By Jason Primo
The nightmare is finally over for “every shooting guard’s dream teammate.”
Former men’s basketball team captain Sasha Ivankovic is making his much anticipated return to the Ryerson hardwood.
“Not everything is a hundred per cent but I’m looking forward to playing,” says the 6-foot-6, 225-pound power forward when referring to his banged up body.
Ivankovic missed all of last season because of a broken wrist.
The layoff was prolonged after the scar tissue in his broken bone did not heal properly.
Now that he’s healthy, Ivankovic says he is to suit up for the Rams and head coach Terry Haggerty.
“Coach Haggerty has given me the chance to play, but [assistant coach Patrick Williams] is the reason why I want to play,” says Ivankovic.
Ivankovic credits Williams for preparing him physically and mentally for the upcoming season.
Williams was named assistant coach in May after Ryerson declined to renew the contract of former assistant coach Bob Marsh.
“Patrick’s given me new life,” says Ivankovic.
For his second coming, Ivankovic says he has added a killer jump shot to his already deadly inside game.
“I gotta bring [my offense] back because I went away from it the last couple of years,” says Ivankovic who averaged 10 points and 9.6 rebounds in his last full season with Ryerson.
“We need him big time due to our lack of size in the front court,” says shooting guard Tim Lockett-Smith. “He’s the type of person to blend everyone together and create that team chemistry. He’s a warrior in every sense of the word.”
Ivankovic’s increase in offensive production will be an asset this season following the graduation of Ryerson all-time leading scorer and Most Valuable Player Jan-Michael Nation.
“Sasha brings a lot of intensity to the game,” says second-year small forward Brandon Emmanuel. “He’s a very fundamental basketball player and you can’t forget that he is one of the premier rebounders in the country.”
Ivankovic is second in career rebounds at Ryerson and is on pace to break the all-time Ontario University Association record for rebounds this season.
Ivankovic is a monster on the boards, but he thanks a worm for inspiring him to become a better rebounder.
“He did what he had to do, night in and night out,” says Ivankovic when referring to former Chicago Bulls wildman Dennis “the worm” Rodman.
Rodman was the National Basketball Association’s most prolific rebounder in the ‘90s and helped lead the Bulls to three straight world championships.
Ivankovic hopes to bring Ryerson one national championship before his tenure is done.
He says he has not been a leader in the past, but Ivankovic plans to make up for his lost opportunities this season.
He views himself as a “quiet shy guy,” but, Ivankovic says he won’t shy away from getting into his teammates’ face to correct their mistakes.
“If you show up in shape ready to play, the others will feel they have to be ready too,” says Ivankovic.