The Varsity Blues men’s basketball team kicked off its 2002-03 season in style last week, advancing to the Raptor Cup final. U of T is set to prove that it has what it takes to make the CIS finals this year, after a season that saw the team make the playoffs only to be disqualified early.

The Blues took out a depleted George Brown College team with ease 87-48 last Friday. Next on the slate were the Ryerson Rams, U of T’s cross-town rivals. This semi-final game provided tantalizing end-to-end action and came down to the wire, with the Blues making key shots in the last minute and winning 67-66.

On Saturday afternoon, the Blues hit the hardwood at the Air Canada Centre for the final against the dominant York Yeomen. The game was played in the shadow of basketball greatness, as the Toronto Raptors hosted a free practice before the conclusion of the Raptor Cup.

The excitement before the game was electric, with around 400 fans sticking around to catch the action. York dominated right from the start and took little time to disembowel the Blues 77-55. Matt Sturgeon and Tom Grochmal had a strong game for the Blues, but it wasn’t nearly enough to stop the Yeoman offensive onslaught.

“I think we’re going to be very competitive this year,” said Blues coach Mike Dodig after the match. “Our goal is to make it to the nationals and I think we’re still a little way from that, but we’re progressing every week with our communication and confidence.”

Regular season play gets underway on November 8, when the Blues will take on Lakehead.

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