Photo by Alex D'Addese

Rams round out 2017 against Toronto, Lakehead

By Ryan Bacic

TORONTO – The Rams will be looking to keep their winning streak alive as they head into their final games of 2017 this weekend, which will see them take on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues at the Goldring Centre on Wednesday, November 29 at 6:00 pm, and the current number one team in the OUA West, the Lakehead Thunderwolves on Saturday, December 2 at 6:00 pm, at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

The Rams head into this week’s contests hot off the tails of two big wins last week against the Waterloo Warriors and Laurier Golden Hawks  Within both contests, fans were treated to the spectacle of an improved Rams line-up, one that had ironed out the kinks that had been exposed in previous match-ups.  In an effort to perform well on Wednesday and Saturday, the Rams will need to maintain this level of performance, as no victory will be easily acquired from either team they will be facing.

On Wednesday night, the Rams will storm into the Goldring Centre to face-off against their cross-town rivals, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.  It is a rivalry so infamous that it has become a hallmark contest within the minds of Ryerson athletes across all sporting disciplines, irrespective of the stakes that may or may not be present at the game itself. 

Going into Wednesday night, the Varsity Blues possess a current record of 3-5, and rank sixth in the OUA East. Ball movement on the offensive front seems to be a bit of problem for the Varsity Blues, as they thus far have the eighth highest average of turnovers per game in the OUA, while only producing an average of 9.3 assists per game offensively.  Furthermore, the Varsity Blues presently have a rebound margin of -6.6 per game, pointing towards a weaker ability on behalf of the Toronto backcourt to acquire rebounds and box out opposing forwards.

Additionally, the Rams have history on their side heading into Wednesday night’s game, as they have yet to lose to the Varsity Blues in the past two years, winning by a combined total of 291-190 across four games.

Following the game at the Goldring Centre, the Rams will head back across town to the Mattamy, where they will face off against the Lakehead Thunderwolves on Saturday for their last game of 2017.  Thus far this season, the Thunderwolves performance has been rather surprising, as they presently top the OUA’s Western conference with a record of 5-2 having easily taken down the likes of Laurentian, Ottawa, and York amongst others.  The Thunderwolves have acquired these wins through their notoriously connective offense, which is both aggressive and persistent.  Presently, the Thunderwovles lead the league in field-goal attempts per game, and rank second in both points per game and field-goals made per game.  Combine this with their lights out shooting from downtown, and the Thunderwolves wield an offensive style that could easily dominate any contest early on.  

Unfortunately, however, the Thunderwolves have been less-than-stellar defensively, a fact that has often prevented them from overcoming teams that can match them offensively.  Currently, Lakehead ranks second in the league in the points allowed per game, and are often sluggish in the acquisition of defensive rebounds.  This combination has often lead them into trouble with the OUA’s top-teams, such as Queen’s and Carleton, who were able to put on a scoring clinic against an otherwise solid team.  

The Rams won the past two contests against the Thunderwolves and through a consistent utilization of larger forwards, and ensuring sufficient coverage of opposing guards, the Rams should be able to overcome the surging team from Thunder Bay.

To further add to the excitement of the games that are to come, Rams all-star forward Sofia Paska (Etobicoke, Ont.) is only four points away from entering the illustrious 1,000 points-club.  Fans are encouraged to come out to both games to watch Paska make Ryerson Athletics history, and be only the sixth-player in the history of the women’s basketball program to enter in this exclusive group.  However, for those who cannot attend, the games will be broadcast live on OUA.tv and live updates will be provided on the Ryerson Rams twitter @ryersonrams.

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