Ryerson 94, Toronto 79 Once again showing their depth, athleticism and ability to score rapidly in transition, #1 Rams pulled away in the third quarter for a decisive win against cross-town rival Varsity Blues before a full and energetic crowd at Enercare Center on the CNE grounds in Toronto. Ryerson again rolled out 10 quality players in their rotation and got impressive production from starting 6’0″ guard Roshane Roberts (17 points on 6-11 shooting including a couple of long 3’s in the first half), 6’4″ Ammanuel Diressa (17 points, 7 rebounds including many high-skilled takes to the rim) and 6’9″ Adam Voll who had 2 slams including a two-handed put back dunk off a Roberts miss in transition in the third quarter to push the game into high double digits while 6’9″ Kadeem Green sat with foul trouble.
Ryerson continues to push the tempo at every opportunity and while the Blues did a wonderful job of matching Rams basket-for-basket in a very entertaining first half, Ryerson’s depth and Rams ability to shut down Blues star forward Devin Johnson in the second half ultimately led to the double digit win. Johnson stormed out of the gate with 14 first-half points including a perfect 2 for 2 from downtown but was held to just 5 after halftime. Ryerson lost under-rated 6’6″ forward Juwan Grannum early in the game as the veteran played only 5 minutes and did not return.
The Blues have several very promising pieces including the dynamic Johnson who has a great nose for the rim and can score in a number of ways. 6’3″ Manny Sahota had 3 3’s in the first half, getting his feet set in transition and off draw-and-kicks while diminutive 5’10” Devon Williams got off to a decent start before fading, shooting only 3 of 12. Up front, the Blues are young but both 6’6″ Daniel Johansson and 6’10” Miroslav Jaksic, a crafty lefty, showed flashes of being able to give a team like Ryerson some problems inside.
Toronto did shoot the ball well in the first half, going 6 for 13 from 3 and also stayed in it on the offensive glass with 12 “o” boards before halftime and 22 overall. Opponents in general are getting on the offensive glass against Ryerson: in 12 of their 15 OUA league games, opponents have had double digit offensive rebounding totals (Rams give up an average of 13 offensive rebounds per game) including a season-high 27 given up in the win vs. Carleton. However that is virtually the only area where Rams have some work to do as they continue to play like the #1 team in the country.
As of tonight, Ryerson remains #2 ranked in the OUA RPI standings – note that these are the standings that determine playoff seeding with highest remaining seed going into the semi-finals hosting Wilson Cup Final 4. I am assured by those with a stronger understanding of this ranking system that if Ryerson continues to win, they will ultimately gain that #1 seed but I am unable to explain how… so trust the system it appears.
Ryerson travels to Guelph on Wednesday night with the Gryphons in dire need of a victory to make the OUA playoffs as Guelph trails third place Lakehead in OUA Central. Ryerson then travels to Lakehead on Friday while the Blues, with a two-game lead on fourth place York for the final playoff spot in the OUA East, are at Guelph Friday and at Lakehead Saturday. With two wins, Toronto can all but clinch a playoff spot. York has just 3 games remaining: Friday at Algoma and then the following weekend when they host both the Blues and Rams.
OUA RPI Standings (with thanks to the incomparable Martin Timmerman) as of 14 February 2016 (including today’s Ryerson/Toronto game)
If the playoffs were to begin today, first round sudden-death match ups would be as follows:
#12 Laurier at #5 McMaster
#11 Laurentian at #6 Windsor
#10 Toronto at #7 Lakehead
#9 Western at #8 Queen’s.