Björn Michaelsen during Ryerson's Jan. 12 win over Ottawa. (Charles Vanegas / The Eyeopener)

One-on-one with basketball forward Björn Michaelsen

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Now in the home stretch of the OUA regular season, the men’s basketball team currently sits in second place in the East division. Charles Vanegas spoke to the Rams’ star power forward to talk basketball, roommates, and interactions with strangers near Allan Gardens.

You were one of the top prospects coming out of high school; what made you choose Ryerson?

For me it was more than just basketball. I wanted to improve my English – it used to be a lot worse than it is now – so I needed a school that was Anglophone and had engineering.

You surprised a lot of people last year by making it to the CIS National Championships. How has that raised your expectations for this year?

Last year our goal was to reach the [OUA] Final Four, and we surpassed that. I don’t want to say what our goal is this year and not achieve it, but our expectation is to do better than we did last year.

Is it realistic to expect to win a championship in the next few years?

Even this year, it’s realistic. For sure.

You’ve been prone to injury in the past (broken finger and wrist, needed surgery to fix teeth). What have you done to stay healthy this year?

It’s funny because the guys on my team make fun of me, but [my injuries] are broken bones. If you’re injury prone, they’re usually nagging injuries, ones that come back.

I can’t feel any of my injuries from the past. I used to be a lot more out of control, and a lot of my injuries were due to that. I’d try to block every shot and jump all the time. Now I stay on the ground a lot more and try not to put myself in a position where I could get hurt.

In the past, the biggest criticism of the team has been – outside of you – its lack of size up front. With the addition of other 6″6, 6″7 guys, has the game gotten a little easier for you?

Yes and no. We still have a lack of size. Juwon (Grannum) is doing a great job, and Matthew (Beckford) is still developing as a player. I think the more he plays, the more he’s going to understand the game and produce more. I’d say we need a little bit of work.

What’s the angriest you’ve ever seen [Coach] Roy [Rana]?

I don’t think he wants me to answer this question! He’s really emotional so he’ll get mad on the spot. But he’ll usually think about it and approach and talk to us about it like a professional.

He doesn’t get mad if we do something stupid like commit a turnover, but when it’s something like effort, that’s when he’ll get really mad at us.

What’s the best part of being on the Ryerson basketball team?

Being part of a family. Every guy’s pretty close, and you have the community behind you.

What is worse: losing a basketball game, or losing to [your former roommate and Ryerson track runner] Stephen Hosier at NHL (on PS3)?

I would say losing to Stephen would be worse. It’s personal [because] he’s so obnoxious. But as I say, Steve is a dick (laughs), but is such a fun guy to be around.

Living close to Allan Gardens, you must have some strange stories.

Today, an Italian in a Lincoln Navigator stopped beside me and asked me to be a model. I told him “no, I have to go to class.” I guess he was an agent or something. I don’t even know what he was saying. It was pretty weird.

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