Reilly Reid explains his basketball philosophy

The Blues guard leads the team in points and rebounds

Reilly Reid explains his basketball philosophy

Reilly Reid has played sports his entire life. Starting with his dad being drafted into the NHL by the St. Louis Blues to watching the Toronto Maple Leafs growing up to being named the most valuable player on his high school basketball team, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues shooting guard has been immersed in sport for as long as he can remember.

“I was definitely around the sports culture a lot from an early age,” wrote Reid to The Varsity. “Whether it was watching sports or playing sports, my dad was always introducing me to new skills and habits. He has the best sports mind I’ve ever met and he’s taught me so much more than just the basics.”

This season, Reid is averaging 13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists, and he is on 40/33/77 shooting splits. He’s first on the team in points and rebounds, and he still maintains an efficient field goal percentage. He takes inspiration from the play style of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade.

“We both prefer attacking the rim and using our body over shooting outside jumpers, but will still shoot the open ones.” He is also the team’s most relied-upon player when it comes to playing time, logging in 31.4 minutes per game. Reid said he doesn’t let himself get affected by the pressure.

“I don’t necessarily feel pressured to put up points because we have a lot of guys who can score the ball in a variety of ways,” he said. “So if I’m struggling during a game, we have a lot of guys that can pick me up, which is great. However, sometimes when the offense is struggling I think it is part of my role to be aggressive whether it is scoring myself, or finding others for open looks. I think when I am aggressive it opens up other people and allows us to be in a nice rhythm offensively.”

Reid, a St. Michael’s College student, is currently enrolled in Urban Studies and Human Geography. When it comes to balancing school with basketball, Reid said that the biggest challenge “is not being able to seek out extra help as much as a regular student might be able to.” He sees visiting professors at office hours as a challenge, due to most of them being at the same time as the team’s practices. He stresses that time management is one of the most important skills involved in being a student athlete.

Nonetheless, Reid values this time with the team and the camaraderie that accompanies his involvement.

“Everyone is around each other for the whole time we’re away, it makes for a lot of good stories and laughs… You get to learn a lot about the personal side of teammates you might not have known before and it brings everybody closer together.”

Blues defeat rival York Lions 73–56

University of Toronto men’s basketball improve record to 8-7

Blues defeat rival York Lions 73–56

The University of Toronto men’s basketball team were in action against rival York Lions on Friday night. Defense dominated the game early, as Lions forward Nana Adu-Poku was the first to put points on the board 1:40 minutes into the first quarter. The Blues managed to tie the game at 2–2 with 6:15 remaining. Toronto’s lockdown defense earned a whopping seven steals, while their offense allowed one turnover compared to the Lions’ seven in the first quarter.

Toronto’s offence picked it up in the second quarter, outscoring their opponent 21–18. Guards Reilly Reid and Sage Usher led the way with eight and seven points respectively.

Toronto’s defence were unable to contain York Lions guard Chevon Brown, who dominated the first half with 13 points. The Blues took advantage of turnovers by scoring 11 points on York’s 10 turnovers. The Lions did dominate the glass with 26 total rebounds with guard and forward Gianmarco Luciani leading the way with six rebounds. The Blues also shot 87.5 per cent from the free throw line and entered the second half with a close 33–29 lead.

Blues defense remained consistent in the third quarter, allowing only 10 points. The Blues maintained a 49–39 lead with guard Nikola Paradina finishing an exceptional quarter with 10 points and four rebounds. The Blues defense also managed to slow down Chevon Brown and keep him at two points. Toronto won the game with a final score of 73–56.

Paradina finished the game with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and one assist. Usher also played a good, consistent game, with 12 points, and he came just one assist shy of a double-double. Brown had 23 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. He also was perfect from the free throw line going 8-8.

The Blues came into Friday’s game sixth in the Eastern Division standings with a 7-7 record. York’s defeat leaves them in last place in the Eastern Division.

Women’s basketball come up short to Queen’s

Blues lose third game in a row

Women’s basketball come up short to Queen’s

The Varsity Blues women’s basketball team have now lost three games in a row following their 74–66 loss to the Queen’s Gaels on Saturday night.

