By Will Baldwin
Defence appears to be the calling card of the 2018-19 Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team.
The latest example came on Saturday at the Coca-Cola Court against the University of Western Mustangs, with the home team taking a 84-46 victory on Nov. 24.
After a big win versus U of T on Friday, the Mustangs came in playing well offensively, having won two straight games. Led by Omar Shiddo, who entered the night sixth in the OUA in scoring, the Mustangs were looking to get off to a good start.
However, the Mustangs would find themselves in trouble early on, as Shiddo was held to 1-8 shooting while his team was just 6-30 from the field. It was a defensive clinic by the Rams, resulting in a 51-19 halftime advantage.
One of the main catalysts of the home team’s defensive performance was Jayden Frederick. The third-year guard got the start for the Rams and was tasked with slowing down Shiddo as his primary defender. For Frederick though, it was just another night for him in his new role.
“I’m trying to take more pride in my defence this year,” Frederick said. “We have so many guys who can come out on any night and score 20 points, so if I can lock down a guy and like have that role on the team it just helps our team out so much more.”
Frederick’s efforts defensively didn’t go unnoticed for Rams assistant coach Borko Popic or the rest of the Rams staff.
“He brings a lot of different things defensively, with his length, with his athleticism,” Popic said. “One for 10 and two points, and I think the two came when somebody else was guarding [Shiddo]. So, I think for the most part he held him scoreless which is a testament to his ability to defend.”
On the offensive end of the floor, Jean-Victor Mukama continued his dominant stretch. Mukama scored a team-high 26 points and, broke the 20-point barrier for the fifth straight game. Myles Charvis was also good offensively once again for Ryerson, adding 18 points and a few highlight real dribbles. Frederick was the only other Ram to finish in double digits, scoring 13.
For the Mustangs, Julian Walker scored a team-high 10 points, while the aforementioned Shiddo finished with just two points on 1-10 shooting from the field.
It was another dominant home court performance for the Rams, whose home record will finish at 5-0 for the first half of the season. In the five games, the Rams have outscored opponents 467-250 and have trailed for a total of just 57 seconds. If you ask Frederick though, success like this should be expected at Coca-Cola Court.
“Every time we play out here, there’s like a different energy,” Frederick added. “Like, we just want to put on a show.”
As good as it’s been at home so far this season, Popic and the rest of the coaching staff would like to see it translate onto the road as well.
“You have pride in your own gym,” Popic added. “We want to be able to maintain that same intensity and energy when we go out on the road, but we’ve certainly been able to sustain it here and that’s what we’re gonna look to do in the second half.”
The Rams have one final game left before Christmas break in Thunder Bay against Lakehead. After the break, the Rams first game back will be against the current national top-ranked Carleton Ravens. Don’t ask Popic or the Rams though about Carleton yet, though.
“We’re thinking Lakehead,” Popic said. “We have a game on the road and they play well up there. It’s a fun environment to be in and those guys are gonna be ready as will we. We’re not thinking past next Friday.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will head to Thunder Bay Nov. 30, to take on Lakehead for one final game before the holidays. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.