By Rochelle Raveendran
Monday night started off simple enough, with a shrill whistle followed by 11 loud splashes as a waterproof basketball and five players from the Ryerson Rams and UOttawa Bee Gees hit the lukewarm pool water in the Recreation and Athletics Centre.
But the Rams seemed intent on humiliating themselves from the very onset of the match, and their success in doing so was their only discernible achievement of the night. Their brutal 112-3 knock-out loss will undoubtedly resonate throughout the rest of the Ontario University Water-Basketball Tournament—a legacy the graduating players will never have the opportunity to outswim.
Bee Gees defence diver and captain Andy Carp splashed down a three-pointer in the second minute of the first quarter, causing the entire Rams roster’s faces to instantly collapse like five under-baked meringues. Their response, however, was to scatter like panicked shrapnel to opposite sides of the pool, leaving the net wide open for a willing Carp to serve up another three spicy points on a platter for his ecstatic and well-fed team.
Carp would finish the game with 72 points and appeared increasingly smug after crossing the 60 mark. The Bee Gees captain celebrated each point by staring directly into the Speedo goggles of Rams forward backstroker Mario Trouter whilst repeatedly slamming his fists onto the water’s surface.
“I thought Carp was a little unsportsmanlike,” Trouter said after the game. “Water-basketball is a team sport. Even if we’re not literally on the same team, we’re figuratively both in the larger, overarching team of water-basketball, and that’s what really matters.”
These players have nothing left
Despite Carp’s dominance in the pool, senior Rams front-crawl defender Jiminy Bass tried his best to salvage the game in the third quarter. Bass was out of action for the entire 2019-20 season after his skin had become permanently wrinkled and pruney due to frequent practices in the pool and his penchant for long baths. However, that didn’t stop him from hooking, lining and sinking the ball into the net, earning three points and providing a brief moment of joy equivalent to giving a dog its favourite treat before putting it down.
By the 48th minute, the Rams had been in need of a game-changer for 46 minutes. This was provided to them when Rams left-wing middle blocker Joe Ti’ Lapia let a Hail Mary pass slip from the tips of his fingers and watched helplessly as it softly bobbed along the surface of the pool water, just out of his reach, right into Carp’s awaiting hands.
If there was any hope at all, it was definitely mercy-killed as Carp unforgivingly slammed the ball into the basket. The Rams players simultaneously bowed their heads in the aftermath as if accepting their fate. In this singular moment of team harmony from the entire match, they looked like they would make a better synchronized swimming team than water-basketball players—and this game made it abundantly clear they have nothing to lose should they wish to switch gears.
Rams coach Steph Staphy said he was disappointed with the match outcome, explaining he “much prefer[s] when we win compared to when we don’t win.” Staphy rejoined the team this fall after taking a sabbatical to be a merchandising advisor for Walmart Canada’s Space Jam: A New Legacy-themed swimwear line.
“Our plan was to take it one game at a time,” Staphy said. “We’ve taken that game, so now it’s time to bow out gracefully.”
UP NEXT: Nothing. These players have nothing left.