The Gaels’ offense jumped out to a 19–9 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Toronto gained momentum and managed to outscore Queen’s 25–24, slowly cutting the deficit to a 43–34 lead at halftime.

The Blues improved in the second half, outscoring the Gaels 32–31. Unfortunately the first quarter deficit proved to be costly, as Toronto could not catch up to the Gaels despite outscoring them 57–55 after the first quarter.

“Offensively we really picked it up in the second half with sharing the ball. We got a lot of good looks, but the problem I think with that is it happens too late in the game,” said Blues guard Keyira Parkes. “Defensively we have to be in transition and just really bear down and focus from the jump. We can’t let them get a run on us.”

Parkes led the Blues with 19 points on an efficient 8-14 shooting, along with five rebounds and two assists. The next highest Blues scorer was Diedre Edwards with 12 points.

Gael Marianne Alarie ended the night with a game high of 20 points scored, leading the way for Queen’s. Her eight points in the first quarter helped the Gaels jump to the commanding lead that would later be too much for the Blues to come back from. Sophie de Goede contributed with 15 points off the bench, including nine free throws.

The Blues are now 5-11 on the season, while the Gaels improve to an impressive 13-3 record.

When asked about the next game, Parkes said, “We have to come in the game focused… [and] executing game plans, because that’s been a challenge for us. We tend to forget in the first two minutes of the game what the game plan is and what we’re supposed to be doing.”

“We can’t lose any more games. We really have to play together and find that defensive [relentlessness],” she continued.

U of T’s next game is against the undefeated Carleton Ravens at Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport on Friday, January 26.

Blues men’s basketball prevail 86–74 over Laurier

Game of guards sees Toronto overcome Golden Hawks

Blues men’s basketball prevail 86–74 over Laurier

Following a tight defeat for the women’s team, the Varsity Blues men’s basketball team took to the court on Friday evening aiming to fell the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and claim their fourth win of the season.

As the opening festivities wrapped up and the cheerleaders vacated the playing space, Toronto geared up for battle against a purple and gold-clad Laurier team that had lost a tight 77–76 decision to the Queen’s Gaels the week before.

The Blues ended the first quarter with a resounding 27–14 score. Guard trio Jawara Pedican, Reilly Reid, and Nikola Paradina dominated proceedings, claiming seven, nine, and five points respectively. Each would also claim a three, as would fellow guards Christopher Barrett and Chase Ruttenberg. During the quarter, the Blues earned a 17-point uncontested run and outclassed the Golden Hawks.

The tides slowly turned in the second quarter, and despite the Blues being ahead by 10 points at around the halfway mark, Laurier went on to earn their own 14-point uncontested run.

Second-year Laurier guard Tevaun Kokko posted impressive stats in the quarter with 14 points. Toronto succumbed to a 29–15 quarter, which meant Laurier entered the second half with a slim 43–42 lead.

The third quarter began slowly as both teams returned to the court, before Reid and Paradina combined to propel the Blues into a dominating lead. A lethargic Laurier had no response to the rampant duo, who claimed 21 points and eight rebounds in the quarter between them.

As the quarter progressed, Toronto found rhythm, moving the ball around more deftly as Laurier were plagued with sloppy defending and poor forward movement. The Blues posted a 50 per cent shooting record from the field while restricting Laurier to just 30 per cent.

Pulling a 70–56 lead into the fourth quarter, the Blues were content with seeing out the victory. Both teams had similar control of the ball and, for the first time in the game, neither went on strong runs. Reid’s influence never waned however, as the Blues stayed true to their course and restricted Laurier to an 18–16 final quarter.

Reid led the Blues with a career-high 24 points, adding seven rebounds, with Paradina trailing closely behind with his own career-high 23 points and 12 rebounds. Laurier’s Kokko led the night with 25 points but was likely disappointed that his team were overmatched by Toronto’s physical play on the night.

The victory pushed the Blues to a 4-3 regular season record, occupying sixth place in the OUA eastern conference standings.

Can the Raptors reach the NBA Finals?

Toronto lost key players Cory Joseph and DeMarre Carroll in the offseason

Can the Raptors reach the NBA Finals?

