By Libaan Osman
The battle of the six turned into a nightmare for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, as the Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team opened their season with a commanding 103-51 win at Coca-Cola Court on Oct. 26.
Jean-Victor Mukama, who guaranteed a win against Toronto on Sunday, had nine of the Rams’ first 11 points to begin the game.
“I mean, I told you this game we weren’t gonna lose for sure,” Mukama said post-game. “We had to come in punch first, and me being a veteran I know how important it is to make an impact early. I took it upon myself to be aggressive and I made my shots.”
Along with Mukama, forward Filip Vujadinovic put his stamp on this game, leading all scorers with 25 points and eight rebounds on 10-14 shooting. The two fifth-year seniors scored the first 16 points for the Rams, holding the Blues scoreless for the first five minutes, as they jumped to an imposing 19-0 lead and didn’t look back.
Ryerson managed to hold Toronto to just 16 points on 18.8 per cent shooting, allowing only five points in the paint, while out-rebounding the Blues by 20 at halftime to give them a comfortable 58-16 advantage.
“Each of us has a role on this team that our coach [Roy Rana] gives to us at the start of the year, and this is the first year in my five years that every player has bought in,” Vujadinovic said. “Whether it be rebounding, defence, shooting, screens, we just did everything at the best of our ability.”
In the 103-51 win, the Rams received help from a new face. York University transfer Jayden Frederick, who sat out last season with the Rams due to eligibility rules, poured in 13 points, four rebounds and three steals. In the last three preseason games leading up to this regular season game, Frederick averaged 17.6 points on 61.1 per cent shooting.
Forward Keevon Small, who hasn’t played in OUA regular season game since 2017, came off the bench for Ryerson on Friday and added 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals on 4-8 shooting in 20 minutes.
The Rams would grow their lead to as large as 52 on the night, but the coaching staff wasn’t satisfied with them taking their foot off the gas late.
“We still had miscommunication, we had slip ups where we gave up open looks and they made some shots at the end,” lead assistant coach Borko Popic said. “Especially, there at the last five minutes, we just kind of fell asleep and gave them the looks they wanted.”
Leading the way for Toronto was Evan Shadkami, who led the road team with 12 points on 4-11 shooting. Shadkami was the only player on the opposing team to reach double figures in scoring.
Mukama, who promised a win against Toronto, is doing the same for the next game against Guelph on Wednesday. With this season being his last, he wants everyone on the roster to get a chance to play.
“My goal honestly, as veteran, I wanna see everyone play on the bench,” Mukama said. “Obviously, that’s up to the coaches but as a fifth-year, I take real pride if we end this early they get to play because they all practice like we do.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will take on the Guelph Gryphons on Wednesday, Oct. 31. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.