By Devin Jones
This upcoming season, Patrick Tatham will have the weight of a nationally ranked basketball program on his shoulders.
With the departure of Ryerson Rams head coach Roy Rana, announced on August 17, Tatham — formerly the Rams assistant coach — will step into the role Rana has occupied since the 2009 season. Having already helmed the team once already, during Rana’s trip to China in 2013, Tatham will now rely on the supporting staff and any outside help the team decides to bring in.
“Initially I felt excited and nervous all at the same time, however the nerves were good nerves,” said Tatham. “I’ve been envisioning myself as a head coach and what I would do and how I would do it. Once the dust settled, I knew that things would be just fine.”
Before his transition into coaching, Tatham carried out an extensive career as a player. Once graduating Chinguacousy high school — where he averaged 21 points per game — the six-foot-seven, 220-pound small/power forward spent two years on the Canadian junior national team starting in 2002. Awarded Mr. Basketball at the end of his first season with the national team, Tatham then signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Cleveland in the (NCAA) at the beginning of 2003 season. During his four years with the Vikings, Tatham averaged 5.77 points per game and shot 41 per cent from the field. Looking back at his time spent in the United States, Tatham notes the differences between styles play are largely due to different rules and regulations.
“As a player in the CIS you learn to play the game the international way. A player’s senses on the basketball court are heightened and also player’s in CIS are very good shooters,” said Tatham. “As a coach in the CIS vs. a coach in the NCAA, again you have a heightened sense of the game. With the 24-second shot clock, coaches in the CIS have to be efficient in what they do on offense.”
After his time spent with the Vikings in the NCAA, Tatham took his basketball career overseas for three seasons. Beginning in Switzerland, Tatham then moved to Germany to play with the Itzehoe Eagles for one season. From there Tatham spent a year in Qatar, before returning to North America to begin his coaching career. Of his time overseas, Tatham notes that due to the opportunities he was given, he now has a learned appreciation for different cultures
“Basketball can take you to many different places and countries in this world. But when you get to these different places, you see how different things are compared to North America, food, culture, language and music. All that has taught me appreciation for others and their culture,” said Tatham.
At 31, Tatham — or “coach PT” to the players — is no stranger to being a head coach, having helmed a full season down at Stoneridge preparatory school in California. Tatham calls his time there a “blessing in disguise,” due to the fact that many of the players he worked with were of such a high caliber. Tatham refers to the multiple NCAA coaches at his practices — and being able to pick up tips and pieces of advice from them — as influential towards his growth as a coach. It’s also when talking about his coaching style and influences that Rana once again becomes the topic of conversation. Tatham says being able to watch the way he carries himself on the court, and his ability to build a winning culture from the ground up, have been critical to Tatham’s progression as a coach.
From a player perspective, third year guard Jean-Victor Mukama notes Tatham’s dedication to working with the players has been paramount to their success in the last few seasons.
“He wants to keep the same culture we’ve had for the past five years, which is obviously working because we keep getting better and better,” said Mukama. “His whole family is a basketball family, and so having a coach like him you know the passion for the game is going to be there.”
While no official announcements have been made concerning outside staff being brought in to support Tatham, he has alluded to the possibility of two different coaches being brought in an ancillary capacity. Fortunately for the Rams, Rana’s presence will still be felt as he will be courtside for various games throughout the season, albeit in a limited capacity. Tatham says that Rana will have input as to who will be eventually brought in to support the team.
Despite the absence of Rana, Tatham and the Rams are making sure everything stays the same. The team will implement the same winning systems, while buying into the same winning atmosphere that Rana built, now just with Tatham at the helm. And as the new season creeps closer for the new head coach, don’t expect any groundbreaking changes, or game changing strategies, because for Tatham and the Rams, it’s just basketball as usual.
“Yeah things will stay as normal as possible even with Coach Rana’s absence,” said Tatham. “We have a pretty good thing going with our team coming off a bronze medal from last season. So no need to change it up. You know the good ol’ saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”