Meteoric rise of Ontario Tech men’s basketball team has Oshawa school nationally ranked for first time

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Published February 14, 2024 at 4:11 pm

Fourth-year Ridgebacks men's basketball player Zubair Seyed was the OUA player of the week last week

One of the most compelling narratives in Canadian university sports is the Ontario Tech men’s basketball team, which has climbed into the top ten national rankings for the first time in the program’s history.

Just five years after fielding its first squad, the Ridgebacks (16-4) are ranked seventh in the country. The squad cracked the top ten for the first time two weeks ago after back-to-back wins over sixth-ranked Laurier (100-89) and Waterloo (90-82) placed them ninth, and continued their rise, moving up two spots after Saturdays 85-79 win over Lakehead.

The win over Laurier was Ontario Tech’s fifth victory over nationally ranked opponents this season and the Ridgebacks have built an impressive record in OUA conference play, reeling off 13 wins in 15 games.

“We are excited to be recognized on a national level as one of the top programs in the country,” said head coach Deluxshan Pathmanathan. “Making the U SPORTS Top 10 is a testament for all the work that our student-athletes, staff and administration have been putting in to growing our program to where it is today.”

“Your hard work is a driving force behind our success.”

Measured against the program’s formative seasons, the national ranking is even more remarkable. The team posted just one victory in 22 league contests in its inaugural season and after COVID cancelled the next season the Ridgebacks were 1-14 in Year 2. Last season the program’s upward trajectory began with a modest improvement to 4-18.

The Ridgebacks turnaround this season has been led by a mix of veteran players and newcomers. Third-year Liberal Studies student Keon Baker was U SPORTS basketball Athlete of the Week in January, while fourth-year Liberal Studies major Zubair Seyed was named OUA Athlete of the Week last week.

The Ridgebacks will complete the regular season at home (Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre) on Friday (8 p.m.) against the Carleton Ravens, with a showdown with the No. 2 ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees (18-2) on Saturday.

The Ridgebacks will have a playoff game for the first time on either Wednesday, February 21 or Saturday, February 24.

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