There’s a new big man on campus

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By Noah Love

If the men’s basketball team has lost some size and strength, it hopes it can be made up with a new recruit, Jon Reid.Reid, a six-foot-nine forward with excellent ball-handling skills, is no stranger to the Ontario University Athletics conference (OUA). he comes to the Rams after playing with Ryerson’s crosstown rivals, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues from 1997-98 to 1999-2000. In his final year with U of T, Reid was named a first-team OUA east division all-star.

The Ryerson coaching staff is having a hard time hiding their enthusiasm over their new big man. “Jon is a good post position player and has a smooth outside shot,” said head coach Terry Haggerty, now in his twenty-first season with the Rams. “Jon also brings a lot of maturity to the team. When his conditioning gets a little better, he’ll be a real force on the court.”

The Rams need Jon Reid. a brutal summer saw them lose two-time all-star forward Bill Crowdis, who played his fifth and final year of eligibility, as well as OUA east all-rookie team guards Sandy Brar and Karlo Villanueva, who left the school after horrible academic years. They also lost a premier prospect to a Division II NCAA college. To make matters worse, just before tryouts the discovered that forward Sasha Ivankovic, one of its most consistent performers and emotional team leaders over the last four years, is gone for the season with a wrist injury. If he doesn’t suit up this year, the third-year public administration student can return for a sixth season at the school and play out his final year of eligibility.

“A pretty good doctor misdiagnosed his wrist injury,” said Haggerty, after Monday night’s practice. “Sasha wants to play his last year of eligibility healthy, so he’s a no-go.” In fact, second-team OUA East all-star Jan-Michael Nation, and forwards Dwight Chambers, and Calvin Celestine are  the only players expected to be on roster when the Rams’ regular season kicks off, Oct. 13 at the University of Western Ontario.

This season the OUA east and west divisions will merge into one. This means the Rams will play national top 10 teams like Western, McMaster, and Carleton. Right now Ryeson needs a large body to score in the paint. “I think I bring size and an inside game to the floor,” says Reid after a brief shoot-around in the Kerr gym. An inside game might be the key to a successful year for the Rams. Last year the team’s biggest body, Bill Crowdis, was content to shoot from the outside like a finesse guard.

Reid will be counted on to muscle his way to the net, but he spent Monday’s practice showing off a spot-on three-point shot. While Reid is pleased with his decision to attend Ryerson as an engineering student, some outside influence got him into the lineup. “At U of T I wasn’t happy with my program, so I was just going to go and work,” said the 24-year-old Reid. “My wife convinced me to go back to school.” With Reid leading the Rams in the front and Nation returning to the backcourt, the team has a lot more to look forward to than it did at the end of last season, when Ryerson lost to York Yoemen in the frist round of the OUA east division playoffs and talented first year players didn’t live up to academic expectations.

“The biggest problem with the last couple years has been the attitude of certain players,” said Haggerty. “These guys are mature. They’re here because they know they need to work hard to succeed both on and off the court.” Haggerty said the coaching staff are also introducing a no-nonsense policy on players’ grades and attitudes this season to make sure next year’s teamboasts a stronger returning lineup.

“We were relaxed last year when there was some problems,” he said. “This year we’re not taking any crap. If you hear that we’re being tough, it’s because we are.” Despite the Rams’ facelift, Haggerty is comfortable with the quality of his team. Over 50 players tried to make the squad, and now after cuts early this week, only 18 remain. It will be more than a month before the regular season begins, but right now Terry Haggerty is smiling. “This year should be a lot of fun.”

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