By Allan Perkins
When the Ryerson women’s basketball team set an all-time program record for most points scored in a regular season game with 99 last Wednesday, head coach Carly Clarke sat on the bench with folded arms, clearly displeased. After the game, she described herself as being “pissed” at how the last minute of the game went. She said they gave up too many offensive rebounds and didn’t move the ball well on their final possession, both of which she considers unacceptable.
Even after rolling to a 99-61 victory over the York Lions and setting a record, Clarke said there was room for improvement. Not perfectionism — but being critical of themselves on each possession and always striving for more, even when more seems hard to fathom. It’s that kind of attitude that has earned the Rams the second overall ranking in the country.
As of December, the Rams were at number three in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). Last Tuesday, they updated their rankings, with Ryerson at number two, overtaking McGill University for second place in Canada. After a loss to Queen’s University Saturday night the Rams have dropped to fourth.
Despite the fall it’s been quite the season for Ryerson. A blistering 6-1 start and a handful of blowout wins have made the women look destined for a deep playoff run.
With three of the their top four scorers — Keneca Pingue-Giles, Silvana Jez and Mariah Nunes — in their last season in the Blue and Gold, winning for the Rams comes with a sense of urgency.
The Rams’ attitude of constant improvement and critical self-reflection is something they’ve been building all season.
“Specifically we’re really focused on the process and making sure that we’re getting better every single day,” Clarke said.
Clarke added that the priority for each possession is to be the best that they can be in every trip down the floor, as well as on defence.
“We’re really valuing, appreciating and connecting at a new level I think on the floor and off the floor and we’re playing with and for each other,” she said.
It may sound easier said than done, but so far the Rams are actually doing it this season.
After the record win, Nunes said it wasn’t the point total that she was impressed with, but how they shared the ball that night and how many people contributed, with all 11 Rams who saw playing time putting points on the board.
“I think the details and just making sure we’re focusing on the little things and just the experience of even going to the CIS Championships, that all helped us take our game to the next level,” Nunes said.
So even in the wake of a 38-point, historic win, Clarke is able to find areas for improvement. It’s Clarke’s attitude and a determined Rams team that will find them once again pushing for that top spot as they face off against both Carleton University and the Ottawa GeeGees January 21 and 22.