Friday, October 12
Game 1: Brock 62 vs. UNB 65
Game 2: UBC 65 vs. Toronto 61
Game 3: Ryerson 49 vs. Laval 81
Game 4: Saskatchewan vs. McMaster (8:00 p.m.)
TORONTO - This weekend marks the 25th Annual Darcel Wright Memorial Classic hosted by the Ryerson Rams women's basketball team. This year a number of strong teams from across the country will battle for the title on Coca-Cola Court at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
A new champion will be crowned as the Windsor Lancers, winners of the 2011 tournament, are not back to defend their title.
At the top of this year's crop are two teams from the Canada West conference including the 2012 national silver medalists from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a Saskatchewan Huskies team that was ranked no lower than sixth in the country at any point during the 2011-12 season.
The Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference is well represented with four teams including the Brock Badgers, Toronto Varsity Blues, McMaster Marauders, and host Ryerson Rams.
Rounding out the field is the University of New Brunswick (UNB) from the Atlantic conference and Laval Université from the RSEQ.
Last year the UBC Thunderbirds had a 15-3 regular season record to finish first in the Pacific division. They won the Canada West championship with an upset victory over No. 1 ranked Regina and were seeded second heading into the national championship. The Thunderbirds lose a significant player in Zara Huntley, a former first-team all-star, but have a solid returning core led by third year guard Kris Young (North Vancouver, B.C.) and veteran presence from fifth year forward Leigh Stansfield (Victoria, B.C.). Look for the Thunderbirds to be a contender not only in this tournament, but throughout the 2012-13 season.
The Saskatchewan Huskies were ranked among the nation's top teams for the majority of last season. Their 15-5 regular season record put them second in the Prairie standings but lost to UBC in the Canada West semifinal. The Huskies went through the regional qualifying round and lost to Brock in the semifinal but were given new life when they earned the wild card berth into the national tournament. Saskatchewan wound up finishing sixth. Dalyce Emmerson (Prince Albert, Sask.) is the new face of the Huskies program after winning the Canada West rookie of the year award and picking up second-team all-star and CIS all-rookie team honours. Saskatchewan will need someone to step up defensively this season as last year's Canada West defensive player of the year and first-team all-star Katie Miyazaki has graduated.
Labeled by many as a team experiencing success "a year earlier than expected", the Brock Badgers enter this season with much anticipation. After opening the 2011-12 season with a 9-0 record, Brock finished the year 15-7 which was good for second in the OUA west. The Badgers claimed OUA bronze which qualified them for the regional tournament where they upset Saskatchewan before losing to top ranked Regina. Brock narrowly missed a berth to the national championship and with nine returning players they should be a threat again this year. The Badgers have a good mix of veterans and young talent and should receive contributions from fifth year Emily McKay (Toronto), first-team OUA all-star Nicole Rosenkranz (Niagara Falls, Ont.) and second year Kayla Santilli (Brantford, Ont.) who was named to the all-rookie team last year.
Amongst the participating teams, the Laval Rouge et Or are the most recent Darcel Wright tournament winners, taking the title in 2010. Last season Laval finished the season with a 7-9 record which put them in a three-way tie for third place. In the small RSEQ conference, only four teams make the playoffs and Laval missed the postseason based on the tie break scenarios. Elyse Jobin (Moncton, N.B.) returns for her final year after being named a first-team all-star last season. The Rouge et Or also have Marie-Pascale Nadeau (Levis, Que.), a second-team all-star, and Jannie Jacques (Sorel-Tracy, Que.), a member of the RSEQ all-rookie team, returning to the lineup for the 2012-13 season.
The Toronto Varsity Blues make the short trek to Ryerson campus for their return to the Darcel Wright Memorial Classic. A 14-8 regular season last year left the Blues in third place in the OUA east division. In the playoffs, Toronto defeated York to reach the quarter-final but then lost to Carleton. The Blues now boast a fairly experienced roster with only five players in either their first or second seasons. Third year guard Jill Stratton (Etobicoke, Ont.) leads the Blues after another all-star season last year while Alicia Van Kempen (Amaranth, Ont.), Amanda Lauzon (Niagara Falls, Ont.), and Kristy Chute (Amherstburg, Ont.) all provide veteran leadership down low. The Blues combination of experience and size could lead to a strong tournament performance.
The McMaster Marauders enter the season as a young team and will likely use this tournament as an opportunity to lay some ground work before the regular season begins. McMaster finished last season fourth in the OUA west with an 11-11 record but lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Marauders lose their all-time leading scorer, Taylor Chiarot, to graduation and will be looking for players to step up offensively and to provide leadership. Senior Vanessa Bonomo (Dundas, Ont.) will call the offence at point guard while fellow senior Hailey Milligan (Brantford, Ont.) will provide an established presence down low for the Marauders.
The Atlantic conference will be represented at the tournament this year as the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds join the fold. Last year the Reds compiled a 6-14 record, finishing in seventh place and just shy of the final postseason seed. Expect to see a lot of third year forward Claire Colborne (Calgary, Alta.) as she was a first-team all-star a year ago. Colleen Daly (Ancaster, Ont.) had a good start to her university career, being named to the AUS all-rookie team, and will be a key factor for UNB.
The Ryerson Rams are coming off a 2011-12 season where they finished 11-11 and fifth in the OUA east division. The Rams defeated Queen's in the first round of playoffs before losing to eventual OUA champion Ottawa in the quarter-finals. Ryerson has suffered a pair of significant losses as leading scorer Ashley MacDonald completed her eligibility last season and Angela Tilk (Welland, Ont.) sustained an injury earlier in preseason play that has her sidelined long term. Fourth year guard Kelsey Wright (Brampton, Ont.) will be leaned upon for offence while third year Alex Tkaczyk (Cambridge, Ont.) and senior Dayana Gechkova (Sofia, Bulgaria) provide support.
Tournament action begins at 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon as the Brock Badgers square off against the UNB Varsity Reds. Ryerson's first action is at 6:00 p.m. as they battle the Laval Rouge et Or.
See below for participating teams and the tournament draw.
Laval Rouge et Or
Toronto Varsity Blues
UNB Varsity Reds
Friday, October 12
Game 1: Brock vs. UNB (2:00 p.m.)
Game 2: UBC vs. Toronto (4:00 p.m.)
Game 3: Ryerson vs. Laval (6:00 p.m.)
Game 4: Saskatchewan vs. McMaster (8:00 p.m.)
Saturday, October 13
Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (1:00 p.m.)
Game 6: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 (3:00 p.m.)
Game 7: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (5:30 p.m.)
Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 (7:30 p.m.)
Sunday, October 14
Game 9: Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6 (10:00 a.m.)
Game 10: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 (12:00 p.m.)
Game 11: Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8 (2:00 p.m.) - Bronze
Game 12: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 (4:00 p.m.) - Championship
Adult: Weekend Pass $25; Day Pass $15
Staff & Faculty, Senior, Non-Ryerson Student: $20; Day Pass $10
Ryerson Students, 12 and Under: Free
All games played at Coca-Cola Court, Mattamy Athletic Centre