Dribble dribble dribble. Shoot shoot shoot. A day in the life of Jan Michael-Nation...

Photo: Tracey Tong

Jan gets by with a little help from his friends

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Rams enjoy perfect weekend against OUA’s lesser lights

By Noah Love

If Vlad Matevski is any indication, more basketball players should practice for a full year before playing.

Matevski, 23, came to Ryerson from Macedonia after playing with four different professional teams in the European country. He was forced to sit out last year due to Canadian Interuniversity Sport rules, which say players from professional teams have to wait a year before playing.

The first-year guard was instrumental to Ryerson’s weekend victories. On Friday night, the team beat crosstown rival, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, 88-62. The next night they came back to beat Queen’s University 76-66. The Rams are 4-2 after six OUA league games.

Matevski found his scoring touch, netting 25 points in the two wins.

“I’ve been playing since I was 12,” said Matevski, a business student. “I had a year off from the game for the first time ever [last year]. I need a few more games to get to the top of my game.”

Matevski was one of a few surprises for the team this weekend.

Dwight Chambers had his best offensive game of the year against Toronto. The third-year forward scored a season-high 14 points for the Rams.

“Team success comes when everybody plays their roles,” said Chambers, after an intense practice in the Kerr gym. “I help run the defence. It’s good when I can help out on the offence.”

Jan Michael-Nation continued his stellar play. Nation led the team in scoring against Toronto with 18, which included two breakaway one-handed slam-dunks. He came back with 16 against Queen’s.

Nation has 103 points in six contests this season. He has sole possession of second place on the Ryerson men’s basketball all-time scoring list with 1,009. He trails only Jamie Voskuil, who played for the team from 1983-88. Nation will likely pass Voskuil’s 1,144-point record in this, his final season at Ryerson. There are 16 games left in the season.

“Jan’s an easy guy to play next to,” Chambers said. “Playing with Jan, you’re never satisfied with your own performance. You want to get better.”

Toronto coach Ken Olynyk was baffled by the Rams offence, which held a 30-point lead late in the second half.

“They’re beating us down the court on the dribble!” a frustrated Olynyk said to his assistants at halftime. “Our guards are better than their guards. We should be beating them!”

But the Blues never got it together. Even when Ryerson fell asleep at the wheel, Toronto barely registered a blip on the radar.

“Toronto runs a lot of different offensive patterns,” said head coach Terry Haggerty. “We kept things simple and just played them aggressively. That’s basically the key to beating them.”

Despite the wins, the coaching staff game the team a hard workout on Monday night. Assistant coach Bob Marsh spent the last quarter of the practice running speedy defensive drills.

“You call that defence?” What kind of defence is that?” Marsh exclaimed.

Matevski has practiced for a long time. He know their value as well as anybody on the team.

“We’re starting to put things together on the court that we do in the practices,” he said. “We all come from different backgrounds. We try to bring them together to raise our form.”

The only question mark in the Rams lineup has been the absence of returning guard Calvin Celestine, one of only three returning players. Haggerty said Celestine has run into financial problems and will likely be out for the year.

“We’ve left the door open,” said Haggerty. “In the next month we’ll make a decision and probably call one of the guys we cut in the late stages of tryouts. I’m sure there are some guys who would be thrilled to play for the team.”

Ryerson plays two games before the holiday break. On Friday night they hike to York University. On Sunday they play at Laurentian University.

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