By Ben Waldman
Last year, the Ryerson Rams left their home court with a bittersweet feeling after a loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the national semifinals.
The team went on to win the bronze medal the following afternoon, but they would have much preferred to play for the gold.
That quarterfinal loss still stings, says Ryerson assistant coach Mikaela Berza. It might feel like a long time has passed since then, but the disappointment still fuels this year’s team in their semifinal game against the University of Calgary.
“We know the importance of this game,” Berza said. “Putting the craziness of [our game against UBC] behind us, and locking in is very, very important for this game tonight.”
Although the team was happy to be playing for the bronze medal, Berza maintains that it was not their ideal situation.
“Once again this year, [the bronze medal game] is not the game we want to play in,” Berza said as she watched the Rams shoot around.
At the other end of the stadium, Patrick Tatham sat leaning back on a courtside seat.
The coach looked both at ease and tense. Normally, Tatham is up and clapping as his team knocks down pregame shots or running through offensive schemes. Today, he hardly moved.
“It’s a very short tournament,” Tatham said. “There aren’t many adjustments that we can make. We just need to try to preserve as much life and energy from the group as we can. So we try to keep the guys off their feet and for this shootaround we need to get lots of shots up to get used to the rims.”
After an off game against UBC, Aaron Best looked motivated and focused on the task of the day. The Rams star guard scored only five points Thursday, far below his season average of 17.8 points per game.
Calgary assistant coach Blaine Miciak says that his team is ready for the Rams.
“They have a lot of diverse perimeter players who are very good. They want to push the ball and the tempo,” Miciak added Saturday morning.
Miciak has scouted the Rams extensively, but couldn’t pick one player on Ryerson that he was most worried about.
“Oh,” Miciak said. “We’re worried about all of them.”
Ryerson and Calgary tip off at 5:30 PST.