It’s that time of year again: the NBA season is about to begin. Last season, the Toronto Raptors finished 51–31, which was good enough to lock up their second straight 50-win season and third place status in the Eastern Conference. Their impressive regular season success, however, didn’t translate in the playoffs in the way fans were hoping for.

After a tough six-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Raptors advanced to play a familiar foe in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. While many were hoping for a competitive rematch, LeBron and company had different ideas: they swept them in four games.

After a long offseason, the Raptors were able to re-sign core team members Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, and Norman Powell in hopes of climbing the Eastern Conference ladder.

Despite many players returning to the franchise in 2017, one familiar face won’t be back. The Raptors traded DeMarre Carroll and two 2018 draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets for Justin Hamilton.

After the trade was completed, Carroll told Postmedia, “I feel like a lot of guys didn’t trust each other, and a lot of guys, they didn’t feel like other guys could produce.” Raptors team President Masai Ujiri dismissed the comments and said that he takes them “with a grain of salt.” While many fans were also quick to dismiss Carroll’s comments, the numbers never lie — if we look at Toronto’s on-court stats, his statement seems to hold true.

The Raptors ranked dead last in assist percentage per game last season and were ranked second in isolation basketball. It’s easy to come to the incorrect conclusion that, since the Raptors won 51 games last year, their system works. You might be able to get away with playing isolation basketball during the regular season, but against tougher teams night in and night out during the playoffs, you need to be able to rely on other players.

The numbers show this to be true: the Raptors’ offensive rating ranked sixth in the regular season, while in the playoffs it was ranked third worst. Essentially, the Raptors were too predictable in the playoffs, which was almost their downfall against the Bucks, who ranked first in defense ratings in the playoffs, and it was certainly their downfall against the Cavaliers. Ujiri did try to address the team’s offensive woes by acquiring sharpshooter CJ Miles and drafting OG Anunoby. These additions add versatility to the wings and three-point shooting that is vital to making a deep run in the playoffs.

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Eastern Conference has become less competitive over the past decade, though with all the moves made this summer, you could argue that the notion is a thing of the past. The blockbuster trade of the summer happened between the top two teams in the east last year, the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The trade centred around star guards Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas. It’s too early to tell who won this trade, but we know that it gives Boston the star power they were looking for and Cleveland the depth they were lacking. For the Raptors, this means that their strongest competitors last year arguably got even better.

While many teams have decided to wait out the Golden State Warriors era in basketball, there are still some teams in the west that are competing and changing up their rosters in the hopes of taking down this dynasty.

Oklahoma City Thunder made the biggest splash this offseason by adding all-stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony; the Houston Rockets added Chris Paul to pair with James Harden; the Minnesota Timberwolves added Jeff Teague and Jimmy Butler to their young core; and the San Antonio Spurs added Rudy Gay to add depth to their roster.

For the Raptors, the road to the finals is a long one. But the key to their success this year is moving the ball a lot more on offense. With a full training camp and preseason to get familiar with one another, it’s important that trust is built between players.

Blues take Centre Court during NBA All-Star festivities

All-star exhibition was held in Toronto for the first time last weekend

Blues take Centre Court during NBA All-Star festivities

The Varsity Blues (5-12) men’s basketball team fell to the Ryerson Rams (15-2), 79-94 during the NBA Centre Court festivities for the 2016 NBA All-Star game.

The game celebrated the opening of the NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto. The All-Star exhibition is an annual weekend of basketball festivities held by the NBA, which includes skills competitions, most notably a slam-dunk competiton, and a final match up between the best players in the eastern and western conferences. 

This year, host city Toronto ensured fans of all ages could enjoy various basketball drills and activities at the NBA Centre Court event, which were facilitated by All-Star staff, former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo and current San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Blues represented U of T in a showcase of Ontario varsity basketball talent throughout the weekend. The men’s team took on Ontario University Athletics (OUA) leaders and cross-town rivals Ryerson Rams. The day prior, the Queen’s Gaels defeated the Windsor Lancers in the women’s All-Star showcase.

