Going into the 2002-03 men’s basketball season, the Varsity Blues were thinking big.
The team was hoping to finish atop the OUA and make some noise in this year’s playoffs. Unfortunately, the Blues are 5-13 so far this season.
U of T now faces missing the playoffs and was trying to gain some ground in the post-season race this weekend.
Last Friday at the Athletic Centre, the Blues took on the Ottawa Gee Gees in a must-win game. But it seems every game the Blues have played since returning from the Christmas break has been a do-or-die match.
The team was extremely aggressive on the boards, creating numerous second-shot opportunities. U of T was led by third-year forward Toby Scott, who came up with his biggest game of the year. Scott was relentless on the boards, leading all players with eight rebounds. He also came up with a season high 17 points.
This breakout game could not have come at a better time for the Blues, as the team needed someone other than paint player Matt Sturgeon, who has easily been the MVP and leader of his team, to step up to the net. Sturgeon continued his solid play with six rebounds and 13 points, while logging a team high 33 minutes of play.
The Blues shot well throughout the second half of the game and were able to pull away from the Gee Gees, taking the contest 78-69.
Friday’s victory over Ottawa brought U of T within striking range of Ryerson, Laurentian and RMC, who are ahead of the Blues in the OUA standings. All three teams are tied for fourth place in the extremely tight eastern division.
Hoping to build upon the victory, the Blues took on the Carlton Ravens on Saturday. Coming into a match against the best team in the country, the Blues had only history on their side. Carlton had not won a basketball game at U of T since 2000.
History wasn’t putting balls in nets, though. The Blues looked undermatched and were overpowered by the Ravens. The game was over before it began, with Carlton dominating offensively, and suffocating the Blues defensively. Carlton controlled all facets of the game, easily downing U of T 82-65. Matt Sturgeon and Kenny Hilborn turned in strong performances in a losing cause.
The Blues complete their 2002-2003 regular season with some pivotal games versus Laurentian, York and Ryerson. Each game will have the pressure of a playoff match, as all of the opponents are ahead of the Blues in the OUA standings.