Ryerson University issued the following announcement on Feb. 21.
The women’s basketball team has achieved a successful record this season, preparing them for the national championship in March. Photo by Alex D'Addese.
From March 7 to 10, the Mattamy Athletic Centre plays host to the 2019 U SPORTS Women’s Basketball National Championships, external link and Ryerson Rams head coach Carly Clarke is ready to show what her team is made of.
“We’re feeling good. We’ve in a league that’s really talented, playing amongst the best in the conference, so we’ve been challenged regularly throughout the season and that’s really helped with preparation,” Clarke said. “We put a plan together for the season and we’ve stuck pretty close to it.”
The Final 8 Championship gathers the top eight women’s national university basketball teams, including the Ryerson Rams, to compete over four days for the national title. The Mattamy Athletic Centre’s hockey arena will be converted to a basketball court with a capacity of 3,000.
This is the third time Ryerson has hosted a national championship. The first was the 2015 U SPORTS Men’s Basketball National Championships, followed by the 2017 U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball National Championships. The men’s team won their first bronze national medal in that 2015 tournament.
“Hosting an event of this magnitude not only gives us an opportunity to showcase our world-class facilities and the overall success of our athletic program, but more importantly, it provides the student-athletes on our women's basketball team with an experience they will never forget – playing for a national championship in front of 3,000 very loud, Ryerson fans,” said Jeff Giles, interim director, Athletics and Recreation.
The Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team is ranked eighth and finished the regular season with a 17-6 (Wins-Losses) record.
“We pride ourselves on our depth and versatility,” Clarke said. “We’ve had a range of injuries and illnesses this season but we’ve maintained a certain level of play the whole way. Team chemistry is a big part of our strength as a team – this team truly loves each other and there’s a willingness to work hard together.”
Ryerson’s women’s team is stacked this year with a majority of the players clocking in at 5’10” or higher. A few veterans who are on the team have national playing experience, winning silver at nationals in 2016, including 2018 second-team U SPORTS Women’s Basketball All-Canadian Sofia Paska.
“Experience is important – it helps with composure, calmness,” Clarke said. “We’re one of the taller teams in the country and there are plenty of players on the team who have experience with high-pressure games. We’re a passing team and have kept scoring at a high throughout and try to use our length and athleticism to disrupt defensively. We try to spend a lot of time on our mental performance too because that’s just as important in high-pressure moments.”
The women’s team won their first silver medal, external link at nationals in 2016, the same season they won their first-ever OUA championship, external link. The last two seasons have ended at OUA quarter-finals, and that’s pushed the squad to see the value in losses, improve their defensive game, and increase overall toughness and resilience on the court.
“As a coach, you’d like to believe you have a pulse on what works. When you’re winning, a team can feel pretty confident,” Clarke said. “Losses can give a higher level of focus, magnify gaps that need attention and guards against complacency. We’re playing our best every day, competing against our own best, not just against other teams.
“I know we believe in our team and our ability to win on our home court so the expectation is to be in a position to win. We hope for a great turnout of the campus community to support us and we’re really excited and proud to have the opportunity to host the tournament.”
Original source: https://www.ryerson.ca/news-events/news/2019/02/playing-with-mind-body-and-soul/