More than just an opportunity to give varsity athletes a taste of the pros, the event displayed the strong passion for basketball many Torontonians harbour in a hockey-dominated nation. It comes at a time when the Toronto Raptors are second in the Eastern Conference standings and the Leafs sit at the bottom of the NHL.   

During the matchup between the Blues and Rams, U of T kept it close in the first half before the Rams went on a scoring run in the third quarter. Using their size and firm defense to gain momentum, the Rams built a significant lead over the Blues.

Despite early fouls by the Blues’ Sage Usher and strong Rams defense on lead scorer Devin Johnson, U of T was able to keep the game at 24-27 at the end the first quarter. 

The Blues enjoyed an offensive surge from forwards Miroslav Jaksic and Manny Sahota off the bench. In the second quarter, the Rams’ tight defense continued, and the Blues switched to a more traditional line-up with the 6’10” Jaksic matching up with the Rams’ 6’9” centre Kadeem Green.

Despite a slow start, Devin Johnson led the Blues with 10 points to keep the score at 37-40.

With the game tied at 42 at the 2:12 mark, Rams forward Adam Voll recorded a huge block on the Blues’ Devin Williams, leading to a retaliation foul and two made free throws. The Rams used the late surge to maintain their lead at 44-47 heading into the second half.

In the third quarter, Sage Usher was once again benched early on after recording his third foul.

The Blues’ Wilson Torres slashed to the basket for the two points and made his one free throw to make it 49-50 at 8:03.

Ryerson’s Adam Voll recorded a huge dunk off a pick and roll with teammate Aaron Best to swing the momentum once again. From there, the Rams would go on a 10-0 run to make it 49-60. Devin Williams would end the Blues’ scoring drought at 5:45.

The combination of poor shooting and fouls led to a 61-75 deficit for the Blues going into the fourth quarter.   

In the fourth, Devin Johnson continued to be neutralized by the Rams’ big men in the middle and by defensive wing players who were able to keep the Blues’ star player isolated. The Rams strong inside presence forced the Blues to take several contested three pointers by constricting the passing lanes.

Despite his early struggles, Devin Johnson was named player of the game for the Blues with a team leading 19 points. Manny Sahota, Wilson Torres, and Daniel Johansson also scored in double digits for the Blues.

  The Rams’ Roshane Roberts was named player of the game for Ryerson. Ammanuel Diressa and Roberts, who both scored 17 points, and Kadeem Green, who scored 15 points and recorded three blocks, led the Rams to their 79-94 victory.

In a post-game interview, second year Blues guard Oluwaseun Olutogun acknowledged his team’s good ball movement in the first half. Moving forward, he believed the team needed better focus, as well as needing to “stay cleaner” on offense throughout their games. 

The Blues are tied for seventh spot on the OUA leaderboard with Laurentian and Algoma. Ryerson shares the top spot with the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Blues men’s basketball end weekend on a high

Men defeat Laurier 79-60, women drop second game of the weekend

Blues men’s basketball end weekend on a high

On Saturday, February 6 the Varsity Blues men’s and women’s basketball teams took on the visiting Laurier Golden Hawks at the Goldring Centre. The games marked the conclusion of NBA All-Star Challenge festivities, which brought with them members of the all-star dunk squad, the Raptors Dance Pak, and 12-time NBA all-star Isaiah Thomas.

The women’s team started the festivities for the Blues. The team currently sit in third position in the OUA east division, four points behind Laurier who are in third place in the OUA west.

The Hawks dominated the court following the tip-off; taking a quick seven-point lead over the Blues. Struggling to sink a shot, the Blues let the deficit widen to 12 points before calling a time out. Despite multiple drives by point guard Diedre Edwards, the Blues couldn’t finish the job, and ended the first quarter down by 13.

The second saw the Blues regroup and find another gear. The eventual player of the game, Blues’ forward Charlotte Collyer contributed six points in quick succession, helping the team cut the deficit to eight with less than six minutes remaining. Despite a big three-pointer from point guard Maddy Baker with 39 seconds left, the Blues would end the first half trailing the Hawks 39-30.

