Ryerson has a historic season

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The underdogs of the CIS made large strides this season

Harlan Nemers
The Eyeopener (Ryerson University)

TORONTO (CUP) – Since Ryerson was accredited as a university in 2001, the Ryerson Rams have been the laughingstock of Ontario University Athletics (OUA) ranks.

However, with the recent resurgence of the men’s basketball team, it seems as though a new era of winning has been ushered in.

Last weekend, the Rams men’s basketball team did something it’s never done: it captured sixth place in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championships.

This was a season full of historic moments. For the first time ever, the Rams won a game in the CIS championships. For the second time in the school’s history, it reached the OUA finals and finished second in the OUA East for the second time ever, as well.

The last time Ryerson was in the national championships was 1999 when it went 0-2, losing first to the University of Alberta then Bishop’s University.

“I think the win just continues to set expectations – I mean, we don’t come here expecting to lose games,” said head coach Roy Rana. “We came here looking to win every game we play.”

Rana took over as head coach in 2009 and led Ryerson to three consecutive playoff appearances, going 34-32 in that span. In 2010, Rana scouted what was considered Canada’s best recruiting class when he selected Jahmal Jones and Jordon Gauthier. This year he added rookie Aaron Best to the Rams’ arsenal.

“Our recruiting classes are just amazing,” said Rams fourth-year guard Ola Adegboruwa. “We’ve got a lot of good recruits and it’s good that they’re learning from us [the veterans].”

Saturday’s win wasn’t just a win for the team, but a win for the entire athletic department. The Rams’ performance in Halifax put Ryerson on the national radar. In his three years, Rana has quietly created a contending team in the CIS.

“Before Rana was here, we barely made the playoffs,” said team captain Luke Staniscia. “Now, we’re at nationals. It’s a big reflection of him as a coach.”

Despite the departure of their captain to graduation, the Rams have a lot to look forward to in the future. With Jahmal Jones’ ability to control the pace of the game, the Rams have a pointguard to anchor them for at least three more years. Surrounding Jones are a plethora of complimentary players, including Gauthier and Best, who are both elite scorers already.

The Rams’ biggest weakness is their lack of size in the front court, but coach Rana will be looking to address their weaknesses during the off-season.

“We’re going to be upgrading our roster and continuing to get better,” he said.

Few would have expected that a team that started the season 3-5 would produce one of the best seasons in Rams’ basketball history: a trio of individual awards, an upset of number two-seeded Lakehead in the OUA semi-finals and a win at the nationals.

“Whenever you get to the national championships, it’s a huge success,” Rana said. “For others, it wasn’t as important, but for us, it was.”

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