By Harlan Nemerofsky
They don’t know if they’ll be competing in it, but they do know that it’s coming back to Ryerson.
The Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team will host the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Wilson Cup Final Four in 2014 for the second consecutive year at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC), according to athletic director Ivan Joseph.
“The feedback from the OUA and everybody involved in it [last year] was that this was one of the best venues and one of the best hosted events ever,” Joseph said.
Joseph wanted to host the Wilson Cup again, but rather than submitting a bid to host the event, in August the OUA came to him.
“The venue looked really good on television last year, no one will dispute that,” said OUA President Jennifer Myers. “So we thought to leave it where it was this year because Ryerson did a great job.”
The Rams lost to the Carleton Ravens in the qualifying round of the 2012 Wilson Cup, but -— in reaching the OUA championship game -— they made the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Final Eight tournament for the second time in program history.
Even with all of these accomplishments, the Rams fell short of high expectations last season — losing in the second round of the playoffs to the Ottawa Gee-Gees which prevented them from playing in the OUA Final Four on home court.
“Hosting the event is great for the university, it’s great for our students and it’s great for Toronto, but it’s not something that we’re thinking about right now,” men’s basketball head coach, Roy Rana, said.
“Right now, I’m excited about starting the season. We’ll get excited about [the Wilson Cup] as it gets closer.”
Joseph said that the plan for the MAC was always to host a national-level caliber event but now he thinks Ryerson is ready for it.
“We think our teams, coaches and facilities are all in the position where they should be recognized for what they are, which is leaders in their field,” said Joseph.
“We’re now at a point where we have all of those pieces in place to put forth a bid that will see us compete and contend for national championships.”
But it’s the last year of eligibility for many of the core players that got the basketball team to this point — like point guard Jahmal Jones and shooting guard Jordon Gauthier.
While Ryerson Athletics will be hosting the Wilson Cup at the MAC again, Joseph said they have also placed bids for the 2015 CIS tournament in men’s basketball and the 2016 CIS men’s hockey championship.
Ryerson is one of just two schools — aside from the University of British Columbia — bidding for next season’s national basketball championship.
But the Rams hockey squad will be up against three other bids for the 2016 nationals, including the University of Prince Edward Island, Acadia University and a joint bid between St. Mary’s and St. Francis Xavier.
“It would be amazing to host it,” said men’s hockey coach Graham Wise, whose team has never been to the CIS Nationals — they were eliminated both times in the first round.
Ryerson teams would automatically play in the CIS tournament if they host either event. The CIS will make its announcement in early December.