By Anthony Lopopolo
Roy Rana decided he’s finished with leading a perennial winner to the top of the high school circuit.
Yet he hopes to feel the same way once he’s done his duty as head coach of Ryerson’s men’s basketball team.
“He has a proven record of success, and there’s a general community buzz about him being picked,” said Ivan Joseph, Ryerson’s director of athletics.
Recognized for his nine-year stint with Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute in which he captured five OFSAA championships, Rana is not one to settle for mediocrity.
He’s forged a close relationship with Canada’s national team and was recently instrumental in leading the Cadet Men’s National team to qualification in the 2010 U-17 world championship.
But for Joseph, it’s Rana’s connection to the community that made him the most appealing candidate.
“I heard from the Toronto District School Board, ‘The town is so excited Ryerson finally did this. They didn’t bring in an outside guy; they brought in one of their own.’ To me, that’s important,” Joseph said. “We’re the city’s university.”
He also mentioned that Rana has the background and credibility to entice players across Canada and salvage the team’s perception of being a one-man show.
“People wouldn’t come to Ryerson basketball. Why? We had a reputation of being a joke. We had a reputation of not practicing four days a week. So now, Roy comes in and says, ‘We’re changing that.'”
And Rana has latched on to that sentiment, saying that he’s ready to launch this program to the height of top teams in the OUA.
“The first step is to try to improve and develop a culture of winning here,” said Rana. “Many of those expectations will be based on the approach that we take not only on the court, but off the court.”
“I think all of that is in the details, and as long as we have a very committed group of guys who are willing to increase the level of effort in all aspects of the program, we’re going to be successful.”
While he’s mindful that no major enhancements can be realized within the first year of his tenure, Rana is steadfast in his ambition to compete on a year-toyear basis.
Despite the Rams’ 71-69 playoff loss to York last season, he noticed the makings of that change in mentality.
“I think a two-point deficit in a loss is not a devastating loss because it implies you’re better than that,” said Rana.
“For a team that hadn’t been to the playoffs in many, many years, I think we have to appreciate the fact that they did something special getting to a playoff game.”
Boris Bakovic, the Rams all-star forward, is also beginning to warm up to his new coach.
“He’s very clear with his communication, was well-received by the guys. And he’s our coach now, so we’re beginning to feel each other out,” he said.
Rana is filling the coaching void left by Glenn Taylor, who was fired last season under undisclosed terms.