The defending OUA-champion Ryerson Rams will kick off their #KeepTheCritelli, title defence campaign on Saturday, November 5th against the Laurier Golden Hawks in a 1:00PM matinee in Waterloo.
The Rams are the beneficiaries of an easier start to the 2016-17 season. The combined 2015-16 record of all the teams they will face in the month of November was just 38-63. And while the beginning of every season makes the previous year's records relatively obsolete, history would lean towards proving that statement to be correct. This start to the season will allow Rams head coach Carly Clarke to begin to finalize her line-up, and allow the players to adjust to their new roles, after losing three graduating seniors.
On the flip side, an easier start to the year makes it more difficult to prepare for tougher opponents. Luckily for Ryerson, the last game of November against Western will provide a good stepping stone of difficulty, before they tip off against Windsor just five days later.
Ryerson will only have one game up north this year: Friday, November 25th, when they make the 685km trek to Sault Ste. Marie for a date with the Algoma Thunderbirds. The Rams have not lost to Algoma in the four meetings they've ever had, including last year's 103-35 thrashing at Coca-Cola Court; a game where the Rams broke numerous program records including: most points scored in a single game and highest point differential in a single game.
The Rams' longest homestand of the year is split up by the winter exam break -- two big games before (Western and Windsor) and two games after (Lakehead and Guelph). Their longest road trip will take place in January; a three-game stint with stops at Queen's, York, and Waterloo.
Saturday, November 5th @ Laurier: The first game of the year is always an important one as neither team wants to start their season on a low note. The first game is also important as it is the first legitimate opportunity to see how teammates play together in competition that actually means something, which in turn allows coaches to make changes as they see fit. Ryerson won the sole matchup between the teams last season, 86-75 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Friday, November 11th @ Toronto: The BIA Cup always makes the battle of downtown Toronto that much more interesting, and the Goldring Centre is always a tough court to win on. Ryerson has won the first two annual BIA Cups, and won both meetings they had last year: 78-36 and 87-74. Toronto will always be a tougher matchup this year than last, with the additions of some impressive recruits in Charlotte Craig and Nada Radonjic.
Friday, November 18th vs. Nipissing: The Rams' first home game of the year will certainly be a special one as both the women's and men's teams will raise their OUA banners at Coca-Cola Court, the first two in school history. After the ceremony Ryerson will have a very good chance to win the game, as they've never lost to the Lakers in both match-ups they've had in the history of both programs, including an 89-50 win in North Bay last January.
Saturday, December 3rd vs. Windsor: Ryerson's last game before the exam break will certainly be their most important in the first half of their regular season. Prior to the OUA Semi-Final in which the Rams' defeated the Lancers 83-64 to advance to the Critelli Cup final, Ryerson had never defeated Windsor in their history. Windsor will be looking to avenge that loss, which prevented them from qualifying for the national championship, snapping their five year reign over the CIS National Championship. The Lancers will come back just as strong as ever, and Chantal Vallée will have her team ready to win. The game picks up even more importance as neither team wants to head into the break on a losing note, having to stew over the loss for 34 days before playing again.
Friday, January 13th @ Queen's: Arguably the Rams' fiercest OUA East rival, the Queen's Gaels are always a difficult matchup, especially at the ARC in Kingston. Last season the two teams split their season series, with each side winning tight games on the road. If not for Queen's stumbling through their last two games of the regular season and losing to McMaster in the quarter-finals, they could have been a tough out for any team in the OUA Final Four. Despite losing Jenny Wright, the Gaels have signed three new recruits which should soften the loss, highlighted by the 6'4 centre, Veronika Lavergne, as well as Bridget Mulholland, a sought after guard both north and south of the border.
Friday, January 27th @ Brock: The matchup at Brock will be interesting, if only for the atmosphere that is bound to take shape at the Bob Davis Gymnasium in St. Catharines. Last year, the Badgers students sent two fan buses to the Mattamy Athletic Centre, which sparked the #ProtectTheMAC social media campaign. Ryerson won both games that night, but a new rivalry in the OUA was born. It will be interesting to see how much of it carries over to the late-January reunion.
Saturday, February 18th @ Ottawa: The Critelli Cup, OUA Championship rematch between the Rams and Ottawa Gee-Gees will have to wait until the final day of the regular season, when Ryerson travels to Montpetit Hall on February 18th for a 6:00PM tip. The rematch will be made more interesting as Kellie Ring, the Ottawa transfer will face her former team for the first time. This game could have huge playoff implications, and could very well preview an OUA Playoff matchup.
View the full schedule below:
This season will see a change in the way that the RPI rankings are calculated and implemented. This year the rankings will be based on regular season results against all conference teams. Previously, it had been calculated based on the records against teams that were in a playoff position. This makes losses to non-playoff teams as detrimental as losses to playoff teams.
2016-17 OUA and CIS Playoffs:
The OUA playoffs will consist of four rounds with the preliminary round set to begin on Wednesday, February 22. The quarter-finals will follow suit on Saturday, February 25. The Critelli Cup Final Four will be hosted by the highest remaining team. The semis are slated for Friday, March 3, while the bronze and gold medal matches are scheduled for Saturday, March 4.
The 2017 CIS Final 8 championships will begin just five days later, from March 9-12 at the University of Victoria, in Victoria, British Columbia