The Hawks opened the scoring in the third with a field goal from point guard Nicole Morrison, bringing the score to 41-30. Following two failed free throws by Edwards, Morrison would continue to drive the ball through the Blues’ defense, enabling the Hawks to finish the period up 17 points.

The final quarter didn’t see the Blues improve, despite opening the score with a field goal from forward Alanna Garner. A foul by Laurier’s Kaitlyn Schenck gave Blues’ forward Sarah Bennett the opportunity to sink two free throws, which were quickly answered by a three pointer by the Hawks’ Sarah Dillon with less than two minutes remaining. In a game characterized by their inability to finish a play, the Blues ended the game 79-62 and drop their season record to 5-9.

Coming off a close loss the previous night to Brock, the Blues’ men’s basketball team kept the lead throughout their faceoff with the Golden Hawks — ending the weekend on a high with a 79-60 win.

Blues’ forward Devin Johnson set the team for the match by opening the score first quarter with a rebound from point guard Sage Usher, putting the squad up by two. A three pointer by Devon Williams half way through the quarter would put the Blues up by 14 points.

Heading into the second quarter with an 18 point advantage, the Blues opened the scoring more than three minutes in and kept the lead despite some big three pointers from the Hawks’ point guards Chuder Teny and Will Coulthard. The Blues took the second 46-27.

After the half, the Blues continued to dominate the court, despite a charge by Laurier late in the third to cut the Blues’ lead to 14 points. In the fourth quarter the Blues lost guard Christopher Barrett to a rolled ankle and called a time out after three consecutive field goals by the Hawks. Despite their late comeback, the Hawks could not make up the almost 20 point deficit. The Blues took the game 79-60.

The win signalled the first time head coach John Campbell has defeated his father and brother, the head coach and assistant coach respectively, of the Golden Hawks.  The Blues improve their record to 5-8 and sit in the third spot on the OUA east leader board.

The Varsity Blues women’s and men’s basketball teams will return to Goldring on February 12 when they take on Algoma University at 6 PM and 8 PM, respectively

Blues blanked by Badgers

Toronto can't make up six point deficit against visiting Brock

Blues blanked by Badgers

The Varsity Blues (4–8) fell 71–77 to the Brock Badgers (10–3) Friday night at the Goldring Centre’s Kimel Family Field House. Despite leading for the majority of the game, the Blues couldn’t sustain their momentum into the fourth quarter, allowing the Badgers to finish with a slim lead. The Blues were led by forward Devin Johnson’s 20 points and forward Daniel Johansson’s 18 points. For the Badgers, point-guard Johneil Simpson led the squad with 22 points.

The game started strong for the Blues after a 7–0 run ended the first quarter with a 19–14 lead.

The Blues continued strong play in the second by leading 35–32, before Brock’s Zachary Angelini hit a buzzer beating three-pointer to conclude the first half with a tie.

The third quarter saw the Blues and Badgers exchanging multiple blocks and fouls, both teams executing defensive plays. At the five minute mark, Blues’ Johnson landed awkwardly while chasing down Brock’s Tyler Brown on a fast break. Unscathed, he would continue to play out the rest of the game.

The Blues regained the lead at 49–46 after Miroslav Jaksic’s two handed dunk, but the Badgers responded with a quick three-pointer on the next possession and two free throws from Dani Elgadi, which edged the Badgers ahead 51–49.

The strong defensive effort continued for the Blues; they ended the third with two steals and two fast breaks by Manny Sahota and Wilson Torres, entering the fourth with a one point lead over the Badgers.

With the game tied at 63 late in the fourth, the Badgers went on a 6–0 run that would be the downfall of the Blues. Despite two crucial charges from point guard Sage Usher and precise shooting from Johnson, the deficit was too high to make up and the Blues trailed 74–68.

The difference quickly grew to eight points, before Usher managed to draw a foul at the three-point line with only seconds left in the game. He made two of three free throws to end the game 71–77. The loss puts the Blues to the third spot in the OUA East Division.

The Blues’ Johansson was named player of the game. He finished off with 18 points, five rebounds, and one block in 31 minutes of play.

The Blues will return to action on February 6, when they host the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks at the Kimel Family Field House.