There’s no pretty way to say it so I’m just going to put it out there.
Losing Boris Bakovic was the best thing that could have happened to Ryerson basketball.
Now I know what you all are thinking; how can anybody say that losing a guy who is Ryerson’s all-time leading scorer and was widely considered to be the best player in the CIS be a good thing?
Well before you go and get your pitchforks, light your torches and form an angry mob outside of The Eyeopener’s office, just hear me out.
Amidst all of his scoring titles, MVP awards, and overall dominance over the competition, Bakovic was hindering the growth of Ryerson’s basketball program.
Now, I’m not saying that Bakovic was a bad guy, nor am I undermining any of his accomplishments or what he did for Ryerson basketball. Hell, I’ve never even met the guy.
The point that I am trying to get across here is how Bakovic’s dominance over the rest of the league inadvertently halted the development of a team that was so clearly in need of a makeover.
Here are the facts: since 2002 the Rams have been the proud owners of 47-129 record, only once in the past eight years have they been over 500, and despite having the best player in Canadian college basketball for four years, they have only made the playoffs once and have been unable to make it past the inaugural round.
Behind every success story is a visionary, a man with a plan so to speak.
Roy Rana entered the 2010-2011 season with a ton of young talent and only handful of veterans. A young team that for the most part is oblivious to the losing culture that has plagued this school for nearly a decade.
Even though some may argue that Jahmal Jones is the team’s most talented scorer, the fact of the matter is that the Rams’ predominantly rookie roster has yet to establish their “go to guy;” which is not necessarily a bad thing because it forces the players to work together and win as a team as opposed to relying on one guy to act as the team’s safety blanket.
Legendary college football coach Joe Paterno once said that “when a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality,” and that is exactly what Ryerson is doing. The Rams must achieve success through teamwork, not through the abilities of a single individual.
Would the 2010-2011 Rams be able to achieve the same growth with the LeBron James of the CIS on their roster? Would the 2010-2011 Rams be able to shape their own identity if they felt forced to feed the ball to their star player? Would the 2010-2011 Rams be able to grow as a team if they felt that they could take their foot off the gas because a guy like Bakovic would make up for it?
Rana is quickly learning that building and implementing a new system from scratch is no easy task and the injuries that he has been forced to deal with have not made matters any easier.
However, despite all of the injuries to the team’s big men, Rana is sticking to his guns. While having undersized players play down in the post is far from ideal, it i just one of the sacrifices that have to be made in order to properly and effectively ingrain his system into the team’s psyche.
A new era of basketball is upon Ryerson. As of right now, that era has all the pieces for success. The reason for that success is simple, because whether the Rams are winning or losing, they are forced to do it together as a team and in the end there is no better system than teamwork.
Photo by: Lindsay Boeckl