance was mediocre at best – with daily totals of 985 and 989 for the two-day event.
According to Ivan Joseph, Ryerson’s Director of Athletics, it was the worst-case scenario from a ticket-selling standpoint, with the farthest northern (Lakehead, in Thunder Bay, is a 16 hour drive), western (Windsor, 3.5 hours) and eastern (Carleton and Ottawa, 4.5 hours) teams away from Toronto — and not Ryerson — qualifying.
“Lakehead – the furthest team away – probably brought in the most fans. That was my only disappointment,” said Joseph. “We missed an opportunity to really showcase OUA basketball, because we would have had a completely different energy in the building [had Ryerson been in it.]”
Knowing they would be unable to fill the 2,500-seat (not including floor seats) Mattamy Home Ice bowl, Ryerson Athletics and the MAC attempted to give away tickets to the first 400 students, either at the box office or across campus – where Eggy the mascot could be found with tickets, as well as sugar cookies. While said cookies were delicious, it seems that they were not enough to entice students to show up.
“The student fans didn’t show up in the numbers that we thought they would,” said Joseph. “And if Ryerson was in that – because our basketball team has built such a strong following – you would have had a completely different game experience.”
Wilson Cup participants were impressed with Ryerson’s ability to host the event, with many suggesting they’d like to see it here in the future.
“I was impressed with the one downstairs (Coca-Cola Court) and to bring it up here, on this stage – it’s just an absolute gorgeous facility,” said Ottawa head coach James Derouin. “This is not going to be the last Final Four that they host.”
Derouin also said he hoped that next time, a Toronto team would be in the Final Four, and that Ryerson should be able to host the CIS national championships in the future as well.
While Joseph would not directly comment on whether Ryerson intended to bid for next year’s Wilson Cup, he said, “it is our hope that this facility will host many championships.”
The OUA always has at least two teams (the Wilson Cup champion and finalist, and occasionally a wildcard team) advance to the CIS National Championships Final 8, but as Carleton already had a spot because they are hosting it, the winner of the OUA bronze medal game, Lakehead, also earned a spot in the tournament.
For recaps, videos, and over 200 photos from the Wilson Cup, check out our online coverage at theeyeopener.com