Errol Fraser is second in team scoring playing at point guard, typically a play making position. Hair not pictured.

Photo: Tom Sapiano

Winning by a hair is just a coincidence

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Rookie guard Errol Fraser is the Rams’ surprise scorer this season

By Stephen Petrick

Errol Fraser had 19 points and an afro on his head when the men’s basketball team lost to Western in the preseason. He decided the hairstyle was bad luck, so he went with cornrows the next night and scored 11 in a victory over Wilfrid Laurier.

Still sporting cornrows a week later, he was held to 16 points in the Rams’ regular-season opening loss to McMaster. The next night he went back to the afro and scored 27, including the game-winning shot, against Lakehead University.

So what should he do this weekend,, when the Rams face their most important test of the season? A win over the nationally-fourth ranked Carleton Ravens on Saturday would be a huge morale booster for the third-place team. And, with the game being televised locally on Rogers, he wants to look his best. Right?

“I don’t know,” the 22-year-old point guard from Mississauga says. “It depends on how I feel. Sometimes I feel like braiding it sometimes I like have the afro up.”

But you had 16 points without the fro one night and 27 with it the next. You have to go with the fro.

“It’s just a coincidence,” he says, laughing some more.

Fraser has found out what many players and coaches in the OUA east division already knew. His hair isn’t really a good luck charm. The only thing that explains his success on certain nights is his athleticism.

And the only thing unusual about him is the scoring numbers he’s put up. In the world of Canadian university basketball, where point guards are usually play makers, Fraser has scored 132 points in eight games, making him second on the team in scoring and ninth in the province.

“Most point guards in this league tend to set up the offense and distribute the ball,” he said after practising Monday. “I’m more of an offensive point guard. If I can beat my man, I’m going in because I feel I can beat anybody.”

It’s a style he learned while playing for the Algonquin Thunderbirds from 1998 to 2000 in the Ontario College Athletic Association — a league that forced him to be quick and excel at one-on-one matchups.

He did it so well — he was the Thunder’s leading scorer in his last year there and an OCAA all-star — that when Fraser came to Ryerson to study arts and play for the Rams, coach Terry Haggerty let him continue playing his natural role, even though it’s unusual in university play.

“Errol is one of the most dangerous players from foul line to foul line,” Haggerty said. “Give him the ball and try and stop him. If you don’t stop him, he’s going to get a lot of easy points on you.”

The York Yeomen found that out over the holidays at the Rams bi-annual Christmas tournament. Leading Ryerson 68-66 with under 30 seconds to go in the consolation final, they watched Fraser rush from end to end for a layup that tied the score and forced overtime. The Rams went on to win the game 82-77, clinching third-place in the eight-team tournament.

Fraser played all 45 minutes in the victory. That’s not bad for a rookie, but not surprising. He figured he’d have some extra energy this year since he’d be playing while living at his mother’s home in Mississauga.

“I’m a mamma’s boy,” he says. “I love my mom’s cooking.”

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