By Ben Waldman
The Ryerson women’s basketball team is poised to have a season to remember.
With an 8-3 pre-season record and a fourth-place finish at the Darcel Wright Tournament, the club has built significant momentum as the regular season begins.
This year the Rams have added five rookies to their roster, creating an exceptional balance of youth and experience.
Cara Tiemens, a five-foot-10 rookie guard, has netted starter’s minutes in the pre-season and is confident that the team can beat any opponent it faces by season’s end.
“We got top 10 votes [for the CIS polls], which has never happened in team history,” Tiemens said.
On the court, Tiemens and the Rams have shown flashes of what Ryerson can do and guard Keneca Pingue-Giles is brimming with excitement about it.
Pingue-Giles has been the star player since joining the team and acknowledges that this season feels different than past years.
“It’s not just because we’re winning games,” said Pingue-Giles, a fourth-year guard. “It’s the process that we took to get to where we’re at now.” The Rams finished with a 9-14 record in last year’s Ontario University Athletics regular season.
They made the playoffs but were beaten out by the University of Toronto in the first round.
Pingue-Giles believes they can improve on that record, but she knows the pre-season means nothing if it doesn’t carry over to their season, which starts on Nov. 5 when they visit the Waterloo Warriors.
Through 11 pre-season games, it looks as though the team is in good position to succeed in their division, now a group of four teams:
Ryerson, York, Queen’s and U of T.
“We’re up at the top,” Pingue Giles said. “The ultimate goal is to go deep in the playoffs to win the championship.”
Carly Clarke, the team’s head coach, has elevated the program to new heights since her hiring three seasons ago. She credits the program’s upward swing to increased recruitment efforts and the sizable draw that the Mattamy Athletic Centre provides.
Most of all, she said, the on court product has spoken for itself.
“We have players with the calibre to beat any team,” said Clarke, citing the roster’s strength from the starters to those on the bench.
The team knows that the expectations going into this season are higher than ever but Clarke says her team is ready to finally go over the top.
“We’ve set goals for this team that have never been reached before,” Clarke said. “We have a realistic chance to reach them.”
The Rams’ home opener is Nov. 12 against the Western Mustangs.