Most students don’t know it, but Ryerson has it’s own version of the Toronto Raptors on campus in the men’s basketball team. Matthew Prescott Oxman takes a look at the startling similarities between the two clubs
The Rams lost their all-time leading scorer Boris Bakovic, the number one player in Ontario University Athletics last season. He averaged a double-double nearly every game he played, but left for Europe to play with his brother Igor once his eligibility ran up. This offseason, the Raptors lost star forward Chris Bosh, whose average of 24 points and 11 rebounds last season is nearly identical to that of Bakovic. Like Bakovic, Bosh is now playing with his “brothers” — fellow star players Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.
Rams head coach Roy Rana will be leaning heavily on his newly-recruited core of Jahmal Jones, Bjorn Michaelsen, and Jordon Gauthier, as well as transfer player Ola Adegboruwa. But without a set rotation in place, there will be a lot of internal competition for playing time. Likewise, the young Raptors core will need to prove their worth if they hope to hold down jobs. Lottery picks Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan carry the heaviest expectations. They were the only returning players to start in the home opener.
Rana led Canada to a bronze medal in this summer’s U17 World Championship. He was also an assistant coach on the Canadian team in the men’s world tournament in Turkey. Jay Triano is the NBA’s first-ever Canadian head coach. Like Rana, he was the head coach of a Canadian national team from 1998 to 2004. He was also an assistant coach in this summer’s world championship, but for team USA.
The Rams are a team without a clear identity: they have no established star player, two co-captains, and a fluid rotation. Where they will end up in the standings this year is anybody’s guess. With a bevy of talented rookies, they could top the league — or utterly flame out. The Raptors are in the same awkward spot: not exactly a clear playoff team, but not basement dwellers either. Every roster player has something to prove. The team’s season — and future — is in their hands.
Ryerson has never been known as an athletics school, and the size of the crowds shows it. The only time in recent memory the Kerr Hall Gym has been packed was for the Forever Rams Orientation Game, boosted by a captive and curious first-year audience. They aren’t the laughingstock of the league in terms of attendance, but you’d think sports-mad Torontonians would make it out to a few more Raptors games than they typically do. Only the home opener and premier matchups sellout.
Big game blues
The Rams haven’t had much success in the postseason, having been bounced from the first-round each of the last three years. Even the presence of a mega-star in Bakovic couldn’t get them over the hump. Just making it back to the playoffs this season would be an accomplishment of sorts given the inexperienced roster. The Raptors are suckers in the second-season too. They’ve also bit the dust in the first-round without so much as a seven-game stand to show for it. Someone is going to have to step up for the team wants to buck the trend this time around.
Always on the bubble
Except for one incredible season in the 1999-2000 season where they were OUA Eastern Champions, the Rams have always been a bubble team come playoff time. They have either narrowly made they playoffs or just missed them. Aside from the 2000-2001 season when they clinched second place in the Eastern Conference before losing in the second round, the Raptors have also teetered on the playoff bubble.
Illustration: Lauren Strapagiel