By Xavier Eeswaran
Ryerson shooting guard Jean-Victor Mukama dropped 22 points while the Rams bench added another 47 en route to a 95-64 win against the NCAA’s Marietta College Pioneers Sunday afternoon.
The pre-season victory came against unfamiliar competition for the Rams, who hosted Marietta from Ohio at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Early in the game, Rams and Team Canada guard Ammanuel Diressa was forced to sub out due to foul trouble, leaving a void to be filled by Mukama, who missed last season due to academic reasons.
“I took it upon myself to step up offensively and then bring the intensity defensively,” said Mukama, who finished as the game’s leading scorer. “It all worked out.”
Just like on Saturday when the Rams beat Saskatchewan, their bench had a key role in the outcome. Leading the Rams’ reserves were Roshane Roberts with 16 points and Filip Vujadinovic with 14 points, many of which coming off three pointers.
“There’s not one single person on the team who can’t hit an open three,” said Mukama, who had four of his own on Sunday. “We have a lot of different threats and that’s another reason why this team is gonna be exciting this year.”
A lot of the Rams’ three pointers were taken uncontested, thanks to excellent ball distribution. Point guard Myles Charvis, who led all players with 10 assists, was key to Ryerson finding themselves consistently open throughout the game.
“I take pride in getting guys open looks, so 10 assists–that’s great,” said Charvis, while reflecting on his own performance. “I did that [getting the ball to open players] last year as well so just to get it going in the pre-season is a great look for me, so I’m gonna continue doing that.”
Charvis, as with Roberts, was also very effective in adding the defensive pressure that usually comes from the six-foot-five Diressa.“We knew that if we brought in Myles and Roshane to pressure the ball and if everyone on the wing would not deny the ball, but apply pressure, it would run in transition,” said Mukama.
The Rams’ defence was also complemented nicely by the presence of the team’s big men, particularly seven-foot-two Senegalese international Tanor Ngom, who had four blocks in the game.
“Tanor, that’s my guy,” said Charvis. “It took him a while to get here because he had to sign the visa and what not, but he’s finally here and it’s great to have him, to have a seven-footer.”
Ngom also contributed to a strong rebounding effort from the Rams with seven boards, helping the Rams win the battle on the glass 56-43 against the Pioneers. He acted as another strong presence off the bench for the Rams.
“I remember my first year we might have had maybe seven or eight players that could really play at a high level,” said Mukama, who joined the team in 2013. “But this season I can say we have 12 guys who can legitimately play high level basketball.”
The team’s depth is a reason why the Rams were able to handle an NCAA Division III team with such ease, although Mukama says head coach Roy Rana has taught a culture of respect toward any opponent the Rams face, regardless of how strong the team is.
“Our pride with Ryerson and coach Rana, our culture is to never show disrespect to whoever we’re facing and play hard, play our way, regardless of who we’re facing.”
Up Next: The team’s depth will be tested as the Rams travel to St. Catharines, Ont., to participate in the Brock Tournament starting Friday Oct. 20. They’ll begin their OUA season Oct. 27.